A person, viewed from behind, faces a train, with the unnoticing people inside separated from her by a window.

The Victim-Rescuer-Persecutor Paradigm

By Sam Robinson

We’re revisiting our blog archives and republishing pieces that remain as timely as ever. This post was originally published in September 2015.

One way where this might come up at work…

  • A team is “left to its own devices” for many years, used as a dumping ground for staff who are being moved on, there is little or no recognition for their work – apart from when things go wrong (then they really hear about it).
  • A new manager is appointed and intends to “make things right”. She goes about articulating roles, holding people to account and managing performance.
  • Team member(s) feel aggrieved and share stories about what a bully the new manager is.

Victim-Rescuer-Persecutor Paradigm

Originally known as the Karpman Drama Triangle (Karpman, S (1968) Fairy tales and script drama analysis Transactional Analysis Bulletin, 7(26)) this model is intended to show the destructive relationships that can emerge when people are in conflict. Karpman chose the phrase “drama” as he intended to focus on the perception that people can end up playing certain roles – often unknowingly. He does not and I do not deny that there are actually “real” victims. This model is about the impact of perceptions, and the influence of those perceptions on our behaviour.

In this model, there are 3 roles, the Victim, the Persecutor and the Rescuer. The roles are not static and can shift between different people and back and forth between roles. Typically, the situation commences when a particular person takes on a Victim role. All roles play a part in keeping this unhelpful dynamic in place.

A person, viewed from behind, looks into a fire

Sharing Context and Purpose at Work

By Sam Robinson

We’re revisiting our blog archives and republishing pieces that remain as timely as ever. This post was originally published in September 2015.

Karl Weick’s 1993 paper The Collapse of Sensemaking in Organizations: The Mann Gulch Disaster is an analysis of a notorious incident in 1949 in Montana, USA. The disaster centred on a team of firefighters attempting to contain an out-of-control forest fire in a gulch located along the upper Missouri River. Tragically, the fire claimed the lives of 13 firefighters.

Reading through the story, I can’t help but be affected by the torment that would have been faced by those people in fighting the fire. While it’s possible to read through the events dispassionately in the safety of a cosy office, a historic anecdote from the dim past, for some reason tragic events like these can stick firmly to our consciousness. This particular tragic event is one of those for me.

Not all of us will directly experience a crisis like this, but all of us will experience a crisis of some kind from time to time. Crisis stories are part of the shared language we use to make sense of the world.

Recently I had the good fortune to talk to people working in an organisation and affected by a crisis, within days of it happening. A serious road accident involving a number of vehicles, lives being threatened and impacts on a major arterial road – the organisation was called to coordinate the immediate response. Talking to the people involved, their overriding sense was that the teams involved, from very different parts of the organisation, worked together “like clockwork”. But there was also a frustrating and lingering question: “why isn’t it always like this?”

What is it about a crisis that focuses our attention so fully for a short period of time?

A frosted cupcake topped by a lit sparkler against a blue background

What Does Leading by Example Actually Mean?

By Chally Kacelnik

I meet a lot of leaders who talk about their capacity to lead their teams by example. It’s one of those phrases that just sounds right. “Leading by example” connotes getting amongst it and relating to people in a simple, accountable, down to earth way. However, it can have quite disparate meanings depending on who you ask. Most recently, the answers I’ve heard are that leading by example is about:

  • Being able to build trust and influence with staff as you go about your work
  • Being hands on and helping staff with practical issues
  • Demonstrating respect and otherwise working positively with others
  • Being consistent in what you expect from staff

Trust, practicality, respect, and consistency are all worthy goals for leaders to pursue in their relationships with their staff, their peers, and with everyone they encounter in the workplace (not to mention their broader lives). However, it’s telling that there’s not often a common thread in what leading by example means to people. People tend to be quite confident that leading by example is a thing that they do, and my experience is that there isn’t much of an awareness of different interpretations. The main commonality is that everyone’s quite sure that everyone else understands what they mean by it.

That’s pretty worrying. If we assume that others are not the same page about something as common as this, how can anyone be sure about what example they’re setting, let alone whether they’re leading and communicating with others effectively?

So what should we talking about when we talk about leading by example? Walking your talk sounds like bluster or fluff if you can’t pin down that talk. That’s where the problem lies. For some leaders, saying they lead by example inadvertently becomes a way of not communicating effectively and not operating at the right level of work (see our levels of work article for more information on this).

A metallic "please come in" sign hangs against a glass wall reflecting lights.

Getting On-Boarding Right for a Healthier Organisation

By Sam Robinson

While talking to a client in a government organisation recently, I realised how sloppy I am when talking about onboarding and induction programs. For the sake of clarity (I love clarity!) a few definitions:

  • Recruitment: the broad process of attracting and selecting people to join an organisation
  • Selection: choosing a single candidate for a role (part of a selection process)
  • On-boarding: the process of integrating an individual into an organisation, whether this is based on skill development, cultural norms and beliefs, or systems and process knowledge
  • Induction: the process of informing a new employee about an organisation’s policies, systems and procedures (part of an on-boarding process)

I’m not an HR professional, despite LinkedIn assuming I am, so please excuse the lack of convention. These are definitions I find helpful and I’m not suggesting this is “the general consensus” or an “industry standard”. (By the way – a topic for another time – what do you think when people throw in those phrases?)

I want to focus on on-boarding because it’s often relegated to the “we strongly intend to look into this in the next financial year” pile. Looking at an on-boarding process can provide a window into the health of an organisation. When I’m helping an organisation improve, I look at an on-boarding process as evidence for:

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Changes at LKS Quaero

After five years as our Managing Director, Susan Law will be departing from LKS Quaero at the end of July. She has always described herself as an escapee from the Council chamber and she will be returning there as CEO of Armidale Regional Council.

Under Susan’s leadership, we’ve emerged as a leading management consulting firm with a reputation for genuine, practical, and forthright advice. She has led a dedicated team of consultants who are committed to delivering high quality support and outputs for our clients.

Our longstanding Director, Leadership and Culture, Sam Robinson, is commencing the role of Managing Director. Sam has a diverse consulting background in settings throughout Australia, Antarctica, and Malaysia, across the resources and logistics sectors and local government in NSW, South Australia, Tasmania, and Western Australia. Sam has been crucial to LKS Quaero’s achievements and growth of the last several years and we congratulate him as he continues that work in his new position.

We wish Susan the very best in her new role. We’re excited to continue providing our clients with trusted advice on their organisational direction and strategy.

At LKS Quaero, we draw on decades of hard-won ingenuity to help solve seemingly intractable problems. If you’d like to know more, visit us at lksquaero.com or follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

A hand holds a pen over a marked map, with coffee cups and a water glass sitting on the map at the edges of the frame

Mapping High Level Strategy to Everyday Work with the Travelling Salesman Problem

By Chally Kacelnik

It’s an exciting time when organisations are overhauling their vision and planning: synapses are snapping, there’s energy in the air, and people are engaged with building an exciting, compelling story of how their organisation is going to be in the future. However, when it comes time to turn intention into reality, that’s when things might get a little stuck and start to stagnate.

There will be those in the organisation who nod through the changes, but believe it’ll be another false dawn and that everything will go back to business as usual. Effective leaders will bring the rest of the organisation on the change journey and entrench the new business as usual. However, for many organisations, strategic planning and visioning is sadly just seen as the stuff you have to tick off before getting back to the “real work”. It’s not seen as what should drive that work.  The challenge is not only to develop the new ways of doing things, but to make sure they’re truly reflected in people’s activities and beliefs.

How do you make the new, compelling way of doing business not just something to pin on the wall, but a felt reality in day to day activities? It’s often difficult for individuals to see how the work they do – their activities, the systems they work with, the parts of processes they undertake – relates to the work of people in other parts of the organisation, let alone the overarching vision, strategies, and goals. 

Shelved, lopsided black binders

Managing Customer Data the Right Way: 10 Basic Principles

By Chally Kacelnik

Let’s consider how to manage customer data the right way: ethically, usefully, and achievably. With scandal after scandal about the misuse of customer data making headlines, it’s no longer possible to think of data as something neutral or passive that gets collected and sits out of sight and mind.

We’re seeing rapid changes to how we think about the collection and use of data. One major theme of the day is technological innovation. Traditional boundaries are being tested, with even governments feeling out how public and distributed innovations like blockchain could work for them. Another theme is dread. There’s a distinctly dystopian resurgence of anxiety about surveillance and poor or actively harmful data management, and unfortunately we’re seeing that suspicion justified. It’s vital for organisations – particularly government ones – to understand that data is fraught and to take a thoughtful approach to the ethics, reach, volume, and scale of the data they collect and use.

Within organisations, there tend to be two opposed approaches. There are those who trust in tech to solve data problems, the more innovation and more data collected the better, even if it’s not fully understood. Then there are those who trust their own workarounds more: the people who have their paper folder or their spreadsheet sitting on the side, whether because the system isn’t set up usefully, there isn’t an established way of working that encourages the right kind and quality of data isn’t being entered, or because of habit and comfort.

Increasingly, the uses and abuses of data are so top of mind and so poorly understood by most of us that organisations are tending to throw everything at the wall. It’s all too common for organisations to take the approach of investing big in new systems without understanding how to drive them effectively, ending up with messy data that causes lots of headaches, rework, haphazard ways of working across the organisation, and reinforcement of those two opposed approaches (including workarounds on top of workarounds!).

In short, if you throw everything at the wall, you’re going to find cracks. Technology isn’t a wilful force in and of itself (at least not yet!) and should be a facilitator rather than a driver. Positive, active human behaviour should drive how we interact with data and how we use technology to facilitate that interaction. Let’s get back to the very basics of what organisations need to do with data: serve their customers.

Here are seven principles for achieving that aim by managing customer data well at the ground level:

The words "do something great" are displayed in blue neon on a black background

What Makes Us and Our Leadership Development Programs Different?

See our recent series on a series on LKS Quaero’s leadership development programs.

In short, our programs are different because they are relevant, practical, sustainable and proven.

Lots of organisations have previously invested a lot of time and money on leadership development. That programming might have given people a good set of skills and it might have built team cohesion – or the results might not have been commensurate with the investment. There’s nothing wrong with cohesive teams and improved skills, but these things aren’t that useful if the leadership development wasn’t ultimately geared towards improving results. Without a common language, toolkit, and framework for leadership that everyone uses and knows works, the results will fall flat.

We work to genuinely help our clients solve their problems and we tailor our programs to meet their specific needs. The programs are different to anything else available as they are very tightly connected to what the organisation wants to achieve. Each program begins with the senior leadership presenting the context of what’s happening in the organisation at the moment and how the program is connected to what our clients want to achieve as a whole.

We help our clients to succeed by looking at the impact of how they’re leading. What we do doesn’t just fall out of a textbook or a pet theory: every model is based on our hands-on experience in industry. We equip participants with problem-solving tools that work and show them practical examples of success.

A painted arrow points forward along a streetscape

How We Help Clients Design and Reach the Desired Future State

This is part of a series on LKS Quaero’s leadership development programs, published in advance of our 2018 Public Program in Newcastle. You can book your ticket for our Leading for Change (Advanced) Diploma program or book your ticket for our Leading for Change (Essentials) Certificate IV program now.

Once the organisational problem has been identified and the current state analysis has been undertaken, our clients have a clear picture of what’s going well and what’s not. How do we help them turn that knowledge into concrete change?

It’s tempting to go and tackle lots of little changes. However, without a clear plan, those changes don’t cohere or stick. We work with clients to clearly map out where they would like to be by helping them to design the desired future state for their organisation.

A group of people collaborate around a table

What Clients Get Out of Our Leadership Development Programs

This is part of a series on LKS Quaero’s leadership development programs, published in advance of our 2018 Public Program in Newcastle. You can book your ticket for our Leading for Change (Advanced) Diploma program or book your ticket for our Leading for Change (Essentials) Certificate IV program now.

What do organisations and individual participants get out of our leadership development programs?

At the start of the program, we ask participants what their expectations are. For many people, expectations are pretty low – they’re just there because their boss has sent them, they’ve done training before, they don’t think they’ll get much out of this. These participants, without exception to date, have a completely different response at the end.

Our programs are unique because we don’t just teach theory and send participants back to the workplace to find their feet. We actually won’t pass or accredit someone unless they’ve made improvements in their area of accountability at work, demonstrated against specific targets that are aligned with the organisation’s business plans. As a result, we’re being inundated with requests from previous clients to come back and run more programs.

In financial terms, one participant in one course alone has saved $1.5M in the first year as a result of better inventory management.