How to grow an enterprise and stay people-focussed

Resilience – avoiding the “last straw”

Here’s an activity to get your team thinking about resilience and supporting others before they reach the “last straw”.

Start by asking whether people have heard the story of the Arab camel owner who was rushing to market and because he wanted to sell as much straw as he could, he loaded the camel’s hump higher and higher and higher until finally with one last piece of straw, the camel collapsed – it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Then ask them to stand in a circle and tell a shared story about a day in the life of the team, i.e. each person describes one incident (and each must be different and true). You can start the story with a bit of a warm up: Just last week I got out of bed and the first thing I did was kick my toe on the door jamb, ouch it hurt (more…)

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Trust in teams – encourage team reasoning

Thanks to Kevin Hogan for alerting me to new research which continues to chip away at the bedrock belief – in economics and management – that we are all selfish.

Researchers, Andrew Colman, Briony Pulford and Jo Rose from the University of Leicester, conducted experiments that show evidence of collective preferences and team reasoning. This contrasts with decision theory and game theory, which fundamentally assume that people will always make decisions to maximise their individual best interests.

The research shows that under certain conditions, people will attempt to maximise the collective benefit, rather than their own personal benefit.

The questions this paper raised for me was – what are the conditions under which people will do this and how can we develop team reasoning in our teams?

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The right thing vs the easy thing

Today I was talking with my father, who is an avid garage sale attendee. Dad told me about a small chest of drawers he’d bought last week from a pensioner. It cost him $30 (which is a big amount for my dad, who prides himself on going to garage sales with only gold coins in his pocket) and was filled with all sorts of drills and bits and pieces. When dad pulled the drawers out to wipe them over, he found a $50 note and a $20 note in the cavity underneath the bottom drawer.

Dad said to me, “I decided I’d have to return it, it’s the right thing to do, and mum agreed. Even though I could do with an extra $70, it didn’t seem right.”

He added that the gentleman was speechless when he went back to give him the money, which is an interesting reflection of our lowered expectations of others in today’s society.

This conversation echoes a theme that has been coming up in my workshops recently – the tension between the organisation / team’s aspirations and the tendency for managers to take the ‘easy way out’.

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