How to build belonging at work (and why it matters)

According to the Deloitte Human Capital Trends 2020 report, belonging at work and well-being are the two most important human capital issues right now. Efforts to create a sense of belonging have traditionally focussed on respect and inclusion in many organisations. The theme here has been that if we can support people to feel comfortable and accepted for […]

Organisational change and the art of crocodile management, Part Two

When organisations are developing an order of change designed to achieve a whole new level of performance, you can be sure of one thing: it will rouse from slumber the “inner crocodiles” of the staff who have to implement it. This happens courtesy of a small but powerful brain structure called the amygdala. Amygdalas are […]

Organisational change and the art of crocodile management, Part One

Lest anyone think I’ve taken leave of my senses, what I’m calling “crocodile management” has a well-established basis in neuroscience. Let me explain. Organisational change may often be in dynamic interplay with organisational conservation; think small innovations that don’t rock the boat too much. However, every so often, big, disruptive change becomes an unavoidable necessity. […]

Egos and collaboration: Building Effective Teams, Part Three

Last time, we concluded with the core finding from the Haas Business School study: power can be beneficial for individual performances but can sabotage team performances. That’s quite a paradox for leaders, who want their teams to be as effective as possible as collective entities but not at the expense of undermining the individual creativity […]

Conversational meltdowns and how to prevent them: Part one

Most of us have either witnessed or found ourselves involved in work-based conversations that suddenly seem to erupt into verbal pyrotechnics and turn into conversational meltdowns. Other times, there are conversations that are intended to be about important work-related matters, but everyone in attendance nervously knows that the interlocutors involved have a history of antagonism […]

Harnessing the infinite: from command and control to complexity theory

Human teams are enigmatic entities: they collaborate on shared aims and goals at one level, and randomly reshape or reform those very aims and goals at another. Welcome to complexity theory. For managers, this can be something of a headache. Getting a project wrapped up on time and on budget appears to require disciplined oversight […]

Positive Psychology and the problem of the ‘not positive’ (Part 1)

Positive psychology has become the focus of considerable critical attention of late – a mark, perhaps, of its growing stature. However, I think there is a misconception in some of these critiques – the assumption that positive psychology necessarily excludes experiences we might designate ‘negative’, or at least ‘not positive’. Positive psychology is not about […]

Good questions create better worlds (Part 2)

Carrying on our focus on Appreciative Inquiry and the use of good questions, here we will consign a few more well-intentioned but counter-productive questions to the bin marked ‘never to be asked’. Bad question #3: Have you thought of doing it this way? This sounds like a helpful intervention, but no matter how benign the […]

Good questions create better worlds: Appreciative Inquiry (Part 1)

People often ask good questions; but that they ask questions is rather less important than how they ask them. Case Western Reserve University Professor David Cooperrider puts what is at stake when asking a question rather deftly: “We live in the world our questions create.” Cooperrider is a pioneer of ‘appreciative inquiry’, which holds that good questions are […]