‘Implementation of inspiration’, was the theme of Reconnect II, and it’s not an easy challenge.
Inspiration is subjective, contextual and entirely dependent on people paying attention. Implementation, is even harder.
An almighty line up of guests rose to the challenge over two highly charged days at Sheepdrove Farm, and everywhere I turned, speakers, delegates and hosts were all fully engaged in electric debate, seeking practical plans to exchange the energy of ideas into action, and wondering if the sun was going to come out.
But was it going to lead to change? Was it still going to make sense when we all got back to work? How were we going to translate this personal, meaningful and down-by-the-lake-in-the-fairy-lights magical experience to our teams on a grey September morning after?
How were we going to avoid Wavelength Syndrome; the condition caused when taking the inspiration back to our colleagues, starting every conversation with “At wavelength we…” accompanied by a sense of dizziness and excitement at implementing change and a genuine threat of annoying the hell out of those who weren’t there?
I have three suggestions, now there’s been time to digest, for sharing the big ideas borne in a Sheep Farm;
- Land it gently. Take the stories back to your teams, while considering the best way for them to hear them, because it won’t be how we heard them. When watching Rob from Well Told Story, I KNEW my entire team absolutely had to hear this, I was ready to explode with excitement to share his Well Told Story, but I also knew how wide of the mark it would be for me to attempt to bring his inimitable style and story to life myself. As luck would have it, Rob had one afternoon in London before flying back to Kenya so I immediately booked him to come and talk to the business, I was ecstatic. But, then I had to very, very carefully land a message with 70 people who were back at HQ working their hardest, that yes I was calling from a sheep farm, and yes I wanted them all to cancel their plans for an hour and half the following day and meet Rob, and no I hadn’t gone mad. I checked in with managers about the stress this last minute agenda change might cause on deadlines, I checked in with my fellow leaders whether it sounded like I wasn’t respecting workloads and inflicting ‘inspiration from above’ and when I knew I had broad buy in, I sent the whole team a bit of Rob’s biog, a personal promise it would be good use of their time with value to their week, and work, and encouraged them to invite young people we work with and key clients. Only one member of the team didn’t make it. Clients and young people also attended. We’re sharing learning’s with Rob’s team as I type, and discussing a team exchange visit in the new year.
- Go Slow to go fast. Or in other words, you can only go as fast as the slowest person in the room, and by doing less you can do more. I heard it first over lunch, the idea that leaders were rejecting having too much to do, by focusing on less, and doing it well. And then it seemed to recur throughout the event as a theme. It was the reason behind great change at Grundfos it was the warning underlying great change at Unilever and it was the secret of success behind Team GB and it was inherent in Googles innovation. However, even more powerfully than it being a consistent ingredient within the speakers recipe’s for success, it was a conversation that really, really connected and was echoed amongst the leaders around me. It’s that shared experience and learning that underlines the thing I love most about Wavelength, is that it’s not the typical conference construct where wisdom is delivered from on high, instead there’s as much to learn, engage with and take away from everyone taking part. I’ve taken the week since Wavelength to choose the single piece of inspiration I am going to implement this year, and that’s it no more. A few years ago it would have been ten, and Wavelength Connect left me with no shortage, but in a bid to do more, well, I’m going to do less. And keep the others in my notebook, ready for next year.
- It’s never going to be the same, so share what you’ve got differently. It would be impossible to re create the entire experience and it would be entirely misleading. I don’t know about your experience, but I find that my teams attention to detail and appreciation of the importance of my wide eyed inspiration begins to diminish when I talk about this moment that occurred to me in the ‘Teepee’, or the conversation I had ‘by the lake’. It works amazingly when you’re there, but it sounds a bit different at 8:30 in Brixton. So, each time I find a different way to share what I can, so the team can take what they want. Last year I did a Show and Tell of images and ideas, and this year I read and re read my notes and quotes, looking for patterns and rhythms and ended up finding rhymes, so whilst it won’t make the same sense it did to me, it also felt like a simple way to share, I took exact lines verbatim from my notes, and arranged them to make a poetic thank you to Wavelength, for incredible inspiration, and some very practical ideas for implementation;
8 out of 10 things fail, even when executed really well.
A change agent can’t be knackered, cross, snappy or exhausted. 30 tonnes of tank vs 80 kilos of flesh can make you feel daunted.
Build personal boardrooms, whether by design or default. Land paratroopers behind enemy lines to begin your assault.
You can’t fight a tsunami, you have to be ready to adapt. Live life looking forward, but understand by looking back.
Feasibility, viability and desirability, are the three things required to survive You won’t succeed at anything if you can’t answer the why?
It will never work out, if you try to impose change. Treat organisations like organisms, learn to connect to the brain.
Don’t be afraid to tell a confident picture, slightly in the future. Know yourself, all change starts with you, only then it becomes culture.
You can’t repeat your message too much, say it again and again Only when people get bored, is it beginning to sink in.
Change is pointless if it’s only about where the leader wants to go Make Rock Stars out of change agents and put them on show
When it comes to pretotyping, desirability is always the focus. If you don’t do two days on the shop floor you shouldn’t get your bonus
What’s the slimmest you can keep your organisation and still achieve your goal?
When driving change is the mission, the best question is what problem are we trying to solve?
Change is not fluffy or immeasurable and it’s usually the answer. The pressures of doing more and more with less is an ever growing cancer.
We’re more often Homer Simpson, when we think we’re Dr Spock The big conversation we’re not having, is when are we all going to stop.
Technology will not save us, Always take it back to the purpose.
Thank you to the team for an exceptional event, thank you to the speakers for the most diverse range of ideas and inspiration I’ve experienced in two days, and thank you to my fellow delegates, it’s those conversations, inspirations, challenges and real life ideas for taking Wavelength home and making it into something real, that I valued the most. I hope some of my thoughts resonate with you.