The Leadership Paradox: Coveted Roles, Hidden Regrets

Ever wondered about the hidden truth of leadership roles? While they’re often seen as the pinnacle of professional success, the reality is that many leaders secretly wish they could step away. What’s causing this paradox, and how can we challenge the unspoken rules of business to address it? Let’s dive into the surprising dilemma faced by those at the top.

Isn’t it peculiar that the very roles folks strive for often become the ones they wish to escape? It’s the conundrum many in leadership find themselves in. They’ve climbed the ladder, gained the title, yet the reality of their positions is not as rosy as the image portrayed. Why’s this so?

The shared assumptions and beliefs within most businesses and societies paint leadership roles as the pinnacle of success. Yet, once in these positions, individuals often find them fraught with stress, long hours, a level of responsibility that can be overwhelming, and the implicit pressure to be mean to people. They’re bogged down by bureaucracy, and the freedom they envisaged is replaced with countless meetings, conflict resolution, and pressure to meet targets.

Yet, these same businesses’ cultures trap these individuals, creating a perception that stepping down or moving sideways would equate to failure. There’s a sense of being ‘stuck’, a lack of alternatives within the existing organisational structure. The irony is bitter: the very roles they once coveted have become ones they’d rather not hold, but the unwritten mores of business leave them feeling there’s no way out. It’s a dilemma that underscores the need for reimagining how we view success and leadership in our workplaces.

An Ode to Clean Language

Oh, Clean Language, so simple and bright,
You cut through our words, like a beacon at night.
You’re more than just questions, a mere interrogation,
You foster connection and aid contemplation.

In the hands of a therapist, so wise and so deft,
You’re a mirror to thoughts, both the right and the left. A reflection so clear, a reflection so pure,
Helping us to examine, to think and endure.

With you, we sidestep assumptions so sly,
Navigating the mind’s labyrinth, oh my!
You unlock hidden wisdom, you uncover the truth,
In the hearts of the old, in the souls of the youth.

Through your lens, we see our thoughts unfurl,
In a whirl of colours, they dance and they twirl.
And oh, how they gyre, in this dance of perception,
Under your gentle, your kind, your clear introspection.

So here’s to you, Clean Language, in all your might,
In personal battles and professional fight.
May you continue to help us, to see and to hear,
Our own thoughts and feelings, so vivid and clear.

The Unassuming Power of Clean Language: Navigating the Landscape of Thoughts

How often do we navigate conversations, unaware of the assumptions we introduce and the paths we unknowingly steer? In contrast, Clean Language seeks to illuminate this dynamic, facilitating a unique journey of discovery.

“When you think about Clean Language, what kind of benefits come to mind?”

This question encapsulates the essence of Clean Language, a technique characterised by its subtle potency. It seeks to minimise interjections, suspends assumptions, and encourages individuals to explore their perceptions, beliefs, and experiences.

Considering the transformative potential of Clean Language, one might ask,

“Can you tell me more about that personal growth?”

Indeed, it fosters an environment for personal growth by enabling individuals to understand their thoughts better, leading to increased self-awareness and introspection.

In a professional context, one might ponder,

“What might be happening in a professional environment utilising Clean Language?”

Here, Clean Language could be a catalyst for constructive dialogue, clear communication, and collaborative problem-solving. It nudges individuals to feel truly heard and understood, thereby fostering a culture of respect and harmony.

Clean Language is more than just an interrogative strategy; it’s a sophisticated tool for cultivating connections, nurturing comprehension, and unlocking hidden insights. When used by a therapist, it becomes akin to a mirror held up to an individual’s thoughts, enabling them to scrutinize their own perceptions and beliefs. This method allows therapists to facilitate conversations without steering the dialogue with their assumptions, thus enabling clients to navigate their own mental landscapes. By altering the way we communicate, Clean Language holds the potential to unfurl fresh perspectives, reshaping both personal and professional interactions.


Curiosity: The Unsung Superpower Propelling Human Progress

Have you ever considered curiosity as more than just a trait, but as an extraordinary superpower, latent in every individual? The force that drives the inquisitive, the explorers, the revolutionaries – curiosity may well be our most potent yet undervalued asset. Dive into this thought-provoking exploration of curiosity’s hidden might and potential to shape our future.

Can curiosity truly be considered a superpower? Now, that’s an intriguing thought, isn’t it? Let’s ruminate on that for a moment. Imagine a world where curiosity isn’t viewed as just an innate human trait, but as a potent superpower that has the capacity to fuel extraordinary human accomplishments.

This magical curiosity, as a superpower, what would it look like? Would it resemble the dazzling intellect of Sherlock Holmes or the unending quest for knowledge that defines a top-tier scientist? Imagine being able to penetrate the depths of any mystery, solve any problem, and understand any concept, simply by unleashing this unstoppable force of curiosity.

The curious ones are those who won’t rest until they’ve unraveled the mysteries of the universe, be it deciphering quantum physics or understanding the enigma of human emotions. They refuse to accept the unknown, undeterred by the seemingly insurmountable challenges that stand in their way. They question, they seek, and they explore, often charting territories unknown and unseen.

Would this not elevate humanity to a new level? Curiosity, the silent partner in our quest for progress, overlooked and underappreciated. Yet, its potential is truly unimaginable. Now, isn’t that something to ponder over? Is it time we reevaluated our understanding of curiosity? And maybe, just maybe, started viewing it as a superpower, a gift waiting to be unlocked in each and every one of us.

The Hegemony of Incompetents: Unravelling the Enigma of Power and Performance in Organisations

Do you ever find yourself baffled by the rise and dominance of mediocrity in the workplace? How do the less competent hold onto power, and why do we let them? This is an exploration you don’t want to miss.

Why do organisations, those collective entities supposed to be champions of efficiency and productivity, allow the rise of incompetents? How on earth does such a bewildering social dynamic continue to persist, even in the face of glaring missteps and blunders? Does incompetence come with some elusive charm that mesmerises the decision-makers, leaving them defenceless in its wake?

Now, let’s clarify a thing or two here. The term ‘incompetents’ may raise the hackles of some, but it’s not intended as a pejorative. Rather, it’s an apt description for those who consistently underdeliver, yet manage to hold onto their positions of power. But why does the system tolerate this state of affairs? Could it be that the incompetents’ constant inability to meet expectations in fact somehow serves the status quo?

Is it possible that they’re an effective smokescreen, diverting attention from underlying systemic issues that might be too complex, or too threatening, to address?

And what of those who are genuinely competent, who’ve proven their mettle time and again? Why don’t they rise up and usurp these ineffectual leaders? Is it fear of rocking the boat? Or perhaps the competent have become so disillusioned they’d rather keep their heads down and let the incompetents have their way.

So many questions, and yet so few satisfying answers. It’s a puzzling paradox that continues to challenge our understanding of organisational dynamics.

Organisational Culture – Myths And Realities

“Organisational culture thrives not on shared values, but on shared assumptions and beliefs.”

This provocative statement challenges the traditional concept of organisational culture and urges us to consider the power of shared assumptions and beliefs in sculpting an organisation’s culture.

Undoubtedly, shared values, often glorified as the linchpin of organisational culture, capture public attention. However, they tend to merely reflect an organisation’s surface level, its external face. What Argyris refers to as “espoused theories” – as contrasted with “theories-in-use”.

Espoused (shared) values represent an organisation’s idealised image, often disconnected from the daily operations and attitudes.

In contrast, shared assumptions and beliefs serve as the bedrock of organisational culture, shaping how members perceive, think, and feel about the organisation.

These shared assumptions and beliefs, often unspoken and unconscious, influence the very DNA of an organisation. They are deeply embedded within the organisation’s psyche and dictate how members interact, respond to challenges, make decisions, and even perceive success. For instance, an organisation might unconsciously assume that hierarchy determines decision-making power. This underlying belief, despite any officially stated value of employee empowerment, would guide behaviors more effectively, subtly shaping the real culture of the organisation.

A shift in focus towards shared assumptions and beliefs allows us to better understand and influence organisational culture. Acknowledging their influence demands an examination of the deep, often unseen, layers of an organisation’s culture. It’s through this understanding that an organisation can align its actions with its aspirations, driving more authentic, powerful cultural transformations.

Summing up, “shared values” fail to penetrate the complex, dynamic, and profound realm of organisational culture. Instead, it’s the shared assumptions and beliefs that govern the way organisations truly operate, underpinning the entirety of an organisation’s culture.

Hence Organisational Psychotherapy.


Retrospectives In Context

The goal of retrospectives (an Agile ceremony) is *improvement*. If no one on the team needs to improve the way their work works, then their retrospectives are BOUND to be totally lame (and a pointless waste of everyone’s time).

I’ve never seen a team with the motivation / need to improve (out of hundreds of teams). Hence, I’ve never seen a retrospective provide any value.

Maybe one day…


A Voice in the Wilderness

The Agile House of Cards

The Agile-technical industry complex can indeed be likened to a house of cards, precariously balanced yet vulnerable to the slightest disturbance. Agile, the software development model touted for its adaptability and focus on incremental, customer-centric progress, is often lauded as the ideal approach. However, the complete absence of any scientific or theoretical underpinning for Agile is a glaring shortcoming. And one that nobody wants to talk about.

Its practices and methodologies are founded on heuristics and anecdotal experiences rather than robust empirical data or time-tested theories.

Moreover, Agile’s supposed benefits, such as enhanced productivity, increased customer satisfaction, and expedited delivery, largely rest on unverified claims. There is an alarming dearth of rigorous, peer-reviewed studies that confirm these benefits definitively.

Furthermore, Agile’s emphasis on adaptability and quick response to change, although seemingly beneficial, can lead to volatile project scopes, ever-shifting deadlines, and mounting technical debt. These factors can undermine the stability and predictability crucial to the success of a project.

In essence, the Agile paradigm, despite its current dominance, appears to be an edifice built on sand. Its fundamental principles lack rigorous theoretical grounding, and its touted advantages are not substantiated by empirical evidence. Like a house of cards, it seems Agile may be one disruptive breeze away from collapsing, and its dominance in the tech industry is more a result of hype, ignorance and trend-following rather than any solid, scientific foundations.

Lessons from History: Ignaz Semmelweis, Unwashed Hands and Ignored Evidence

Ignaz Semmelweis

The tale of Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis, a 19th-century Hungarian physician, is a poignant lesson from history about the risks of ignoring empirical evidence. Semmelweis, often referred to as the ‘savior of mothers’, made a groundbreaking discovery: that childbed fever, a leading cause of death among women in childbirth, could be significantly reduced if doctors simply washed their hands with chlorinated lime solutions. Despite solid data supporting his assertion, Semmelweis’s peers rejected his claims, reluctant to accept the notion that they could be the carriers of disease. Tragically, the subsequent years saw egregious and unnecessary loss of life, only to have Semmelweis’s hygiene protocol later adopted as the standard.

Incredibly, despite clear evidence, and over a century of progress, studies show that healthcare professionals today still frequently neglect hand hygiene. This lapse not only perpetuates the risk of infections but also symbolizes a broader issue: the disregard for clear evidence in professional practices (and cf. Compassionomics).

Drawing an analogy, the field of software development offers a strikingly similar scenario. Despite decades of research suggesting that management practices are the rock upon which software projects so often founder, many developers and organisations still fail to address the issue. The reasons might vary, ranging from tight schedules to a lack of understanding of their importance, but the result remains the same: sub-optimal outcomes that could otherwise be avoided.

This recurring pattern of ignoring evidence in favor of established practices or convenience is not just an issue in medicine or software development, but can be found across various fields. It underscores the deeply ingrained human tendencies of resistance to evidence and pervasive cognitive biases. We often favour our existing assumptions and beliefs, even when confronted with compelling evidence that suggests we might better choose to think or act differently.

In conclusion, the case of Ignaz Semmelweis serves as a stark reminder of the importance of embracing evidence-based practices, however uncomfortable or inconvenient they may be. Both in medicine and software development, and indeed in every field of human endeavor, we might choose to keep our minds open to new evidence, be ready to question our established practices, and be willing to change.

The stakes are high: the health of our patients, the quality of our software, the progress of our societies, and ultimately, the advancement of our collective human knowledge.

It is clear that to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, we must learn to balance our intuition and experience with the humility to acknowledge and adapt when evidence points to a better way. It is a lesson that Dr. Semmelweis, with his chlorinated lime solutions, would want us to remember.

ChatGPT For Sentiment Analysis

Today, I bring you a fascinating development in the realm of organisational culture and human sentiment.

Imagine, if you will, the ability to see the sentiment across your organisation in real time, without the need for expensive tooling or complicated methods. It’s a groundbreaking concept that could revolutionise the way businesses engage with their employees and foster collaborative environments.

In the not-so-distant past, gauging employee sentiment was a complex and time-consuming process, often reliant on periodic surveys and face-to-face interactions. This limited approach provided only a snapshot of employee feelings and was, at best, an approximation of the true sentiment within an organisation.

Now, envision a world where this vital information is available at a moment’s notice, empowering leaders to make informed decisions that directly impact the well-being and satisfaction of their workforce. Real-time sentiment analysis could facilitate a more empathetic and responsive management style, bridging the gap between executives and their employees, and creating a more harmonious and productive working environment.

This breakthrough has the potential to create a paradigm shift in organisational culture, providing leaders with the insights they need to foster a more inclusive and nurturing environment. The ability to harness the collective emotional intelligence of an organisation could lead to the development of innovative strategies for addressing workplace challenges and fostering a sense of unity and camaraderie among team members.

And that’s the way it is, ladies and gentlemen. A glimpse into the future of workplace sentiment analysis, an innovation poised to bring unprecedented transparency and understanding to the complex dynamics of the modern organisation. This is flowchainsensei, signing off.

Challenging Traditional Roles in the Age of Self-Organisation and Intrinsic Motivation

Do traditional hierarchical roles such as “Development Manager” or “Director of Software Engineering” genuinely cater to the progressive needs of contemporary businesses?

In light of the evolution of the field, where the principles of auftragstaktik have fostered self-organisation and collaboration, supplanting rigid command-and-control structures, do these roles maintain their relevance? Or do they potentially create barriers to effectiveness and innovation?

In a world that takes a leaf from Dan Pink’s “Drive”, promoting autonomy, mastery, and purpose as the pillars of intrinsic motivation, what does it mean to be a “Development Manager” or a “Director of Software Engineering”? Are these roles becoming mere vestiges of a past era, where top-down mandates were the norm, rather than fostering an environment that nurtures intrinsic motivation?

How can these positions be reformulated or reinterpreted to better fit the ethos of modern organisations, aligning more with the principles of auftragstaktik, which emphasizes initiative and adaptability? Are we clinging to an outdated nomenclature that no longer mirrors the reality of how work is executed? Is it time to reconsider how we define relationships and roles within the context of the workplace?

Are these positions truly adding value, or are they merely relics of an outdated mindset? Is it time we reassess the structures we’ve come to accept, and explore new paradigms that inspire innovation and growth?

Unlock the Untapped Potential of ChatGPT: Beyond Coding!

Isn’t it a bit disheartening to see software developers using ChatGPT primarily for writing code? It’s true that ChatGPT can indeed churn out code, but we can ask much more of it. If only developers would realise the potential for quicker, cheaper, and more valuable #NoSoftware solutions, they, their bosses and their customers would surely be amazed.

Imagine the possibilities. It’s high time we tapped into ChatGPT’s innate ability to provide creative, intelligent solutions that don’t just stop at code, but bypass it entirely.

What’s more, ChatGPT can even offer a hand in strategic planning, brainstorming innovative ideas, and making data-driven decisions.

We’re all missing out by limiting such a versatile tool to coding when there’s so much more on offer. It’s not that coding isn’t important, but let’s not forget the bigger picture. There’s a world of opportunities waiting to be explored if we’d only broaden our horizons.

So, let’s not be too quick to commit the heinous sin of pigeonholing ChatGPT as just a code-writing automaton. Why not embrace its full potential and reap the rewards of its remarkable capabilities? After all, it’s not every day that we come across such a powerful, transformative technology

Breaking Free from Toxic Assumptions: The Hidden Impact on Employee Mental Health and Wellbeing

Isn’t it troubling when organisations cling to strategies and practices driven by relatively ineffective shared assumptions and beliefs? Why do they persist with such approaches when they are so detrimental to the mental health and wellbeing of the folks involved?

Maybe it’s time to consider how these unhelpful practices might foster a toxic work environment, leading to burnout, stress, and even depression? Can you imagine the impact of constantly being expected to conform to outdated beliefs or having one’s creativity stifled due to the rigid adherence to such notions?

Wouldn’t it be true to say that such an atmosphere might undermine the confidence of employees, making them feel undervalued and demotivated? Can we not see how this might breed a culture of fear, where individuals are reluctant to speak up, challenge the status quo or even suggest innovative ideas?

Is it not alarming that by sticking to these relatively ineffective assumptions and beliefs, organisations might be inadvertently contributing to the erosion of trust and collaboration among colleagues? Could this not lead to a fragmented work culture where employees feel isolated and unsupported?

What if, by ignoring the implications of such behaviours on mental health and wellbeing, organisations are sowing the seeds for long-term problems? Might they be unknowingly compromising productivity, job satisfaction, and employee retention in the process?

Isn’t it high time that organisations re-evaluate their strategies and practices to ensure a more supportive, inclusive, and mentally healthy environment for their employees?


Why So Cruel?

What is it that makes people, particularly those in positions of power and authority, seem so cruelly blind to the needs of others? Could it be that the Antimatter Principle, which encourages us to focus on attending to folks’ needs, is simply lost on those who rise to the top?

Is it possible that “the system” in most organisations unwittingly selects for promotion and responsibility those with shortfalls in empathy, compassion, and interest in the needs of others? Perhaps there’s a hidden flaw in the criteria used to evaluate leaders, resulting in the ascension of individuals who prioritise their own ambitions over the well-being of their team members.

Might we also consider that folks in positions of power may develop a sense of entitlement, leading them to overlook the feelings and concerns of those they perceive as beneath them? If so, how can we, as individuals and as a society, work towards changing this and foster a more compassionate approach?

Let’s not forget, though, that there are certainly people who do exhibit empathy and a genuine concern for the needs of others. What sets them apart from the rest, and how can we nurture these qualities in future generations?

In conclusion, it’s a curious conundrum why some people in power can be so seemingly blind to the needs of others. Whether it’s a product of the system selecting for certain traits or a gradual development of entitlement, organisations might choose to recognise the importance of empathy, compassion, and the Antimatter Principle in creating a more nurturing and supportive environment for everyone.

Why is True Fellowship So Rare, Especially in Tech?

Why is fellowship in organisations, particularly in tech companies, such a rare phenomenon, and yet when it does emerge, it’s immensely powerful? What are the factors that make it so elusive, and conversely, the elements that make it thrive when it does manifest?

In the world of technology, competition and individualism often take centre stage, overshadowing the potential benefits of collaboration and fellowship. Could it be that the pressure to innovate, coupled with the race to stay ahead of the curve, pushes people to focus more on their individual achievements and personal wellbeing rather than the collective good?

There’s also the issue of diverse backgrounds and skill sets. With experts in various fields such as engineering, design, marketing, and more, it’s possible that this diversity might inadvertently create silos. Do these specialised domains lead to a lack of understanding and empathy among team members, preventing the formation of a cohesive, supportive environment?

And yet, when fellowship does take root within tech organisations, its power is undeniable. Why is that? Could it be that the amalgamation of diverse perspectives, skills, and experiences in a collaborative environment leads to breakthroughs and innovations that might otherwise be impossible? When individuals work together, for example with Ensemble Working, sharing their knowledge and challenging one another’s ideas, they pave the way for novel solutions and approaches.

Perhaps another reason for the potency of fellowship in tech companies is the sheer complexity of the problems they tackle. The adage “two heads are better than one” rings true, as the collective intelligence of a group working in harmony often surpasses that of even the brightest individual. In an environment where fellowship thrives, team members can rely on each other’s strengths, ultimately yielding better results.

So, why is fellowship so rare in tech organisations? It appears that the competitive nature of the industry, coupled with the diversity of skills and backgrounds, might pose challenges to fostering a collaborative environment. However, when such an environment does emerge, it unlocks the potential for innovation, breakthroughs, and success that are unparalleled in their impact. Thus organisations maigh choose to recognise and nurture the power of #fellowship to stay ahead in an ever-evolving commercial landscape.

The Meaning Of Fellowship

Fellowship – what does it truly mean in practice? Is it merely a group of individuals working in harmony like a well-tuned orchestra, or does it go deeper than that? Can we compare it to a swarm of bees, working tirelessly for the greater good of the hive? What is the secret sauce that transforms a group of individuals into a cohesive unit, bound by a shared purpose?

In practice, fellowship is the art of collaboration, where each person contributes their unique skills and expertise towards a common goal. Picture a jigsaw puzzle – each piece, although different, fits together perfectly to create a beautiful image. Similarly, members of a group bring their individual strengths and abilities to create a collective masterpiece.

Fellowship is also akin to a tapestry, weaving together diverse threads to create a strong, unified fabric. Each thread represents a team member’s background, perspective, and experience. When interwoven, these threads create a more robust and resilient fabric than if each strand stood alone.

But how does one foster such an environment? Communication, trust, and empathy are essential ingredients. Imagine a sports team – it’s not enough for each player to excel in their position. They must communicate effectively, trust in their teammates’ abilities, and empathise with one another to truly succeed.

In the workplace, fellowship might manifest in group conversations where everyone’s ideas are heard and valued, or in a supportive environment where colleagues offer assistance to one another without hesitation, even at the expense of their own personal goals and wellbeing. Fellowship is the alchemy of individual talent and collaborative spirit that propels a group towards success.

So, what does #fellowship mean in practice? It’s the orchestra playing in harmony, the bees working for the hive, the jigsaw puzzle pieces fitting together, and the threads of a tapestry woven into a unified whole. It’s the magic that transforms a group of individuals into a powerful force for change and innovation.

Ten Examples of Fellowship in Action

Fellowship enhances success across a broad range of industries, as it fosters innovation, growth, and effectiveness through collaboration and open communication. Notable examples of fellowship include:

1. Google: Encourages innovation through fellowship by fostering cross-functional collaboration and an open environment for idea sharing.
2. Pixar: Builds a culture of fellowship by promoting open communication and active participation in the creative process.
3. Southwest Airlines: Puts fellowship at the heart of customer service, ensuring its people work together for the best customer experience.
4. The New York Times: Reinvents journalism through embracing fellowship, which enables adaptation to digital transformation.
5. NASA: Harnesses the power of fellowship to achieve success in space exploration, relying on extensive collaboration among numerous professionals.
6. Apple: Utilises fellowship in creating iconic products by valuing input from various teams and promoting collaboration.
7. Starbucks: Embraces fellowship for delivering a consistent customer experience, fostering a strong sense of teamwork among its people.
8. Tesla: Drives innovation through fellowship by promoting collaborative problem-solving and breaking down departmental silos.
9. Netflix: Utilises fellowship in collaborative decision-making for strategic success, valuing diverse perspectives and ideas.
10. Zappos: Builds a culture of empowerment and fellowship, focusing on exceptional customer service through collaboration.

By implementing the principles of effective #fellowship, organisations can thrive in a competitive landscape.

People, Not Tech, Hold the Keys to AI

To truly grasp AI, we don’t have to delve into the depths of technology; rather, we must understand people. It’s often thought that AI is solely about complex algorithms and computing power, but it’s much more than that. At its core, AI’s development and usage hinge upon human behaviour, decision-making, and social interactions.

AI’s designed to mimic and augment human thought processes, so it’s only natural that we should look to ourselves in order to comprehend it. By studying human cognition and emotions, we would be able to create AI systems that were more intuitive and effective, which in turn could have a profound impact on our daily lives.

Furthermore, AI’s ethical and social implications are deeply rooted in our understanding of human values and morality. To ensure AI is aligned with our beliefs, we must examine our own perspectives and consider the diverse range of opinions and cultures that shape our world.

In a nutshell, it’s the study of people that provides the necessary insights to develop, improve, and implement AI in a way that’s both beneficial and harmonious with our society. Only by understanding ourselves can we truly hope to unlock AI’s full potential.

And if Ai runs amok, it will only be because people will it so.

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