Mark Mudford Coaching https://markmudford.com.au Turning Adversity into Strength Sat, 03 Oct 2020 07:31:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.2 https://i2.wp.com/markmudford.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Favicon.png?fit=32%2C32&ssl=1 Mark Mudford Coaching https://markmudford.com.au 32 32 144019706 Choosing the Best Instrument (Model, Technique or Tool) https://markmudford.com.au/icn/ Sat, 25 Jul 2020 06:12:20 +0000 http://markmudford.com.au/?p=1753

“To the man who only has a hammer,

everything he encounters begins to look like a nail.”

– Abraham Maslow

(Below is the extended version and all research links from my article in International Coaching News).

 

Choosing the right model, tool or technique is not easy.

Out there, in the “real world”, it seems as if every website or social media group is showcasing a new tool, approach or solution…or building on the success of a prior one.

So, which instrument should you choose?

Here’s a couple of things I keep in mind when considering this very question.

Knowledge and Ageless Wisdom

Truth is eternal. And there appear to be a set of principles that are, likewise, timeless. This is evident in written records dating back thousands of years: from the Far East, the Confucian Golden Rule of never imposing on others what you would not choose for yourself; or Buddha’s dangers of attachment as he pursued Release from Suffering; through to ancient Greece and Zeno’s paradoxes[i], we see principles that remain relevant today. Other classical literature is full of further parallels. From the modern focus on building resilience, which is rooted in the Stoicism of Marcus Aurelius[ii]. Or our modern understanding of Mindfulness[iii], where we can see elements of the ancient practice of Mediation.

However, in a world where the speed of technological change is ever increasing, it can sometimes feel that everything is new. And urgent. Even chaotic. Because of this, we may forget we are only really discovering our new awareness of the principle–that these truths have already guided leaders for millennia.

Our modern world has created a shift in our approach to these principles. While in many cases we now have better insight into them, there has also been innovation in the way we apply them. Stephen Covey identified this phenomenon. For most of our written history, he saw examples of character ethic–basic principles of living, integrated into one’s character. He then noted that, early in the 20th century, the literature shifted towards what he called the personality ethic–which considered success to be a function of personality, of skills and techniques. These techniques could either be applied externally to a given situation, or internalised in the form of “positive mental attitude”[iv].

Whether our client chooses to work within the character or personality construct, Sir John Whitmore also reminds us that “coaching and high-performance come out of awareness and responsibility”[v]. In order to assist our client gaining these, we may employ instruments (tools, techniques and models). These may be something as simple as Whitmore’s definition of SMART goals[vi], or as intricate as introducing Conversational Intelligence® to change an organisation’s culture[vii].  However, the primary purpose of any instrument is to assist our client in identifying and delivering their own, unique, success.

Effectiveness of the Instrument

The obvious first step is to evaluate the effectiveness of the instrument we intend to employ. This can sometimes be difficult to measure. Certain instruments, such as assessments or models, can be measured by their validity and reliability[viii]. Reliability means using that instrument twice under the same circumstances will give similar outcomes. Validity relates to the fact that the instrument will allow the client to build an awareness within their required area (in other words, that it actually delivers what was intended to be delivered). For example, I use assessments that have been certified to exceed national standards regarding reliability and validity (as measured by the Assessment Standards Institute[ix]). However, it can be difficult for some instruments to be certified this way.

This is all further complicated by the fact that there is no perfectly reliable and valid instrument. We are all unique (from birth, at the genetic level[x], and then further crafted by the sum of our experiences). Therefore, instruments must always trade off being flexible enough to encompass the contexts of many different clients, with the ability to be exactly relevant to a specific person.

The Human Brain

The next area to consider is related to how the brain is involved in managing memory. There are three main areas of the brain memory tasks–the amygdala, the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex (PFC). The PFC is the part of the brain most engaged in understanding abstract concepts and identifying obscure connections–and we might prefer our client to remain largely here during a coaching conversation.

The other areas of the brain are more ancient, and often deal with our ‘baser’ instincts and responses. For example, the amygdala adds emotion to our memories–in particular, the emotion of fear[xi]–from here, the associated flight/fight/freeze impulses can create an “amygdala hijack”[xii] (for example, if introducing the analogy of a plane journey to a client who has been involved in a serious plane crash).

The hippocampus is more active when committing things to memory, rather than when we are engaged in abstract thought and connection-seeking. This is why there are significant benefits in avoiding heavy hippocampal engagement if we are seeking to maximise the PFC functions.

For example, we can unwittingly distract our client, who might be trying to commit an unfamiliar instrument to memory (such as an extremely complicated or technical instrument). Likewise, as coach, if we are using something unfamiliar, perhaps in order to give our client something they are familiar with, we may misinterpret their response and either (i) miss important cues, or (ii) be tempted to ask a question that’s for clarifying our understanding.

There are also different types of memory. Of particular interest is our long-term memory, where many of our beliefs and behaviours are embedded. This memory is divided into two types: episodic, which are the memories of things you’ve done or have happened to you, and; semantic, which is information you’ve committed to memory. For example, you may have been taught that the Orwell brothers were instrumental in the development of flight (semantic), but you are likely to remember more fully the (episodic) experience of your first flight. And, because coaching is tailored to the uniqueness of the client, it is often dealing with episodic memory (including those memories that have become automatic–from simple tying of shoelaces to deeply unconscious biases).

Informal Learning

Therefore, a masterful coach does not ‘teach’ or ‘instruct’ the client. There’s generally no heavy use of hippocampus or amygdala–the client is allowed to join their own dots. This has parallels in what is known as informal learning. Informal learning is what we, as toddlers, used when we learnt to walk (we don’t get formal walking classes). This perhaps engages our episodic memory, and is very different to the structured (therefore, semantic) learning we receive at school. The coach’s role is to draw out the client’s own inference and understanding, and draw their attention to the unseen. This allows the client to identify their best next-action, based on their unique context.

Raising such awareness during a coaching session is not unlike the process of informal learning, which is known to involve three key areas. Firstly, the client chooses how and what they engage with; secondly, experience is built in the client’s own interests and initiatives; and, finally, it’s not a solo act, rather, it involves others[xiii]. We also know that 70 to 90% of learning in organisations is informal[xiv], which suggests we remain deeply familiar with this type of learning throughout our lives.

In the same way, a coach can choose to introduce models or techniques that support informal learning. We know instruments such as models have the greatest overlap with sense making–they are “specialized representations” that embody the aspects of a context to “illustrate, explain or predict” outcomes[xv]. These are powerful, as they can generate “infinite meaning”[xvi] that can then be shared and developed further with others. So, choosing an instrument that elicits the effects of informal learning in the client is also of value.

How to select the right instrument.

So, how do we choose the optimum tool, technique or model? By addressing the above points.

  • If possible, ensure our instrument is both reliable and valid.
  • Also choose something that will minimise interference of the PFC through unnecessary engagement of the hippocampus (memory-making) or amygdala (emotional hijack).
  • Look for instruments familiar to the client’s to experience.
  • Finally, consider those instruments that engage informal learning,

The Perfect Instrument?

There are no perfect instruments…as you may have already guessed. Every model is a simplification of what it represents. No tool can take into account every situation in which it will be used. And a technique will become limited by simplicity, or made less intuitive by complexity.

Remember that the choice of instrument itself is not as important as the skills of the coach who apply it. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use instruments at all (or worse, we randomly select one). But it does mean that we can avoid agonising over selection, even if something is less-than-perfect, it’s limitations will be offset by solid ethics and strong coaching skills.

It’s often like deciding which builder to engage. We don’t first peer inside their tool box (it really doesn’t matter what type of saw they use, or how they order the materials). These won’t make the outcome (the house) all that much better or worse. What we should be examining is the builder’s ability to connect to, and then deliver, our vision – often by looking at the previous houses they’ve built, or talking to previous clients.

So:

  1. DON’T get hung up on finding the “perfect” instrument. It doesn’t exist.
  2. DO consider introducing instruments that the client is familiar with.
  3. DO, therefore, have a selection of the most common/popular instruments in use today.
  4. And most importantly…DO continue to develop your coaching skills.

These points will offset the limitations of never being ideal in every situation. They are your armour against any shortcomings the instruments bring. And they ultimately increase your ability to connect with, and hold space for, your client.

 

Footnotes

[i] Law. Stephen, The Great Philosophers, 2 ed. (Great Britain: Quercus, 2013). pp.1-20.

[ii] Ryan Holiday, The Obstacle Is the Way : The Ancient Art of Turning Adversity to Advantage (London: Profile Books, 2014).

[iii] Bassam Khoury et al., “Embodied Mindfulness,” Mindfulness 8, no. 5 (2017).

[iv] Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Fireside Edition ed. (New York : USA: Simon & Schuster, 1990). pp.18-19

[v] John Whitmore, Coaching for Performance : The Principles and Practice of Coaching and Leadership, 5 ed. (Croydon : CPI Group, 2017). p.21.

[vi] Ibid. p.107.

[vii] Judith E.  Glaser, Conversational Intelligence How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results, ed. Inc Books24x (Brookline, MA : Bibliomotion, 2014).

[viii] David E. author Gray, Doing Research in the Real World, Third edition.. ed. (Los Angeles, California : SAGE, 2014).pp.150-154.

[ix] https://assessmentinstitute.org/

[x] https://markmudford.com.au/unique-genes/

[xi] Roger Marek, Yajie Sun, and Pankaj Sah, “Neural Circuits for a Top-Down Control of Fear and Extinction,” Psychopharmacology 236, no. 1 (2019). p.314.

[xii] Glaser, Conversational Intelligence How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results. pp.26-28.

[xiii] Michelle A. Hurst et al., “Leveraging Research on Informal Learning to Inform Policy on Promoting Early Stem,” Social Policy Report 32, no. 3 (2019). p.4.

[xiv] Christopher P. Cerasoli et al., “Antecedents and Outcomes of Informal Learning Behaviors: A Meta-Analysis,” Journal of Business and Psychology 33, no. 2 (2018).p.204.

[xv] Tor Ole B. Odden and Rosemary S. Russ, “Defining Sensemaking: Bringing Clarity to a Fragmented Theoretical Construct,” Science Education 103, no. 1 (2019).p.199.

[xvi] Dilip V. Jeste et al., “The New Science of Practical Wisdom,”  (2019).p.222.

Bibliograhy

Cerasoli, Christopher P., George M. Alliger, Jamie S. Donsbach, John E. Mathieu, Scott I. Tannenbaum, and Karin A. Orvis. “Antecedents and Outcomes of Informal Learning Behaviors: A Meta-Analysis.” [In English]. Journal of Business and Psychology 33, no. 2 (Apr 2018 2018-03-07 2018): 203-30.

Covey, Stephen R. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Fireside Edition ed. New York : USA: Simon & Schuster, 1990.

Glaser, Judith E. . Conversational Intelligence How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results. Edited by Inc Books24x. Brookline, MA : Bibliomotion, 2014.

Gray, David E. author. Doing Research in the Real World. Third edition.. ed.: Los Angeles, California : SAGE, 2014.

Holiday, Ryan. The Obstacle Is the Way : The Ancient Art of Turning Adversity to Advantage. London: Profile Books, 2014.

Hurst, Michelle A., Naomi Polinsky, Catherine A. Haden, Susan C. Levine, and David H. Uttal. “Leveraging Research on Informal Learning to Inform Policy on Promoting Early Stem.” Social Policy Report 32, no. 3 (2019): 1-33.

Jeste, Dilip V., Ellen E. Lee, Charles Cassidy, Rachel Caspari, Pascal Gagneux, Danielle Glorioso, Bruce L. Miller, et al. “The New Science of Practical Wisdom.”  (2019).

Khoury, Bassam, Bärbel Knäuper, Francesco Pagnini, Natalie Trent, Alberto Chiesa, and Kimberly Carrière. “Embodied Mindfulness.” Mindfulness 8, no. 5 (October 01 2017): 1160-71.

Marek, Roger, Yajie Sun, and Pankaj Sah. “Neural Circuits for a Top-Down Control of Fear and Extinction.” [In English]. Psychopharmacology 236, no. 1 (Jan 2019 2020-04-14 2019): 313-20.

Odden, Tor Ole B., and Rosemary S. Russ. “Defining Sensemaking: Bringing Clarity to a Fragmented Theoretical Construct.” Science Education 103, no. 1 (2019): 187-205.

Stephen, Law. The Great Philosophers. 2 ed. Great Britain: Quercus, 2013.

Whitmore, John. Coaching for Performance : The Principles and Practice of Coaching and Leadership. 5 ed.: Croydon : CPI Group, 2017.

 

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Decision-making Tips for Small Business https://markmudford.com.au/insidesmallbusiness/ Mon, 25 Nov 2019 09:05:01 +0000 http://markmudford.com.au/?p=1576

“Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision”
– Peter F. Drucker

 

(This is the extended version of my article from Inside Small Business).

Decisions drive our business. So how can we make more courageous ones?

Below are three suggestions that may give us depth similar to a much larger organisation – for a fraction of the price.

 

1.  Minimise decision making.

Decision fatigue is real. We operate in an always-connected, 24-hour world. Some sources suggest we make up to 35,000 decisions a day[i]. Sounds like a big number? On food choices alone we average over 227 decisions every day[ii]. And keep in mind, not every decision we make is “necessarily conscious”[iii]. Add to this the fact that successful business leaders often hold the trait of evaluating all the available options, which is known to also elevate stress[iv].

Doesn’t sound like such an impossible number anymore? That’s because it’s not. We need to take it seriously. This will need a broader solution than just following Steve Jobs’ famous hack to wear the same outfit every day (which also may not actually reduce our conscious decision making in any great respect)[v].

So how can we realistically reduce the number of decisions we make in a day? The solution is based in Automation and Delegation.

 Challenge #1:

Try ONE of the four options below. Reduce the complexity around your decision making. (HINT: Your current finances and capacity may direct your choice):

  1. Automate: Introduce technology to remove the Maybe you could improve your email filter. Or jump in the deep end and introduce a wide-scale technical solution;
  2. Delegate: Pass repetitive task(s) to an existing team member. Or create (and hire into) a new position for that express purpose;
  3. Outsource to external parties – From engaging a VA (virtual assistant). All the way up to contracting in specialist expertise.
  4. Expand your ‘Personal Board of Directors’. This will enhance your ability to make the courageous decisions. Informally – pick up the phone and book a coffee with a trusted colleague to explore your thoughts. Formally – seek out and engage a reputable coach or mentor.

 

2.  Create routines.

Routines delivers many benefits. These include efficiency, resilience and prioritisation. Establishing a routine helps us introduce healthy habits and break poor ones.

Routine will also allow us to replenish our energy. Decision fatigue (overuse) results in decisions that reinforce the status quo. Evident in manufacturing, the court system[vi], and politics. Even top surgeons have been found more reluctant to schedule a new surgery with a patient when it is late in their shift[vii].

And remember to include breaks in your routine for nourishment and mindfulness. A micro-break allows our resources to recover [viii]. And food has the added bonus of delivering energy (in the form of glucose) directly to the brain[ix]

It’s important to remember that fatigue can also cross over from work into our home life[x]. As business professionals, we are already grappling with a such a bleed of our responsibilities.

 Challenge #2:

a. Develop a way to create or improve your routine. Spend a few minutes before bed jotting down the things you need to first attend to the following morning. Or create your day/week in more detail, using some of the automation options discussed above.

b. Include food breaks and rest/mindfulness. This will increase the chances of you actually doing them.

 

3. Take advantage of the “Butterfly Effect”.

Many actions we choose to take can give us advantages in other areas. For example, exercise impacts resilience[xi], creativity[xii] and even productivity[xiii]. Most adults should aim for an average of 7-9 hours’ sleep per night[xiv]. And we are unable to make up for lost sleep unless we adopt a strict routine of regular longer sleep periods[xv]. Smart food choices improves our cognition[xvi], focus and problem-solving abilities[xvii]. And our physical environment impacts us in the same way our teams can (Some are toxic[xviii]. Some are beneficial[xix]).

 Challenge #3:

Pick ONE choice from the list below, and introduce it to your routine for 30 days. What difference did it make for your business?

  1. Exercise – Begin a physical activity that you’ve always wanted to Or revisit your favourite sport/exercise from childhood.
  2. Sleep – aim for a minimum of 7 hours sleep a night. Monitor when you are short, and schedule specific nights when you can sleep a little longer to recover.
  3. Food – Cut out a fast food meal. Or introduce a healthier alternative for a poor one.
  4. Environment – Minimise distraction. Declutter. Harness the benefits of natural spaces.

 

Footnotes

 

[i] Krockow “How Many Decisions Do We Make Every Day?” (accessed 15 Oct 2019)

[ii] Wansink, et al. “Mindless Eating: The 200 Daily Food Decisions We Overlook.”: 112.

[iii] Sahakian & Labuzetta Bad Moves: How Decision Making Goes Wrong: 5.

[iv] Chen, et al “Feeling Distressed from Making Decisions: Assessors’ Need to Be Right.”: 743.

[v] Grohol “Decision Fatigue: Does it Help to Wear the Same Clothes Every Day?” (accessed 15 Oct 2019)

[vi] Danziger, et al “Extraneous Factors in Judicial Decisions.”: 6889.

[vii] Persson, et al “The Effect of Decision Fatigue on Surgeons’ Clinical Decision Making.”: 1198

[viii] Bennett, et al “Examining the Interplay of Micro-Break Durations and Activities for Employee Recovery: A Mixed-Methods Investigation.”: 14.

[ix] Debatin “A Revised Mental Energy Hypothesis of the G Factor in Light of Recent Neuroscience.”: 207.

[x] Germeys “A Diary Study on the Role of Psychological Detachment in the Spillover of Self-Control Demands to Employees’ Ego Depletion and the Crossover to Their Partner.”

[xi] Childs & de Wit “Regular Exercise Is Associated with Emotional Resilience to Acute Stress…”:5

[xii] Román, et al “Acute Aerobic Exercise Enhances Students’ Creativity.”

[xiii] Sjøgaard, et al “Exercise Is More Than Medicine: The Working Age Population’s… Productivity.”: 164

[xiv] Hirshkowitz, et al (2015) “National Sleep Foundation’s Updated Sleep Duration Recommendations: Final Report”:1

[xv] Akerstedt, et al “Sleep Duration and Mortality – Does Weekend Sleep Matter?” : 10.
[xvi] Spencer, et al “”Food for Thought: How Nutrition Impacts Cognition and Emotion.”
[xvii] Gomez-Pinilla, Fernando. “Brain Foods: The Effects of Nutrients on Brain Function.”
[xviii] Edem, et al “Impact of Workplace Environment on Health Workers.”: 5.
[xix] Dadvand, et al “The Association between Lifelong Greenspace Exposure and 3-Dimensional Brain Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Barcelona Schoolchildren.”: 7-8.

 

Bibliography

 

Akerstedt, Torbjorn, Francesca Ghilotti, Alessandra Grotta, Hongwei Zhao, Hans-Olov Adami, Ylva Trolle-Lagerros, and Rino Bellocco. “Sleep Duration and Mortality – Does Weekend Sleep Matter?”. Journal of Sleep Research 28, no. 1 (2019): n/a.

Bennett, Andrew A., Allison S. Gabriel, and Charles Calderwood. “Examining the Interplay of Micro- Break Durations and Activities for Employee Recovery: A Mixed-Methods Investigation.” Journal of Occupational Health Psychology (2019): 1-17.

Chen, Charlene Y., Maya Rossignac-Milon, and E. Tory Higgins. “Feeling Distressed from Making Decisions: Assessors’ Need to Be Right.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 115, no. 4 (2018): 743-61.

Childs, Emma, and Harriet de Wit. “Regular Exercise Is Associated with Emotional Resilience to Acute Stress in Healthy Adults.” [In English]. Frontiers in Physiology 5, no. 161 (2014-May-01 2014).

Dadvand, Payam, Jesus Pujol, Dídac Macià, Gerard Martínez-Vilavella, Laura Blanco-Hinojo, Marion Mortamais, Mar Alvarez-Pedrerol, et al. “The Association between Lifelong Greenspace Exposure and 3-Dimensional Brain Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Barcelona Schoolchildren.” Environmental Health Perspectives 126, no. 2 (2018): 1-8.

Danziger, Shai, Jonathan Levav, and Liora Avnaim-Pesso. “Extraneous Factors in Judicial Decisions.” [In eng]. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 108, no. 17 (2011): 6889-92.

Debatin, Tobias. “A Revised Mental Energy Hypothesis of the G Factor in Light of Recent Neuroscience.” Review of General Psychology 23, no. 2 (2019): 201-10.

Edem MJ, Akpan EU and Pepple NM. “Impact of Workplace Environment on Health Workers.” Occupational Medicine & Health Affairs (July 31, 2017 2017).

Germeys, Lynn, and Sara De Gieter. “A Diary Study on the Role of Psychological Detachment in the Spillover of Self-Control Demands to Employees’ Ego Depletion and the Crossover to Their Partner.” European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology 27, no. 1 (2018): 140-52.

Gomez-Pinilla, Fernando. “Brain Foods: The Effects of Nutrients on Brain Function.” [In English]. Nature Reviews Neuroscience 9 (2008): 568+.

Grohol, John M., Psy.D. “Decision Fatigue: Does It Help to Wear the Same Clothes Every Day?” Psych Central, https://psychcentral.com/blog/decision-fatigue-does-it-help-to-wear-the-same- clothes-every-day/.

Hirshkowitz, Max, Kaitlyn Whiton, Steven M. Albert, Cathy Alessi, Oliviero Bruni, Lydia DonCarlos, Nancy Hazen, et al. “National Sleep Foundation’s Updated Sleep Duration Recommendations: Final Report.” Sleep Health 1, no. 4 (2015/12/01/ 2015): 233-43.

Krockow, Eva M., Ph.D. “How Many Decisions Do We Make Each Day?” Psychology Today, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/stretching-theory/201809/how-many- decisions-do-we-make-each-day.

Persson, Emil, Kinga Barrafrem, Andreas Meunier, and Gustav Tinghög. “The Effect of Decision Fatigue on Surgeons’ Clinical Decision Making.” [In eng]. Health economics 28, no. 10 (2019): 1194-203.

Román, Pedro Ángel Latorre, Antonio Pantoja Vallejo, and Beatriz Berrios Aguayo. “Acute Aerobic Exercise Enhances Students’ Creativity.” Creativity Research Journal 30, no. 3 (2018): 310-15.

Sahakian, Barbara J., and Jamie Nicole Labuzetta. Bad Moves: How Decision Making Goes Wrong, and the Ethics of Smart Drugs. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

Sjøgaard, Gisela, Jeanette Reffstrup Christensen, Just Bendix Justesen, Mike Murray, Tina Dalager, Gitte Hansen Fredslund, and Karen Søgaard. “Exercise Is More Than Medicine: The Working Age Population’s Well-Being and Productivity.” Journal of Sport and Health Science 5, no. 2 (2016/06/01/ 2016): 159-65.

Spencer, Sarah, Aniko Korosi, Sophie Layé, Barbara Shukitt-Hale, and Ruth Barrientos. “Food for Thought: How Nutrition Impacts Cognition and Emotion.” npj Sci Food 1, no. 1 (2017): 7-7.

Wansink, Brian, and Jeffery Sobal. “Mindless Eating: The 200 Daily Food Decisions We Overlook.” Environment and Behavior 39, no. 1 (2007): 106-23.

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The Importance of Understanding Purpose https://markmudford.com.au/startyourbusiness/ Mon, 25 Nov 2019 08:57:23 +0000 http://markmudford.com.au/?p=1573

“It is not enough to be industrious; so are the ants. What are you industrious about?”
– Henry David Thoreau

 

(This is the extended version of my article from Start Your Business online magazine).

Purpose provides us context in the realm of Business. You may be an entrepreneur starting out. You may be a lower-level manager in an organisation, with targets to develop and meet. Or you may be a seasoned C-Suite leader developing corporate strategy. Regardless of your role, using purpose as your context brings advantages during planning, execution and review.

 

1. Planning

At the planning stage, we are identifying opportunities. We are also identifying and evaluating possible risks. And we are selecting or dropping possible options. We may be looking to improve finances (such as increase profits / drive out costs). Or seeking to improve existing processes. At times we will be developing new strategy and tactics. But we compromise our ability to plan without using purpose as context.

Without purpose, the options we must consider may appear endless. Even more dangerous, we may choose a direction that does not align with our core values. It may not support our long-term vision; it may not even draw out the best short-term actions to put in place.

And things do go wrong when we fail to consider purpose. One of the most startling examples in recent times is Apple’s introduction of the iPhone. Not reacting to Apple’s new product relegated Nokia from dominant industry leader to relative obscurity. It appeared that “Nokia was so immersed in executing its strategy that it lost sight of its purpose[i].

 

2. Execution

Execution marks the beginning of the journey proper. But we can only prepare for some eventualities. We will encounter unexpected changes to the business landscape. We will receive unexpected indicators or results as we journey towards out goals. And new or competing priorities entering our domain may push us further off balance.

During these times, our purpose remains the compass in which we keep our course. It allows us to decipher new information and either dismiss or incorporate it into our tactics. And purpose provides the critical benefit of adding resilience to us and our team as we take action.

A very recent study examined the brains of people who felt connected to their purpose. All showed reduced activity in the areas of the brain responsible for “conflict-related processing”[ii]. This means less time and mental effort spent trying to identify or resolve inconsistencies. It helps avoid dwelling over conflicting data or negative outcomes. As a result, extra mental resources become available for use.

 

3. Review

It is common business practice to review our efforts upon completion of any significant activity. Capturing learnings is key to ongoing improvement. Yet the only way to measure outcomes is against the purpose for which it was set. Only then we may record the wins. And we may also evaluate if any setbacks were simply the price paid and not a genuine failure.

 

How to Identify Purpose

A topic worthy of larger discussion in its own right. The above advantages do not explain exactly HOW we first define our purpose. Should we discover it[iii]? Or develop it? My advice is to consider doing both. A purpose that makes you burn from the bottom of your feet provides many advantages, including clarity, resilience, drive and even longevity[iv] . If you can discover a way to deliver the (commercial or personal) benefits you seek via your strongest passion, then you should pursue it. If not, be prepared to then consider developing your purpose from a lesser interest.

We live in a quickly-globalising economy. It is a competitive place. And this also brings increasing demands on our personal and professional life, often bringing them into conflict. Because of this, it is of greatest importance to always keep our core motivations in mind.

The chaos of our current business landscape is (relatively) recent. But the wisdom behind Purpose has been around for thousands of years[v] . Even today it gives us our context to make the right decisions. To take full advantage of our ever-changing business landscape. To stay the course. To take advantage of the new trends. And to continually improve ourselves and our business.

You must define that purpose.

Then engage that purpose to deliver your business outcomes.

Just ask Nokia.

 

Footnotes

 

[i] Chevreux, et al. “The Best Companies Know How to Balance Strategy and Purpose.”: 26.

[ii] Kang, et al “Purpose in Life and Conflict-Related Neural Responses During Health Decision-Making.”: 548.

[iii] Henderson “Follow Your Bliss”: A Process for Career Happiness.”.

[iv] Chan, et al “When God Is Your Only Friend: Religious Beliefs Compensate for Purpose in Life in the Socially Disconnected.”: 455-456.

[v] Zu “Purpose-Driven Leadership for Sustainable Business: From the Perspective of Taoism.”:3.

 

Bibliography

 

Chan, Todd, Nicholas M. Michalak, and Oscar Ybarra. “When God Is Your Only Friend: Religious Beliefs Compensate for Purpose in Life in the Socially Disconnected.” Journal of Personality 87, no. 3 (2019): 455-71.

Chevreux, Laurent, Jose Lopez, and Xavier Mesnard. “The Best Companies Know How to Balance Strategy and Purpose.” [In English]. Accountancy SA (Nov 2018 2018): 26-27.

Henderson, Sheila J. “Follow Your Bliss”: A Process for Career Happiness.” Journal of Counseling and Development 78, no. 3 (2000): 305.

Kang, Yoona, Victor J. Strecher, Eric Kim, and Emily B. Falk. “Purpose in Life and Conflict-Related Neural Responses During Health Decision-Making.” Health Psychology 38, no. 6 (2019): 545-52.

Zu, Liangrong. “Purpose-Driven Leadership for Sustainable Business: From the Perspective of Taoism.” International Journal of Corporate Social Responsibility 4, no. 1 (2019/02/07 2019): 3.

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Quantum Connection https://markmudford.com.au/quantum-connection/ Fri, 07 Jun 2019 07:37:00 +0000 https://dyd-test-site.com/mark/?p=1342

“I am a part of all that I have met.”
– Lord Tennyson

 

Below the layers of connection that are being explored today – how our (internal and external) environment, and even our internal dialogue, can affect us at a biological level (as explored in Genetic Uniqueness), there is the quantum world.

 

History of Connection at the lowest levels

Entanglement is “a phenomenon whereby two distant objects become intertwined in a manner that defies both classical physics and a “common-sense” understanding of reality”[i]. In this state, two (or more) objects act as if connected – even if separated by great distances – and the interaction with one will see the other react as if it is the one being interacted with.

The first hints of this in science (although not recognised as such at the time) were from Thomas Young’s experiments with light in 1801, in which he demonstrated that light can behave both like classically defined particles, and also in the same way as classically defined waves. While Einstein later dismissed the idea of quantum entanglement as “spooky action at a distance”, other scientists were working through the possibilities. The now-famous 1935 thought experiment by Schrodinger proposed that the state of a cat locked in a box with a poison capsule inside that could break at any time would remain unknown until the box was opened – therefore, until it was opened, the cat could be considered both alive and dead. In this way, the cat was simultaneously in multiple states.

Following this, multiple other double-slit experiments on different atoms and molecules followed Young’s initial experiment, all with the same result – that the results from an unobserved experiment (where the subject would act as a particle) differed from an experiment that was observed (which caused the subject to act as a wave). In short, at every level (atoms, molecules, etc), the subjects were shown to change their actions simply by being observed! Interestingly, it has now been discovered that the observer does not even have to be human[ii] – that electronic observation is enough to cause this phenomenon.

There have been many further advancements in recent years. Experiments have started breaking assumed limits, and now threaten to bring the quantum world behaviours into the observable world. In 2013 an experiment showed that entanglement occurred at the molecular level, involving clusters of atoms [iii]. In 2017 the Chinese intertwined quantum particles from a satellite to ground stations that were 1200 kilometres apart [iv], which far surpassed any distance previously obtained. And, most recently, studies in this area have started to shift away from the tiny quantum world, into areas that are visible to the human eye, particularly in a 2018 experiment that saw micromechanical oscillators become entangled [v] – much bigger and more complex things than have ever been entangled before!

But such entanglement is not restricted to just to science – many philosophers and religious scholars have contemplated such interconnections for most of our recorded history. One of the earliest considerations is within the Buddhist traditions, which believes that “no identity can be given for any phenomenon independent of others…this is not only true of ‘wholes’ like tables and chairs, but is also true of parts, however defined (elements, atoms, particles, etc.)” [vi]. And as explored in our discussion on Ambiguity, there are many examples of how seemingly contradictory views do indeed exist, and are even true under different conditions – perhaps suggesting a form of entanglement across human perspective as well?

 

TL; DR

We know that the conversations we have with ourselves and our staff, and the internal physical environment we choose within our businesses influence and shape the health of our staff, and the business as a whole – especially at the level of Psychological Safety, and the resilience we create to operate in environments of Ambiguity. And we are all genetically unique, which provides us with a broad set of possible outcomes based on the particular mix of people and experiences involved in any situation, including the wisdom we derive from overcoming adversity in both our business life, and our life in general.

But one of the most powerful aspects, one that may multiply success if adhered to, or exaggerate our failure if ignored, is the fact that we are all connected. Every action influences the situation in subtle ways we may not even realise. And science is backing up that position, especially at the quantum level.

In ways we can’t yet fully understand, what Einstein once dismissed as “spooky action at a distance”, quantum connection is actually very real. And as the science moves forward, it is demonstrating that such connection is possible at a much larger level than the sub-atomic[vii], and across greater and greater distances[viii].

But what does that mean for the business leader? Most importantly, it says that everything appears to be connected at a far greater rate than we have previously realised. This also implies that our actions have consequences far beyond that of our conventional understanding, and as science continues to strive to bring this more and more to light, we should maintain an open mind to the connections we may not even understand we have, and honour those we already have.

This may encompass acting wisely, and treating staff and customer/clients with dignity and respect. But most importantly for business success, it means adopting your own personal “Board of Directors” to foster creativity, resilience and interdependence, and give yourself the greatest chance at success – in business, and in life.

 

Footnotes

 

[i] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180425131858.htm

[ii] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/02/980227055013.htm

[iii] Eibenberger, Sandra, Stefan Gerlich, Markus Arndt, Marcel Mayor, and Jens Tüxen. “Matter-Wave Interference of Particles Selected from a Molecular Library with Masses Exceeding 10,000 Amu.”

[iv] Juan Yin, Yuan Cao, Yu-Huai Li, Sheng-Kai Liao, Liang Zhang, Ji-Gang Ren, Wen-Qi Cai, et al. “Satellite-Based Entanglement Distribution over 1200 Kilometers.”

[v] Ralf Riedinger, Andreas Wallucks, Igor Marinković, Clemens Löschnauer, Markus Aspelmeyer, Sungkun Hong, and Simon Gröblacher. “Remote Quantum Entanglement between Two Micromechanical Oscillators.”: 473 & 476

[vi] McRae, Emily. “Suffering and the Six Perfections: Using Adversity to Attain Wisdom in Mahāyāna Buddhist Ethics.”: 398

[vii] Ralf Riedinger, Andreas Wallucks, Igor Marinković, Clemens Löschnauer, Markus Aspelmeyer, Sungkun Hong, and Simon Gröblacher. “Remote Quantum Entanglement between Two Micromechanical Oscillators.”

[viii] Juan Yin, Yuan Cao, Yu-Huai Li, Sheng-Kai Liao, Liang Zhang, Ji-Gang Ren, Wen-Qi Cai, et al. “Satellite-Based Entanglement Distribution over 1200 Kilometers.”

 

Bibliography

 

Eibenberger, Sandra, Stefan Gerlich, Markus Arndt, Marcel Mayor, and Jens Tüxen. “Matter-Wave Interference of Particles Selected from a Molecular Library with Masses Exceeding 10,000 Amu.” Physical chemistry chemical physics : PCCP 15, no. 35 (2013): 14696.

McRae, Emily. “Suffering and the Six Perfections: Using Adversity to Attain Wisdom in Mahāyāna Buddhist Ethics.” The Journal of Value Inquiry 52, no. 4 (December 01 2018): 395-410.

Riedinger, Ralf, Andreas Wallucks, Igor Marinković, Clemens Löschnauer, Markus Aspelmeyer, Sungkun Hong, and Simon Gröblacher. “Remote Quantum Entanglement between Two Micromechanical Oscillators.” Nature 556, no. 7702 (2018/04/01 2018): 473-77.

Yin, Juan, Yuan Cao, Yu-Huai Li, Sheng-Kai Liao, Liang Zhang, Ji-Gang Ren, Wen-Qi Cai, et al. “Satellite-Based Entanglement Distribution over 1200 Kilometers.” Science 356, no. 6343 (2017): 1140-44.

 

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With Adversity Comes Wisdom https://markmudford.com.au/with-adversity-comes-wisdom/ Fri, 07 Jun 2019 07:34:21 +0000 https://dyd-test-site.com/mark/?p=1340

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”

Aristotle

Once again, feel free to jump straight to the summary.

 

In order to effectively discuss the relationship between Wisdom and Adversity, we must first define both. Defining Adversity is the easier task, and encompasses either (at times significantly) difficult, unfair or unpleasant situations. And as we have already explored when considering how unique we all are from each other; we already know we are likely to perceive different things as adverse situations.

Wisdom is more difficult to define. This is because its classification varies across different disciplines, such as Philosophy, Theology, Psychology and even Management. But for our purposes, the definition of practical wisdom, being a “conciliatory conception of the various features in practical management” [i] seems the most appropriate definition.

Using this approach, we note that such wisdom looks to transform the theoretical into action[ii]. It also seeks to understand (and incorporate) the complexity of reality[iii], which is especially useful given our current ‘disruptive’ business climate. It contains a normative feature[iv], in which moral or ethical considerations are included, while also considering the societal link, which places these moral considerations into a larger structure of interconnectedness that we see in today’s global business realm. Finally, wisdom will allow for four other interrelated features[v] that include: Pluralism, which allows for our diversity of beliefs and perceptions; Personality, which links wisdom to the wise leader; Cultural Heritage, which includes how wisdom can be transmitted to emerging leaders; and Limitations of our human capabilities, which extends from the care of those in the leader’s change, to clients/customers, and society as a whole.

So how does adversity lead to wisdom? While we can interpret this from the above Features, there are other studies and approaches that also speak to this:

The Pillars of Wisdom [vi] has the element of Emotional Regulation. This is the closest we will ever come to that old adage “with age comes wisdom” being true. It is evident that, as we age, we learn to better regulate our emotions[vii]. It has been suggested that this is due to an older person’s sense of time changing to encourage their focus on the things they have found to be more important – such as emotional richness and relationships – and less on the youthful desire to acquire (knowledge, wealth, etc). However, it is also suggested that a traumatic event (e.g. experiencing the death of a loved one, or a terrorist attack) can distort this sense of time – and in these cases, a younger person’s sense of time is shortened to resemble that of an older person[viii], bring the benefits once said to be delivered by age.

But age cannot be the only factor to consider. With respect to traumatic events, as explored by Bessel Van Der Kolk [ix], the body will often retain its own version of a ‘memory’ of trauma. Learning the methods to resolve this physical memory means the business leader should expect to largely return to their previous abilities and status, but with the added advantage of an altered sense of time (i.e. the wisdom/focus of a much older person).

In the concept of Post-Traumatic Growth, understanding the value of the experience gained from a traumatic event is extremely powerful, and such a method aligned with the approach-oriented coping mechanism[x]. This also has the greatest benefits health-wise (the alternative being avoidance-oriented coping, which is well know to have massive negative physical and psychological impacts if utilised beyond the initial months following an event[xi]).

We also see this sentiment echoed in the more philosophical approaches such as Stocism, in which we are advised “Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our conditions” [xii], requiring (i) our Perception to see the opportunity, (ii) the Action required to take the opportunity, and (iii) the Will to overcome the challenges preventing action[xiii]. This would also seem to suggest that converting our obstacle to a challenge may then naturally add to our wisdom of such obstacles.

And of course, we see the same approaches in religious/spiritual theology. Consider the four noble truths of Buddhism, which suggests “either we resign ourselves to our suffering or we understand and skillfully use our suffering in order to eventually transcend it” [xiv]. In this approach, it is again our perception of the suffering as a challenge that provides the opportunity to overcome it.

 TL; DR

The summary of this is an excellent companion to our discussion on unique genes, in which we more deeply understand how overcoming adversity has a positive effect at the biological level.

A conciliatory (cross-discipline) approach has identified the following benefits of wisdom:

  1. Transform our business plans (both strategic and tactical) into Action;
  2. Understand (and operate in) Complex environments;
  3. Apply the normative effects of Ethics and Morality to any situation;
  4. Understand the impact of our decisions to Society (both those social structures internal to the business, and also those within which the business operates);
  5. Utilise Plurality to operate within ambiguous contexts of culture, perception and beliefs;
  6. Link our wisdom to our leadership (in the context of operating as a “wise leader”);
  7. Create the Heritage that allows us to transmit our wisdom to other, emerging leaders; and
  8. Incorporate the limits of human ability into all our decisions.

This seems to be done, in part, via the impact on our sense of time following significant (traumatic or defining) events.

And these do apply to those overcoming significant challenges, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and its alternative perspective of Post-Traumatic Growth (PTG). Both are approaches which are echoed in far more older traditions and disciplines such as Stoicism and Buddhism.

But all underline one fact – with Adversity comes the opportunity for Wisdom. Great Wisdom. And, as Business Leaders, that can only be of great benefit to us… and those within our sphere of leadership influence.

 

Footnotes 

[i] Claudius Bachmann, André Habisch, and Claus Dierksmeier. “Practical Wisdom: Management’s No Longer Forgotten Virtue.”:147

[ii] Bachmann Ibid. : 155.

[iii] Bachmann Ibid. :157

[iv] Bachmann Ibid. :158.

[v] Bachmann Ibid: 159.

[vi] Anthony W. Marker, “The Development of Practical Wisdom: Its Critical Role in Sustainable Performance”:12.

[vii] Marker. P10

[viii] Marker p.12

[ix] Bessel A. Van der Kolk. The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma.

[x] Stephen Joseph Ph. D, What Doesn’t Kill Us : The New Psychology of Posttraumatic Growth: 117

[xi] Joseph Ibid: 118-119.

[xii] Holiday, Ryan. The Obstacle Is the Way : The Ancient Art of Turning Adversity to Advantage: 7

[xiii] Holiday: 9. (Also Part 1: Perception pp13-61; Action pp65-124 & Will pp127-173)

[xiv] McRae, Emily. “Suffering and the Six Perfections: Using Adversity to Attain Wisdom in Mahāyāna Buddhist Ethics.” The Journal of Value Inquiry: 397

 

Bibliography

 

Bachmann, Claudius, André Habisch, and Claus Dierksmeier. “Practical Wisdom: Management’s No Longer Forgotten Virtue.” Journal of Business Ethics 153, no. 1 (11/15/ 2018): 147-65.

Holiday, Ryan. The Obstacle Is the Way : The Ancient Art of Turning Adversity to Advantage. London, UNITED KINGDOM: Profile Books, 2014.

Joseph, Stephen. What Doesn’t Kill Us : The New Psychology of Posttraumatic Growth. Edited by body ProQuest issuing. New York : Basic Books, 2011.

Marker, Anthony W. “The Development of Practical Wisdom: Its Critical Role in Sustainable Performance.” Performance Improvement 52, no. 4 (2013): 11-21.

McRae, Emily. “Suffering and the Six Perfections: Using Adversity to Attain Wisdom in Mahāyāna Buddhist Ethics.” The Journal of Value Inquiry 52, no. 4 (December 01 2018): 395-410.

Van der Kolk, Bessel A. The Body Keeps the Score : Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. New York, New York : : Penguin Books, 2015.

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1365
Unique Genes…. And why they are important to Leadership https://markmudford.com.au/unique-genes/ Fri, 07 Jun 2019 07:30:09 +0000 https://dyd-test-site.com/mark/?p=1336

 This reading can get a little heavy, so feel free to jump straight to the summary at TL;DR

 

“Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.”
– Margaret Mead

 

What do we really mean by “unique”?

In order to understand just how unique we are at the genetic level, there are a number of calculations we need to make.

But first, let’s start with a review of the basics (with thanks to the YourGenome[i] website for any details that are not specifically indicated by footnote, below):

The Human Genome:

  • The human genome contains all the information needed to build a human.
  • Our genome is packaged into 23 pairs of chromosomes.

Chromosomes:

  • Chromosomes are paired, with one half of each pair coming from each parent.
  • They are bundles of tightly coiled DNA, located in the nucleus of most cells in our body.

DNA:

  • DNA is a long molecule that contains our specific genetic code.
  • It holds the instructions for making all of the proteins in our body.
  • There are only 4 base types: adenine (A); cytosine (C); guanine (G) and; thymine (T).
  • These bases make up the 3.2 billion bases in the human genome.

Genes:

  • Genes are a smaller section of DNA that contains the instructions for a specific molecule.
  • There are 20,687 protein-encoding genes.
  • Protein-encoding genes contain instructions on how to build a specific protein that we need.

Traits:

  • A trait is a distinguishing quality or characteristic.
  • Traits are inherited from parents.
  • Certain traits are dominant, and will occur even if one parent passes a different trait[ii] .

Gene mutation:

  • Gene mutation can occur during the replication process (the time that cells make identical copies of themselves).
  • Mutations can also occur as a result of exposure to external environmental factors (smoking, sunlight, radiation, etc), changing our physiology.
  • Our internal environment (thoughts / feelings) can also affect our physiology[iii],[iv] .

 

Discussion:

So, what does all this mean for today’s Business Leaders?

To try and put possible combinations in perspective, we might first consider the total number of humans who have ever lived on earth. An estimate of 108 billion[v] would seem reasonable.

If we then restrict our calculations to just the protein-encoding genes (which have a major role in responding to both our internal and external environment), we see that we are dealing with less than 3% of our total genes (protein-encoding genes are thought to number 20,687 genes)[vi]. When we consider the number of combinations of just that subset, and ignore the fact that a proportion of those same genes are potentially also involved in the creation of the other 97% of our genes[vii], we still have a massively large figure (220,687). Calculated out, that figure works out to be a 2 with another 6,227 zeros after it (I needed to use a ‘large number’ calculator[viii] to even get close to working that out!).

Or we may choose to look this in another way. Not all the genes in every cell are used. Given this, we may assume that some possible combinations are not viable, or may not even have any real impact even if variations did occur. We also know that changing certain genes would render us no longer human. However, at least 1.42 billion variations between humans across our 3.2 billion DNA bases[ix] have been discovered to date. Genes also consist of four different bases – and that two of those bases must be different bases (although sometimes all four are different). Just using the most conservative figure with 2 bases still gives us 21,420,000 (and trying to calculate this number with the large number calculator gave me an error – but it’s estimated to be a figure with several hundred thousand digits…)

If we work with the most conservative of these figures (220,687), we still have trillions more possible combinations than the 108 billion people who have ever lived. This suggests that the likelihood of being identical at the genetic level is astonishingly rare[x]– in fact, it might even be said that (with the exception of identical twins), whenever a human is born, a brand-new gene combination is brought into the world.

There is also one other important factor – that of mutation. There is on average 60 new mutations introduced per generation [xi]. Not all of those mutations will necessarily impact a child’s traits (remember that 97% of our genes do not express proteins, and these mutations could still occur there). But it does add another layer of complexity that suggests ‘new’ (mutated) genes are being created with every generation.

Added to this is the fact that our (external) environment[xii], and even our own (internal) thoughts, can affect us at the genetic level, and further shape our DNA [xiii]. This means our evolution is constantly ongoing.

But what does all this mean? It means that we are a complex, constantly evolving species. And while we have a set of ‘unchangable’ genes, we also have others that are designed to be impacted by the environment (including our own internal dialogue). From a leadership perspective, this is important. As leaders, we all have the ability to influence the environment in which we work, the way we engage with each other, and even the way we (silently) engage with ourselves. This gives us an incredible opportunity to impact productivity, resilience, creativity and motivation.

 

So…as a leader… will you use your superpowers for good or evil?

TL; DR

 

The main points to take away are:

  1. At a genetic level, and only with the exception of (some) identical twins, we are all unique.
  2. This uniqueness is evolving, as each child is given genetic mutations upon conception.
  3. Our external environment, as well as the way we communicate with ourselves internally, can switch ‘on’ or switch ‘off’ gene function. Mutations are also possible from the environment.
  4. This means, as business leaders, how we impact our employees, suppliers and customers really matters. Anything we do that that affects the environment in which they operate, the conversations they have between us or each other, or even the silent conversations we all have with ourselves, makes a huge difference at both the cellular and physiological levels.

Footnotes

 

[i] Your Genome project: https://www.yourgenome.org/

[ii] For example, brown eyes are a dominant trait. This means that, if only one parent passes the brown eyes gene, the child will be brown eyed – regardless of the trait the other parent has provided.

[iii] Thus, also occurring at the physiological level – consider the physiological changes that occur in the brain under sustained conditions of threat – the ‘threat’ areas grow stronger and ‘self-regulation’ areas atrophy. Consider also-  how such changes then manifest in conditions such as PTSD, metabolic syndrome, chronic inflammation and even depression.

[iv] Eric L. Garland, Adam W. Hanley, Anne K. Baker, and Matthew O. Howard. “Biobehavioral Mechanisms of Mindfulness as a Treatment for Chronic Stress: An Rdoc Perspective.”: 2.

[v] Carl Haub and Toshiko Kaneda. “How Many People Have Ever Lived on Earth?”

[vi] Christian Bach and Prabir Patra. “Human Genome Regulation.”: 57

[vii] Ibid.: 57

[viii] Calculator available at https://www.calculator.net/big-number-calculator.html

[ix] B. Gilman, S. Schaffner, Wj Van Etten, D. Reich, J. Higgins, Mj Daly, B. Blumenstiel, et al. “A Map of Human Genome Sequence Variation Containing 1.42 Million Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms”

[x] There is one possible exception for identical (monozygotic) twins – some identical twins can differ because of differences in each’s X-chromosome activation.

[xi] Alexey Kondrashov, “Genetics: The Rate of Human Mutation.”:467. – Please keep in mind this figure is really the “average of an average”, as the age of the father is extremely important. For example, a 20-year-old father will transmit 25 mutations to his child, whereas a 40-year-old father will transmit around 65.

[xii] Eric L. Garland, Adam W. Hanley, Anne K. Baker, and Matthew O. Howard. “Biobehavioral Mechanisms of Mindfulness as a Treatment for Chronic Stress: An Rdoc Perspective.”: 2.

[xiii] Judith E. Glaser, Conversational Intelligence How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results: 82

 

Bibliography

 

Bach, Christian, and Prabir Patra. “Human Genome Regulation.” Bioengineered 7, no. 2 (2016): 00-00.

Garland, Eric L., Adam W. Hanley, Anne K. Baker, and Matthew O. Howard. “Biobehavioral Mechanisms of Mindfulness as a Treatment for Chronic Stress: An Rdoc Perspective.” Chronic Stress 1 (2017).

Gilman, B., S. Schaffner, Wj Van Etten, D. Reich, J. Higgins, Mj Daly, B. Blumenstiel, et al. “A Map of Human Genome Sequence Variation Containing 1.42 Million Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms.” Nature 409, no. 6822 (2001): 928.

Glaser, Judith E. . Conversational Intelligence How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results. Edited by Inc Books24x. Brookline, MA : Bibliomotion, 2014.

Haub, Carl, and Toshiko Kaneda. “How Many People Have Ever Lived on Earth?”  https://www.prb.org/howmanypeoplehaveeverlivedonearth/.

Kondrashov, Alexey. “Genetics: The Rate of Human Mutation.” Nature 488, no. 7412 (2012): 467.

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Ambiguity – A History https://markmudford.com.au/ambiguity-a-history/ Fri, 07 Jun 2019 07:15:07 +0000 https://dyd-test-site.com/mark/?p=1334

If you want to ignore the detail and jump to the summarised points, click here.

 

“Intolerance of ambiguity is the mark of an authoritarian personality”

Theodor Adorno

Because of our inherent uniqueness, it stands to reason that our world views may also be unique. This, in turn, introduces the possibility of ambiguity, as conflicting perceptions collide.

 

But for this to be true, surely there must be evidence of it throughout history?

 

Western History

Western thinking approaches are strongly influenced by the work of the ancient Greeks, who contemplated their philosophical position in areas such as truth and logic. Attributed to Plato, the Principle of the Excluded Middle states that “any judgment that anything is or is not states either what is true or what is false.”[i] In other words, for every proposition, either its positive or negative form must be true. Plato is also credited with the Principle of Non-Contradiction, which means nothing can be simultaneously true AND false. Aristotle later wrote that he believed these laws to be a part of the “foundation of thought”[ii] . And we can certainly see evidence of this way of thinking in modern approaches to philosophy, and science… and even in the (comparatively) new areas of business management and leadership.  Even so, there have been discussions around the ambiguities in theories and philosophies throughout history – in particular, how the more stringent tenets might fit into reality.

Many of the western philosophers and scientists developed approaches that, when viewed side-by-side, may seem directly at odds with each other. Consider the social contract theorists John Locke and Thomas Hobbes. In 1651, Hobbes theorised that man’s natural state was one of perpetual war, based on innate qualities of greed and selfishness, and thus required a single source of power greater than the two to maintain order[iii] . Locke, in 1689,  revisited this concept and theorised that man possessed an innate sense of community that would always be stronger than their individual senses of greed and self-interest [iv]. If we were to consider these approaches against the context of business today, we can imagine different circumstances in which each of these theories might be the most applicable. For example, in times of great risk to life, extremely short timeframes or even significant financial risk, acting in alignment with Hobbes’ single source of power might seem appropriate (perhaps implementing directive or traditional leadership). However, when seeking to build team resilience or engage creativity, Locke’s approach would allow a different set of options (such as e.g. servant, transformational or perhaps ethical leadership), by tapping into the team’s sense of community.

In addition, the tenets of Ethics have similar examples. Take for example Bentham’s theory of Utilitarianism (in which the end will justify the means taken) [v] , which differs greatly from that of Kantian ethics (in both formulations of his Categorical Imperative, it is  the intention that determines morality) [vi]. They are effectively opposites – Kant is only concerned with the act itself, while utilitarianism only with the result of that act. In the context of leadership and business, it is (again) easy to recall different situations that might better suit each approach. For example, one might be more inclined to apply Kantian ethics to situations when dealing with the management of staff members (where the means may be of superior importance), yet apply a more utilitarianism approach when dealing with competitors in the market place (where the benefits of competitive advantage suggest the ends may actually be superior).

 

Eastern Approaches

But what about the philosophies of the East? Interestingly, civilisations who had less influence from the Greeks appear to have more appetite for contradiction. In fact, it is acknowledged that between the ancient Sanskrit texts there is an accepted “certain ambiguity ”[vii].

We might consider Eastern logical tradition of catuskoti, which is “a fourfold method of argumentation typical in Indian culture”[viii] . In this approach, we find an interpretation of truth that is wider that what has been generally defines by the West. While catuskoti contains the Western logic of (i) TRUE, or (ii) FALSE, it also contains two additional functions: (iii) BOTH true AND false, and; (iv) NEITHER true NOR false. Catuskoti is evident in the Dharmic [ix] and Buddhist[x] traditions, in the same way that the teachings of Plato and Aristotle may be seen in the Western and Middle Eastern religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Interestingly, there also appear to be differences in the language of truth between the East (Indian, Buddhist and Japanese) and the West that may help explain differences in cultural and logical processes. They appear largely at 3 levels, at how East and West: performs their cognitive processes; conceives reality; and the mechanisms in which they then create meaning[xi] .

Evidence of Eastern traditions in the West.

Interestingly, western science appears to also have recognised a version of catuskoti. Stretching back as far as the fourth century B.C., when Pyrrho of Elis founded the school of sceptical philosophy. His philosophy was expanded by other ancient Greek philosophers, who held three arguments that were based within (i) the judgement of the subject; (ii) the object that is judged, or; (iii) BOTH the subject who judges AND the object that is judged. [xii] Interestingly, it is generally believed that Pyrrho “picked up ideas in India while in the train of Alexander the Great”. Even more astounding, his teachings were later purported to return to influence Chinese thought [xiii] – suggesting, in turn, strong parallels between Pyrrhonian scepticism of the West and Madhyamaka Buddhism [xiv] in the East.

Synergies between East and West are also evident through the study of logic. The 19th century mathematician Augustus De Morgan formulated mathematical laws that held possibilities beyond the limitations of the Aristotle’s foundation of thought concepts (i.e. those of TRUE and FALSE). They would later characterise logician Nuel Belnap’s theories [xv] – which provided rules (such as Belnap’s First-Degree Entailment) that can, in certain situations, “falsify logical laws or verify contradictions” [xvi].

We will, however, leave for another discussion further exploration of approaches outside binary outcomes, including Schrodinger’s cat, and quantum experiments such as Young’s double slit experiments from the 19th century. For our purposes, it enough to note that the quantum realm also does not seem to adhere to the strict principles of Excluded Middle and Non-Contradiction.

TL; DR

 

Leadership decisions are rarely binary.

Despite being largely influenced by the early Greek philosophers, there are still approaches that consider possible outcomes to be more than “true” or “false” situations. This is important to remember, because as business leaders we must be comfortable operating in ambiguity.

Modern approaches that may assist us in addressing contradictory or incomplete information include Belnpa’s use of De Morgan’s laws, mimicking the ancient Eastern tradition of catuskoti. They all effectively give four possible outcomes:

  1. True
  2. False
  3. BOTH true and false.
  4. NEITHER true NOR false.

But as a business leader, how do we interpret this?

Consider the above four options in a scenario in which we have to operate without complete information to deliver against a strategic goal:

  • Our results may be perfect, therefore all possible benefits may flow to the business (TRUE);
  • Our results may fail in every way, and deliver us nothing (FALSE);
  • (Most likely) as we execute the strategy, we may see results that have a combination of both good (TRUE) and bad (FALSE) outcome (BOTH); and
  • Poor leaders may simply choose to abdicate their responsibilities completely, and take no action, which may result in no benefits or costs being created (NEITHER).

In truth, with the complexities of the business world as it is today, our choices should never be considered as binary.

 

Footnotes

 

[i] Jairo Jose Da Silva, “On the Principle of Excluded Middle: 346

[ii] Ragnar Bergem,”Transgressions: Erich Przywara, G. W. F. Hegel, and the Principle of Non-Contradiction”: 13

[iii] Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, or, the Matter, Form, and Power of a Commonwealth, Ecclesiastical and Civil

[iv] Locke, John. An Essay Concerning the True Original, Extent and End of Civil Government

[v] Gustafsson, Johan E. “Bentham’s Binary Form of Maximizing Utilitarianism.”: 88

[vi] William Shaw, Moral Issues in Business: 65

[vii] Purushottama Bilimoria, “Thinking Negation in Early Hinduism and Classical Indian Philosophy.”: 14.

[viii] Wanjoong Kim. “The Limitation of Language and an Ambiguous Way of Knowing: A Comparative Theological Study of Cyril of Alexandria and Nagarjuna.”: 148

[ix] John Schroeder,”Nagarjuna and the Doctrine of “Skillful Means”.”: 566

[x] Rafal K. Stepien, “Orienting Reason: A Religious Critique of Philosophizing Nāgārjuna.”: 1073

[xi] Jordi Vallverdú, “Brains, Language and the Argumentative Mind in Western and Eastern Societies. The Fertile Differences between Western-Eastern Argumentative Traditions.”: 429

[xii] Jacques Brunschwig,”Pyrrhonism.”: 471

[xiii] Peter Burke, Luke Clossey, and Felipe Fernández-Armesto. “The Global Renaissance.”: 10.

[xiv] Brons, Robin. “Life without Belief: A Madhyamaka Defense of the Livability of Pyrrhonism.”: 345-346.

[xv] Alexej P. Pynko, “Characterizing Belnap’s Logic Via De Morgan’s Laws.”: 442-54.

[xvi] Yaroslav Shramko, Dmitry Zaitsev, and Alexander Belikov. “First-Degree Entailment and Its Relatives.”: 1292-1293.

 

Bibliography

Bergem, Ragnar M. “Transgressions: Erich Przywara, G. W. F. Hegel, and the Principle of Non-Contradiction.” Forum Philosophicum 21, no. 1 (2016): 11-27.

Bilimoria, Purushottama. “Thinking Negation in Early Hinduism and Classical Indian Philosophy.” Logica Universalis 11, no. 1 (March 01 2017): 13-33.

Brons, Robin. “Life without Belief: A Madhyamaka Defense of the Livability of Pyrrhonism.” Philosophy East and West 68, no. 2 (2018): 329-51.

Brunschwig, Jacques. “Pyrrhonism.” Wiley, 2006.

Burke, Peter, Luke Clossey, and Felipe Fernández-Armesto. “The Global Renaissance.” Journal of World History 28, no. 1 (2017): 1-30.

Gustafsson, Johan E. “Bentham’s Binary Form of Maximizing Utilitarianism.” British Journal for the History of Philosophy 26, no. 1 (2018/01/02 2018): 87-109.

Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan, or, the Matter, Form, and Power of a Commonwealth, Ecclesiastical and Civil. Matter, Form, and Power of a Commonwealth, Ecclesiastical and Civil. 2nd edition.. ed.: London : George Routledge and Sons, 1886.

Kim, Wanjoong. “The Limitation of Language and an Ambiguous Way of Knowing: A Comparative Theological Study of Cyril of Alexandria and Nāgārjuna.” Buddhist – Christian Studies 37 (2017): 145-55.

Locke, John. An Essay Concerning the True Original, Extent and End of Civil Government. London: Amen-Corner, 1689.

Pynko, Alexej P. “Characterizing Belnap’s Logic Via De Morgan’s Laws.” Mathematical Logic Quarterly 41, no. 4 (1995): 442-54.

Schroeder, John. “NäGäRjuna and the Doctrine of “Skillful Means”.” Philosophy East and West 50, no. 4 (2000): 559-83.

Shaw, William. Moral Issues in Business. Edited by Vincent author Barry, Theodora author Issa, Donata author Muntean, William H. author Shaw and body ProQuest issuing. 3rd edition. ed.: Melbourne : Cengage Australia, 2016.

Shramko, Yaroslav, Dmitry Zaitsev, and Alexander Belikov. “First-Degree Entailment and Its Relatives.” Studia Logica 105, no. 6 (December 01 2017): 1291-317.

Silva, Jairo Jose Da. “On the Principle of Excluded Middle.” Principia: an international journal of epistemology 15, no. 2 (2011): 333-47.

Stepien, Rafal K. “Orienting Reason: A Religious Critique of Philosophizing Nāgārjuna.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 86, no. 4 (2018): 1072-106.

Vallverdú, Jordi. “Brains, Language and the Argumentative Mind in Western and Eastern Societies. The Fertile Differences between Western-Eastern Argumentative Traditions.” Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology 131 (2017): 424-31.

 

 

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Psychological Safety and the Team https://markmudford.com.au/psychological-safety-and-the-team/ Fri, 07 Jun 2019 07:10:17 +0000 https://dyd-test-site.com/mark/?p=1325

To see the summary, please jump to TL; DR, at the bottom of the page.

 

“Low levels of psychological safety can create a culture of silence. They can also create a Cassandra culture – an environment in which speaking up is belittled and warnings go unheeded.”

Amy C Edmondson

 

Psychological safety is an inherent part of group membership. In a workplace context, this means being free of concerns for actions that result in negative consequences to your career or status[i]. That is, given the demands of innovation and continuous improvement that are a constant in today’s business environment, psychological safety allows business owners and employees to feel secure enough in their work duties to learn efficiently, contribute effectively and excel in their performance[ii].

Particularly considering risk-taking in the workplace, this differs from other areas of organizational study such as ontological security, trust, psychological empowerment and work engagement. This is because psychological empowerment and work engagement refer to the specific jobs and tasks one is undertaking, rather than the broader social and work environment[iii]. Ontological security deals with an internal balance, such as being secure in your own identity and holding a sense of interdependence within oneself[iv], which was later extended to include self-awareness and the belief that we hold the capability of answering fundamental existential questions[v] . The final area, that of trust, is internally focussed, dealing with someone’s willingness to be vulnerable to others. In contrast, psychological safety is derived from how others will react to us, which is more related to the trust others will place in us[vi], rather than our trust in them.

In reality, we may consider psychological safety to be relevant to any business or organisation. Even single-person businesses are members of a group – there will be supply chain participation for the manufacture of physical products, or external contractors / specialist obligations in the case of services. And every organisation, whether commercial or non-profit, must exist for the benefit of someone else – known to the business as the customer or client.

But how does that play out under specific circumstances? Let’s examine this under two different contexts:

  1. Having a clear Purpose:

We know from research in areas such as Conversational Intelligence® (C-IQ), that trust allows us to access the highest levels of our abilities, our most “strategic and advanced thinking skills”[vii] . In particular, creativity seems positively influenced by psychological safety[viii] . For business owners or managers in organisations seeking improvement, whether to boost internal function or strengthen external position within their chosen industry, such improvements are likely to deliver financial and social benefits back to the business.

From the perspective of work design, a clear purpose may further allow for the business to more precisely define roles and strategy. Such role clarity may also help to reduce anxiety within the business, which, in turn, is believed to boost psychological safety[ix]. This also further enhances the ability of the business to design, implement and reap the rewards of future growth, as well as ‘steady the ship’ during the execution of that strategy (particularly while in in stormy waters).

Clarity of purpose also supports the development of routines which, in similar areas such as ontological security, are known to also assist an individual feel certain about what threats to confront or ignore[x] – thus potentially providing a further sense of safety for either the individual within the group, or the group itself.

  1. The Internal Business Environment

Beyond the benefits that clarity of purpose would appear to bring to the business, there are numerous other factors worthy of consideration that are believed to impact psychological safety within the business environment. Firstly, there are a number of elements that help create a sense of psychological safety[xi]:

  • Leadership styles – the highest of which seems to be transformational leadership, but includes other styles such as ethical leadership and inclusive leadership;
  • The way that the workplace is designed to function – particularly when staff are able to recognise their interdependence with each other; and
  • The extent of support provided to staff by their organisation and their peers – in which case, peer support is particularly valuable.

There are also a number of outcomes that appear to be a direct result of increasing psychological safety[xii]:

  • Higher levels of engagement by employees in their duties;
  • Superior task performance, particularly resilience to mistakes and increasing initiative;
  • Greater satisfaction with work; and
  • Stronger long-term commitment to the organisation.

Clearly both of these areas represent a significant contribution to the internal working environment of business owners, managers and employees. It also suggests that any positive impact on the internal environment would also flow onto supply chain members and also customers / clients. In summary, this may result in a significant improvement to many aspects of the business context.

TL;DR

In summary, there are 4 main points to remember:

  1. Psychological Safety shares common traits with ontological security, trust, psychological empowerment and work engagement, and may provide positive effects through actions to reduce anxiety (such as routinisation and clarity);
  2. A clear purpose allows for the reduction of anxiety and uncertainty, which will boost performance (especially during the execution stage of any strategy);
  3. Beyond reduction of anxiety and ability to deal with unexpected challenges, there are countless other elements that provide psychological security (including leadership style, and boosting interdependence or peer support within the work environment; and
  4. Significant benefits that may be given to the business include (i) higher levels of employee engagement (ii) superior employee performance (iii) greater job satisfaction, and (iv) long-term commitment to the organisation.

Footnotes

 

[i] WA Kahn, William A. “Psychological Conditions of Personal Engagement and Disengagement at Work.” Academy of Management Journal 33, no. 4 (Dec 1990), 708.

[ii] Edmondson, Amy C., and Zhike Lei. “Psychological Safety: The History, Renaissance, and Future of an Interpersonal Construct.” 1, no. 1 (2014), 23-43.

[iii] Frazier, M. Lance, Stav Fainshmidt, Ryan L. Klinger, Amir Pezeshkan, and Veselina Vracheva. “Psychological Safety: A Meta‐Analytic Review and Extension.” Personnel Psychology 70, no. 1 (2017), 116.

[iv] Laing, R. D. The Divided Self: An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness. (Harmondsworth : Penguin, 1965), 42.

[v] Giddens, Anthony. Modernity and Self-Identity : Self and Society in the Late Modern Age. Edited by body ProQuest issuing. 1st edition. ed.: (Chicester : Polity Press, 1995), 47.

[vi] Frazier, “Psychological Safety: A Meta‐Analytic Review and Extension.”, 116.

[vii] Glaser, Judith E. . Conversational Intelligence How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results. (Edited by Inc Books24x. Brookline, MA : Bibliomotion, 2014), 77.

[viii] Madjar, Nora, and Rowena Ortiz-Walters. “Trust in Supervisors and Trust in Customers: Their Independent, Relative, and Joint Effects on Employee Performance and Creativity.” Human Performance 22, no. 2 (2009), 128-42.

[ix] Frazier, “Psychological Safety: A Meta‐Analytic Review and Extension.”, 119.

[x] Mitzen, Jennifer. “Ontological Security in World Politics: State Identity and the Security Dilemma.” European Journal of International Relations 12, no. 3 (2006), 345.

[xi] Frazier, “Psychological Safety: A Meta‐Analytic Review and Extension.”, 140.

[xii] Ibid., 140-141.

 

Bibliography

 

Edmondson, Amy C., and Zhike Lei. “Psychological Safety: The History, Renaissance, and Future of an Interpersonal Construct.” 1, no. 1 (2014): 23-43.

Frazier, M. Lance, Stav Fainshmidt, Ryan L. Klinger, Amir Pezeshkan, and Veselina Vracheva. “Psychological Safety: A Meta‐Analytic Review and Extension.” Personnel Psychology 70, no. 1 (2017): 113-65.

Giddens, Anthony. Modernity and Self-Identity : Self and Society in the Late Modern Age. Edited by body ProQuest issuing. 1st edition. ed.: Chicester : Polity Press, 1995.

Glaser, Judith E. . Conversational Intelligence How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results. Edited by Inc Books24x. Brookline, MA : Bibliomotion, 2014.

Kahn, William A. “Psychological Conditions of Personal Engagement and Disengagement at Work.” [In English]. Academy of Management Journal 33, no. 4 (Dec 19902014-05-25 1990): 692.

Laing, R. D. The Divided Self : An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness. Harmondsworth : Penguin, 1965.

Madjar, Nora, and Rowena Ortiz-Walters. “Trust in Supervisors and Trust in Customers: Their Independent, Relative, and Joint Effects on Employee Performance and Creativity.” Human Performance 22, no. 2 (2009): 128-42.

Mitzen, Jennifer. “Ontological Security in World Politics: State Identity and the Security Dilemma.” [In English]. European Journal of International Relations 12, no. 3 (Sep 20062019-04-10 2006): 341-70,459.

 

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