Snippet – No.18: Perseverance

Snippet – No.18: Perseverance

I’ve been known to get distracted, often because I’m drawn to what’s new and interesting, and I feel restlessly creative. Recently, in the middle of a team meeting a colleague had to pull me up as I tried to explore some new data and “find an answer” then and there, when I definitely should have been focussed on and contributing to the energy of the group. It wasn’t pretty, but I was grateful that the team was able to draw my focus back into what was important.

That episode reminded me once again of a concept I’m very fond of: the flywheel. The heavy, slowly-turning wheel that, if we just keep pushing in the same direction for long enough, gains momentum which ends up difficult to stop! I realised that a team itself is a store of momentum, like a human flywheel. For those of us, like me, who can lose focus at times, tuning into that collective store is essential: it allows me to persevere in a way that I couldn’t alone. In these strange times, when so many wheels seem to have stopped or slowed, it seems more important than ever to keep pushing in the directions that matter most to us, alongside others who feel the same.


Mark de Cates
CTO Jyre

 

Snippet, Reflect, Fix

Snippet
Perseverance is about sustaining effort and focus, even when things are difficult. Like every aspect of our character, it can be a natural strength, or a gap that may hold us back. As a strength, we can be a source of direction and energy, helping others sustain and build momentum. As a gap, if we’re wise, we can work closely with, and appreciate this strength in others.

Reflect

Consider yourself: is perseverance a strength or a gap in different areas of your life? Then consider those around you (near and far): are you a consumer of momentum and focus, or a producer? Or perhaps you are both? Who do you draw on to maintain your focus, to keep you on track? How might they feel about that?

Fix
Identify one person with whom you have a clear connection in terms of perseverance and focus. Take some time today to acknowledge and reinforce that connection.

 

Snippet – No.1: Connects

Snippet – No.1: Connects

We all have our own strengths and gaps – aspects of our character that either shine brightly (even when we’re not trying!), or that really don’t come naturally to us. For me, a real gap is staying connected with others.

I love to focus on solving challenges, building, creating, innovating, and planning the future. And of course, I’m not alone in that. 

For many, perhaps yourself, or those you know and work with, connecting is not a strength. And for such a ‘dis-connector’, the current situation feels like the perfect opportunity to go heads down and focus on getting things done… But of course, that may not be best for me, or my team.

Mark de Cates 
CTO Jyre

Snippet, Reflect, Fix

Snippet
Most of us are now at home and communicating with each other via technology. This brilliant technology that allows us to work from home also encourages us to focus almost entirely on tasks.

While one-on-one we might find it easy to catch up and ask about how a colleague is doing, as a group the personal tends to get squeezed out. Person time is the lifeblood of relationships and teams, and is particularly important now that we are separated and at home.

Reflect
Do you and your colleagues have any structure, rituals or rhythm for keeping the personal connections in your team alive and well?

Fix
Open up a discussion with your colleagues about how to stay personally connected as a group (not just as individuals) over the coming weeks and months.

Beautiful, Critical Data

Beautiful, Critical Data

Beautiful data, critical to understanding people and teams

We live in a truly fascinating and complex world. People, in particular, never cease to surprise us – both in good and bad ways! At Jyre we embrace the complexity and diversity of people, and we’re naturally curious about what data can tell us about them. We can’t help but look at a network diagram of our viewpoints ‘universe’, below, without wondering what causes the patterns and trends that we can see clearly emerging before our eyes. (Click on the image to explore it in full 3D)

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3D network visualisation of the Jyre Viewpoints Network. Click the image to explore in full 3D.

Beyond curiosity, there are also pressing, urgent questions that our work asks of us. Challenges that we face around performance, diversity, and growth. And often, the answers lie in our people. But figuring out the right answers as business leaders can sometimes feel like divining for water. It’s so tempting to look for clear-cut answers. But genuine data on real people is rarely clear-cut: it’s rich, nuanced, beautiful, and subtle. Trends and correlations tend to be modest. Rather than shouting at you, the data whispers. But by listening carefully, with an open mind, it can give you a significant edge. Not clear-cut answers, but a 20%, 60%, or 70% edge.

 

Diversity of teams

We work with a lot of teams, and naturally we get to see a great deal of diversity and richness. We see ‘teams’ which might perform better as separate cohesive sub-teams; teams oozing diversity but lacking a shared foundation; teams with a clear set of shared values but lacking resilience and diversity in an environment where it’s clearly needed. Data, whether it be a team solo or viewpoints report, a visualisation or bespoke analysis, prompts the conversation and leads to action where it’s needed.

Showing a team their ‘similarity’ network, like the one below, is truly fascinating. It’s a chance for a team to have a conversation about their specific diversity – a conversation grounded in fact. What does the structure of the team feel like? I look like an outlier; what does that mean to our team in practice? We’re thinking about hiring X; how would that look, and what would it mean for us as a team? Network diagrams like this are great for showing clusters, cohesion, diversity and outliers. Like the greatest teachers and coaches, well-presented data won’t give us easy answers, but it can prompt us to ask the powerful questions that need asking.

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Network Similarity Diagram for the Jyre Team (as of 2019)

This is the ‘similarity’ network for our core team at Jyre, simply showing members who are more similar in character as closer together, and those more different as further apart. You might say that the team is grounded at one end by our key founder, Mark Loftus. But there are so-called ‘outliers’ – like Lisa and Dan, who work quite differently, with different and complementary sets of strengths. This team functions well because of that diversity. Interestingly, we have noticed that dissimilar pairs tend to work remarkably well within a team (a subject for another time)!

 

Organisational insight

Stepping up a level from teams to the organisation, we get a different perspective. Teams become points of reference, individuals become anonymous but crucial ‘data nodes’, and we can look at our people in a number of fresh ways. As business leaders, we can start to ask questions about the relationships between teams and, crucially, about the effectiveness of our organisation as a whole. What are our key strengths? Our gaps? The violin plot below gives an example of how we might understand our organisation’s critical ability to maintain direction, compared to another division or organisation.

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Spot the difference – a violin plot comparing ‘Sets Direction’ across two organisations

The power of data

Exploring data, especially in a visual way and with an open mind, can truly open us up to insights and lead to effective action. We know that it grounds us in reality, and if we stay honest, it can give us the ‘brutal facts’ (to coin James Stockdale’s phrase) that free us to actually make the best decisions. That might mean adjusting the way you hire, re-imagining your performance review process, having fresh conversations as a team, or deciding to take your own personal growth in a new direction. At least with the right data, the power is in your hands.