I was listening to a 99 Percent Invisible podcast titled Housing First. In the podcast, Sam Tsemberis talked about a couple of different programs to help homeless people. One program was called "Housing Readiness" and was about getting people to be housing ready and get their life together before they got into a home. The second was called "Housing First". This one was about getting people homed first and then working with them on their problems. To check for program effectiveness, they ran a randomised controlled trial, where people got into each program randomly. People in both programs got support, but the controlled group got it before the housing, while the study group got support after housing. After a few years, the results of the trial showed 34% in the control group still had housing compared to 80% in the study group. Also days people were homeless went down for both groups, but the Housing First group had a much bigger decrease.
There are parallels between this story and psychological safety. When people are worried about where they are going to sleep tonight, they do not have a lot of mental capacity to deal with other issues. When people experience emotional stress at work, they do not have mental space to learn and grow at their work.
Google re:Work identified dynamics of effective teams. They found five factors that matter in how effective teams work together in order of importance. The first item, that all the other factors rely on, is psychological safety. Psychological safety means that team members feel safe to make mistakes without being afraid of repercussions. It is the foundation needed before everything else. It is the first step in having impact. Before asking your team to do good work for your organisation, it is imperative that each team member feels safe in their work surroundings.
How do you fare? Do you know how your team members feel about their work environment? Do you know how to improve the work environment?
One on ones are hard. Its a careful balancing act of information-gathering, temperature-checking, objective setting, and empathy. This week, on Thursday, July 27th, at Sydney Technology Leaders, Lachlan will be speaking alongside Kunaal Ramchandani and Lucille Stewart. Lachlan will be talking how to maximise your team members' feeling of certainty, progress, inclusion, growth, and engagement. If you're around, come and say hi this Thursday.
Forage engaged Blackmill to work with the engineering and leadership teams to ensure code, systems, and processes were meeting industry best practices. Partway through that engagement, the VP of Engineering (VPE) resigned and recommended the CEO bring Lachlan in as Interim VPE until the role could be permanently filled. You can read the full case study at https://blackmill.co/case-studies/forage
Our Community of Practice program is structured around your busy work schedule to provide you maximum learning with very little investment. You will address actual challenges at work, reduce your risk by reducing your blind spots, gain perspectives from others, and build a support network of trusted peers.
For our next cohorts, we're looking for experienced engineering or product leaders. If that is you, or someone you know, you can check out to apply at https://blackmill.co/do/community-of-practice or book a chat with us to learn more at https://meet.blackmill.co/blackmill/30min
I work at the Executive level in Tech, Product, Innovation, Transformation, Data, and Change, motivated by solving complex problems. Speaking start-up and big end of town ensures a hallmark of my work is establishing product labs, accelerators or centres of expertise to start, transform or improve corporate operations, drawing on agile, lean, design-thinking to coach teams as intrapreneurs. I'm known as a renaissance woman, being a lifelong learner, with a strong vision and a joie de vivre and am an Advisor, Author, Global Speaker, Mentor and Board Director.
The most challenging aspect is also the most rewarding. I'm usually called on for tough, problematic engagements, where there's no playbook. Often I'm under a time crunch so need to think and engage creatively to assess and achieve desired outcomes.
As a connector of people, ideas, opportunities and things, I love facilitating everyday synchronicity. My husband can be heard saying, 'There you go offering your unsolicited opinion again..' whereas for me, if I can see an opportunity to help, I'll offer it. I'm driven by continuous improvement and am constantly looking to streamline and improve our underpinning life systems (yes I love packing, my clothes are colour-coded and I am deeply energised by organising space — and I'm also good fun!). I'm highly curious about the world around me. My parents gave my four sisters and I the gift of travel, a love of reading and if we ever said we were bored, told us to go and do something so I'm constantly finding wonder around me.
I've just finished a book — 'Experiment-driven Transformation. Slow down to go faster to add real value'. It's being published in the UK in coming months. And, I've kept a house full of plants alive for a year. Previously plants entering the dead-zone (our house) were nicknamed 'RI-Peace lily' or 'Fi-Fi-Gone-Ficus'.
Earlier in my career, I was prone to overwork, meaning I effectively halved my salary. Now I understand the task expands to meet the time. I get very clear on what's most important and think creatively about how best to deliver, asking what happens if I don't do it? The answer is often nothing, so I can let it go until tomorrow.
I know we can't be calm and stressed at the same time so I try to choose calm through deep, effective breathing in the moment. Ten years ago Dr. Adam Fraser taught me a concept called 'The Third Space' at an executive leadership conference. I learned to transition between activities and spaces, so I could be present, taking a moment to prepare for the next encounter, meeting or parenting moment, rather than carrying the energy from the day into each event.
For my daughter it would be to listen to her parents occasionally. For my mentees, it's to trust themselves more because invariably they have the answers, they often just need to verbalise what they're thinking. For my teenage self it was 'The essence of greatness is the ability to choose personal fulfilment in circumstances where others choose madness' and as a leader it's drawing from Benjamin Franklin: 'Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn'.
The pay gap between women and men when doing the same jobs, because seriously!!! This makes me angry. And the justifications posited by some as to why it's still entrenched and why it can't change make me ill. I was a Board member of The 100% Project for several years working towards this goal. It's a weirdly wicked problem but a flicker of hope has been provided through the very recent reporting requirements to be implemented this year.
In 2006 I devised a concept I named '6:3:3' which means working 6 months of the year, 3 months completing a substantive initiative ie a book; and 3 months of travel, with some volunteer work and mentoring throughout. I achieved this last year and aim to do so again this year
From Penelope: I often plan our meals and my lovely husband cooks them. I don't drink alcohol and for others like me, there are only so many varieties of sparkling water available… So, here are a couple of recipes for some favourite mocktails — a Strawberry Daiquiri Mocktail (add a measure of rum to make it a cocktail) and a Ginger Mint mocktail.
You'll need a blender.
You will need either a 'muddle', a mortar and pestle to 'muddle' or a spoon if you don't have a muddle or mortar and pestle.
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Until next time, keep learning!
Everyone at Blackmill