Podcast Notes – Jeff Hunter on The Knowledge Project

Companies don’t unleash the potential of their employees, not because they don’t have the right skills, but because of underlying beliefs about people and potential. A systemic failure.

To be able to help others become great you have to start with the assumption that they have greatness within them.

We think of ourselves as unique rational actors.

Recent developments in the space of behavioural economics has shown this to rarely be the case.

When others fail we attribute it to their failings eg they were not smart enough or didn’t try hard enough. However this is rarely the case.

We are apes who employ heuristics (shortcuts) a significant amount of the time. Our slow thinking superpower is employed rarely in day to day activities.

Something that is obvious to us may not be obvious to others.

We filter the world according to our mental models. How do we understand our mental models?

Put yourself in different situations and see how it feels. From there you can decipher what your model is. Eg individuals have shown great courage in the armed forces in a new situation such as the boardroom would be disoriented.

We operate within feelings.

Operate at the level of design – a goal of getting better. Design your workday as a series of experiments to figure out where your greatness lies. work becomes a place where you learn.

Experimentation makes you conscious in the moment. As you are forced to try different things and observe and record the results. Rather than fallback to default behaviour.

Confusion is indicative of the fact that you are having an experience that is different from what you expected.

Confusion tells you that your mental models are insufficient. Then you can ask yourself “I wonder what I actually expected?”

Brains work differently in different contexts.

It may not be your fault but it is your responsibility.

BSL Narrative – Bad, Stupid, Lazy

Seek to understand before you are understood. Ask questions to get to clarity. Can you help me understand? Trying to be introspective about your experience.

Most accusations are an act of confusion.

Managers are designers and clarifiers.

Management is viewed today as a control function, and a risk management function. So that all the stupid lazy employees don’t mess anything up.

Human beings (by and large) want:

  • To do good work
  • to feel valuable
  • to have a sense of autonomy and mastery

How as a manager do you achieve goals while understanding that you are not dealing with a group of rational actors.

The foremost job of a manager is to focus on clarity – not control.

A manager achieves goals through the work of others.

For a team member to be maximally productive the manager needs to be crystal clear on these 3 things:

  • Goals
    • What are they
    • How progress is measured
    • What the measurement means
  • Feedback / Diagnostic loop
    • Most organisations do not make a clear statement of what the employee can expect as regards to the quality and frequency of feedback. and how it will be delivered.
    • Without a feedback loop you can’t improve.
  • Culture
    • being specific about the behaviours that are accepted and punished within the organisation.

There are implied hire/fire authority in hierarchies.

There is a high price to pay for leaders to not answer the question of why they are doing certain things or certain decisions they have made.

What does good feedback look like

  1. Work out your confusion first – What does good look like. Get in sync with what is the standard.
  2. This is what I experienced. give transparency into your confusion
  3. What was your experience.
  4. Understand the difference between the standard agreed upon and what actually happened. How can that gap be addressed. Why did it happen.

Hiring is typically done “looking in the rear view mirror”, eg got to get someone in to do this job. A specification for the past. What would the job be in 9, 18 months? can a specification be written for the future state of the job.

Most human beings don’t know what they are good at.

People are bad at judging people’s fit for job roles. Worse than random.

If you hire someone you need to be by their side for an extended period of time.

Hiring a person is the easiest part. Managing is hard as it is an ongoing relationship. Getting to know each other. Are you in sync and understanding the same thing.

School doesn’t teach us how to think. School teaches us how to take tests.

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