Transformation breakthrough : the missing piece of the jigsaw with Mike Straw

“Our thinking creates reality and the status quo continuously exerts a gravitational pull backwards”

In this weeks episode of let’s talk Mike and I discuss thinking differently and taking a more holistic approach to transformation. We discuss how thinking creates our reality and the importance of understanding our own mental models. Organisations must both ‘learn’ lessons from the pandemic and then ‘unlearn’ to take the opportunity to redefine leadership and culture. We must be prepared and be present: present to the organisational system, the human system and the market ecosystem to observe emerging trends and respond quickly to beat competitors. Listening to and empathising with the different pieces of your organisational and human system puzzle will empower people to think and work differently. 

Mike shares his wealth of experience and insight on this topic from working on breakthrough thinking with global leaders and organisations around the world.

The main insights you will get from this episode are:

  • A holistic approach to transformation requires breakthrough thinking to free the future from the shackles of the past. Thinking represents the human system within an organisation and getting into an organisation’s DNA helps to change the way people think by encouraging them to understand their mental models and think beyond them. 
  • The context is decisive, regardless of the brilliant systems and processes that may be in place. We must be able to see what is possible and nurture a human environment that allows us to create the next brilliant thing. Our thinking creates reality, and the status quo exerts a gravitational pull backwards.
  • We must look to the future, not the past, and this is particularly relevant post-pandemic: what does the future look like and how will organisations navigate it? COVID required us to ‘enter’ each other’s homes and allowed us to laugh, show empathy, be more open and willing to show vulnerability.
  • Organisations that are trying to be more innovative, to take risks, be agile, empowered, etc. must understand why they are doing it. We must reimagine work and leadership: ‘unboss’, so that everyone can understand their purpose (with the help of their leaders). 
  • The role of purpose is crucial, and the questions ‘why are we doing all this?’ and ‘what is it for?’ must be answered. This taps in to a rich vein given that the pandemic has made us more humanistic – it is time for the corporate world to embrace people’s full selves.
  • Organisations must learn lessons from the pandemic: how to anticipate the future and not simply revert to type, which would be a waste of a huge opportunity. They must be prepared and be present: observe emerging trends and respond quickly to beat competitors. Leaders need the ability to unlearn and escape the gravitational pull of success or past experience. 
  • Likewise, the ego must be quietened in order to both learn from others and learn how to fail fast. New leadership models comprise planners, visionaries, architects, coaches and catalysts and rely not only on a bold and non-restrictive vision, but also on a system that evolves, challenges preconceptions, unlocks people’s potential and catalyses change.
  • Storytelling is helpful in describing the many different facets of an organisation, e.g. using animal analogies – a wise owl, a resilient elephant, a curious monkey, a fiercely loyal lion –most organisations are a mixture of all of these. Storytelling is contextual, non-threatening and relatable.
  • People are empowered but organisations often take their power away – we must remind them of their power and create the conditions for them to unleash it quickly if organisations are to survive for the long term.
  • ‘Baggage’ can be an obstacle to progress and buzzwords are off-putting. We must make themes understandable and listen to all system voices, not just the loudest. We must break through cultural barriers and leaders must see the organisation as a reflection of themselves.
  • Leaders must take full responsibility and create a real vision – have a crazy idea, ask hypothetical questions to challenge assumptions, take bold action, have future-conscious conversations and generate momentum for change.

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Suzie Lewis

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