The Wicked Podcast

50th Episode - Special #3: Reading one business book a week for 50 weeks

June 15, 2021 [email protected] Episode 50
The Wicked Podcast
50th Episode - Special #3: Reading one business book a week for 50 weeks
Show Notes Transcript

We look back at 50 books and 50 great interviews with authors and thought leaders. Two hours of recording, these are some of the conversations, more to come. Do books work? What is creativity? Are managers overworked? What is sustainable failure? What is TeamOps?

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Music:
'Inspired' by Kevin MacLeod
Song: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/3918-inspired
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Marcus Kirsch:

Welcome to the wicked podcast where we read the business books you don't have time for. I'm Marcus Kirsch. And I'm Troy Norcross. And we are your co hosts for the wicked podcast. Marcus, who's on the show today? I think we are, and in theory, 50, authors in name, and we're going to put everything into, oh my god, we've been talking for two hours.

Troy Norcross:

And all I did was 50 books in 30 minutes,

Marcus Kirsch:

I have to cut this down to 30 minutes, oh, my God, it will be fun. I like what I know already. Because we're now recording this at the very end of two hours. It's hilarious. And the other stuff we'll put out too. But yeah, there's a whole year of reading books and talking to people and getting through COVID. And everything is in 30 minutes. So it's a bit of a mind blow. But it's been fun doing these last two hours. And there we are.

Troy Norcross:

So, I would like to send a personal thank you to each and every one of the authors who gave us such a huge amount of their time, their energy, their insights, that we can share them also with the rest of our listeners and the rest of your readers. Without authors writing great books, we don't have a podcast. So from me very much. Thank you, thank you for your time, your energy and your insights.

Marcus Kirsch:

We're so grateful. And also because, you know, there's some authors who have been very lucky, being very successful, selling 1000s and millions of books. And they gave up their time they gave it down to, you know, people like Tom Peters and others who are like, they're like, yeah, I talked to you guys. And we had like, no listeners at the time. I don't know. But you know, everyone was very gracious, very lovely. Gave us free time. We tried to, you know, you know, you notice, of course, we try to be very precious with people's time. We know what we're getting here. We know how precious time is. We try to ask very relevant questions. give everyone a good time chilled out environment. And, yeah. Now we're at 50. And yeah, I'm also very, very thankful, because the conversations we had are, were absolutely amazing, and so much joy. And we know, because we asked afterwards, if people were happy with what we're doing, and we're very happy that most people have a great time with us. And so do we. So, thank you so much all the authors. Thank you for everyone giving us all the time, and all the listeners as well to listen to whatever we rambling on. I know, I'm rambling more than everybody else. But so thank you so much.

Troy Norcross:

So 50 books, how in the world do we manage to get 50 authors to say yes, and come and talk to us? And how grateful are we to have had the insights from these authors, not just about their books, but everything they've done with their lives and in their careers? oddball question? What are your two favourite most outrageous titles? titles you mean in terms of outrageous title, favourite title of the book, below a zombie? And how to be a complete and utter eff up? Yeah, those are kind of outrageous titles. What are your favourite outrageous titles?

Marcus Kirsch:

Well, I'm more Yeah, title this is that that definitely on the top, as I'm very nerdy are often go with the ideas. And then so I liked talking about a rageous. So I love talking to Tom Peters, who is very unfiltered with his opinions. And you know, and who basically went, look, I'm 70. I don't give an F anymore. So it's all about people. And if you're in a room on a day with 100 people, if three people get what you're talking about, you had a good day. And he kept he kept telling us that we were youngsters, because he's 70 and we're a little younger, you know, and those areas, yeah, everywhere everyone was grey, and we were the young ones. And yeah, and he was using colourful language and I think it was very nice for him to go like look, there you go. And this is it and like 40 years of working in this stuff. This is all you get That's okay. That was lovely. And the other one was, there was a great insight talking to one of my heroes, David, Mike a, you know, a nuclear submarine, US Navy captain, ex captain. And what I did not know, when we first interviewed him is that he had quit the Navy. And when I asked him, like, why did you write the book? Is that because I was angry? So, okay, um, why were you angry? It's a great book is lovely. Well, yeah, well, I tried to do it on a different ship. And I didn't let me I was like, Wow, I didn't know that I thought he had tried to, you know, taught the Navy a bit more about it. And then oddly, didn't let him then he left, which is a shame. But that was great. Because he was dead on Right, right. Like this is this is what got me writing a book. And it's not easy right? writing a book. So thank God, he was angry. So I find that quite nice, because he was very clear as well about, look, this is how it works. This is how a shift of governance actually works. That even works in the military, if you do it, right. And those for me are, you know, you're not just in an organisation, you're in a life and death environment, where silly stuff just doesn't work. And that was great, because it was, you know, that's the most solid response, you need to get us like that works. It just works in the scenarios where you can easily slip up. You know, I enjoyed that, because I found that very, out there, because it's so unexpected, those kind of stories,

Troy Norcross:

you're picking up on the word creativity, with three books that are loosely related around creativity, we as creativity with the creator mindset. And as far as I'm concerned, the power of not thinking is a lot about creativity. And so all three of them together, tell an awful lot about what you just described about creativity, but in a space where they've got to be able to be creative and say, that didn't work. But in our discovery process, we found this.

Marcus Kirsch:

So this is really interesting, right? So now I'm like, I'm slightly playing my creative background here, of course, or it goes all the way back to design and art, which was interesting. Ba graphic design, and then did a lot of digital stuff. And then Ma and some computer related design a letter called design interactions. I wrote called you for it.

Unknown:

Yeah.

Marcus Kirsch:

A bit of research over at the Media Lab over in Dublin, that was fun to talking to scientists, who knew everything about any every chemical in the head, which is pretty intimidating, but awesome, and very creative. So so this is my point here that I'm actually want to get to is, I don't think I'm very creative. I ended up being I ended up loving drawing, and then that got me into design school. What I always loved and I think drawing is a really good example is observation mind. So the second you are allowed to observe things and by observation, trying to figure out how things work, which is also a bit of an engineering thing, right? So you're talking about creativity, engineering, all these trades. And having worked as developer, it's like, it's the same stuff, I look at things, I take them apart. And if I understand the bits and pieces, I can put it back together in a new way. That might be better. I don't always know that. But I'll try. And I see a beautiful connection between designer creativity and development, and you know, delivery, programming, all that stuff. Using all these tools. And I could expand that idea to a lot of other practices, being creative about it, is that you take things apart, you analyse them, you put them back together, and you'll end up with something new that you can test. That's I think all I've done, I don't think I had a unique view on anything. I just looked at lots of different pieces, and I ended up connecting pieces that other people don't connect. And that was quirky for some people interesting. And for some people worth an award, there you go. It's it's all just a point of view. But the interesting thing is that a point of view is based on are you allowed to have a look, are you allowed to have listen. So as a team if you are allowed to have a bit more time, and I'm starting to like to say is like if companies instead of spending 1% on listening, learning and looking and spending 10% on listening, learning and looking, I would say they get 100% more effectiveness in what they're trying to do. So creativity from He is just having the time and the luxury. And I think artists is a lifestyle and a profession where you do that 100% of the time, having a different look, different view and connecting different bits and pieces together. And I think organisations could do that, too.

Troy Norcross:

One of the first books we did was sunny, and she had the example of the anthill how ants a colony, everyone knows the responsibility, there really isn't any leader with everything just gets done. And there is indeed a collaborative cooperative spirit within within the colony. And I think that is how Mother Nature has delivered in spades, the kind of thing that real world human teams can indeed aspire to.

Marcus Kirsch:

Yeah, but you know, what's needed for that, right? So as much as to have maybe a queen that lays x, which is fine. So there's certain direction there or is it? Well, look at the x space is a supply of resources really, as all it comes down to. But beyond that, you know, be it in a beehive or be it in an anthill, you have this amazing, effective level of communication. So it's either these chemical markers that I think the ends are distributing, or it's the wiggling of the bomb that bees are doing. And they have this sausage out, they managed to buy those kinds of actually a lot of nonverbal communication managed to have communication that will that works amazingly well for them, they know when 100 bees have to start wiggling around in order to change the temperature of the beehive, down to a few degrees down a degree or something, you know, it works there. So communication. And again, this goes back to T mobs. If the communication between leadership and the teams are not working, then you have a problem. If you want to have a beehive, you better focus on communication, you share everything, you talk about everything and make sure people know as much as they know as they need to. And if they need to find something, they know exactly where to go to, to get the information. And if you don't do that, then you have a trouble then become ineffective. So we have two tools for this. We have two tools for this, we have tonnes of files and data and dashboards and in Slack, and you name it. Companies are only it feels they're only at the beginning to really do that. establish that, if I look, for example, at how many projects I've been seeing where a lot of research and insights are getting dumped on a file and end up on a folder that nobody knows where it is. Start with that. And I've seen teams who are really heartbroken about that when we went into an ideation shop, we went 20 ideas, prioritise them down, and we had to pick the first two or three max. And then we're like, oh, you're gonna, you're gonna dump all the other stuff like, No, no, no, no, it's gonna sit there, and you know where it is, there you go and make sure it's there. And it stays there. They're like, Yeah, but normally, we discard stuff, and then we'll never see it again. And we spend a lot of work, blood, sweat and tears on it. And it disappears. And we don't want to have to, it's like, well, you don't have to do this anymore. Because it's digital, it's data, it can sit there forever, it doesn't deteriorate. It's not paper, or whatever, you know. But it took in one project, a lot of convincing. And, you know, creating trust to the team to say, No, you can come here in six months, time or a year, pick another idea and test that one, because it's gonna be still here.

Troy Norcross:

I was gonna ask, and I'll ask again, is, what are the core principles of team ox?

Marcus Kirsch:

Or principle are that, from what I've seen over the last 20 years is that leadership and the teams or the people in our organisation need a new relationship? Because there's a massive gap. And it still goes back to the Industrial Revolution. And it's not been closed. So with the 50 books we've now been reading, and I'm sure there's hundreds of more, they all cover either leadership, or the spend a lot of time ideating around, or the delivery part, right. Okay. And nothing, there's very few of anything that consciously seems to combine these and say, Hey, hang on a second is a gap in between? Why is no one filling that? And I, I hear the same from leadership. And I've seen it from teams as well. You hear it from both sides, like leadership's going, I need more transparency. You know, I don't know what's going on in my teams, I can't see two or three levels down. And I can't activate anything. And the teams go like, I don't understand what leadership really once the governance level doesn't let me talk back up or challenge anything even so we're seeing all the research and expertise and we have a lot of reason to say hey, this is not a great idea, but we're not having the opportunity to write. So this relationship and communication is broken. Both sides want something else and the system doesn't allow them too, that's trying to solve.

Troy Norcross:

Okay, fine. So team Ops, that's the problem that team ops is trying to solve, which, you know, me, I'm always gonna point back to what's really happening is a breakdown or a lack of trust. Because the leadership trusted the teams to understand and execute on the vision, they would need to see three layers down. And if teams trusted the leadership, you know, to actually have the right direction for the company, they wouldn't need to be communicating all the way back up. So So what, based on all the books that we've been reading? What have you could have noticed, is missing that either teams or leaders or governance could do differently?

Marcus Kirsch:

Yes. So the obvious one, and I think that's been talking about when we start from the top is the whole redistribution of governance, right? So what you still see in place, and I've been literally over the last few months been in some transformation project, where instead of actually asking what's new, how does the new map look like? How does the new world look like? The first thing that was established was, this is our new government system, the new governance system often was nothing different than the old one, a couple of new labels, but said the same thing. And what it always indicated by design was essentially to say, Are we still going to look over your shoulder, we're still going to check every step you take, we don't trust you to make your own decisions. Right? So leadership needs to start to go out and say, Look, we don't have all the answers, we are struggling to draw up a vision. And I've seen leadership after leadership being challenged and struggling to draw up a vision. And therefore let's we need to actually, it's a complex, we need to evolve division together, we can just give the first assumption here. And then we will both have to work on this together to establish what this really looks like. Because we don't have all the answers. And as we seen in some of the books is like lead leadership should be it should be more servant leadership, so enabling the people who work for you. So that's one angle we saw in some of the books. The other one is about as a leader go out and be honest about the fact that you're biassed like everybody else, your human being, you're biassed you don't have all the answers. And be honest about it. And then people will go great, okay, so that feels safer for us to actually have a conversation and contribute to opinions, assumptions, insights, and so on. And then

Troy Norcross:

the other part and being vulnerable, being vulnerable is part of being authentic. And so when you are in being vulnerable, and you have your own biases, you admit your own mistakes. me one of the authors that we had on just, I think it was just last week says, you know, I'm a 12 mistakes, just getting out of bed, you know, and she's perfectly open about that. And I thought that was a really empowering thing to say, to own it and be okay with it.

Marcus Kirsch:

Exactly. And then the other one was, john would just add on as well, like you said, you know, having during COVID times, having dozens of conversations with leadership, and it took late night calls and a drink to finally talk about something that is not just actually really openly talk about the problems, but also, it got quite personal. You know, this this human aspect of people in leadership who say, look, I'd love to help, but I'm really struggling here, right? Which is not too dissimilar to a lot of stories you hear from people who work anywhere in the organisation, right? Just because the perception is like, Oh, just smarter. They have to make the decision, and I'm sure they will make a decision. And you know, they understand it better than I do. They don't. And actually, it takes quite a bit for leadership to go out and say, Look, yeah, sorry, I just, I don't know, right? And it stresses me out. And it keeps me awake at night was a very human authentic thing to say. So it would be great if that doesn't just come out at a very late night call. Under the influential

Troy Norcross:

and individually, so you have to go off on the individual tangent for just a minute, for just a second. The agile career, a great book, more than just my title, you know, and I think you actually, you know, with with with Sara, but after that you you had some really, really interesting things and the connectors advantage, how do you work as an individual? So not all of these business books that we read in the last year, were totally kind of team centric. Some of them were focused on how you as an individual can be better within the team. So how does team ops look at the individual and not just as at the team?

Marcus Kirsch:

So I think that's just ended. goes along as well with Think Big as well, you know, using using behavioural science to actually enable yourself to have bigger ideas and trust yourself more and have a process to get to certain values and, and benefits you can create and how to make your own life richer. So I think Yeah, interest in me is very connected. And we're not we're not talking Myers Briggs anymore, right? So the whole thing about I was saying with Perry Tim's as well, talking about HR and different new approach to how would you describe roles and responsibilities, I think, you know, over the last 20 years, if there's one thing that's true, is that people are struggling to write new job descriptions for people. And I literally today had an interview and a research project, I'm doing it where they were like, we're really struggling, describing this new position we need, because it needs to be Superman, or Superwoman, or super person, you know, because there's so much stuff they need to be able to do. And oddly enough, a lot of it had to do with, you know, if you look at Google's project, Aristotle, it's like a lot of soft skills, a lot of facilitation skills, a lot of skills that bring things and people together to more holistically understand stuff. So you know, it's the whole polymath thing. And actually, you know, this week, we're going to have a recording around polymath and what they mean today. So the whole era of the specialist is sort of a bit disappearing. And I I know, I shed all my 50, LinkedIn labels a couple of months ago, to reduce it back to three because I find it really weird that even when I used 50, different labels, for a lot of job descriptions, and other opportunities, only covered three out of 10. Even though the other seven, actually covered by I didn't use the right word of the label. So I didn't, you know, and it makes no sense to limit yourself or limit people and describe them like that. So it's a massive challenge to describe what you what you need in a business. And not be too simplistic in order to miss the people you actually should be hiring. It's a really tricky thing. And every recruiter I talked to I think the recruitment system is so broken. And it's really tough and challenging. The organization's have a hard time describing what they need. The recruiters are at a loss because they don't understand really what's going on. And they don't have to. Some are doing a really good job trying to find out more and understanding organisations. But it's really tough these days to describe a position and a lot of them are highly flexible positions. So in the absence of a description, people put in like 200 skill sets in order to cover enough to think Well, yeah, we might need that too. We don't know. But let's put it in there. Right? It's pretty crazy. So so some going a little bit back to t momstown. saying like, what I'm trying to do is actually approach it from a different direction, say, look, there's three main areas, one concerns what the business value is, you're creating one as the customer you're creating an in between is the capabilities of can you do this as an organisation. If you cover these three areas and know how to navigate around that need, then you got a good skill set as a team, which sounds like a very loose description, but I think it covers the core values and capabilities of what's, what a team these days needs, be it in a startup being in a massive organisation.

Troy Norcross:

So one of the all time favourite books was a complete surprise to me that I really, really enjoyed was the art of bureaucracy. And one of the tenants they make in the book is it we have bureaucracy, in our lives everywhere. And as long as it works for us, we don't notice it. It's only when bureaucracy frustrates us or creates friction, that we notice it. And I think that when you talk about governance, it is a form of bureaucracy yes or no.

Marcus Kirsch:

Exactly. So and as Mark from Amazon nicely said, and I think it will screen after this conversation that episode is that? Yeah, there's a good side to it and a bad side to it. Right? And the good side makes sense because we need some guidelines or guide rails and certain things and then it's a really positive because otherwise you can never get a group of people together. Not working towards certain principles and certain guidelines, you can do that. It's chaos. But on the other side, yeah, if you're too much relying on that, you don't take responsibilities anymore, and then you're getting into all sorts of troubles right? So but that goes back to governance right. So and And I had an actually don't remember if it was on the podcast, or it was in recent project, we had a conversation where people are saying, I'm going to all these zoom meetings and the hours and hours and hours and everyone's on it, instead of the relevant people to just have an actually lean conversation and then get on with it. Everyone talks all the time. And once giving your opinion, oddly enough, the second, someone decides, you know, Peter Drucker, a decision isn't made unless there's a person associated with it responsible for it a time given and what actually needs to be done. The second, there's a responsibility attached to a person's that Okay, are you doing this? Yes, I'm doing that great. That shuts down most people in the conversation. And certainly the people who before were really happy to give their opinion and it was an hour long conversation, suddenly step back. And the relevant people start talking and then quickly get to something that's governance, redistributing, attaching, saying yes, that's okay. Take responsibility. Let's go with it. That doesn't happen very often, unfortunately.

Troy Norcross:

Right. So another book, the management delusion. Yeah, it's really about kind of how do you change how you build teams, bringing in some really interesting experiences from his time at Twitter and everything else? How does that factor into building the right organisation that can be teal centric, or can benefit from Team ops?

Marcus Kirsch:

So I think that particular book is interesting, because I think it's been a symptom. It is it describes a symptom, right? or multiple symptoms of organisations trying to shift on knowing the need to shift but not not knowing how, because what he described a lot there is how project managers or managers are suddenly having to do 10 more things, right? Which I find odd. So why do you unload all of that to one person? Why don't you distribute it amongst the team, and then the team learns it can self manage or pick up some of those skill sets and roles and responsibilities and manage themselves without needing a manager. So instead of overstretching managers more and more and more, just just distributed and take the pain, you know, atomize the pain. So that book describes, interestingly, all the symptoms that are there, and all the all the all the things that are now getting piled up on managers. And I would argue, and I've seen this in projects, just distributed among the team team will pick it up. You know,

Troy Norcross:

shifting gears a bit, I think we look about a number of the books that we had, they talked about the word strategy. And strategy meant so many different things to each of these different authors and how they were kind of approaching it. And I think of strategy, you know, in the very old Accenture kind of catchphrase strategy is knowing what to say no to. That's the one thing that kind of gives you the best possible direction. We will come with our team Ops, how does team ops impact strategy?

Marcus Kirsch:

So strategy I find really interesting because yes, as well, I you know, I started working in delivery and and I ended up in innovation and strategy a lot. And they seem to sit sometimes close together. And particularly when I worked in the advertising industry, a couple of years back. And strategy I found quite disappointing there because it says, oddly enough, one head of strategy sometimes thought, at some point told me like, Oh, actually, we're not really doing really strategy. We're just doing tactics. like, Okay, fair enough. Because what I found there was that the level of research and data we got in and insights we got in there, we used in strategy, I found a phone, so top line, that there were just not worth their money, you know, things like, Oh, it's really important to see now that the young people are watching less TV and are watching more than mobile phone on YouTube. It's like, oh, gee, whiz, you know, why would you just spend 15 grand on that inside, you could just look out of the window, literally, and you know, that is going on. So it was all a bit weird, and not very insightful. And I found it really odd. But then again, I looked at it and saw where strategy is sitting, it's very close to the top and very early in the process of often have a waterfall process. And then you understand that while you're so far removed from reality of what's happening on the ground, close to the customer that you're far removed, you'll see you don't see detail. You don't see the problems going on every time and the personalization and level of detail. You actually need to understand how to move what to do and what to risk next. And so team ups gets me quite into that because what it does, does does an interesting disconnect yet again, between The strategy teams that sit very close to leadership marry up uphill, so to speak, or upstream as they say. And then the strategy or insights and research that happens all the way down with customer service, and somewhere close to the product. And their everyday see, like, Oh, this is what customers actually doing. This is how they're actually thinking about it, because we're hearing it straight from the horse's mouth. And then all of that insight rarely manages to feed back up. And that I find really odd because there seems to be a gap in the learning cycle to say, Well, everything that comes up from the field should all feed back into this. And I have rarely seen a organisation that actually connects these things back and builds a learning cycle. So this is it for our special number three, and thank you for listening. And you could see there's some interesting stuff there. And please keep paying attention to our releases because some of the other three hours that we recorded for a special will be coming to a podcast near you and I met you very very soon. Until then.

Troy Norcross:

You've been listening to the wicked podcast with CO hosts Marcus Kirsch and me Troy Norcross,

Marcus Kirsch:

please subscribe on podomatic iTunes or Spotify. You can find all relevant links in the show notes. Please tell us your thoughts in the comment section and let us know about any books for future episodes.

Troy Norcross:

You can also get in touch with us directly on Twitter on at wicked n beyond or at Troy underscore Norcross also learn more about the wicked company book and the wicked company project at wicked company calm