Adaptivity, Complexity, Decisions, Organizations

Maybes and probablys

‘Should?’ I asked. ‘The whole plan is built on a solid foundation of shoulds, maybes and probablys.

Mark Lawrence, Limited Wish

In many organizations certainty is rewarded. And people who don’t give a solid answer, but instead talks about uncertainty, probability, and assumptions are not listened to. Or they are asked to come back with a more clear answer.

We need to practice dealing in the maybes and the probablys. To become more comfortable in making decisions where we have weighed the risks vs rewards. And where test our decisions before we scale them up.

communication, Complexity, Learning, questions, reflection

Conviction kills

Doubt begets understanding, and understanding begets compassion. Verily, it is conviction that kills.

R. Scott Bakker, The Thousandfold Thought

When we get too certain of what is right, what we know, and how things should work then we stop asking questions and trying to learn. We need to question ourselves and our situation to grow.

When we try to understand ourselves, others and their situations then we start to empathize and connect.

It’s not about questioning everything, but to keep reflecting. Especially when we feel most certain or when someone says or do something that seems stupid to us. To ask ourselves, why does this make sense to them and not me?

As a side note: I had to check what begets mean before I understood what I read and maybe you do to: begets mean to cause or to produce an effect.

Adaptivity, Leadership, Learning, Resilience

Prepare to be spontaneous

“One can never prepare for everything, but when one prepares for what one can, it’s much easier to deal with the unexpected.”

L. E. Modesitt Jr., Imager

Preparation and thinking about what obstacles might happen is not about predicting exactly what will happen and creating a plan that should be followed to the letter. It is about opening our minds to the unexpected and to create a culture in your organisation around adaptiveness, resilience, and learning. It is about accepting that we will fail, that things we didn’t plan for will happen and that we need to be able to act on it. By talking about obstacles and creating scenarios together for how to deal with them, then we are much better prepared when sh*t hits the fan and when there is no time left to think and you just need to act.


Courage to admit it

“He meant he lacked the courage, but lacked the courage to admit it.”

Joe Abercrombie, Half a King

One of the hardest thing there is, is to say no to your manager, coworkers, friends or your partner. To have the courage to say:

  • I don’t have the time.
  • I don’t think this will work.
  • I don’t know how.
  • I think that is a bad idea.
  • I don’t agree.

I think this is the reason that psychological safety has become so popular. We have been given a language to talk about what we feel and fear. It has made it easier to talk about it. Reducing the amount of courage it takes to admit it.


Keep learning

“If you don’t feel like you’re going to die when you’re training, then you’re doing it wrong,”

Will Wight, Blackflame

It is easier for us to keep working in the same way as we have always done. Keep using the same methods, models, and tools. It is easy and we know what we will get. If we try something new, it will be harder, and we might not get the result we want. We might not get the result we want with how we did it before, but it would be easier.

It is easy to end up in this trap. And both we and our organisations are constructed to reinforce this: We strive for the simple and easy, and it is scary with new things and uncertainty.

We need to be persistent and focused to continue learning and developing. And we need to dare. Start with a small change tomorrow and see what happens, and then see what feels small the day after that…

Data, Decisions, Learning, questions

Too many dots

“Too many dots,” Miller said. “Not enough lines.”

James S. A. Corey, Leviathan Wakes

The last few years we have been given more and more data. Data-driven decisions is a buzzword in many businesses and people seem to trust you more if you say that you based your decisions on data. The challenge is that the more data we get, the harder it is to analyse. You need more time and more skill if you want to analyze large datasets, and it becomes easier and easier to make an error and come up with a wrong conclusion.

If you learn some basic data visualization techniques, then you will get far. And please stop calculating the average of all the data you get; most people have no idea what it means nor how dangerous that measure is.

Instead focus on a few dots, visualise it, and then try to draw some lines. Or try go talking to people…

Collaboration, Motivation, Uncategorized

Let the adventure begin

“In his experience, practically anything became an adventure if framed properly.”

Will Wight, Soulsmith

Starting the new year, I decided to try to restart this blog. I want to start writing again, and one of the biggest challenges with it is to frame this as an adventure and not a drudge or something I’m forcing myself to do.

I went from writing a lot a few years back; this blog, other articles, and a book. And now I don’t write anything: I need to relearn writing again. To be able to write as quickly as I did before will take practice, frustration, and will be part of the adventure. And, to remove the voice of perfection in the back of my head and allow myself to see a text as finished. Let’s see how it goes!

I think this quote as well is something to think about when we work together. How can we now start this new year as an adventure instead of with stress? How can we start our new projects as an adventure we are going on together. To see the uncertainty as part of the adventure and the team you will be working together with as a party of heroes.


Are you better or better?

There, as he leveled out his ship and sucked in cold gasps of oxygen, he was struck by a revelation: He was a better flier than Yrica Quell. But she was the better starfighter pilot.

Shadow fall by Alexander Freed

Just because you are great at a certain skill does not mean that you will be the best at getting the job done. Today, being great at one thing is not enough, we need many more skills to be successful in our work. We often look for the person who is the best at what they do, when we instead should search for the people who is best at applying their skill together with other people.

In this complex and messy world that we live and worked in today, we will never be able to create something meaningful by ourselves.


Can do vs want to do

The rotten thing about having Mum as a mum is, I know how to stop being angry. I’ve been taught any number of ways to manage anger, and they really work. What she’s never been able to teach me is how to want to manage it. So I go on seething and raging and knowing the whole time that it’s my own fault, because I do know how to stop.

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

When we want to change behaviors, we need to consider both if people want it, and if they have the ability to do it. Just because we can do it, we might not want to do it. Or in other cases we are highly motivated to change but we don’t know how, or we don’t have the resources. BJ Fogg has created an extremely simple and useful model for understanding and talking about behavior change. He says that behavior change comes from motivation, ability, and prompts. And if any of them are lacking we will not get the new behavior.

What I have seen in most organizations that I have worked with, is that in most cases what we lack is ability and prompts. Most people want to change their way of working or how they act, they just don’t have the skills, time, nor resources to do it.


Freedom in failure

Wu Ying gulped, realizing he was walking along the cliff’s edge of failure. Yet, perhaps the knowledge he was likely going to fail freed him. Knowing he would fail meant he had nothing to lose, and the fear of failure disappeared. There was no fear in certainty—just freedom.

A thousand Li: The first stop by Tao Wong

One of the key factors in psychological safety is that it is ok to fail, and this is also a reason that agile has become so popular. It is a way to break big projects down in small chunks where it is ok to fail each part, but in the end, you have created something bigger.

I think one of the worst things you can end up in is the organization’s most important project that must not fail. Then the stress kicks in, the worry increases. And then flexibility, innovation and creativity disappear.

I have given some presentations around the analogy between skateboarding and working in an organization. When you practice skateboarding you fall a lot. More often you jump off the skateboard when you realise that a trick will not work. But you rarely hurt yourself. Because you know how to judge if something will not work, and you have practiced falling.

Good managers need to train themselves and their teams how to jump off when things are not going to plan and how to fall without hurting themselves and the organization.