Nina Dar. The Change Troubleshooter

Is Change a Team Sport?

June 29, 2020 Nina Dar Season 1 Episode 3
Nina Dar. The Change Troubleshooter
Is Change a Team Sport?
Show Notes Transcript

*Please note that this episode was recorded prior to the Coronavirus outbreak when we thought it wasn't going to happen to us! Therefore when Nina states that the biggest thing affecting us all in the UK right now is Brexit, that is obviously not the case now, although it is still a very important topic.

In this episode Nina is joined by Yasmin Hurst and Peter Allen to discuss the question; is change a team sport? which was inspired by the Adidas Originals brilliant campaign called "Change is a Team Sport" to celebrate 50 years since the launch of their iconic Superstar shoes, which have been at the forefront of popular culture ever since.  

For those of you who don't know, the Adidas Superstar is a shoe, trainer or sneaker, depending on where you are from. The campaign was directed by Jonah Hill and it stars old and new Adidas collaborators. 

 Delivering change is complicated, it's a mixture of science and magic. A Human Approach to Innovation and Change was developed so that we could try and understand the magic, the human elements that are difficult to identify on balance sheets and profit and loss accounts but are essential if change is to be successful and sustainable. Nina, Yasmin and Pete share their experiences on balancing the role of the individual and the team as well as discussing what every team needs if it's going to deliver change.

 Please note that this episode was recorded prior to the Coronavirus outbreak when we thought it wasn't going to happen to us! Therefore when Nina states that the biggest thing affecting us all in the UK right now is Brexit, that, is obviously not the case now, although it is still a very important topic. 

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Narrator:

Hello and welcome to The Change Troubleshooter. This is Nina Dar's podcast

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Narrator:

In today's podcast, Nina is joined by Yasmin Hurst and Pete Allen , both of whom worked with Nina at her consultancy Cheeky Monkey Business Solutions. They are going to discuss the question Nina has posed, is change a team sport? A question inspired by the recent Adidas campaign to celebrate 50 years of their Superstar trainer. The three of them will talk about real experiences they have had in managing change and teams,

Nina Dar:

So let me introduce you to Cheeky Monkey number two Yasmin Hurst.

Yasmin Hurst:

Hi Nina.

Nina Dar:

And Cheeky Monkey number three Pete Allen.

Peter Allen:

Hi Nina.

Nina Dar:

And we are having a lovely time today, sat round the Cheeky Monkey table, something that hasn't happened for years and it's a lovely look back to help us tackle this first subject that we want to look at, is change a team sport? Adidas have launched this campaign, I think it's pretty special and straight away it makes you think is it? Is change a team sport? We're going to discuss three questions today. One: is change a team sport? Two: How do you balance the role of the individual and the team? And thirdly, what does every team need if it's going to deliver change? So we're going to cover those three points today. Hopefully we're going to leave you with something that will help your own change journey, whether that be personal or professional. So let's start with question number one: is change a team sport? What do we think?

Peter Allen:

Well, from my perspective change, can be delivered without a team spirit as such. But certainly the more successful changes have happened when there is a spirited team and there is a balance and a mix of individuals that make up that team and all have a shared vision of what that change might bring.

Yasmin Hurst:

Yeah, I definitely agree that um, uh , change should be a team sport. It is a team sport but that doesn't mean that our teams are always successful. And I think that's been my experience through my career is that we need to give more thought into the structure of our team, the roles each person brings to the team and the strengths and weaknesses that every person has. Um, and without that , uh, you are more likely to fail as a team.

Nina Dar:

I know it's , it's so interesting isn't it in that we will all have, we round this table all have experiences where so much time and effort will be put into the business case of saying, okay, this is the change that we've got to work on. This is the financing of the change, this is the payback that's going to come. And when it comes to the team structure, then there's this quite loose bit of work that goes on. And it really depends on what company you're working for what position they're taking, what the resourcing is like in that organisation. But with all that aside, I suppose if you average it out, normally you get the people that the company can give you rather than the people that you know the change really needs.

Peter Allen:

I certainly think that's true because I've taken a different route really from, from you two and the fact that I've gone in house now within the organisations. So I work within the higher education sector now and I'm , I'm within the project management office within the organisation. And certainly from the, from my experience since, I've been there, which is six years now, you are given the resources that can do the project on top of their daily job so they can be done without within the business areas for that, for that time. And therefore they're not necessarily the people that are going to bring in the most successful change.

Nina Dar:

I know it's crazy behaviour in that because we know that most of the time the leaders at the top of the organisation will be saying, this is the most important thing we've got to do. We really need to see this change embedded and we need to see it quickly. But no , you can't have the best people that we've got to do it because they have to keep the business going. So that short term, long term dilemma has gone on for years now and it doesn't seem to be getting better, does it?

Yasmin Hurst:

Not at all. And I would take it one step further. And that's uh , certainly in my experiences I have had um, an element of ego come into the debate in terms of the structure of the team. I have had individuals that want to be seen on a project team. They want to succeed and get ahead in a business. So they fight to be on a project team even if they're not the right person for it. Um, they're hunting for glory. I've also seen people that are, are filled with problems and so the business feels that if you can solve their problems, you will be solving something in the business. So they are also the problem seekers are also put on the project teams because it's a belief that you need to win them round for the project to be a success. It's an unhealthy mix . It's not a balance for a team when egos play a part in it .

Nina Dar:

I know and that's what we're after, isn't it, balance. And so it's so underplayed the balance of a team, although taking a different view on it, I suppose HR professionals would say we've never had more analysing of individuals, never had more analysing of teams. So much psychometric testing, team building goes on. I mean even in the companies that I work with, typically they will spend a significant amount of money in trying to pull people together, trying to get them to work together better. But then when it came, comes to a change project, it seems that that sort of gets forgotten. So what can we do? What can we do when people like John Kotter would , you know, he had this idea of a guiding coalition. So the same principle that, you know, change is a team sport and so you need a coalition of people that are going to come together and he had these as they really snappy things, position power, expertise power, credibility and leadership. And when you think about those things, we know, we know as leaders of change , we try and get those in our teams all the time. But when you, even if you take those things one at a time position power, we know that how important it is to get a fantastic sponsor. That position in the organisation where when you are able to name drop and say, Oh, it's because X is sponsoring this project that everybody is going to listen. Now do you you struggle at that point? Is that one easy?

Yasmin Hurst:

No, I don't think it's easy. I found that some of the greatest sponsors that I could have had for a project want to remain impartial and so they don't want to be the sponsor for a project even though their name would add weight and power to a project.

Nina Dar:

And where does that come from?

Peter Allen:

Well, from my experience it tends to be whether they can see the actual benefits that are going to be brought by that change or not. Quite often when that when there's a churn of projects going through that the actual sponsors can't actually see what , what difference it's going to make to their organisation and so that never fully bought in from the beginning and therefore you don't get the persuasion of resources coming through that actually are going to effectively deliver that change and therefore it's not a successful delivery at the end of it all.

Nina Dar:

I know it's like this thing that we constantly find ourselves in now where you have to do the project before doing the project to prove to everybody to prove to the sponsors that you want on the project, that the project is going to be successful before you've done the project , which is I think one of the most unrealistic situations that has really materialized in our profession.

Peter Allen:

Yeah, well everyone's risk averse in these times and they want more for their money, they , they want more benefit at the end of the project delivery than they're going to invest in it, essentially. And you can't always prove that at the beginning of the project. Obviously the business case is there to actually try and do that, but quite often it's not as straightforward as that.

Nina Dar:

The desire for more financial certainty and the need to show quite dramatic returns on investment for change projects that maybe can't deliver that financial certainty has put us in a different position.

Peter Allen:

Yeah. And I think certainly that is the case with I.T Projects and the system is only the enabler and you've got the massive cultural change, you know, changing all those working practices and changing , changing how people do things and have done things over a number of years. Uh, that's always the , the bigger parts of the puzzle is you can't actually put a figure on that in terms of benefit unless it's actually adopted, fully, and adopted consistently.

Nina Dar:

Number two, three and four in Kotter's list really of that guiding coalition on top of the position power. He has expertise power, credibility and leadership. And it's that expertise, credibility and leadership that is so needed when you find yourself in this position, isn't it? Because you as the person that's leading the change is normally you're the energy. You're the catalyst. You're the driving force that's going to join this , this team that needs to be a machine together, but without having expertise, without having people with credibility and without having some leadership, it sort of falls by the wayside. But the speed in which we are looking at these new, more disruptive new technology, new introduction of products, all the new, the speed in which they come in is so much faster. So we , we have this sort of position where we know the theory, we all know the theory and I don't believe I worked with a single leader that doesn't believe that change is a team sport that doesn't believe that John Kotter's guiding coalition is something that they should have. But then at the same time seem to have an inability to make that happen. So as we're saying, we know people want it, we know people understand the theory of it, but the reality is actually this team of people that come together to deliver change can be a lot of individuals just forced together with a bit of time here and there normally being asked to do more hours. Sort of see the privilege of working on the change project in your own time. And then I know we're not speaking for every company here. I know we're not, there are some companies who do this amazingly eight out of 10 of my projects, I'd say people don't get the time required to do the change that they'd really like to see . And I'd say every person on that project would really like to be in that position. They would be really liked to be in the position where somebody has resource planned it properly . They'd like to be in the position where they know they'd been chosen for their expertise and they'd like to be in the position where they know what they're going to contribute and how that is going to make a difference to the organisation going forward. So as we know, that doesn't always happen. What we tend to get is people that are thrown together and then other behaviours start to develop, don't they? And in a lot of cases, ego can start to dominate. Have either of you seen that? Surely not with me!

Yasmin Hurst:

[ inaudible ] A little, a little.

Peter Allen:

You see it to varying degrees in every project that you work on. I mean, you're right in the fact that you're , you're in a luxurious position. If you get an allocated project team from all the relevant business areas, nine times out of 10, like you say, people are partially allocated to the project and expected to do their day job in the same time-frame. Occasionally you'll get back fill to support them in that. But that's not often the case either. So you will always get teams that have got the best intentions they want, they can see the end goal, they can see how it's going to benefit them and they want to be a part of that success, but their day job comes into it. You know, it may not happen in the first weeks, it may happen in the build and test or whatever phase you're in at the time, but it will happen. And prioritisation calls always come into the mix and that's when you start cutting corners on your deliveries and that's when you need a strong leadership and a strong sponsorship to actually say, no, this is the priority. This has got the most benefits to it. This is going to help us achieve that change and take us forward. So your priority is this project

Yasmin Hurst:

I've definitely seen ego come into play in , in the projects I have worked on. And a definite air of , uh , of arrogance. That themselves, they would like to think it's just confidence then in saying, I can do something a little bit better than you can. But I think in addition to ego, we should think about the part that emotions have in the project team too uh , very tied up with ego. But emotion comes into project teams and then management. So, so much. And what happens when emotion plays its part is that there's a natural will of the leaders of the company to , to dumb that down in some way. And all that happens is our change gets dumbed down in some way to, we are asked to smooth over the emotions of so many people that we are interacting with and in return we have a watered down project that has a happy path. And I think anybody that has been a project manager or worked in the delivery of change will know that very few have a happy path.

Nina Dar:

Why are we afraid of emotion? I mean that was the bedrock really of the human approach to innovation and change. We are humans and as humans we bring a set of emotions, hormones, good days, bad days. And it has always fascinated me why that is not acceptable. And , and also we bring different things and you know, that's why the team balance is so important. Why it is so important to look at who's playing with who, chemistry. I mean it's, it's building back to that when when I actually went to do my coaching and psychology course, I was chemistry matched as part of an entry requirement and that was just to be on a course. If we did take this part of teamwork more seriously, we would be much more comfortable and already know who we were and be comfortable about talking about who we were, what our makeup is, the good things about us the bad things about us. We'd be comfortable about that and comfortable about sharing that because we know we would be with a team of people who were different to us and that's the reason we'd been put together, but sadly like you're talking about Yasmin, it's not like that. We're not encouraged to embrace emotions, differences in that way. We're encouraged to smooth and smoothing down does definitely come with its consequences, which I think nicely takes us into question number two. How do you balance the role of the individual and the team? You know, we've already brought up the fact that we know, we know that the leaders know all of this. We're not going to be talking about anything here that anybody, that you guys sat at home. are sat going, Oh, this is new. I know you're not hearing anything in this that is new, but why do we still have to talk about it if we know it and we still have to talk about it because we've not nailed it. So here we are, we're saying we all three of us agree that change as a team sport. Definitely, absolutely agree. The campaign, that Adidas have run is absolutely superb in my book and one of the lines in that campaign says by being a teacher in your craft and a student in somebody else's, what a fantastic line. It kind of sums up where I found myself for the past few years actually. So when we're thinking about this question, how do you balance the role of the individual and the team? Isn't that what we're talking about? Finding people who are the teacher and the student.

Yasmin Hurst:

I think so. I think we should add to that in saying that uniqueness is a good thing in this mix . We don't celebrate that at all. I, having worked with you, Nina, and I know you very well, would celebrate uniqueness, but not everybody can do that in their own way. And so I think by, by dismissing people's individuality in a, in a team and smoothing the edges as we've just said, we miss something very special and we erase these overlaps where you can be a teacher and a student. The thing about , um, building a strong team is that you have an overlap in both of those things and you have it in enough places and enough layers for your team to be super strong. I think it's again, recognizing each other's strengths and weaknesses. Like you just said that you were matched to a person in a company that had never happened to you before. That happens rarely in companies. And I think people are not able to recognize their own strengths and weaknesses. So they bring something to the table that isn't true, that they can't pull off in effect and, and fight you to the death to say that they can.

Peter Allen:

I think we've made, it's , it's more a case of that, the longer I go on the more I realise I have to learn, not necessarily want to learn, but have to learn and certainly, you know, you mentioned about technology and the pace of change and , and certainly within the higher education sector, when you're servicing the youth who have these ever increasing expectations of what technology can do for them and their learning experience and you've got to, you've got to provide that when you don't actually fully understand it as a project manager anyway yourself. That's when you are leaning on your team and um, you know, the developers, et cetera. The systems analysts, you're relying on those, because I realise more and more that I've not got a full understanding of what , um , but it is having that mix, isn't it? Because, you know , obviously I'm providing that leadership management quality that they don't particularly want to get involved in . So , um, yeah, we're all bringing our skillsets to it. And it's a , it's a healthy experience when you've got individuals that you can draw on when you know that you've not got that knowledge yourself.

Nina Dar:

So we've talked before about, we've used this word smoothing, but is a, probably a more appropriate word or a more digestible word to use, balance?

Yasmin Hurst:

I don't know, I see it as two different things because my experience of being asked to smooth something over has been that I, as a , as the leader of a project , I'm expected to fill in all of the, all of the gaps and bridge all of the personalities. And what I have always thought on that is that , um, one person is not good at everything. Everybody as we keep saying, going back to strengths has their strengths and you as the leader will have your strengths too . Like for me, I know I can collaborate effectively, I can communicate, I'm pretty innovative. I am good at managing a project. They are my strengths. If my projects had a marketing element to it, I would need an expert to do that. If it had an accounting section to it, I would need an expert to do that. And I'm quite happy to be part of a team and to do that, but not everybody is. I think there has been an expectation certainly on me and the delivery of projects to fill in all of the weaknesses and it was really one of the motivations for starting my own business. As cheeky monkey has the tagline The Human Approach to Change. Mine has the tagline , um, change without limits. And the reason it has that tagline is because as an agent of change within an organization, I felt so limited by this process of having to smooth over every change.

Nina Dar:

We've started to talk around several areas. Now we're starting to talk about skill sets , experience, personality and behaviour. These are really, that's the basket of things that we do need to balance, isn't it? You know , when we're saying, okay, how do you balance the role of the individual and team? As an individual we have all of these things and as a team we need to balance all of those things. We've talked about the harsh reality about what it's like, whether you can resource plan, whether the organization you're working for will have even enough resource to try and do it. We've covered all of those points, so I think is there a point where we can take it to the simplest thing that when you're listening to this that you could actually do. When I think about that, the simplest level of what could we do that would make a difference here, I suppose that it's that everyone must understand where they fit and how they can contribute and that's an individual responsibility we could all take away and I do encourage the project teams I work with to say, okay, when it gets a bit complicated, when we're all being thrown together and the typical stuff is coming out, we haven't got enough resource in this team. We haven't got such a body, we're totally lacking in expertise or we haven't got enough time to do it. We haven't got enough budget to do it all that that is the normal, the normal conversation, ss one of my teams is coming together, and I encourage everyone to say, hang on, just focus on you for a minute. What can you do? What can you do and what do you need? Because as leaders of change? If every individual w ho came into our p roject t eam came and just thought about that, we'd have more of a fighting chance of getting that sorted, wouldn't we? Because at least we would be able to do some balancing o f that.

Yasmin Hurst:

It's not even a fighting chance of getting it sorted. One of the things that brings is individual value to the team and the more an individual feels like they've contributed, the more they'll enjoy it. The more, they go shout about it to the rest of their company, their department and it just ripples through the company and you find that you are fighting to communicate far less because your project team are communicating it for you.

Peter Allen:

But again, I think the , the leadership has a strong role to play in that from the outset of the project because there needs to be that understanding of what the benefit is, not only to the organisation but to the individuals as well. How's it gonna make my life better? Is my work going to be easier as a result or is it going to be more effective? Or are there other benefits that I just can't see? And it's up to the initiation stage of the projects where all these conversations about resource are going on and budget and timelines, et cetera for that end goal to be actually communicated, why we're doing it. Um, what we're expecting to benefit from it and when are we going to went away going to see that benefit and how are we going to know that we are experiencing those benefits because quite efficient for the project. Yeah. Because that doesn't always cascade down to the individuals, the end users , uh , that you're relying on at the end of it all to actually utilize the new system or whatever it is effectively to achieve the benefits. You fall into the trap sometimes where projects are done unto people rather than them being involved from the outset and being committed to it. And quite often I always find that that's where projects fall down, that people that are actually affected by it , don't actually understand what's happening to them or the actual end goal is.

Nina Dar:

And it's that, that huge question of what's in it for me? is another sort of interesting turn of events that I've seen through my career actually. Cause if I think back to how I even started in change management, which is way too long ago to even admit, I took part in a competition and I was actually studying, I studied supply chain. That was my dissertation in my degree. That was in the nineties when supply chain was revolutionary . We were changing everything and then actually moved into engineering buying, and again, it was a revolution. And I was studying for a chartered Institute of purchasing qualification and they set us a competition , um, which was about , um , just uh, present something that is going to be world changing. So I presented the management of change and I again, people weren't talking about it at this time, I'm so old now. Um , and , and really the thing then was, and the line for years was people resist change. People are scared of change. I'm telling you, that is not my line now I don't think people are scared of change. They are numb to change nowadays numb, and they don't resist change, the bigger question now where I'm standing is what's in it for me? You want me to be in this change? You tell me why. So the idea that it's all about the company vision has somehow changed a little bit and individuals are, they're canny, you know, especially for us, we've worked for organisations where typically the workforce is quite loyal. So typically people, we work with, people who have worked for the companies that we're trying to change for a number of years. And I think that does give a different viewpoint here. But I think most people in those organisations , are , if not internally, they are also externally saying what's in it for me? And a big turning point for me was when I realized that people do know that they could lose their jobs over the change. And I think that was a big mental shift for employees when they could stop trusting what leadership was saying actually because this great vision that was going on didn't actually involve them long term, if the change actually went through and it was , you know , this is this sort of progression of people's mindset has happened over a number of years, you know, to begin with, I can remember when I had had to make my first set of big redundancies as a result of a change project. And I remember saying to the client at the time, this is going to change everything because when people realize that they could actually lose out as a result of the change, they will question this a lot differently as we're going forward. So you know , there are so many things here now that we have to consider, aren't there? But this thing that we're asked to do, this thing that were I think addicted to, I personally think that once you become a change agent, it's like an addiction because it's a, it's a roller coaster of emotions, not just for you as a change leader, but for the people who are on your change projects and now that's that roller coaster of emotions is much more complex than it ever used to be. So maybe that nicely takes us into question number three. What does every team need if it is going to deliver change? You know , we've covered some pretty big topics here, I think nicely covered things that don't get talked about so much. If we want to form a team that is going to deliver change, what do we need to do? What does it need?

Peter Allen:

Well, you need buy in to what you're trying to achieve. I mean the team has got to see that what they're doing is, is making somebody's life better, if not their own. And the fact that they know their role in, in how to deliver that change and they know that that role is valued within that change and that they are not isolated in themselves and doing it. They are part of a team that have different skills , um , are sharing. Um , I'm not gonna say that the vision word again, are sharing the same objectives.

Nina Dar:

So in the, in a way Pete is, you know, are we saying here that when earlier we discussed financial certainty and how companies are , you know , more risk averse now when it comes to having to show them what we're going to deliver before we've delivered the project and give them some certainty over that. Are we missing something here where the members of the change team have to be given some sort of certainty?

Yasmin Hurst:

I don't know whether you can anymore. I think , um, you touched upon it earlier, the pace at which companies are being forced to change. And I am using the word forced because technology is moving at such a pace that our working lives, the landscape of our offices , our ability to work anywhere is changing so fast. That certainty is not something that can be offered. I think you are in danger of paralysing yourself. If you look for certainty, you have to get to a point where you're good to go, in effect, do your due diligence and say I am going to head towards that objective and whatever comes our way, we will adjust ourselves as we go. And I have found that in the last few years working on a lot of technology projects that is what we've had to do, we've had an overriding objective. That's where I'd like to be. We have just had to aim for that. I'm not saying you do it carelessly, you still set milestones and uh , you are still working within your team and trying to section off pieces of work. But that's your objectives along the way may change. Even your end objective may change if things are moving faster than you are. And in a lot of cases they are because although technology is rapidly developing, many of our businesses are way behind in terms of keeping up with that. And you could sit around a table today with any business and come up with some amazing ideas for that business and say, yes, we like to do best for our customer that for our customer. If you then go and look at the data you have in the background, the systems you have in the background, you will find that you are years away from being able to implement that. And that's going to be a hard sell in terms of change management as we move forward because we have to sell a, an implementation phase that is really quite long to, to get someone into the future. I think a lot of businesses are facing that scenario right now.

Nina Dar:

Oh, I do too um, which means that really what you're talking about is the ability to adapt. Yeah , definitely. And that , um, this idea of giving certainty just isn't the reality position either for people working on change projects or for the sponsors of the change projects. And actually what's going to be more important is looking at the right solution for the right problem and being more pragmatic about how you get through the execution phase. When somebody cuts the cord and says, okay, let's switch to the end point . We know where this is going. So what do you need to get there? What do you say?

Yasmin Hurst:

In some cases you're going to say, I don't know. Um, I, I have, I mean, as I've just said, we're been working on some technology projects where seeing the, the end is quite difficult and I have handled that by breaking it down into smaller deliverables. So the same overriding vision, the same objectives, but broken it down piece by piece so that you can , uh , for one achieve along the way because that keeps your team going and it keeps the project in the eye of the business in terms of communication. Um, but it takes the focus off the complete objective of, of the end goal. And, and it does allow you to manage the projects in a more agile manner. You know, it's my belief that's uh , how change management is going to be in the future. We have to be more agile and we have to instill that into our teams to be successful. That not to fear not knowing everything. You don't need to know everything to start.

Nina Dar:

Yeah. I think this bit of knowing everything and piecing something together with the unknown is definitely where our profession is heading. It's always been there to a certain degree. But then I think that project management principles and qualifications, sort of added a level of structure and then as I think a perceived element of joining the dots that didn't really exist because we, even though we could put a really nice Gantt chart together and we can put all the milestones together, it didn't mean that we could fully articulate what it would look like at the end. We could, it does meant that we could fully articulate some way of getting there and then nobody had much faith in those Gantt charts.Most of the time they were pulled together with the knowledge that the leaders wouldn't really read them because they looked so big and long and detailed. But most people were just happy that something existed and we normally put it right at the end of a project plan. So really crazy behavior these days. More and more now I see less project plans but more worryingly, I also see less , uh, formalised risks, less formalised issues. You know, agile brings something to this party, but I worry we're going to go wholesale from project management principles that came out of the military and aviation into agile, which let's face it came out of software development, which is completely different areas, which again, are just adding to the dynamics that we've got to consider, which takes us back to what do we need then what does every team need if it is going to deliver change? Is it as basic as they just need to know who they're working with and what each of them are doing? I only say that because when we were doing some research for this podcast, I came across a Harvard university study where they've taken 120 teams and discovered that less than 10% of the teams that were asked about this agreed that they knew who their team mates were and what they did on their projects. Out of 120 teams, less than 10% even knew what each other were doing on a project. And if I'm really honest, even about the project that I'm working on now, if my project team were asked candidly if they knew what each of the people on the project team were doing and whether that, could they even name the whole team and name what each of them were responsible for and what they were going to deliver? I would say no. I'd say that I would say I knew, but I would say if each of those team members were asked, they would say no,

Peter Allen:

I would agree with that. I mean there's a human tendency isn't that to , uh , not to work in silos, but that's the result that you concentrate on where you've got today and, and particularly around, you know, as we mentioned before, you're doing things in addition to your day job. The tendency is just to concentrate on the smaller picture if I get my task done so that I can report my weekly project team meeting that I've ticked all your boxes on the Gantt chart.

Nina Dar:

That we don't look at ,

Peter Allen:

um, so yeah, I fully agree with that. The figures there aren't , I'm , that's no surprise to me at all, but that's not where we should be obviously. And um, hopefully with the effect of leadership that we're always asking for and the clear vision and the clear end goals that are going to be articulated right at the start of the project, then that might take a take a bit of a , an upward lift, but who knows.

Nina Dar:

Yeah, I think there's so many people are writing about these things now. That's why, you know , we keep saying, it's not that people don't know this, we're not talking about things here that people don't know, but we're talking about them because they're not sticky. So it's about how we make them sticky. And there's another thing that I read, Jeff Bezos writing in Forbes magazine and actually it's a really long and wordy article, but the , the, the thing that sticky in it is that he talks about three M's, mission membership metrics. You know, that is pretty snappy. You know that in everything that we've really talked about here, we keep coming back to we've got to know what it is. We've got to know what we're changing. We know that change is a team sport. We know it, the membership of that team is so important and actually we know we're failing there. Um , and although there are real genuine reasons why in every organization they say they can't, they can't release the people, they can't release that person. Do you think as leaders we have to be, we just have to be stronger in our asks for that. So the leader that asks me all the time at the moment, what is your ask? My ask should clearly be, complete membership for the project that we are about to take on and that membership covering the things that we talked about before; that the membership of that team is chemistry matched. That we all understand that there are different skills. We understand that the different experience levels, we understand that there's even a power position now a leadership position. We understand all these things and we understand that we all bring something, some random behavior, sometimes some quirkiness, some in and out emotions sometimes, but we can deal with that and we've got to deal with it because we're saying, you know, as was the point Yasmin made earlier, we cannot, we cannot give certainty on this change and actually that seems to be getting harder. So if we can't give certainty, we just have to adapt and if we're going to adapt then how that, the membership of that team and how this all links together and the stickiness of all those things coming together needs to be there. Otherwise how can we adapt? How can the team adapt? A big part of that and another great line in the Adidas ad is share your strengths and receive strength from your teammates. What a great line. And when you see the advert, you really sense that Jonah Hill who's written and produced the advert has done a , a great job with this. You sense that this is a collaboration of people old and new who are coming together to work on an exciting project and that they are going to share their strengths. When was the last time you felt like that on one of your projects?

Peter Allen:

All my projects are like that. Because I insist that we embrace the, the mix of roles and , um, individual characteristics and that we , uh , draw strength from each other on them. Uh, that

Nina Dar:

I share my strengths,

Peter Allen:

but it's about, it's about celebrating what each other is achieving as well because they're getting out of the silos. Because quite often if you've got a project team that's large and can be sort of drawn upon from people in different countries , uh , not , not necessarily working in the same office all the time, you know, quite often you lose sight of what the others are doing on the project and what is actually being achieved on the project. As a project manager, it's down to you to actually , uh, ensure that that communication and the awareness of the bigger picture is passed down to your team.

Nina Dar:

Uh , and this, this now takes me back to the cheeky monkey thing where we had like a cheeky monkey 10 commandments. And the last one is that we were unafraid to have fun. And there , there was a huge thing about cheeky monkey, that people knew, we were smiley. We were a little bit crazy. We were out there at the days where Yasmin would be trying to delete my tweets on a cheeky monkey night out. You know, we were unafraid to have fun and we absolutely celebrated with our teams, with each other. And part of that, again, in this Adidas ad is there's a sort of, as it comes to an end, most importantly, have fun. If you're smiling, then you're doing it right. Surely you know, we , we are in change because it awakens every emotion you have. You have to be on form . You have to be the best you can be when you're delivering change. And if you're not the kind of person that is smiling all the way through this, this is not the job for you, is it?

Yasmin Hurst:

If I think back to those cheeky monkey days on the days that people weren't smiling, we baked cake [inaudible]

Peter Allen:

You set the tone, don't you, as the leader, you go in at the outset and you set that tone and you can carry that through if, if , um , if you're successful at it. But , uh, more often than not, people let pressure get to them and the smile drops. And then that's where you need to pick them up again and actually , uh , remember that we're all in it together. You're not on your own. If you're late on a task or whatever, you gotta you've got to share that strength.

Nina Dar:

And that's, that's something that , um, we touched on a little bit, but ma maybe worth as we're starting to bring things to a collusion, maybe worth , uh , talking about, you know, we thought we have talked and we talk a lot about strengths, but actually in the workplace we still talk about weaknesses a lot. And there are even though culturally, most businesses have tried to move away from being, having a blame culture pointing the finger and all the rest of it, even though they say those things, it still seems to happen. And sometimes I think we do that to ourselves. I think when things aren't going as well as they could do, the people who suffer the most are the individuals themselves that know that they're in that position. They don't normally need anyone to tell them. But we're very good at telling each other when we're not doing things so well and, and I try and be good in telling people when they're doing things well, but the pressure to keep achieving keep going is definitely there. So even for me, who tries to wander around, smiling and making everyone feel happy. Then still there comes a point where you're going, Hey, we're just not doing it, are we? So what are we going to do here? And you try and make that fun. But at the end of the day, you know that person or the people that you're talking to are thinking, I don't know, I don't know how we do this because I'm already giving you more than the 10% at the time. I was even allocated. And here we go. Here we go back round that circle.

Yasmin Hurst:

And I get it. It goes back to the , the brilliant line you said from the Adidas campaign about sharing your strength and, and I think we have to change our mindset that time spent fixing weaknesses is time wasted. Um, you are unlikely to be able to fix everybody's weaknesses. So you need to shift your focus on sharing your strengths. Uh, one person's strength is another person's weakness. That's what they say. And so when you talk about pairing people together, that's what we should be looking to do to build that person up by providing a person that has great strength in that area and making our project teams work more together.

Nina Dar:

Yeah , we should. And why this is important because again, the Harvard business review has just released a study that said 90% of CEOs believe that companies will change more in the next five years than they did in the last, And the last five years have been pretty change orientated. Having a work force that is ready and able to harness change will be the difference between success and failure. We know as a country what we've got coming up, Brexit alone is going to bring so much change. Um, and we don't know in what form yet. So we're back to the unknown. We don't know what the impact is or most of the companies that we have relationships with today, maybe they don't even know the consequences of that yet. So we're having to plan with the unknown again and without fail, we know that Brexit alone gives our country massive change. The consequences of Brexit give global change. So the next five years are going to be incredible. And that's not taking into account the thing that we've touched on all the way through this, which is technology change. So the com does the combination of those two things. For us in our tiny weeny country here. Gonna be phenomenal. So if every CEO is already talking about that now already knows this now our message to them in this podcast today and everybody who works on a change project that is listening and uh, and hopefully having an opinion on this that you are more than welcome to connect with me and give me that opinion, give me some feedback, take part in this discussion with us then the message we're clearly giving to them is change is definitely a team sport, but we have got a bit of a way to make that happen. I do think that it is about adaptability and getting this concept over that change is not a certain thing that delivers a black and white return on investment. Um, you have to see left and right of that picture and be adaptable and say the change is going to deliver this in the region of this. It's going to take us here, we're going to be able to do this with it. Something that clearly shows the benefit. I'm not trying to get away from the metrics, but takes away the pressure up front to be so certain about what it's going to deliver and what it's going to cost. And that might be unrealistic. But I think that would take the pressure off to do some of the other things, which is spend more time on that team dynamic. Change is as important as day to day delivery. If a company has decided to change that is as important as getting today's order out because you've decided to change for a reason, a reason that normally can divide into: it's going to save the business or it's going to grow the business. Normally they can be easily divided there, so it is as important. So when you resource in the day to day stuff, you've got to resource the change projects as equal and then you've got to make it fun. This has gotta be fun for people. People have got to want to fall over themselves to be on these change projects. You want the best, the brightest. Again, again, equal pegging with those people who are delivering what the business needs today. And you want that to be the happiest environment and you want people that are coming into the business to see that is how change works for you. And that everybody wants to jump on that. Madness?

Peter Allen:

Sounds good to me

Yasmin Hurst:

It's not to me, well I think it's always been like this but,Um , as you say , uh , times are changing so quickly now and um, our businesses need to adapt more. It is case of disrupt or be disrupted.

Peter Allen:

I'm in a higher education sector so we have the , the landscape is ever changing from our perspective in terms of funding levels, et cetera in terms of the expectations and the actual people that we're pulling from being more international now having different cultural expectations of the learning experience. And the thing is that um, the project we're delivering and the change we're delivering is based more around improving the student experience. Um, the bottom line still , I mean, so there is a different um, tilt to it. Uh , however the, the message about adaptability stands because we are in a changing environment. Brexit is going to have an impact potentially on the education sector. And therefore we are , we need to look at the horizon, what's coming and get ourselves in the best position to do that. And an ever increasing speed of change requires a more adaptable , uh, resource port and a more engaged team spirit within the project delivery.

Nina Dar:

And that is, it's brilliant that you mentioned that, you know, I typically have a tendency to talk very corporately, you know, and , and really I have to be careful for those of you who don't know that much about my background, I have worked for a number of years for what I call heritage companies, organizations who have been around for a long time, up nearing a hundred years, if not well over a hundred years in business. And that brings a different dynamic. Working in education brings a different dynamic. Working in travel brings a different dynamic and we're not saying here as part of this podcast, it is one one size fits all. But I think as you were saying, Pete, even though now it's not so much the bottom line and it's about the student experience, it's about this unique experience because that ultimately does equate to your bottom line. It's just that in education you've gone through that cycle. Now, you know , as suppose if we relate that to the corporate environment where companies suffer with staff churn, then they can say the same thing. They say it . When we're looking at these things, we've got to focus more on the employee experience because actually it's just voting with the feet here and they're walking out the door. And all of these things, you know, as we've said are more and more complicated So to keep it, to keep it simple, to keep it contained. Conversations that do have an element of going off can be series and series of podcasts in their own right. This one's this one that we tackled today. Change as a team sport with a , no matter what industry we get it. We agree with Adidas. We celebrate the 50 years of the Superstar trainer. I do anyway. And , um, and we think their campaign is amazing. It's made us think about what does that mean? What does it mean if we say change as a team sport? We've covered the fact it should be. We've covered the fact that, you know, we would love a team of collaborators like Adidas talk about to come together, but we don't always get that. We've talked about the fact that it's full of emotions, that personality behaviour all play a part in that. And as change leaders, we rarely get the opportunity to do the team analysis, the chemistry matching, all the stuff that goes together. We know that we always focus on things like power positioning, expertise, credibility, leadership and we know these things actually are quite mature in what we're talking about. So how do you balance the role of the individual and the team? We kind of know these things. We've talked about them a lot, but what does every team need if it's going to deliver change? Then we said we like Jeff Bezos, three M's, mission, membership and metrics. And that's what it comes down to. If you can manage to do that within the projects that you are working on today, then I'm guessing it will have a good conclusion. If you've got more to add to this, it is a debate that could go on and on. Please get in touch, look forward to talking to you soon. Thank you to Yasmin and thank you to Pete. Thank you for coming around the cheeky monkey table once more and letting us share this experience. It's been really lovely.

Narrator:

Thanks again to Nina's guests today and thank you very much for listening to this episode of the change troubleshooter. Nina now invites you to carry on the conversation with her directly. All contact details can be found on her website, ninadar.com. Join us again for the next episode in two weeks time. This has been a Sunsoaked Creative production.