Reflections for the week – 15 Jul 2022

The first reflection is the concept that we do not learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on experience. Hence I am writing this. There were some really interesting moments. The one interesting moment was sitting in a session talking ESG and sustainability. I threw up the concept of Reduce, reuse and recycle. This is the idea of waste hierarchy. A comment was made, isn’t this what they taught us on Barney, the old show with the purple dinosaur. (I love you, you love me, we’re one happy family, with a great big hug and a kiss from me to you, won’t you say you love me too). That song is ingrained in my head because I grew up with my cousin, who was obsessed with that purple dinosaur.

The reflection is that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The lessons we learned from all those shows as kids need to be leveraged in our lives.

These were foundational elements that helped shape who we are today. We must heed the call, even if it’s years later, to build caring and kind businesses, treat each other with respect and love, and we must work together to innovate for a better world.

Another reflection was on the idea of strategy and vision. In two instances, when businesses looked at strategy and their vision, it was focused on being the biggest or on how we make more money. These are important and will come as a by-product of strategy; however, it can’t be the strategy. All companies want to grow, and all companies must make money; these are tenants of doing business. Strategy is about what differentiates you. It’s about prioritising what is important to enable growth, and it’s about what makes you get out of bed in the morning. One of the areas we looked at was strategic intent. What is the intent. Is the intent just to make money? It really can’t be, since money, while a motivation, as suggested in Daniel Pink’s book, Drive, is only a motivator until a certain point. Once money can buy you all the hygiene factors in life, it no longer motivates one. So, the reflection is truly about your intent and what motivates you to get out of bed in the morning.

There was also an interesting conversation about values and how they are no longer as relevant. Instead, we should start considering beliefs. Beliefs are assumptions we make about the world, and our value systems stem from our beliefs. In many instances, values in a company are just words on a wall or on a screen. These are like, Honesty, integrity, Innovation, agility… the list goes on. In many instances, there is incongruence with these values across all levels of a company. If your value is innovation, what does that mean? How does a company enable this? If someone is not living up to the values, is that a dismissible offence? What is the point of it all?

Beliefs, on the other hand, can guide us better. They can influence our judgements and mental models. These beliefs can also cause biases, and the last thing I want to reflect on is some of the things I learned while studying systems thinking. A system is where the whole of the system is equal to more than the sum of its individual parts. We often look at a system that we are in through our eyes, and this is a subjective way of looking at the system. If we want to change a system, we have to look at it more objectively. We can never be completely objective because, as we note in particle physics, and we have seen with the Schrodinger’s cat thought experiment, as well as subsequent experiments to prove this, as soon as we observe the system, we change it. The idea is rather to get a wide variety of perspectives, to understand the system as a whole, and not just from a singular perspective. We need diversity of thought to better understand systems. 

So, these are a few things I have reflected on this week.

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