Notes from the keynote #cipdACE16

Well, here I am again. At the CIPD Annual Conference, with the honour of being part of the social media dream team.

It’s keynote time, and we are listening to Dr Margaret Heffernan, award winning author and Ted speaker, on collaboration, innovation and creativity in the new world of work.  What makes modern organisations successful?

 Here’s a little of what she had to say…..

Successful teams aren’t those who are the smartest. Who have the highest IQ – or even one or two members with high IQ. Just having a bunch of smart people won’t lead to organisational success. Neither will having one superman. 

Research into successful teams found that they have three characteristics: people within it score high on empathy, they have contributions from everyone in the team and they had more women within them. This equals collective intelligence. 

What matters is what happens between people. Helpfulness. This is the key, in any type of organisation. Simply, how helpful people within the organisation are to each other. 

Helpfulness has power. It leads to confidence. Fundamental to it is the idea of sharing information. This is what people do when they are helping each other. It plays out by people spending time together and sharing.   

Research shows that work groups that take coffee breaks together become significantly more productive. 

It’s about spending time together. It is internal networking. Relationship building. Building too the collective intelligence of the organisation. 

But sometimes the hierarchy and bureaucracy gets in the way. Structures can impede productivity and problem solving. They block the information.  We have to get round them.  

You can measure the health of an organisation by how quickly important information flows. 

Social capital. The idea that the social network is central. That there is, within the organisation, trust, reciprocity and co-operation. Shared consciousness. This is the key to organisational success. 

People that are successful in complexity? People who listen. Who ask good questions. Can pick up all the weak signals within the organisation. Who get outside their own field of expertise. These are the people that can solve the problems. 

The problem for our organisations is unlocking people’s thinking. Getting them off their particular piece of the chessboard (the job description, the fixed title and place in the organisation chart). We spend so much time thinking about performance management and weeding out the slackers, but that is a 5% problem. Instead we need to focus on the 95%. 

What is important that people feel valued. Where they can make mistakes because that equals learning. And when people understand that they are there to learn. It’s not about HIPOS.  It is seeing talent everywhere. Talent is not fixed. Expertise is not enough.  We need people who are enthused by learning. We need to reframe and re-tackle the issue of diversity. We need to cherish the differences between people. The people that are not like you have. I have to teach you. 

When we recruit people stop digging into their expertise. Ask them who helped them get where they are today. Hire people who share what they learn. Hire their social capital. 

We need curious minds. Well stocked minds. Diverse minds. This way leads to success. 

Organisations will only grow when our people grow. 
Thoughts from me on this stuff……

Margaret quoted all the research that backed up the findings. But even putting that aside, we know this don’t we? As HR professionals? I’ve worked in organisations where people aren’t helpful. Where they put up barriers. Where the answer is no, know what is the question. Where people would rather win or score points than work collaboratively. Where people quote policies or hoard information.  Information does not flow. 

These organisations are not good places to work. And of course there are negative impacts on productivity.  This stuff is circular. If people don’t help each other, there isn’t trust. There isn’t reciprocity or sharing. There is no learning g. So how can there be innovation?  High engagement? Growth – of individuals or EBITDA? 

Social capital is the formal name for something more simple. Relationships. People. Being human. And this is what we do in this profession of ours. This is our opportunity. 
Back to that coffee break thing…. Where I work we are big fans of Fika. Google it, try it, have coffee together. 

This is a live blog. Please excuse any typos! 

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