Archive for April, 2020

Snake oil and culture change

I had the very sobering experience 1 week ago of listening to the CEO of a client organization (large dispersed manufacturer) telling me how he had been approached by a local consulting firm offering to help him and his colleagues create the culture that would see the company through the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.

This was a staggering story for two distinct reasons: firstly, any person (let alone a professional consultant) who believes they can define what will be needed and how to engineer culture in a client organization over the next 6 months has truly been smoking something. A quick scan of the two companion newsletter items on responding to catastrophes will quickly explain why this is so.

But there is a second and much deeper concern in the story, one that has been around for the last 20 years or more and one that, unfortunately, will be around when this pandemic is over – the promise the consulting firm implied that they could actually intentionally engineer a desired culture.

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You don’t need to be an expert: practical ways to help employees with mental health issues

We know that globally one in five people (20%) suffer some sort of mental health problems at least sometime during their life. Therefore it is likely in most families and work groups that there will be people with mental health issues. In working with many leaders and managers one of the major concerns that is increasingly verbalized is how to best to approach and help people in their team who are suffering some sort of mental health issue. Clearly and thankfully awareness as to the prevalence and seriousness of mental health as a workplace issue has risen enormously in the last 10 years, but still many feel ill-equipped to know where to start of what to do if someone they work with is showing signs of poor mental health.

Recently I listen to Jim Al Khalili, on one of my very favourite podcast series A Life Scientific, from BBC Radio 4 talk with Peter Fonagy on his life, career and contribution to mental health care.  Like many people who make outstanding contributions to our lives and well-being, Peter has suffered very much in his early life. Indeed, he says that it only through having experienced trauma which personally caused him significant mental health problems, that he was able to make such a contribution.

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5 Podcasts for uncertain times

To help guide you to your place of most potential

In the past few weeks our world has changed.  For many of us our routine and situation has changed dramatically and the unpredictability of what lies ahead can put us under enormous pressure.  Yet it’s also a time to think outside the box, to be creative and potentially reconfigure how we see ourselves, our company and our purpose as there is also enormous opportunity out there.  Here are links (click on headings) to a few podcasts that might help you gain a new perspective or new focus during these challenging times.

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Responding to catastrophe

In times of crisis or catastrophe there are some among us who expect leaders to act quickly with informed decisive action and one simple stable message. This primitive expectation ignores the complex reality of chaos caused by the event at hand and totally ignores fluid and moment to moment changes in reality.

Tim has prepared a short paper on what we know from how social systems behave in a time of crisis. Click here to download your copy

Tim Dalmau


Thinking and leading in complexity, crisis and catastrophe

Using the Boyd Cycle as a guide to response

We heard today of a man riding his push bike in Auckland who noticed a passer-by sneeze into his tissue and then throw the tissue to the ground. Understanding the significance of what had just happened our bike rider immediately turned around to request the walker pick up the tissue. He intended to explain to him the significance of his actions. He never made it. The bike fell in a hole, he fell off and he now resides in an Auckland hospital with a broken pelvis.

Like the scenes two weeks ago of closely-placed backpackers partying in Bondi Beach, Sydney and the (now) spread of Covid-19 throughout Bondi, or like those who gather in parks or on beaches against public guidelines the walker, and these other groups, do so without understanding or appreciating the huge system level variables at play.

Their thinking, their choices are often made without any real appreciation of what is at stake, or what is actually going on. It was Gregory Bateson who gave us the distinction between logical levels and logical types. Such behavior is often driven by sheer lack of information or knowledge; however, it represents failing to think at the required logical level. More often it is driven by whether the individuals involved like or dislike the effects of the interventions made by governments and other societal dynamics into their daily lives and behavior.

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Would you like to make better sense of what is happening in these unpredictable times and what is being asked of you?

Sometimes taking time out, having a chat and consequently being able to see things differently can help. 

For a free 30 minute video chat with an experienced change consultant …

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