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Managing Change in the Workplace

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Adrian Clarke, Head of OD at Virgin Media O2, dives into thought-provoking discussions with Tony around characteristics of a good manager, in the context of change management.
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Characteristics of a good manager, in the context of change management.

In this episode, we're lucky to be joined by client and now friend of Mayvin, Adrian Clarke, head of OD at Virgin Media O2. After Adrian read our Tony's book: "Managing Change in Organizations". He had some questions that he wants to ask Tony. So we let him loose and recorded it. So in this episode, you will hear Adrian asking Tony, questions about topics and themes included in the book, such as:  

  • Leadership as a tool of management (rather than the other way around)
  • Limitations of change and management tools
  • The importance of embracing difference and challenge
  • And how to find time for these practices

The conversation highlights the key role of relationships in effective management and provides insights into the characteristics of a good manager in the context of change management. Hope you enjoy listening.

Transcript

Tony Nicholls  00:48 

So, Adrian, great to see you again. Here to talk about the book Managing Change in Organisations. Why don't we do some introductions first, why don't you start off by saying who you are and what do you do? 

Adrian Clarke  00:48 

Brilliant. Yep. Thanks, Tony. Great to talk to you. So I am Adrian Clarke, head of organisation development at Virgin Media O2. 

Tony Nicholls  02:35 

Great. Okay. I'm Tony Nichols, Principal Consultant at Mayvin. And we know each other through the programmes that Mayvin delivered some couple years ago now. Yeah, yeah. Developing organisation development capability within your within your teams.  

Adrian Clarke  02:54 

Back in the days when we were just simply Virgin Media, 

Tony Nicholls  02:57 

That's right, of course, yes. You were just Virgin Media. Yeah. 

Adrian Clarke  03:00 

Before the big merger happened. We had the great opportunity to work together, you came in and did some brilliant stuff to help facilitate through with a number of our people/team, just getting under the skin of what is, organisation development, how to do some of the complementary skills and capabilities in those areas to really help a number of our kind of people/team to become even better in terms of their org development skills and practices and how they use that as part of the critical roles that they play. 

Tony Nicholls  03:33 

Yeah. Okay. So we're here to talk about the book that I've written. So when we when we say managing changing organisations and the book itself, where did you go to first? Where did, what springs to mind for you in terms of what you've read and where your interest is? 

Adrian Clarke  03:51 

The first thing that struck me and you you tackle this one straight on, is that sense that leadership becomes a tool of management, rather than some of the dominant views of management being almost a tool of leadership, all the things being quite, quite separate and separated. And there's a there's a piece of it you talk about is actually the term facilitator, one that you could use as a way of combining that sense of leadership and leading with the whole practice of management and managing. And as someone who does a lot of what I would call facilitating as well as the art and practice and craft as you call it later on. Around this, I was actually just really kind of taken by how was, where did that form for you? Or where have you seen this more kind of reaction have you had when you've kind of gone out there because there's there's lots of connotations attached to words. And actually, we're about something you were trying to, with demystify whether you found there's been a bit of a bit of a reaction back around this sense of, actually management is the key to this whole sense of managing change. 

Tony Nicholls  05:03 

Yeah. So I think I think, yeah, good question. So I think I think where I go to is, is working with teams. So you know, not to the theory books, but to actually my experience of working in as part of teams, but also coaching teams more lately, my practice. And not coaching, not necessarily coaching teams, off site somewhere, doing some really good work around, you know, looking at values and commitments to great work. But actually working with them doing their real work. So as much as possible, doing team coaching, where they're, they're doing their daily work, they're making the decisions, they're looking at their PowerPoint decks, they're looking at their monthly stats, etc, and making decisions around those. And that's where I started to notice that the pressure was on them to be leaders. And that often got in the way of them actually focusing in on what they were actually doing in the moment, which was managing resources and making decisions around how to deploy resources. So I started to develop this conversation with teams around. So what is it, we need to change in your management practice that will enable you to be better leaders so that you can stop, stop sweating so much about being great leaders, because if you become better managers, that will take care of itself to a degree because you know what, you're already pretty good leaders, you're already pretty good at strategic strategic thinking, you're pretty good at communication, you're visible to the organization's, what frustrates your team's I'm noticing is the way you make decisions around some of the resources, who you include who you don't include how you tend to micromanage when the pressures on that kind of stuff. That's for me, that's all the management stuff. So started to develop this idea that if leaders step back from leading and trying to lead too much, and focusing on their management practice, and that's this, you know, the phrase I've developed is, you know, the power and accountability trickles down through the organisation. And I saw that firsthand, you know, yeah, 

Adrian Clarke  07:05 

yeah. I love that sense of kind of the patterns, cos I know you talk in the book around, whether there's a difference, we almost kind of the kind of the meaning making and sense making and decision making. And as a phrase you use around shepherding the change, which I thought was a really lovely way of thinking about some of this and obsession with it has to be managed and controlled and coordinated as if every single little node and nuance could even be controlled. And I loved that sense of shepherding the changes it just to be brought to mind is the actual image of what you're looking for in terms of the general guidance of movement and the flow, the energy that comes with with change planning organisation. I just wondered whether that that was kind of what you'd intended when you thought of that. Change? 

Tony Nicholls  08:00 

Yes, and yes, and no, but what you've just done is because I've moved up to the Lake District, and very recently, and this very morning, I was, I dropped the car off for an MOT and was walking back with one of the dogs, and I could hear a shepherd calling the flock, and I can watch them from the distance, you literally see this flow. As the flock comes together, and they move in all sorts of different directions. You can never predict what path they're going to take. You can never predict which sheep is going to suddenly veer off and go somewhere else to where it'll disappear. So yeah, the more you know, you've just reminded me, I guess that is how I see change in organisations. It's a flow of individuals in some kind of collaborative process that is completely unpredictable, but does require some kind of shepherding. Yeah, interesting. 

Adrian Clarke  08:49 

I love it. Because I was trying to think, recently of a slightly different analogy, which was shepherding one's work quite well, because I was reminded of a brilliant statistic, which I can't remember exactly, but it's about playing chess, and how like with chess, it's a very controlled, you know, game, there are very strict rules, each piece has a very particular way it can move, you take turns, there's two people playing. And then after, I think, you know, one or two moves, there's so many hundreds of different possibilities of, of how that game could end up. After like four or five moves, you're into the millions, after a couple more you're into like the billions of different combinations. And there's a wonderful thing that ultimately, but there are more combinations of games of chess, than there are atoms in the known universe, which I haven't counted. I'm not a mathematician, but I'm gonna take it on truth, which is that of course, because once you start having all these different combinations, and that's something that's really really strictly controlled. For me, sometimes, managers and leaders think of the organisation almost as a game of chess that every piece can be very carefully controlled move from very strict role descriptions. Very strict organisation structure very clear rules and processes, but actually the reality even in that instance, if you have number of different combinations that you can still have of a strictly controlled game compared to something which is more put in that where you've got everything has an independent mind doesn't have to follow those processes or rules, right? Actually, the more you try and control that probably the, the harder or more impossible that situation is actually to step back and just observe it as a pattern of again, yes, flow of, of moving activity, it can actually be liberating. As a manager or leader because suddenly you're, you're looking at more of a hole rather than zooming in and focusing on any one component part. 

Tony Nicholls  10:49 

Yeah. So So I in the book, I talk about workarounds, you know, I see it so much. I saw it so much in the organisations when I was an operational manager, very tightly control, compliance oriented environments in financial services. And whenever you sat down next to an operator and put the headphones on and listened into the calls, and watch them working, they were compliant. But they were doing their own thing within that compliance framework. They were always developing workarounds, some of which became non compliant through no fault of anybody's then they were spotted later. But also some that, you know, helped efficiency and effectiveness because they'd be experimenting with the way we're doing things. And it was those organisations that invited that, to say oh that's interesting, let's Let's replicate that, that they were able to continue to evolve and become more effective. And those that tried to control so tightly, that well, you can't you know, people create workarounds, they get bored, they get ill like, they take a day off, they just play they experiment. And at some very occasionally there, they they want to do bad things were very, that was for me very occasional, most of the time, it was something some other form of agency that was they were expressing. And if you if you if you accept that, like you say and step back and watch for it, that's where your creativity and innovation emerges from from from the work that people are doing. 

Adrian Clarke  12:18 

Fantastic. I'm going to leave that there if I may because one of my favourite phrases you use, and one I'ved used since is when you describe models and tools. And you're phrase is, a hollowed out version of an already filtered reality, which, which I think is brilliant, because to me, it speaks to that kind of whole sense of the model is not the thing. It's not the answer the solution. But it can be really helpful in instances. But I love that that sense of the model is effectively a simplified version of what otherwise is complex, but it provides a way of framing something. But I was really interested at all with how you came to that sense of a hollowed out version of an already filtered reality, and how that fits with some of what you talk about around the whole sense of organisation as as a social construct. 

Tony Nicholls  13:13 

Yeah. So the filtering, filtering process for me I refer to is when the model is created in the first place. You know, researchers have some very sophisticated tools these days for researching both objectivity and both objective and subjective realities. But it's particularly in the subjective realities that that I'm picking, speaking, you know, how people make sense of things, helping people through the change curve, the people side of change, all that kind of stuff, the cultural aspects of things that are hugely important. But we create models around those through observing people and making sense of things. And, of course, the researchers are doing that through their own filters, their own biases. So that's the first thing to take into account. And of course, they're writing something down that we then read, and we read it through our own filters and our own biases. So it's the further level of filtering in terms of the sense making that takes place. And then we're going to apply it, we're going to sort of some make it work in the real world. And again, the analogy that comes to mind for me as a hill walker is I've got a map. Of course I have, well we all know the phrase, the map is not his territory, of course it isn't. But in reality, the map is useful because it does say, look, there's a big mountain there. And if you go too far there where there's a cliff, and the path is over here, so go this way. But in negotiating that path, I've got to get my eye on the ground, with each footstep I take to look for the slippery rocks, to look for where i might trip up, etc. And to figure out exactly where this path goes in the mist, for example. So at the end of the day, we have to pay attention to the reality that surrounds us. So that's why I talk about context is everything. I think I think I come across too many people who rely on models too much, rely on theory too much, and rely on their assumptions too much. And they're not paying attention to what's going on actually around them in the moment, footstep by footstep with the people they're in relationships with right now, that's where the work is. And they're to abstracted from that, and assuming that things will go, they will, they want them to go. 

Adrian Clarke  15:21 

If I can build on that analogy, I guess as well, the in the moment piece here isn't the conditions of that walk can dramatically change as well. So even with the same map, the same equipment, having done that walk 100 times before you go out there in the middle of a hailstorm or you go out there in the middle of a, a boiling hot day, your experience of that, yeah. And therefore, the amount that you need to adapt yourself, if you've got other people with you on that walk has to really dramatically change. So therefore, even any previous experience or assumptions, or things that you may have built ready to go and do that same walk still have to be adapted to the situation or circumstances or conditions within which they're actually doing it. 

Tony Nicholls  16:10 

Yeah. And I think I go back to my experience of working within teams as a team member. And having people come into the room, not paying attention to what's going on in the room, not paying attention to the human aspects of what's going on in the room, and I'm just bringing a pack, they're going to present. And they're looking for a decision. And they're looking to influence me to monitor their way of thinking, and they're not pay attention to me. And I feel sometimes like I want to go to just tap the window, excuse me, let's talk before we get to this, you know, what do you think's going on here, whereas the skillful leaders, they come into the room and they're in the room, and they're reading the room and noticing what's going on, they're developing relationship, before they get to the work itself. And that for me, then creates levels of trust and collaboration that go beyond the the sort of ritualistic as it were. So there's something about paying attention to context. And the context is moment by moment and relationship by relationship. 

Adrian Clarke  17:09 

Is, is that as, as well, about almost the, the mindset, that you you walk into that room with as to almost have that sense of what you're expecting, when you're going on, and then being at risk and opportunity in that, which is if you go in with a bit of a fixed mindset of I'm expecting this to be a difficult presentation or expecting there to be a certain reaction to things there is the risk that you could, you could almost over perform, if you like one way or the other, which doesn't even leave you open to having that reading of the moments of the room. Yeah, but actually, at the same time, it's a degree of confidence that you have to have to be able to walk in not being to what others probably feel like, I'm not fully prepared here. Because a script means I'm fully prepared. I go in, I read it, I know my words, I know what I'm going to do. But actually, there's almost a degree of confidence that you'd need to be able to go in and have that sense of all I can adapt to what happens in the moment. Or perhaps the question is, do you think that is a level of confidence? Or actually, is that more human and natural that that's how you would normally act? So which one is the 

Tony Nicholls  18:22 

interesting, isn't it? Yeah, interesting. I think I think we're taught to have the answer. You know, right back from school days, aren't we put your hand up if you know the answer. And we're rewarded for that. And I think a lot of people come into the workplace, thinking that that's their job is to find answers and know the answer and be right. And to convince other people of that rightness, you know, this phrase managing upwards. Because we need to tell the leader what we think what we know, because they don't know everything, because they're at senior level, which is often often the case they don't they're relying on people to come and bring him information. But there's a sense that I need to influence you to what I think is the truth. That's the challenge for me. And what I'm not saying is that isn't that is sometimes appropriate. Some people do have a view of what's going on, that's more permanent than I have and they need, you know, I need them to come and talk to me about that. But I think this idea that what's most normal, we go in incredibly prepared and confident with that preparation, or we go in with nothing and just see what happens. And of course, the reality is I think both are appropriate. So I don't think in the book I want to throw out any any idea that prepare it being prepared is is not good. I think it absolutely is. I prepare a lot for a lot of things I do. I plan a lot. But I also go in with this knowledge that I, human beings do react in certain ways, rather predictably in many cases, But as always, there's always a chance they won't and they'll do something different. And and I think, to go one stage further, to invite that opportunity for difference. That's that's the bit I rarely see. Being prepared for the curveball is one thing with say some, you know, some responses to some objections you might get about a decision you want to make or proposition you're putting, that's good, too. The bit that I often very rarely see is people who actually invite that challenge into the room, invite the difference in and, and go in with a mind that says, my mind is open to be changed as well, I've got a view. But you know what, depending on what comes up today, my view can change. And we could all come out with something completely different to what we all came into the room with thinking might happen. That's, that's, I see that very rarely. And for me, that's a great management mindset to have. 

Adrian Clarke  20:57 

I love it, I'm going to just pick on two other bits, which again, two of my favourite quotes in the book, which is you're referring to a lot, they're around almost that sense of do you see difference as resistance, as opposed to use a phrase of if you reframe resistance to stuckness. And it goes from being a deliberate act of resistance of I am actively challenging resistance, but more and the words, you use a propensity to do something other than what is proposed. It's a lovely way of actually describing it, because again, immediately is a mindset change, isn't it? It's no longer someone just deliberately willfully deciding to take a take an action, which is almost as a as a sabotage. But actually, it's someone may have a preference or a different way, or, or a propensity to do something other than what's proposed, they actually describe it like that. That's kind of quite normal and natural, 

Tony Nicholls  21:50 

quite normal and human. And, again, do we invite that? Can we invite that there are certain situations where we don't want to do that in very health and safety conscious areas where doing something different, could end up in something fatal, fatal accidents, I get that, but in most 99% of jobs, to invite somebody to do something different, I think is could create is where creativity and innovation comes from. And, and also, with job satisfaction and, and purpose and all those things that we're desperately wanting organisations to develop for people. But I think there's something about stuckness that the change curve, for example, we talked about the Kubler Ross change curve, great, great model, really useful, helps people really orientate around people's reactions to change and their personal reactions to change. And can be such a blunt instrument at times as well. Because it, isn't it, you know, it's assumed that that's what everybody does when it goes through a change curve. And yes, and sometimes no. And actually, it's more complex than that. And stuckness, for me comes from individuals sense making around the change, not necessarily consciously recognising some of the things that are happening for them, and some of the changes and shifts in mindset that are happening for them. And then there's a collective stuckness that arises. So I talked about emerging collective action, we have agency, we don't always, it's not always conscious agency that we have, there is a propensity sometimes for people to do something counter to what you're asking them to do, counter to what they even think they should be doing. And, and when that is spread out amongst a group of people, the organisation itself becomes stuck. And they can't, leaders can't quite figure out why we're stuck. 

Adrian Clarke  23:41 

Interesting, ah, because we Kubler Ross as well. One other thing, I think, is, again, a model as a hollowed out version of a filtered reality. So let's say it also assumes that we're talking about one change at a time. Right? Actually, the amount for me with the multiples have changed, but we're often going on not only have you got your that may be true for for for a particular change, and in particular, given moment, when you've got multiple versions, or the multiple changes often happening at the same time, which is always something you talk about, how about there's also there's multiple versions of reality or multiple interpretations of the same event? Yes. which can then be taken and I see that often then you can have a meeting, everyone's been part of the same meeting. But if you asked everyone afterwards, okay, what's happened, you know, what, what's been decided? What's, what's happening next? The versions you get, which you kind of talked about earlier, the filtered version as you can actually lead to very different actions. We can also be in almost contrary contradictory or create conflict between those who were part of the same event, the same conversations. 

Tony Nicholls  24:51 

Absolutely Absolutely. I think the greatest gift leaders could give the people in their organisations is time to make sense of things. And to continue to make sense of things as they continue to emerge and continue to evolve. Once and done, we've made a decision. That's it, we all know what doing. For me just it just doesn't, doesn't figure in the real world. So opportunities to continue to revisit, continue to to where are we? So the adaptive action cycle, human systems dynamics, Glenda Eoyang, that idea that we're always asking those three questions, what do we know? What's the so what of that? And now, what do we want to do next? What's the next adjacent step, iterative cycles of what? So what? now what? is is hugely important as a tool and something I take into team coaching situations a lot, because there'll be one of those three, that teams are not paying enough attention to or spending too long in. 

Adrian Clarke  25:00 

And would that be an example because later on you talk about managers, as being the antithesis of threat would that be an example for you of where a manager can act as the antithesis of threats? I liked that phrase, because it brought me a different view or mindset as to what the manager role could be, or the role that can play in a given moment? Yes. So you can describe it in different ways, by quite an idea of being 'Am I being the antithesis of threatened in this situation?' But would that be an example you kind of use there were actually as a manager, you're, you're open, you're observing that you're kind of you're adapting in the moment, 

Tony Nicholls  26:25 

I think, I think, yes, it loops back to the, you know, leader, manager as facilitator. And that came out from a conversation around how as consultants, we create situations where people can come we create a space, we talk about creating a space or a container, whatever language you want to use, we get people in a room physically or virtually, and very quickly. There, they feel safe enough to open up and start to show some humility and vulnerability. And that's when some really good work gets done quite quickly. And we're asking ourselves, what is it we do that enables that situation to happen? And we went around the houses with all sorts of platitudes around listening skills, and good questions, and, and they're all useful, really useful. But what we landed on was, it's actually what we leave at the door that's most important. We leave competitiveness, our personal agendas, a sense that we've got to somehow know more than these people sense that we're the gurus. So there's, there's a shift in our presence, when we leave those attitudes at the door that's calming, that's inviting, that is collaborative that is opened, invite collaboration. So there's something about Absolutely, there's a mindset of how can we do our best work together here? And how can I demonstrate and role model humility and vulnerability in order to create trust where you might want to do that, that, for me is the is what I mean by a manager that represents the antithesis of threat. 

Adrian Clarke  27:58 

That's really interesting, as you say about actually what you leave at the door as much as what you bring into the room. And actually, some of what, as a manager, you might leave the door as a sense that I better go through this door as a person who's got the answers, who's the expert is who's in control. And actually, sometimes it's the it's almost the stepping back not as a not as a sense of stepping back from responsibility, but actually to allow other voices in the room to have have the time and space that they need to think process contribute. 

Tony Nicholls  28:31 

Yeah. And I think I think there's an important point you bring in there is that that's not all the time. So there's absolutely a space for a manager with a particular accountability and a particular agenda, and objective to achieve to be more assertive, to be more challenging and say, well, actually, we need to move on. And this is what we need to decide today, we've got a decision to make, there's all there's room for that. And there's also room in the moment to then step back and allow space and create space. So it's, it's, that's why we refer to it as a craft, there's a science and an art to this. The signs could be the process, the agenda, the models, the tools, the project management tools, etc, their governance processes. The art is the presence is what do I bring, and that develops a craft, a personal craft and, and therefore, the craft. There are many different ways of doing management's as there are people who are our managers is very unique. It's your practice. That's why we talk about practice. You're not a an ultimate ultimatum, in a white coat, and we're just you could be anybody. You're Adrian. I'm Tony. And we do think differently and that's our craft. That's our practice. 

Adrian Clarke  29:44 

And what would your what would your advice be for a manager who says that sounds terrific, but look, look at my calendar I'm I'm back to back on meetings. I'm constantly running from one thing to another. How do I find the time to have those moments myself? Let alone give my team time we're all under pressure to deliver all of that kind of stuff. Is there anything you'd say as well actually, bit of advice there or, or something to think about, they've managed to have that sense of that feeling of, I'm too busy doing to have that time space to actually stop think for a little bit, 

Tony Nicholls  30:20 

I think the first thing I'd say is, you can find space when you want to. And in particular, if you find a group of people, who can, you can get together with to find that space with. And it could be just 15 minutes, it could be just 20 minutes, half an hour, on a regular basis, just find 15 to 30 minutes, with three or four colleagues. And you just sit there perhaps and do nothing, or just talk or just think. So there's, there's something about putting something in the diary, that then becomes a regular thing that you hold yourself to account with. But it's easy if you're doing that with a group of colleagues. So that will be the first place I would go to. Second place I go to is, is to think about how you can create space in the moment. So this is that whole mindset piece around what Schön talks about in terms of reflecting inaction versus on action, so on action is after the event, inaction is I'm having a conversation with you, I'm in the thick of it. But I'm also observing myself and observing the situation, I'm literally playing a bit of a mind trick where I'm slowing things down, just ever so slightly, you know, you're recording something and you're replaying it almost instantly, but there's a small gap. So you can just notice what's going on. That's the art, I think, to this, to be more in the moment present to your thinking present to others presence, such that you can respond to that. And that's a space in real time that can be created moment by moment. 

Adrian Clarke  31:52 

And I really like that, because I've always there's almost a sense in there that there has to be like a structured process. Yeah, for reflects in pattern observing. Whereas in the art of a conversation, we're constantly doing that naturally. Yeah, 

Tony Nicholls  32:07 

yeah. And I think there are tools you can use. So you know, if you're facilitating a meeting, or if you're holding a, let's say, you're not facilitating, you're holding a meeting you it's your agenda, your timings where you got part of an agenda, just take something different, and you do something different, create some space for some journaling, or create some space for well, you know, when we think about this particular challenge, we've got draw a picture rather than talk about it. So bring some difference into the room, that it creates a space for some artistic interpretation of what's going on, where individuals can tap into something that's other than their cognitive thinking. And I always find that people welcome that. Now, occasionally, you go a bit too weird. And they go, Oh, crikey, that felt a bit odd. But most of the time, they go, Oh, this was really useful. I'm thinking differently now. So how can you use you're going to spend 30 minutes with these people anyway? It's in your diary? How can you spend that 30 minutes slightly differently. So I talk about check-ins in the book, I talk about check-ins, because they are a ritual you can introduce, they are a space you can create within your existing one hour meeting, five minutes, the beginning five minutes, the end for checkout, just some pause for breath, that allows people to just notice each other and notice what's going on for them, such that they can then move towards the work and be a little bit more productive. Because they've recognised the human beings in the room and the developing some form of relationship, there's something about how you can introduce within the same time envelope, slightly different practices. 

Adrian Clarke  33:39 

That's really, really interesting thing about just having that incorporating it into rather than it being seen as something which is separate from or on top of, or different to actually that incorporate it into being part of the practice of what you say around actually sort of bringing in something a bit different, more can feel a bit risky at the time. Actually, just for fun, it's been different, in itself can be can be provocative enough or more just simply provide a way of stopping and giving a different perspective on something or reflection in that moment, which can create a different different conditions. Yes, yeah. Different experience people. 

Tony Nicholls  34:24 

Definitely. And there's a very practical thing that that I see all the time, you might in coaching, teams working at the wrong level. They're always working, but not always. They're very often working below the level they should be working at. So the stuff on the agenda that their teams could deal with quite happily, but they're spending time on it. So a question I would always ask every team and we ask ourselves within Maven, every time we have our monthly executive meeting is are we working at the right level? Are we doing the stuff we should be doing? And sometimes that answer is no. And we go Okay, who else can pick that up? Let's create a subcommittee. Let's delegate it to somebody else. So that for me, then starts to free up time starts to free up time for the most strategic conversations, but also time for conversations like, well, how are we working together? What's going on for us, the you know, the readies model around spending time on task, spending time reviewing how you're doing the task, but also spend time reviewing how you are with each other, and how your ways of working and developing your culture. 

Adrian Clarke  35:28 

I love that whole sense that it's very much about the relationship, the process is, the thing is that or to use some of what you bring in a book, if you will take an organisation is essentially a social construct that we've collectively made for ourselves, for actually the thing that we work on, is around the network of relationships. The other thing, which is true to us in that setting, rather than it's very hard to work on the organisation as a whole as a whole construct. And actually the thing that we can be constantly working on working in is that relationship network of which we are, we're, we're part of, and we establish, manage, build developing in use for ourselves. And I wonder whether it just you've used that in kind of your work around that being able to think and frame of the organisation as that network of relationships rather than this kind of slightly homogenous social construct. 

Tony Nicholls  36:31 

Yeah. So So again, are we back to the flock of sheep? I don't know. So we use the murmuration, as an example, and especially the flock of starlings that are murmurating, as an example of how organisations are an ever evolving, sense making process. And that's difficult for people to get their heads around, I get that it was difficult for me to get my head around when I first came across the concept. But it's what it's led me to is to think about being much more in the moment with the relationships I find myself in right now. Because that's what I can actually work with. I can't actually do anything with anything else other than what's in front of me that, you know, you this conversation we're having is all I can do right now, if we you know, if we were part of both parts of Virgin Media O2, which effectively are because you're a client and, you know, providers, that that's, that's all I can do, I can't I can't physically do anything else with anything else. So that's the first thing that came to mind. The other is, is always asking that question, for me, within my practice is, so where do I have relationships? And where do I want to nurture those relationships? Where are those relationships I need to have that I don't currently have. So it's, it's much more than a instrumental networking power type objective. It's a relational patterning, influencing type process. 

Adrian Clarke  38:00 

It's a lovely, I'm going to pick out one little credit and probably leave you with one last question, if that's true, which is very speaks to be when you mentioned about your managers impact in an organisation is an experience felt by others, as much as it is measured in terms of outputs, there's a lovely way of bringing that whole sense of, of legacy or impact into what's the greater impact is it? Is it? Is it the slide pack that was delivered? was used for one moment in time, and then you may get reused, but often forgotten, is it that single report that was written? Or is it the experiences felt by others, through working with that manager, I think is a lovely way of thinking about the real impact that we can have as managers. And this if I can ask you one question, perhaps just to finish with this, as a result, or through writing this book, and as a result of writing this book, do you feel more hopeful about the role that managers can play in managing change in organisations? Or do you almost feel like less hopeful because you're with the still making some of the same mistakes in organisations almost, where does it leave you in terms of your sense of hopefulness for how we can actually work and be as managers in organisations and managing change? 

Tony Nicholls  39:21 

Really good question. Depends on which day you asked me. But right now, I would say on balance, I'm more hopeful. Because I think the last few years have demonstrated that a different way of thinking about leadership and management and the relationship of those two practices needs to be thought about, you know, what I write about in the book in terms of how we got through the pandemic and how we develop vaccines and local communities looked after themselves, you know, there was a real demonstration for me of, of what we call emergent capability, which was both in the leadership and the management space. If we learn anything from that, then it's to to allow room for both of these things. And for me, my hope is that we start to develop management managers early on in their career, to have to talk to them about mindset to talk to them about legacy to talk to them about purpose, to talk to them about contemporary theories of change, as well as classical theories of change. That's my hope. And something that Mayvin is, you know, is, is doing and wants to do more of, and I see other organisers, organisations and consultancies wants to do that too. And other people aren't, like you out there who are developing, wanting to develop that capability in their organisations as well. So I'm more hopeful than not, but it will be difficult because there's a there's an entrenched worldview out there that, you know, management is a tool, and managers are tools and resources. Yeah. 

Adrian Clarke  40:52 

Brilliant. Well, I'm gonna take that home and run with it. So good. I'm happy with that. 

Tony Nicholls  40:57 

Excellent. All right. Well, thanks for that great speaking to you felt like great, felt I was being interviewed was a really good conversation. So thank you for that. And we'll speak soon. 

Adrian Clarke  41:07 

Brilliant. Thanks so much Tony. Thank you. 

Claire Newell  41:09 

Thank you so much for listening to us today. And we hope to see you next time. Take care bye bye. 

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