The different dimensions of a future fit culture with Geoff Marlow

Geoff Marlow

“Digital technology is great, but digital profiles also need to include human science to enable sustainable innovation.”

A great discussion with Geoff where we explore a myriad of different subjects from self discovery, to digital profiles, rubiks cubes and the myths of modern agile for sustainable innovation. We discuss how to constantly question the orthodoxy, and hold different perspectives simultaneously to create a space for enquiry, listening and dialogue. This curiosity in turn encourages sense-making, decision taking and action but not necessarily in the layers of the organisation where we would expect to see it – understanding our role in the system is key.

Geoff shares his stories, insights and experience of working with leaders and businesses across the globe

The main insights you’ll get from this episode are :

–       Organisations must create cultures of innovation by making sustainable change and becoming proactively agile – COVID has in part forced a culture of innovation, agility and adaptiveness.

–       (Digital) technology is very good and works well, but how do we get people to do the same?! Human science should be included in digital profiles: in the words of Ian McGilchrist, innovation requires science, reason, intuition and imagination.

–       The key to success is to commercialise good ideas, see beyond things and question the orthodoxy; it is a big ask for people to constantly question their assumptions so it must be made tangible for organisations and leaders.

–       No one ever sees the whole of any situation. In an organisation, someone with influence declares that their perspective is the only one to follow, but (this) power does not mean wisdom – ego pushes other people, and their views, away.

–       Only eco-leadership can facilitate real co-creation but moving away from pyramids and into networks is intangible unless we really understand our roles within systems – English doesn’t have many words to describe subtle aspects of consciousness because we focus too much on the external world.

–       Psychological safety is essential and to understand an organisation’s culture, we must ask the people who work there what they would advise to thrive. Behaviours based on fixed perspectives will stifle and strangle adaptiveness.

–       The 2D/3D mindset system is based on looking at a culture of innovation like a Rubik’s cube – some see orange, some see green, some see yellow, etc. – and in the absence of colours, you look at different shapes instead, e.g. circle vs square vs triangle…

–       The 2D/3D shape metaphor provides an easy way to understand a difficult psychological concept – different people provide different pieces of the puzzle when they work together, and it is not necessarily right vs wrong; humility is knowing that you don’t know everything.

–       Climbing the greasy pole of an organisation boils down to brutal debate (meaning ‘to beat down’) and discussion (from percussion, meaning ‘to smash to pieces’) rather than dialogue, a spirit of enquiry and listening.

–       Curiosity helps create a balance between advocacy and enquiry to produce meaning, and it is enquiry that is normally the missing piece of the jigsaw in organisations. We must encourage people to be curious.

–       This begins with a sponsoring executive and a few naturally curious internal people – key instigators to bring alive a mindset and create a ripple effect; in-housing human capacity to influence is preferable to hiring help that hinders, which never leads to sustainable change.

–       Agility is all about movement and building muscle, and habits take time to form. Joining forces internally (e.g. bringing marketing and R&D together) can produce results and change the culture by building muscles within the organisation.

–       The release of human energy is liberating, proffering natural alignment and unlocking potential. It is all about human psychology – blame is often apportioned if something isn’t working, and project negativity arises through ignorance and by ‘othering’ people.

–       Don’t bet the farm – stay curious to see if there is any truth in a different perspective but don’t give up your own. Listen to and hear others and develop, then strengthen, the muscle: play to your strengths so that your weaknesses become irrelevant.      

You can find out more about Geoff here :

His substack channel :

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