Archive for the 'Accountability' Category

Standards and Devotion – Leadership that changes people’s lives

Prefer to watch on video than read?  Click here – 5 mins with captions.

Ever had a leader that changed your life?  A teacher, a coach, a manager?  Would you like to be able to make that sort of difference?

What’s needed is simple, but not easy – the combination of Standards and Devotion that Frances Frei and Anne Morriss write about in their book Unleashed, which you should read.

Four Boxes!

So, what are we talking about?

Standards are as it sounds – the performance we want out of people. The level they are supposed to meet.

Devotion is about how much we care for another.  Their wellbeing, their success, whether they are OK.

Read more…

The Team Leader Role – How to Set it Up to Work

Prefer to watch on video than read?  Click here – 5 mins with captions.

The Team Leader role.  Called lots of things – sometimes ‘Team Leader’, older-school names are ‘Supervisor’ and ‘Leading Hand’, modern names are ‘Coordinator’.

Then we have the Manager role.  Sometimes called that, often now called ‘Team Leader’ because management has  apparently become evil, and in the US this role can be called ‘Supervisor’. 

And before you get started on ‘hierarchy is bad’, remember that most of us work in hierarchies, and it remains the optimal structure in many situations.

If it’s run well.  Which is what this is about.

Read more…

Manager Poker – the quick way to destroy ownership and accountability.

Prefer to watch on video than read?  Click here, 4 mins with captions.

When playing poker, or more importantly in my life with my three kids, when playing Uno, it’s important to hold your cards close to your chest.

We see the same in organisations – managers holding their cards close.  I call it playing Manager Poker.

It’s no good.

Read more…

Performance Measures that Worked – A Case Study From Major League Baseball

Would you rather watch the video than read?  If so, just click here.  4 mins with captions.

Managers introduce measures because they’re paid to get results…and often it goes nowhere.  This is a case study of where it worked, and it comes from Major League Baseball.

BaseballBalls and Strikes

First – the game of baseball.  Robin Williams said…

…so baseball is like test cricket on speed.

While you might know baseball as hitting, fielding and running around the bases to score runs, the key moment happens over 300 times a game when the pitchers throws (‘pitches’) the ball to the hitter.  If not put into play, each pitch is a ball or a strike.  Three strikes and you’re out, four balls mean you get to go to first base.

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Radical Competence – Leadership Lessons from Captain Hanks

Prefer to watch rather than read? Click here to watch the video, 5 mins, with captions. 

(Previous videos here BTW)

This week I break down a scene from Tom Hank’s new film Greyhound, which he wrote from the book The Good Shepherd by C.S. Forester.  To get the full effect, it’s really best to watch the video.

What you’ll see is an example of a small, agile organisation responding to the conditions at hand.  The organisation is made up of two Allied navy ships, and the conditions are attacking a German U-Boat that is threatening the convoy they are escorting across to Europe in World War II.  Here’s what we learn:

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Parent or Partner? The deep reason behind getting KPIs to work

Prefer to watch on videoClick here – 5 minutes, with captions.

‘We need to get KPIs sorted’ is a common refrain, which carries with it the assumption that it is the lack of these things that is constraining performance.

Unfortunately or fortunately…there’s deeper stuff going on that we need to be aware of if we want this sort of thing to work.  And if we’re not aware of it, sorting the KPIs will actually make things worse!

You’d know from your own experience that when the next initiative is introduced, including KPIs, the sensible response is to smile politely until it blows over, then get back to work.  This is a deep issue of ownership, and to understand it, we need to go deeper into working relationships.  And for this, we’ll use the work of Peter Block.

Read more…

How to make your organisation more adaptable WITH your hierarchy.

(Would you prefer to watch me explain this on video?  Just click here!)

This time we’re going into “fluid, flexible, task-based structures”.  Very fancy sounding words.

First, a quote.  This is from a KPMG report on the things that will change from COVID that was titled with great importance: “Our New Reality: Predictions after COVID-19”.

Remote work will break traditional management structures

As we shift from managing inputs to managing by outcomes, current organisational hierarchies won’t make sense. A shift to flatter and more fluid task-based structures will follow and require new management skills and changes to performance measurement and reward programs. Company culture will also need to be re-examined.

Hierarchies “won’t make sense”.  Come on!

Read more…

How to get out of the detail…and start doing your real job.

(If you’d prefer to watch and listen than read, click here)


The problem

If you’re in any sort of managerial role, it’s almost a given that you’re spending your time in the detail and not spending enough time doing the job you’re really paid for.  And that you’d rather be doing.  That job you’re paid for is about longer timespans –  looking into the future, maybe strategic stuff, maybe it’s improving things.  For you to be able to do your work and not be involved in doing the work of your people, three things need to be in place….

Clarity, Capacity, and Capability.

The 3Cs

The Three Cs. Or, be fancy,  3C.

If your people don’t have enough Clarity of what they need to do, if they haven’t got the Capacity to get it done, and if they don’t have the Capability to do it, who’s going to end up doing it?  You are!  And don’t feel bad – this happens because you’re a decent person.

This first article is going into Clarity.

Read more…

The underlying killer of accountability


“We need more accountability around here” Chloe said.

“What do you mean by that?” I asked.

“You know, people caring, people hitting their marks, doing what they said they would.  You know, being accountable” she replied with a slight tone of ‘what is wrong with you’.

“Like you do?” I asked

“Do you think I don’t” was the quick reply.

“No, not that at all, sorry” I immediately answered.  “I meant that question literally, you mean you’d like people to care about the place like you do as the CEO?”

“Well…..yeah.  That would be great!”

“So why don’t they?” I asked.

Chloe laughed – “I thought that’s what you were here to fix”.

I didn’t laugh at all.  I looked straight into her eyes.

“No.  This is what you have caused.  So it’s what you are here to fix”.

The pause was somewhat awkward.

“OK….I get it.” she said.  “So what can I do?”

“The word I use for what you’re looking for is ‘ownership'”.  I said.  “You want people around here to act like it’s their place.  Like it’s their money.  Like owners”.

“Yep, that pretty much it”. Read more…

Self-Management: A New Study?


A recent study compared a couple of different ways of organising a production environment.

Both groups had 40 employees.  The first group had seven types of roles and was divided into 14 subgroups, with coordination, integration and continuity of the work being the responsibility of management.

The second group coordinated itself.  They had the same roles as the first group, but they decided themselves who would rotate to what tasks and which shifts they would work.

Here’s the findings:

  • Second group demonstrated a much higher standard of workingship – tidier workspace, hardware well maintained, whereas the first group was more….sloppy
  • The second group spent 0.5% of their time on ‘non-productive ancillary work’, the first group 33% (yep!)
  • The second group had 60% less absence from the workplace, be it sickness, accident or no reason at all.
  • And in terms of production….the second group produced 50% more than the first50%!  Or to put it another way, the first group was at 78% of potential, the second at 95%.

What’s the study?

Well…I have to come clean.  By ‘recent’, I was more on a geological timescale.  The study was conducted in the 1950s.

Two hundred kilometres southwest, teenager John Lennon hadn’t even formed the Quarrymen, let alone the Beatles.

The production wasn’t software development.  It was coal mining.  In Durham, UK.  The work was getting the coal from long walls.  Fun stuff.

You can read about it in Gerrit Broekstra’s book Building High-Performance, High Trust Organizations.

You see, the results on this stuff are in – when people have some sort of control/autonomy/authority over their own work….things are better.  We don’t need further studies on this, and if you just ponder anything in your own work life where you’ve felt totally into it…I’m sure these conditions were there.

So, here’s some thoughts on what we’re seeing here, and in similar studies and examples of self-managing enterprises: Read more…