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Weeknote: 10.02.23

TL;DR

  • Reputation is like a battery; uneven communication and all things are always in motion. Three great ideas from the week.

  • The idea of the mind and humans as complex systems with emergent properties.

  • Explored the market position of Ordinary Leadership through the lens of the Grid – more work to do.

  • Interesting meetings with the Enable Trust Board and some good conversations to build and develop my thinking. Good to have some engagement with issues that are local to my area.


Ideas I found interesting?

It was a week of interesting ideas. Some ideas came from reading I had done previously, and some from conversations I had. I particularly enjoyed this idea – “Reputation is like a battery. It stores power to be used in the future”, from The Grid by Matt Watkinson. It is such an interesting visual image of how reputation works and is used.


I was reminded of the “uneven communication problem”, first brought to my attention in Rebel Ideas, which is essential that in a typical four- person group, two people do 62 per cent of the talking, and in a six- person group, three people do 70 per cent of the talking. As the group size increases this problem – of a limited number of people doing most of the communication gets worse. What’s remarkable, or perhaps not so remarkable if you are an introvert like me and don’t often talk in big groups, is that the people doing all the talking are “…are adamant that everyone is speaking equally, and that the meetings are egalitarian”.


And from Dancing at the Edge. The quote from Churchill, “All things are in motion, always”. It’s a useful reminder we live in a complex world. The challenge is recognising that we cannot “control a complex system, only disrupt it. They are small-scale disturbances, not too disruptive, designed to prompt learning about the next move”.


What did I learn?

A week full of interesting ideas also generates learning. From a course on Interpersonal Neurobiology, I was challenged to think of humans as complex systems with emergent properties. It wasn’t an idea that had previously crossed my mind. I like it, and it makes sense. The point is that, in a complex system, you can’t just break down it into its constituent parts and get the same result. The fact is that the interaction between different elements of the system creates something new, the emergent properties. What’s more, self-organisation is an emergent property of complex systems, and a reinforcing one, which is just super interesting. When we think of organisations and organisational change, this point is so important, an organisation is more than the sum of its parts because it has emergent properties.


Separately I’ve also enjoyed reading The Grid and being challenged to think about Ordinary Leadership from the lens of its market proposition and value. I’ve been forced to stop and think about the objective of Ordinary Leadership in more detail, and its raised new ideas for me about what Ordinary Leadership could be and how to talk about both the book I am working on and the consulting services that I offer. One of the ideas I’ve really picked out is that I haven’t gotten fully to grips with my ‘customers’ and their beliefs and values. The leadership consulting and coaching market are vast, and how I differentiate myself is important.


One way I think might work, and that I’ve enjoyed playing with this week, is the idea of more practical advice and support. My thinking is that leadership thinking and advice can be complex and cover a wide range of issues; it isn’t always digestible or practised. What I think is missing is practical advice for the non-leadership geeks in the room who still want to take responsibility for something. That’s what ordinary leadership is about – providing a practical (rough guide) to everyday leadership for individuals and for organisations. Lots of food for thought there.


What did I enjoy?

I enjoyed the Enable Trust Board meeting and AGM. It is a completely different environment for me, even if it's only once every 3-4 months, to be in a special needs school/academy and to be considering local financing and resource allocation challenges. I genuinely feel very privileged to be part of this work and to watch the enthusiasm and dedication that the leadership team and teachers bring to their work. It, was not something I expected to be doing a few years ago, but I certainly enjoy it. It makes me think of this quote. "I think of it like this. I woke up every morning of my life and tried to do my best, so I must be exactly where I'm supposed to be." Tracee Ellis Ross


“The risk with any model is that it turns us into template zombies- more concerned with ticking boxes than with outcomes". To avoid this, you need to remember that the grid is just mental scaffolding; an instrument to help structure your thinking” (The Grid). I also enjoyed this very open and straightforward acknowledgement that templates, while useful, are only a tool. To help shape out thinking and structure discussions, we shouldn’t use them blindly just because they are there.


What did I find challenging?

I found that I was challenging myself this week to be more accountable for doing the background research and thinking necessary to understand where I add value to organisations. Its challenging to get information on the markets and sectors you work in, or want to work in, but as the week has progressed, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m playing it a bit safe and having really dug into what people need and want from a leadership development and consulting perspective. Or even if that’s the right market to be trying to operate in. It's certainly challenging to find myself asking lots of questions which I don’t really know the answers to.


What did I achieve?

I completed three training outlines, attended the Enable Trust Board meeting and AGM, helped to organise an education conference in Kenya and Pakistan, worked on training for the World Bank, and read a fair bit. I also managed to see my uncle and aunt and my mother—so all in all, not a bad week.


What am I looking forward to next week?

Next week isn’t the most exciting week on the horizon, but I’m looking forward to making steady progress with some of the training I’m developing, as well as having a bit of time to watch the six nations, as well as getting into the office to see some of my colleagues face to face.

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