Podcast 193 — Can an organisation really manage itself?

Self-management is increasingly seen as the most diplomatic way to run an organisation. But how does this work when critical, time-sensitive decisions have to be made? What structures do these organisations need to have in place to succeed? And how do they overcome the challenges they are presented with?

Written by Nicola Boyle
Published 05 May 2020
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Podcast 193 — Can an organisation really manage itself?

This week on the Good Practice Podcast, Nicola Boyle and Owen Ferguson are joined by organisational self-management coach Lisa Gill.

In the episode we discuss:

  • The critical success factors of running a self-managing organisation

  • The challenges of running a self-managing organisation

  • The benefits of shifting to self-management 

Nicola

Hello, and welcome to the Good Practice Podcast, from Emerald Works. A weekly show about work performance and learning. I'm Nicola Boyle, and this week we're discussing self-managing organizations.

Here with me this week is regular podcast contributor, Owen Ferguson. Hi Owen

Owen

Hello Nicola.

Nicola

And our organizational self-management coach Lisa Gill. Hi Lisa.

Lisa

Hi.

Nicola

So, Lisa can you start by explaining what a self-managing organization is

Lisa

Yeah, sure. So I think there are lots of different definitions and lots of myths and misconceptions about what a self-managing organization is. But the definition that I like is one by Amy Edmondson and Mike Lee where they say that a self-managing organization is one that has radically decentralized authority in a formal and systematic way across the organization. So it's not just a sort of pocket of the organization that's self-managing, or a self-managing team, but rather a very intentional, across the whole organization. Authority, decision making, are all distributed.

Nicola

And can you give us some example of organizations that have done this?

Lisa

Yeah, so I think two of the ones that people might be coming across in press and Harvard Business Review and stuff like that at the moment are... One is a dutch nursing organization called Buurtzorg. Which has about, I think it's about 14,000 employees, nowadays. And they deliver home care. And they've been self-managing for a number of years, and incredibly successful, because they have these decentralized self-managed teams of 12. And they have a huge percentage of the market share in the Netherlands, and they've been teaching their model to other organizations. So there's lots of, sort of proof that this model really works

And then the other example is in China, a company called Haier, H-A-I-E-R, which has about 75,000 employees, and they're kind of the darling of the self-managed organization at the moment. So people are getting very excited about them, because they are the largest white goods manufacturer in the world. They've reinvented themselves many times since the '80s, I think. And they have a different model, which is lots of little micro-enterprises that are all self-managed. So those are two examples of large scale self-managed organizations at least

Owen

So those two are... One of the things about self-managing organizations, whenever I've read the literature about it, they tends to focus on organizations that seems to have started out differently to most large organizations. So if I think back to... Remember reading Gary Hamel's The Future of Management, years ago. And he mentions W.L. Gore, for one of the examples that he gave. And I think that's also where I came across Valve, as a self-managing organization for the first time. But both of those organizations started out, right from the very start, with radically different ways of managing their work. And so, I'm wondering with the two examples that you've given, Buurtzorg and Haier, whether they have... To what extent did they start out that way? Or at least very differently from a traditional management organization, or did they transition to that

Lisa

Yeah, great question. Actually, by coincidence, those two examples I've picked, one... Each of them are in different camps, those two camps you mentioned. So Buurtzorg did start that way. So Jos de Blok founded it from scratch with this vision of having self-managed teams. Whereas Haier, I think it's origins go back to the '80s, and it's reinvented itself, I think four times. There's some great books out there about it, because it's quite a complex model, and Zhang Ruimin, the CEO, is quite a inspirational guy, who's been quite visionary at different phases of the company's life.

So, at one point, he took a sledgehammer to fridges, when their quality was really bad, and making a stand for something else. So they were set up much more traditionally in the beginning, and they've reinvented themselves. And this current model is designed to much more agile. Sort of shortening the distance between the customer and the people in the teams. So I think, I would say, it is harder to transition from a traditional organization to a self-managing organization, because there's sort of legacy to carry over.

Another example of that is another health care organization in Scotland called Cornerstone, that transitioned from a traditional organization, or their transitioning, they're still in progress with it. And they went for a system of kind of opt in teams, and some key principles. So they've been rolling out team by team. And I'm seeing a few organizations doing that. So particularly if you're a larger organization it can be really challenging to transition to self-management, so there is an advantage to starting that way from scratch of course.

Owen

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Because I would imagine one of the advantages is if you start out that way, or you've got established practices, then you are recruiting people who are looking for that, as opposed to... And I'm not sure the extent to which this true, but there is a degree of comfort in hierarchy, in that you're not involved in making a final decision. That it is being sort of delegated upwards, if you will. So, to what extent is that a challenging for organizations that are transitioning, in that they've got a pool of people who haven't chosen to join an organization like that, they've chosen to join an organization that has a more traditional hierarchy and more certainty and familiarity around that

Lisa

Yeah. I think that observation's spot on. And what's interesting is that you find most organizations that transition to this way of working. Usually about 15%, I forget the specific number, but it's around 15% of people end up leaving. And sometimes that's voluntary, and sometimes they're kind of coached to leave the organization, because you're right it is a change in the kind of relational contract in a way. And not everyone is cut out for self-management. And that applies to both, kind of, former managers that are struggling to let go, and give away authority, but also for employees, who previously hadn't had decision making power, and that can be a really big challenge, a really big shift. To suddenly be expected to do that, we're not practiced in that, most of us who haven't been managers.

So it's interesting to note that, that it's quite common for a small chunk of people to leave the organization because it's not longer a good fit

Owen

So, what... In terms of running a self-managing organization then, what are the... What do you have to have in place? Because it's not a complete free for all, and it's not a complete democracy, where everyone votes on anything is it? I mean all the organizations that I've read about or heard about, there are certain structures they have to have in place in order to operate effectively

Lisa

Yeah, for sure. I think that's one of the misconceptions that I kind of mentioned at the top, is that actually in reality, most of the self-managing organizations I've come across are much more structured, or much more intentional about their structures. You're right, it's not a free for all, and it's not everyone decides everything, because that would be incredibly ineffective

So, I think for me one of the people whose put this really well, a guest that I had on my podcast called Miki Kashtan, whose quite influential in the non-violent communication movement. And she sort of summarized that you need to have three shifts, really for a self-managing organization to thrive. The first is a structural systemic shift. So she talks about five core systems that we need to reinvent in line with this way of working that we want to achieve. Because if you don't do that, then we'll only inherit the previous structures unconsciously, that we don't want. So those five systems are decision making, resource distribution, how is money and human power distributed. Information flow, how does information flow around the system. Feedback loops, how do we learn what's working, or how do we learn about the impact that we're having. How do we improve? And then the fifth one is conflict transformation. So what do we do when there's a conflict. How do we attend to the relationships in the organization

So all five of those core systems need to be reinvented, otherwise self-management's not going to work. And then the other two shifts that she talks about are much more inner shifts. Which I think is less spoken about, and less written about, in the literature around self-managing organizations. So she says that there needs to be a shift within the people who have had power previously, so managers in this case. And an inner shift within the people who haven't had power historically. So, employees. That there needs to be, for managers, as I said, this ability to step back, to learn when to let go and to empower others, or to get out of the way. To consider other perspectives. All of those sort of leadership skills that are totally different to the industrial kind of management skills that we've all been conditioned in.

And then for those of us who haven't previously had decision making power, it's also really challenging. In some ways, more challenging, because it can feel scarier, riskier. Now I have to step up. I have to ask for what I need, I have to make proposals, I have to make decisions, I have to be responsible in a totally different way, and that requires a lot of development

So, I think those three shifts, the kind of five core systems, the shift in those who have had power previously, and the shift in those who haven't are really key. And without all of those three things... and of course you don't have to... It's not like you're going to be able to do those three things overnight, it's a process. But I think all of those three pillars are really key pieces of this transformation, and if you only address the structures and processes, it's not going to work. And at the same time, if you only address the kind of relational human stuff, but everything else is unclear or ambiguous, you're also going to run into big challenges.

Owen

So, are there types of organization or types of industries that are better suited towards being a self-managing organization, or can it apply to sort of any context? Because there are certain kinds of organizations or certain industries, where hierarchy is much more traditional and more prevalent. I think if you were to look at sort of the history of management, things have shifted from being very sort hierarchy and authority driven, to becoming more like a self-managing organization, but keeping certain elements of a more traditional structure, for efficiency's sake, more than anything else. I mean ultimately when it comes to it, you mentioned one of the core systems is decision making. It's very efficient to have a single point where there's someone who can break the ties, almost. And make a final decision. And managers have traditionally had that sort of... That authority.

So, is this way of working applicable across any kind of organization

Lisa

Yeah, it's an interesting question and I often get asked this. And at the moment, my answer is it seems to work across all industries. But that isn't to say... It seems like there are certainly industries where it's probably an easier, where it's a smaller leap. So one example would be tech companies that are maybe already using Agile. It's quite a logical transition then, into self-management. Though, not necessarily, because some tech companies, even though they're using Agile, are more hierarchical than they realize. So there's often blind spots.

But then, there's this Spanish company called K2K Emocionando, and they're really interesting, because they've transformed, I think 70 plus organizations in the Basque Country in Spain. And many of those have been industrial companies, factories and things like that. And previously companies that I might've thought, ""Oh, that will be much more difficult."" Perhaps service companies are easier to transform.

But actually in those examples, it seems like people on the frontline are much more connected to what improvements need to be made, in order to do their job well. So when you lift out all of the hierarchy and bureaucracy, suddenly huge potential and energy is released. So they have some amazing case studies of companies that they've transformed from the brink of bankruptcy to flourishing, by introducing self-management there.

So I think it seems to work across any industry really, and every company's different of course. And interestingly, people often ask me about cultures as well. Does this work better in cultures in countries where the sort of societal norm is less hierarchical for example. And then again that's a question I'm exploring, because I'm sort of keen to challenge that idea. So I've spent some time with a self-managing company in India, a paper factory. And a lot of people say that, and Indians included, ""Oh, this would not work in India, because our culture is too hierarchical."" But this company has proved that that's not the case. Yes, it's challenging. And yes, you could say it's more challenging perhaps than if you have a less hierarchical culture in a country like Sweden for example.

But even then, I think there are lot of blind spots. That even if we think we're very egalitarian and flat, I think there are still a lot of inherited conditions, mindsets about leadership and about collaboration for us to unpick and examine. So, yeah, my answer seems to be it can work anywhere, if you have the commitment and the right people and the right energy

Nicola

Lisa, is that company that you just mentioned, the Indian company, are they working worldwide? Or are there any examples or organizations that do work worldwide, and have cross-cultural teams

Lisa

Yeah, so that example, they're called Yash, they're based in India only, although they are starting to go into markets in the US. So I'm not sure if they now have some team members in the US. And I know... I suppose W.L. Gore would be an example of a global organization. And they've been organized more or less self-managed since, I think the '40s, as you said. Quite a while. And then I know some organizations that have started to have colleagues in India as well. So they have a self-managed company. So an example is Ian Martin Group, which is a recruitment company, largely based in Canada, but they now also have a lot of colleagues in India. And so they're sort of navigating, how does self-management look in India? Because it will look different, and the starting point will be different, and sort of navigating that

So it's an interesting challenge, and I think again with self-management, it doesn't have to be everyone doing everything. And I don't think... It seems kind of counter to the spirit of self-management to impose one version of what things should look like. It sort of allows for dynamic sort of differences, so it's interesting

Nicola

I just wonder if part of it, as well, is changing of mindset within a company. So I think it, is it David Marquet who talks about the leader leader approach? And is it more that people within an organization have that at the forefront of their mind, rather than adopting a totally flat structure? If that makes sense

Lisa

Yeah, I often describe it as, it's like two dimensions. So there is a dimension of structures and processes, and then there is a dimension that I would call mindset way of being, leadership culture, the sort of human side of things if you like. And I think a lot of organizations particularly in the tech sector, will sort of address the structures and processes piece, but not really address the mindset way of being, kind of leadership piece. And that's partly because we're still sort of figuring out what that looks like, I think

But another way that I describe it as well, is... And I think this plays into what David Marquet says, is moving from a kind of parent-child paradigm of leadership to an adult to adult paradigm. And that's, again, from both directions, bottom up and top down. That we all need to learn as human beings how to relate to each other in an adult to adult way in a work context. Because we haven't done that, since the industrial revolution. We haven't done that. We've been conditioned, right or wrong, into this paradigm of leadership. Which is, if I'm an employee, I am a bit passive, I am a bit waiting for someone to make a decision, or I want... If I don't like something I want a better manager

And if I'm a manager, I've been promoted my whole career for being responsible, for making decisions, for all of these qualities that actually then are in my way, if I want to be a more adult to adult style of leader. So there's a lot of unlearning to do, which is scary, and many people in self-managing organizations I talk to, describe that this is a really challenging process. Even painful, is the word they often use. Growth pain.

But, with all learning in life, it's the kind of painful learning moments that are the most rewarding or the most shifting. Those are the things that really change who we are, so everyone says it's painful, but it's so rewarding.

Owen

So, just before, because I'm keen to get onto what are some of the benefits that you get out of it. But, I'm interested in how much effort is required to sustain that way of working. So one of my favorite social science papers over the last few years, was a piece of research looking at the relationships that existed in Wikipedia. So, Wikipedia, editable by anyone, it's one of the most egalitarian ideas that's out there. But what they did was, they looked at how Wikipedia was structured and organized amongst the people who contributed and edited Wikipedia itself

And what they found was, that something that seemed to be quite decentralized at the start, over a period of time, what emerged was a traditional looking bureaucracy, with centers of expertise and hierarchy. So it's almost as if the reason why so many organizations are structured in this way, is that hierarchy emerges, whenever you start pulling people together. It's almost like a default, that seems to come up. And I'm wondering to what extent you have to guard against that constantly. I mean, you're a self-managed organization, to stop yourself from falling into a point where those kinds of structures emerge. Maybe not formally, but perhaps informally

Lisa

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, to me there's two key parts of your question that I want to address. One is what's the commitment that it takes to keep this, to hold the space for this, to stay alive. And the second about hierarchy. Is hierarchy a default for groups of humans, and what do we do about that

So I think I'll address the second one first. Part of my learning journey with self-managing organizations is realizing that hierarchies are really natural parts of human collaboration. And hierarchy in itself is not bad, or good. It's just... You could call it a technology, even. It's neither good nor bad, it depends how you apply it. And so I think a lot of self-managing organizations fall into a trap, of a kind of leadership vacuum, or an accountability vacuum, because there's so worried of ending up with a hierarchy. And so anything that resembles leadership, or power, we kind of reject. Like, ""Oh no! We mustn't go back to that, that's from the old world."

But hierarchies are really useful, and leadership is really important. And self-managing organizations need to be leader full. So that requires kind of allowing for dynamic hierarchies to emerge, and naming them, and making sure that they're really transparent, and that they're the hierarchies that we all agree serve our purpose together. So the danger is if you don't do that, then you end up with this concept that Jo Freeman wrote about, Tyranny of Structurelessness, where it becomes... You have a shadow hierarchy going on. And that's more toxic I would say, than a kind of bureaucratic, pyramidal hierarchy. So hierarchies are not something to be rejected, it's kind of reframing how we see hierarchy, I think

And then the second piece you mentioned about the commitment to keep this going I think is really important too. And I think, I guess some listeners of your podcast might have read a book called Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux. And there are a couple of examples of organizations in that book, which after sort of embracing new ways of working and becoming self-managing, and what he calls Teal. When the kind of founder, or the visionary leader left that organization, that way of organizing and way of being collapsed, and it kind of reverted back to the traditional top down pyramidal hierarchy

So I think there is this paradox in self-managing organizations that it does require a person and people to really hold the space and to be committed to keeping alive this way of working. It's like a constant vigilance. And when that doesn't happen, if that person drops that ball, it's so easy to go back. It's like we're trained that way, it's a habit. So that's really interesting. And there is, I'll just throw in another name to the mix, which is a guy that I came across a few years ago called Peter [Kernig 00:23:45], and he's studied how initiatives and enterprises are started, and a role that he calls source, which is a special role that one person holds to kind of keep alive the vision. So it's not... It's kind of a creative hierarchy, or a creative authority. So that person doesn't interfere with decisions in the other initiatives, but they're sort of holding the edges, the boundaries of the field.

And he saw that in Frederic Laloux's book, Reinventing Organizations, this was the role that many of the visionary founders and leaders were holding. So Jos de Blok, from Buurtzorg, who I mentioned at the start, very much is the source of Buurtzorg. And he holds the boundaries of that. He doesn't have power over anyone, in terms of dictating decisions, and decisions are made collaboratively, but he has a very clear sense of what's in and what's out in terms of the Buurtzorg vision. So it's this paradox of leadership and distributed leadership, and allowing for both, and being much more conscious about that. Which is also... Margaret Wheatley talks about that we need the same shift in leadership in organizations as we had in science, with the kind of quantum science movement. It's a complete other paradigm, which we're just sort of starting to figure out.

Owen

So, it sounds as if... So this may sound as if it's a lot of work. Right? Because you need to... If anyone's in tradition then you need to maintain the effort to keep the sort of the core idea going, and it requires a lot of shifts in mindset, et cetera. So why do it in the first place, I guess? What do organizations get out of moving to a self-managed structure

Lisa

Yeah, I think, to go back to a comment you made earlier about decision making, that it's very efficient to have a single point, who ultimately makes the final decision for example. I think one of the benefits of a self-managing organization is that you can have many different ways that you make decisions together. And you can decide that that's a really important piece. But the idea is that when you have more collaborative decision making, and that doesn't mean consensus necessarily, it might be a consent based decision. But you... Or you use the advice process, another very simple decision making process. But the quality of your decisions improves, because you involve many more brains and hearts than a traditional pyramidal organization.

And also, because you've done that, in a traditional organization, yes it's efficient that one person makes an autocratic decision. But it's not efficient in terms of... They might not have taken into consideration valuable information from the rest of the system about that decision. They also then have to communicate that, and kind of cascade it down the whole organization, which is costly, in terms of time and energy and money and everything. So there is, of course, an advantage of increased agility, and responsiveness that you're kind of much more of a web, or a network. And everyone in the organization becomes a sensor. So you can move much more quickly. And at the time we're recording this, in the midst of this pandemic, and talking to a lot of the self-managing organizations I've spoken to for my podcast, and hearing amazing stories of how people are responding in times of crisis. Where it's not one person, or a couple of people in a department's job to strategize, how do we respond to this as an organization, how do we take care of people, how do we answer questions about payroll and all of these things

Suddenly, ideas and decisions and proposals are coming up from all over the organization, and many more people, who have much more distributed experience and diverse expertise can contribute, in a way that's not possible if we assume... It's kind of mad when you think about it, that we assume a leader, a manager, can do so many things. We expect a manager to be able to do kind of task management and people management, and that's a lot to ask of one human being.

So one of the advantages is distributing that, and having many more brains and hearts working on things. And there are also benefits in terms of... Buurtzorg for example, there are cost saving benefits, in terms of minimizing overheads, and in terms of innovating and all of that kind of stuff. But I always say that as a further down the list advantage. Because if you approach this from a perspective of, ""Yeah, let's go self-managing, because we'll make more money, or we'll save money."" Then that's a trap, I think, because it's not a linear process, and it's going to be messy and difficult. And if you're going in with that mindset, then it's going to be... I would be very surprised if you didn't pull the plug, several months or a year down the line. Like, ""Oh no, this is much more complicated, and we're not getting those cost benefits that we wanted."

So, yeah, lots of advantages, and from a human perspective, the development curve if you work in a self-managed organization is exponential. Suddenly you tap into all kinds of skills and energy in the organization you didn't realize where there, and people learn and grow very fast, because they have to. Because they're suddenly more responsible, they're co-responsible for this staying together

Owen

Sorry, I've got one final sort of question going on, so... I would imagine, although I could be wrong, that most of the people listening to this podcast probably aren't the chief executive, or sit on the board of a large multi-national organization. So I guess one of the things I'm wondering is, can you, should you, what are the benefits of transitioning to this kind of working in pockets, as opposed to doing it right across the organization? Because I think what we've been talking about is sort of organizations are either being set up, or doing a full transition, although you have mentioned that some of them are doing it in stages

So if this were something that excited you and you thought, ""Actually, I could see this working in my area of responsibility, or in one of the areas that I partner with."" Is that something that you should explore, or how would you go about doing that

Lisa

Yeah, I would say two things in response to that. One is that I interviewed a guy called Vivek Menon from Danfoss Power Solutions on my podcast, who talked about, in the future organizations will be ambidextrous. That it's not necessarily the case that all organizations have to become self-managing. But I think much more we will see this ambidextrous organizations. So in his organization, they have traditional pyramidal kind of structure, and then they have certain business units across the organization that are much more self-managed, decentralized, agile. So that they can handle different challenges. So it's sort of making sense of what purpose does self-management make sense for, and what doesn't it. So that's one thing

And then the second thing I would say is that if you are listening and you're in the middle of an organization say, or you're not in a position of influence to kind of implement some kind of whole organizational shift. I think there are some really good tools out there, to help you do little micro-shifts, just in sort of day to day ways that you interact with each other.

So two examples I would share is, one is liberating structures, which is a suite of 33, what's called micro-structures, which are sort of different ways that we can interact with each other in meetings or in collaborative discussions, that are much more structured, but also much more liberating in terms of involving many more people in shaping the outcome of a discussion. So there's a free app you can download, and those are some really simple structures that anyone can learn. You don't have to be a facilitator. And you can change your meetings, tomorrow. You can pick up the app, try one, and it will shift. And it's like a... The authors, Keith and Henry, talk about acting your way into a new way of organizing. So going by micro-habits first, rather than a huge top down change initiative. So that's one thing

Nicola

Lisa, could you give us a couple of examples of those

Lisa

Of liberating structures, yeah. So, a really simple one is called one, two, four, all. So you have people reflect on something for one minute in silence, jotting down ideas on a post-it note, for example. So it might be a question, or it might be in response to a presentation or something you've just shared. And then the two part, you put people into pairs. So if you're doing this online, you can put them into a breakout room with two people, for example. And you spend two minutes sharing what you reflected on. And then you join up with another pair into a four, and you spend four minutes starting to kind of consolidate, and share, and process and synthesize, and notice the differences and similarities of what you reflected on. And then finally, the all part. You come back, and you just share some highlights for five minutes

So that's one, two, four, all. It's 12 minutes long, but you can rapidly filter through lots of different people's ideas and thoughts, so you engage everyone. So if you're an introvert, it's a dream. So that's a really simple one.

And then there are other ones, like... And they're kind of curated from different places. So listeners might be familiar with some of the other ones, like conversation caf�, or open space technology, or user experience fishbowl. So all of these are different structures that allow you to tap into the collective intelligence, creativity, wisdom of a group. And engage everyone, from the get go in a meaningful way

Nicola

Thank you. Yeah we'll pop a link in the show notes to that app as well.

Lisa

Yeah, and then the second tool I wanted to mention is, there are quite a few good canvases out there, so The Ready an OS canvas, they call it, like an organizational operating system canvas. And the Corporate Rebels have a canvas as well, which is sort of identifying chunks that make sense of how an organization is organized. All the different sort of systems, like decision making, like information sharing.

For you two, as a team, or as a group, start to think about, if we were to run some little experiments, just like moving the dial a touch. If we wanted to change the way we made decisions to make it more collaborative. What could a small low risk experiment be, that we could run for the next month. And The Ready also have a series of tension and practice cards that are quite a fun activity to use, where you kind of notice what are the biggest tensions in our organization? What are some example practices we could try? So just sort of lowering the barrier to entry. Let's just try a couple of little things, in our team, where I have influence and I can shift things.

Nicola

We'll now move onto a regular feature, what I learned this week, where we each share something we've picked up on over the last seven days. Owen, would you like to go first

Owen

Sure thing.

Justin T. Pickett, who not only has an excellent name, but is also an Associate Professor in the School of Criminal Justice, at the University of Albany, sent out a tweet last week, showing a summary of some research into attention checks in online surveys. So, one of the things that you have to worry about when you're collecting data, using an online survey, particularly when you're using incentives, is that people will just try and get through that survey as quickly as possible, rather than pay attention to the questions and answer it properly

So, an attention check is basically a question in the survey that aims to filter out those respondents that aren't paying attention. And the most common way of doing that is to insert an instruction into a question. So, for example, the survey might have a question: what color is fresh, uncut grass? Make sure to select purple as an answer so that we know that you're paying attention.

So, Justin Pickett's tweet shared a chart, comparing the percentage of college student respondents who failed attention checks, compared to respondents that were recruited through Amazon's Mechanical Turk service, over a series of several studies, over a number of years. And what it showed was that college students did pretty poorly, compared with the Mechanical Turk recruits. So I just thought that was really interesting, that you might think that Mechanical Turk, because it's kind of going out to this sort of faceless mob, and you're just getting people who are only in it for the money, actually the kind of responses that you get might actually be a higher quality, than responses that you're getting if you're only recruiting from a pool of college students. And of course college students are a favorite recruiting ground for a lot of academic studies, because they're relatively cheap, and they're very close to the people who are actually doing the research

And then, of course, I ran into this whole rabbit hole of research into using attention checks in surveys. And inevitably it led to me finding out it was all more complicated than you would ever think. So I think what I've learned is that attention checks in surveys are useful, but you need to be very careful in how you use them

Nicola

Yeah, I thought you were going to say you put one in a Emerald Works survey

Owen

Maybe I have, Nicola, maybe I have.

Nicola

Lisa, would you like to go next

Lisa

Yeah, this was a tough one, because I think I'm a bit of a learning addict, so I was sort of like, ""Oh, which one can I choose?"" I think one that's current for me in the last week, is I've been joining an online interactive course, run by a colleague of mine called Helen Sanderson. Who is a really great person to follow, if listeners are looking for someone who's great at working out loud. She also has her own podcast, called a Cup of Teal, which is interviewing mostly people from health and social care organizations that are shifting to self-management. So she's a really great person in this field

And she's been running this online course based on Brene Brown's book Dare to Lead. So I've been enjoying being a learner myself, because usually I'm the trainer or the coach. And to me it's just bringing home how possible it is to create really engaging learning experiences in a Zoom call, and using tools like Mural, for virtual white board collaboration stuff. And that you can create psychological safety, and you can kind of really explore leadership development together in a good way, using breakout rooms and things like that. And liberating structures in a virtual setting

So I've just been very inspired by that example of what's possible in this space. Because I know a lot of people are struggling with back to back online meetings, and that it's really hard to read body language, and it's hard to maintain your focus and your energy. So there's some good research coming out about... That we need to shift things up every ten minutes or so, in a virtual call, to keep people engaged. So yeah, that's been something that's been bedding in with me in terms of learning for the last week or so.

Nicola

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Seems quite timely, doesn't it? Because I've been reading quite a lot about Zoom fatigue and things like that. And so that's very interesting and we'll pop a link in the show notes about that as well

My what I learned this week. So I took part in a virtual wine tasting on Saturday, which was quite interesting, and one word that I learned, I hope I'm pronouncing this right, is terroir, and that is about how everything from the soil composition, the region's climate, the slope of the vineyard, that all affects the taste of wine. So I just thought that was quite interesting. It's probably quite obvious, but I just never thought about that. And the word is terroir.

And that's all from us this week. If you'd like to get in touch with us about anything we've said on the show, you can tweet me @Nicola_BoyleEW. You can tweet Owen..

Owen

@owenferguson

Nicola

And Lisa, how can listeners get in touch with you

Lisa

Yeah, they can tweet me if they like, @disruptandlearn, is my Twitter handle, or via my podcast, which is called Leadermorphosis, or via my website, reimaginaire.com.

Nicola

Perfect, thank you. And you can find out more about Emerald Works, at emeraldworks.com, and tweet us @Emerald_Works. And if you've enjoyed the show, please leave us a review and make sure you subscribe, so you never miss an episode. Thanks for listening. Bye for now.

To find out more about Lisa, visit her website: https://www.reimaginaire.com/

Listen and subscribe to Lisa's Leadermorphosis podcast at: http://leadermorphosis.co/

The Leadermorphosis episode with Miki Kashtan can be found here: http://leadermorphosis.co/ep-37-miki-kashtan-on-the-three-shifts-needed-for-self-managing-organisations-to-thrive

To find out more about the Liberating Structures app, click here: https://www.liberatingstructures.app/en/

For information on Helen Sanderson's Dare to Lead interactive course, click here: http://helensanderson.net/dare-to-lead/

Helen Sanderson's podcast A Cup of Teal can be found here: https://open.spotify.com/show/43iANzrV228opoHuom16HA  

Lisa Gill

Lisa Gill

Organisational self-management coach, Reimaginaire

Lisa Gill, included in the Thinkers50 Radar 2020, coaches teams and organisations who are interested in becoming self-managing and facilitates leadership courses that train people in a more adult-adult, coaching style of leadership with Tuff Leadership Training. She is also the host of the Leadermorphosis podcast, for which she has interviewed thought leaders and practitioners from all over the world about the future of work.

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Nicola Boyle

Nicola Boyle

Marketing Communications Executive, Emerald Works

Nicola has over six years of marketing experience. Her responsibilities include managing social media, podcast and webinar channels, as well content management and event planning. Nicola enjoys identifying and anticipating client needs and delivering the best possible experience to build successful long-standing client relationships.
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Owen Ferguson

Owen Ferguson

Product and Technology Director, Emerald Works

A self-confessed nerd, Owen is passionate about taking an evidence-led approach to developing digital products that solve real-world problems. He is also a regular on our weekly podcast.
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About the author

Nicola Boyle

Nicola Boyle

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