Working with teams to help them get better at the things that are important to them.


We spend too much time wrestling with the same problems.

Business problems are complex, a web of "unknown unknowns". Cause and effect can only be deduced in retrospect, and there are no right answers. To make progress we need to know that we're safe and that it's safe to fail. High consequence projects generally don't make us feel this way.

So instead of probing for understanding and then formulating our responses, we tend to make 'moonshot' plans, aiming to take the quickest route to the solution. These start well and invariably end up side lined, and so we hit the restart button and make a new plan.

Problem solving by taking the short cut from A→B without doing the important internal work that prepares a team to come together with a common mode of travel and sufficient resilience to meet the challenges ahead has been likened to wrestling with pigs.

'I learned long ago, never wrestle with pigs. You get dirty and besides, the pig likes it. - George Bernard Shaw

Markets, ecosystems, and corporate cultures are complex systems; it's not possible to take them apart, see how they work and fix them. Nor does best practice based on past experience help us to solve problems we haven't encountered before. Instead we need to adopt approaches that allow us to learn from the future as it emerges vs learning from the past.

Sensemaking is an approach that enables us to turn the ongoing complexity of the world into a situation that is comprehended explicitly and serves as a springboard into action. We're big fans of Otto Scharmer and Theory U, a model designed to make sense of complex social problems. We apply this model to business because we think it can help to make sense of pig wrestling problems.

These are some of the things we hear from leaders who might benefit from bringing in outsiders to offer a fresh perspective, to do some sensemaking:

"Some of our problems resist all attempts at progress. We've tried everything but somehow just can't find a way forward. In fact we're starting to think, 'it is what it is'."

"We have a small number of great customers but not enough that we can relax and get into our stride. It feels like we're stuck and can't quite manage to break out."

"Every time we think we've established exactly where we're headed, something unexpected knocks us off course and we have to come up with a new strategy. We've got stuck in this cycle."

"Every year we invest a lot of time in planning and forecasting. We've got a super smart team but every year we make the same mistakes."

What does a typical engagement look like?

We start by being complete outsiders, bringing fresh eyes. And when circumstances permit nothing beats getting a team out in nature to establish a fresh perspective.

When we've disrupted established patterns of thinking by helping the team to step back and reflect on challenges they've overcome, we can get to work building 3D models of the problem and see what potential solutions start to emerge.

At this point we resist jumping to conclusions and instead design some learning journeys to make sure we've really got to the bottom of things and built this deep knowledge into our solution candidates.

Then we test our ideas with some 'action projects', prototypes that we nurture and protect from the corporate antibodies until they're strong enough to scale up.

This is where you normally expect to find our office address, how to get there instructions, company details etc.

Well, we don't need an office to help people get better at stuff... just give us a call. If we're awake, we'll pick up.
Jon: +44 7802254804

Nick: +60 123369201