Friday, 26 February 2016

Goodbye Kiss?

Keep It Simple, Stupid (KISS) - that's a principle we like.  We know that effective leaders strip out complexity from the narratives they tell, so we work to keep things simple.  We repeat the principle and internalise it.  It becomes a mantra, and the risk is then that we stop thinking about it, and don't notice when it over-rules other important principles.

That. at least, was what conversations with Afiniti clients at the start of the year highlighted.  Everybody agreed that good change leaders kept things simple - and that this was a good thing.  But we all agreed, too, that the really best leaders were super-comfortable with complexity and ambiguity.  They take the mind-bendingly complex on board, laden with seemingly inherent conflicts and uncertainties, then they make things simple for others.  So, there's another principle - that good leaders handle complexity. 

There should be no problem reconciling the two - complexity travels in one direction (to the leader) and simplicity in the other (from the leader).  What we were talking about, though, was how reality is different.  We all knew leaders so fixated on the simplicity mantra that those who work for and with them are never allowed to bring anything complex to the table.  We weren't talking about coaching, so that people learn to focus on the key issues, but about teams, programmes and organisations in which over time the complex can never be acknowledged and explored.  The result is not simplicity, but the simplistic.  Lazy leadership. 

So, we established a third principle, one that retained the principle of leaders being comfortable with complexity: as leaders, we need to KISS - but we don't look for the KISS to be reciprocated.

Incidentally, there's some fascinating 30 year old insight about goodbye kisses here.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Wolves (x2), Fifa and Incarnation

The news that Wolfsburg had signed one of the UK's best FIFA players grabbed me.  I liked the idea
of playing for a German team, but living in Wolverhampton - a Wolves connection?  I wondered how long before we get transfer fees (maybe we already have)?  And then how long before Wolfsburg pays more for a FIFA player than an on-the-field player?

I guess this highlights changes in what we'll pay to watch; in evolving definitions of entertainment and of sport; and illustrates how we're happy to pay to watch things that would have seemed unusual a couple of generations ago.

More than that, though, it highlights just how pervasive the shift from atoms to bits really is.  There's money to be made from people watching others play a computer game simulating a football match - albeit not yet as much as is to be made from charging to watch the football match itself.  I'm not into knocking computer games either.  I absolutely get that while they may draw us and our children away from physical activity (come in the Daily Mail), that they develop other capabilities wonderfully, and provide access to sporting / gaming excitement to many who would not otherwise gain that, or certainly not at a top level.

Nevertheless, I was struck by a comment made by Bruno Senna on being beaten on a race simulation game by non racing drivers.  He said 'when you’re driving in the simulator ... you are training your eye, and you can never react as fast through what your eye sees than what you feel with your body'.  I think that matters.  It seems to me that we live in a world of wonders, and wonders to be appreciated through five senses, not just our eyes.  Developing all five senses, being aware of my body and the subtle way it interacts with my environment - these are rich, and (I suspect) more key to my quality of life than I appreciated when I was younger.

So, for now, I'll stick with football matches, per se - and be so very glad I'm able to trust in a God who took on a body, and who said his creation was good.  The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.