Author Archives: Don Ledingham

The Try – with poetry by Cliff Morgan⤴

from

“This is great stuff”
The ball tumbles on the grass
“Phil Bennett covering”
The fragile figure pulls it to his chest
“Chased by Alastair Scown”
The dancer vanishes from the giant’s grasp
“Brilliant…………..oh that’s brilliant”
Not once but twice
“John Williams…………Bryan Williams”
Another heartbeat missed
“Pullin”
The ball slides from hand to hand
“John Dawes”
There’s no way through
“Great dummy”
Hairs bristle on the neck
“David……………Tom David”
His headlong rush defies all laws of nature
“The half-way line”
An arm extends around a black back
“Brilliant by Quinnell”
Who lifts it from his toes and stumbles
“This is Gareth Edwards!”
He steals it from the air
“A dramatic start!”
Head thrown back in godlike flight
“What a score!”
A dive forever in slow motion
“Oh that fellow Edwards”
Mortality held at arms length
“If the greatest writer of the written word
had written that then no-one would have believed him.”

 

 

with acknowledgements to Cliff Morgan
(Excerpts from Cliff Morgan’s commentary of the 1973 Barbarians versus The All Blacks by kind permission of the BBC.)

 

The Try – with poetry by Cliff Morgan⤴

from

“This is great stuff”
The ball tumbles on the grass
“Phil Bennett covering”
The fragile figure pulls it to his chest
“Chased by Alastair Scown”
The dancer vanishes from the giant’s grasp
“Brilliant…………..oh that’s brilliant”
Not once but twice
“John Williams…………Bryan Williams”
Another heartbeat missed
“Pullin”
The ball slides from hand to hand
“John Dawes”
There’s no way through
“Great dummy”
Hairs bristle on the neck
“David……………Tom David”
His headlong rush defies all laws of nature
“The half-way line”
An arm extends around a black back
“Brilliant by Quinnell”
Who lifts it from his toes and stumbles
“This is Gareth Edwards!”
He steals it from the air
“A dramatic start!”
Head thrown back in godlike flight
“What a score!”
A dive forever in slow motion
“Oh that fellow Edwards”
Mortality held at arms length
“If the greatest writer of the written word
had written that then no-one would have believed him.”

 

 

with acknowledgements to Cliff Morgan
(Excerpts from Cliff Morgan’s commentary of the 1973 Barbarians versus The All Blacks by kind permission of the BBC.)

 

The Ceannas Index⤴

from

The Ceannas Index – ceannas being the ancient Gaelic word for leadership – is a leadership diagnostic and planning tool.

The Ceannas Index is grounded in twenty years of leadership research and senior leadership experience. The Index uses a series of carefully constructed lenses on leadership that apply the power of metaphor to capture very complex concepts in a manner that is jargon free and immediately understandable.

The metaphors which cover the entire range of leadership characteristics are: the sculptor; the scientist; the builder, the gardener; the parent, the conductor; and, the villager.  Each of us will have elements of all of the above in our day-to-day behaviour and we will feel more comfortable in some of these modes than in others.  The metaphors that have been selected reflect a particular view of leadership, and one, which is focused upon enabling and supporting innovation and improvement.

The Index embraces an optimistic and appreciative view of people, as opposed to a deficit view that focuses on people’s weaknesses and deficiencies. It recognises that we are all different and that we bring our own strengths to any given situation that can complement the strengths of others.

The Ceannas Index is not to be confused with personality or psychometric tests. Instead, the Index is founded upon a belief that our leadership decision-making behaviour is less to do with our personality, and more to do with the default positions that we have unconsciously and automatically learned to adopt when faced with challenges.

By allowing the leader to consciously view such challenges from different perspectives, it frees them from their intuitive and automatic response to a situation. Daniel Kahneman, the Nobel Laureate in economics, described this as the difference between thinking “fast” and “slow”, where “slow” thinking is conscious, rational and rule-based. By applying a “leadership decision framework”, the leader can begin to develop a more rational approach to leadership problems, while providing them with the building blocks with which to identify and implement powerful solutions.

The Index has two interconnected applications. The first application is as a leadership diagnostic questionnaire for individuals, teams and organisations. The questionnaire enables identification of the default leadership positions and provides a very detailed summary that has been found to be of real benefit to leaders and teams that work under pressure. Another difference between the Index and personality tests is that participants can repeat the questionnaire a number of times over months or years to discover if they have been able to consciously shift some of their own leadership behaviours.

The second application for the index is as a decision-making and planning tool.  All too often we set about tackling a problem in the same way that we have tackled similar problems in the past. The difficulty with such a approach is that our strategy is usually focused upon the creation and delivery of a ‘plan’ which has not taken account of our leadership behaviours.  By stopping and considering the problem through the lenses of the Ceannas Index we can begin to create strategies which are truly innovative and which are much more likely to succeed and generate economic, public or social value.

As part of on-going research and development 50 free leadership diagnostic licences are available for personal use – contact me at don@drummondinternational.com if you would like to take part.

The Ceannas Index⤴

from

The Ceannas Index – ceannas being the ancient Gaelic word for leadership – is a leadership diagnostic and planning tool.

The Ceannas Index is grounded in twenty years of leadership research and senior leadership experience. The Index uses a series of carefully constructed lenses on leadership that apply the power of metaphor to capture very complex concepts in a manner that is jargon free and immediately understandable.

The metaphors which cover the entire range of leadership characteristics are: the sculptor; the scientist; the builder, the gardener; the parent, the conductor; and, the villager.  Each of us will have elements of all of the above in our day-to-day behaviour and we will feel more comfortable in some of these modes than in others.  The metaphors that have been selected reflect a particular view of leadership, and one, which is focused upon enabling and supporting innovation and improvement.

The Index embraces an optimistic and appreciative view of people, as opposed to a deficit view that focuses on people’s weaknesses and deficiencies. It recognises that we are all different and that we bring our own strengths to any given situation that can complement the strengths of others.

The Ceannas Index is not to be confused with personality or psychometric tests. Instead, the Index is founded upon a belief that our leadership decision-making behaviour is less to do with our personality, and more to do with the default positions that we have unconsciously and automatically learned to adopt when faced with challenges.

By allowing the leader to consciously view such challenges from different perspectives, it frees them from their intuitive and automatic response to a situation. Daniel Kahneman, the Nobel Laureate in economics, described this as the difference between thinking “fast” and “slow”, where “slow” thinking is conscious, rational and rule-based. By applying a “leadership decision framework”, the leader can begin to develop a more rational approach to leadership problems, while providing them with the building blocks with which to identify and implement powerful solutions.

The Index has two interconnected applications. The first application is as a leadership diagnostic questionnaire for individuals, teams and organisations. The questionnaire enables identification of the default leadership positions and provides a very detailed summary that has been found to be of real benefit to leaders and teams that work under pressure. Another difference between the Index and personality tests is that participants can repeat the questionnaire a number of times over months or years to discover if they have been able to consciously shift some of their own leadership behaviours.

The second application for the index is as a decision-making and planning tool.  All too often we set about tackling a problem in the same way that we have tackled similar problems in the past. The difficulty with such a approach is that our strategy is usually focused upon the creation and delivery of a ‘plan’ which has not taken account of our leadership behaviours.  By stopping and considering the problem through the lenses of the Ceannas Index we can begin to create strategies which are truly innovative and which are much more likely to succeed and generate economic, public or social value.

As part of on-going research and development 50 free leadership diagnostic licences are available for personal use – contact me at don@drummondinternational.com if you would like to take part.

Curiosity – do you use data; or does data use you?⤴

from

Perhaps Rudyard Kipling summed up the notion of curiosity most succinctly when he wrote:

“I had six honest serving men. They taught me all I knew. Their names were: Where, What, When, Why, How and Who.”

Human beings have a drive – there’s some debate as to whether it’s an emotion or an  instinct, so I’ll stick with drive – to be ‘curious’ about our world; to wonder what it’s all about; to have a thirst for knowledge and understanding which goes beyond what we need to survive today, but is undoubtedly required to enable us to survive tomorrow.

In this article I want to try to understand what we mean by curiosity; explore the elements of curiosity; and finally attempt to understand the role of ‘intelligent leadership’ in supporting and enabling a ‘data-curious’ organisation.

Going back to medieval times curious people were regarded with great suspicion. Augustine, the early medieval theologian and philosopher, viewed curiosity as “vain inquisitiveness, dignified by the title that knowledge is science” and suggested that curious people “crave spectacle and a desire to be seen”.  People were supposed to know their place before god, and show humility rather than commit “the sin of pride that seeks to know things that are best left unknown”.

It’s a sad indictment on some schools that there seems exists a similar suspicion about those who show any curiosity or desire to better understand their world. Not as a consequence of any religious conviction but a suspicion that there must be some ulterior motive at work for anyone to seek to do anymore than is required to get the job done.

Yet curiosity has been the main impetus behind scientific discovery for centuries and millennia. A fact recognised by no less a person than Albert Einstein, who avowed, “Curiosity is more important than knowledge”.  Certainly the academic literature in this area would appear to confirm that there is a fundamental connection between curiosity, knowledge and discovery. With Lowenstein suggesting that, “Knowledge appears to prime the pump of curiosity”.

It is this fascinating connection between knowledge and curiosity that is at the heart of human development where – the more we know, the more we realise what we don’t know.

So how does curiosity manifest itself in modern organisations?

Does the phrase “data driven” mean anything to you? It’s this notion that an organisation must take account of the data when making decisions – particularly about the performance of the organisation or individuals.  However, the very phrase ‘data-driven’ gives the allusion of data being in the ‘driving seat’, where there exists a metrics powered approach to decision making, with the human element removed.

There is a real danger that a blind commitment to becoming  ‘data-led’ organisations leads us to make decisions that lack any reference to values, ethics, or reference to our acquired experience – or what we might better call human wisdom.

In this regard, there are two striking questions posed by T.S.Elliot, in his play The Rock, “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information? Unknown to Elliot he presaged the identification of what is alternatively known as the ‘wisdom hierarchy’ or ‘knowledge pyramid’. This purports to represent the relationship between Data (raw facts) at the bottom of the pyramid; to Information (meaningful data); to Knowledge (understanding of information); to Wisdom (judgement using reference to values and experience) at the top of the pyramid.

Rather than seeing organisations as being ‘data-driven’ we should, then, instead, see them as being “values driven’ where we ‘use data’, as opposed to ‘data using us’.

Yet at the other end of the spectrum there are those who have neither the inclination to look at data – nor the curiosity to better understand their practice or the world around them.

As ever, there is a balance to be struck, but the key ingredient in making an organisation effective lies with the behaviour of the leaders.

For it is the role of leaders to model ‘curiosity’ and to ‘carry’ the value system against which data is generated, interpreted and understood.

Perhaps Charles Handy captured this most eloquently when he identified curiosity as being one of the key ingredients of ‘intelligent leadership’.

For ‘intelligent leadership’ appears to be a key element in successful organisations, where the leader promotes and exemplifies a ‘curiosity-driven’ culture, whereby the seeking of answers is part of a longer term process of generating knowledge to become a school  that is continually learning, adapting and improving.

Accordingly, regardless of the amount of ‘data’ generated, the masses of ‘information’ accumulated, and the associated ‘knowledge’ that is gained – it is the application of wisdom that will differentiate between the long-term success and failure of ‘curiosity-driven’ schools.

Curiosity – do you use data; or does data use you?⤴

from

Perhaps Rudyard Kipling summed up the notion of curiosity most succinctly when he wrote:

“I had six honest serving men. They taught me all I knew. Their names were: Where, What, When, Why, How and Who.”

Human beings have a drive – there’s some debate as to whether it’s an emotion or an  instinct, so I’ll stick with drive – to be ‘curious’ about our world; to wonder what it’s all about; to have a thirst for knowledge and understanding which goes beyond what we need to survive today, but is undoubtedly required to enable us to survive tomorrow.

In this article I want to try to understand what we mean by curiosity; explore the elements of curiosity; and finally attempt to understand the role of ‘intelligent leadership’ in supporting and enabling a ‘data-curious’ organisation.

Going back to medieval times curious people were regarded with great suspicion. Augustine, the early medieval theologian and philosopher, viewed curiosity as “vain inquisitiveness, dignified by the title that knowledge is science” and suggested that curious people “crave spectacle and a desire to be seen”.  People were supposed to know their place before god, and show humility rather than commit “the sin of pride that seeks to know things that are best left unknown”.

It’s a sad indictment on some schools that there seems exists a similar suspicion about those who show any curiosity or desire to better understand their world. Not as a consequence of any religious conviction but a suspicion that there must be some ulterior motive at work for anyone to seek to do anymore than is required to get the job done.

Yet curiosity has been the main impetus behind scientific discovery for centuries and millennia. A fact recognised by no less a person than Albert Einstein, who avowed, “Curiosity is more important than knowledge”.  Certainly the academic literature in this area would appear to confirm that there is a fundamental connection between curiosity, knowledge and discovery. With Lowenstein suggesting that, “Knowledge appears to prime the pump of curiosity”.

It is this fascinating connection between knowledge and curiosity that is at the heart of human development where – the more we know, the more we realise what we don’t know.

So how does curiosity manifest itself in modern organisations?

Does the phrase “data driven” mean anything to you? It’s this notion that an organisation must take account of the data when making decisions – particularly about the performance of the organisation or individuals.  However, the very phrase ‘data-driven’ gives the allusion of data being in the ‘driving seat’, where there exists a metrics powered approach to decision making, with the human element removed.

There is a real danger that a blind commitment to becoming  ‘data-led’ organisations leads us to make decisions that lack any reference to values, ethics, or reference to our acquired experience – or what we might better call human wisdom.

In this regard, there are two striking questions posed by T.S.Elliot, in his play The Rock, “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information? Unknown to Elliot he presaged the identification of what is alternatively known as the ‘wisdom hierarchy’ or ‘knowledge pyramid’. This purports to represent the relationship between Data (raw facts) at the bottom of the pyramid; to Information (meaningful data); to Knowledge (understanding of information); to Wisdom (judgement using reference to values and experience) at the top of the pyramid.

Rather than seeing organisations as being ‘data-driven’ we should, then, instead, see them as being “values driven’ where we ‘use data’, as opposed to ‘data using us’.

Yet at the other end of the spectrum there are those who have neither the inclination to look at data – nor the curiosity to better understand their practice or the world around them.

As ever, there is a balance to be struck, but the key ingredient in making an organisation effective lies with the behaviour of the leaders.

For it is the role of leaders to model ‘curiosity’ and to ‘carry’ the value system against which data is generated, interpreted and understood.

Perhaps Charles Handy captured this most eloquently when he identified curiosity as being one of the key ingredients of ‘intelligent leadership’.

For ‘intelligent leadership’ appears to be a key element in successful organisations, where the leader promotes and exemplifies a ‘curiosity-driven’ culture, whereby the seeking of answers is part of a longer term process of generating knowledge to become a school  that is continually learning, adapting and improving.

Accordingly, regardless of the amount of ‘data’ generated, the masses of ‘information’ accumulated, and the associated ‘knowledge’ that is gained – it is the application of wisdom that will differentiate between the long-term success and failure of ‘curiosity-driven’ schools.

‘Seven Sides’ to ‘The Ceannas Index’ – a journey⤴

from

Twenty years ago I was doing some research into school leadership and asked a teacher to describe her school in a single metaphor. She did so as follows:

“This school is a woman lying in bed with a blanket that isn’t quite big enough to cover her. Every time she turns over a different part of her body sticks out from under the blanket.”

What was remarkable was that everyone else in the room immediately nodded their heads in agreement, for this was a school that no matter how it tried it always managed to leave some part of the school excluded or ignored.

It was from that moment that I became convinced of the power of metaphor to capture very complex concepts in a manner that is jargon free and immediately understandable.

However, the world of leadership theory fulfils neither of those two latter characteristics – for it is jargon laden and is often anything but understandable. And so it was that I set out on what has been a remarkably long and fascinating journey to research, test and develop a model of leadership based upon a series of inter-related metaphors, which would enable people to better understand their own leadership behaviour, the leadership behaviour of others, and the culture of their organisations.

The metaphors which have evolved over these years that cover the entire range of leadership characteristics are: the sculptor; the scientist; the builder, the gardener; the parent, the conductor; and, the villager.  Each of us will have elements of all of the above in our day-to-day behaviour and certainly we will feel more comfortable in some of these modes than in others.  The metaphors that have been selected reflect a particular view of leadership, and one, which is focused upon enabling and supporting innovation and improvement.

Emerging from the fields of behavioural finance, systems thinking and personal leadership experience, the model provides the leader with a ‘decision making framework’ with a variety of integrated perspectives – and in so doing reflects more accurately the practice of exceptional leaders.

The model adopts an optimistic and appreciative view of people, as opposed to a deficit view that focuses on people’s weaknesses and deficiencies. It recognises that we are all different and that we bring our own strengths to any given situation that can complement the strengths of others. 

By allowing the leader to consciously view such challenges from different perspectives, it frees them from their default position, which is often an intuitive and automatic response to a situation. Daniel Kahneman, the Nobel Laureate in economics, described this as the difference between thinking “fast” and “slow”, where “slow” thinking is conscious, rational and rule-based. By applying a “leadership decision framework”, the leader can begin to develop a slower and more rational approach to leadership problems, while providing them with the building blocks with which to identify and implement powerful solutions.

The initial working title for the model was “The Seven Sides of Educational Leadership”.  However, my eldest son told me, as sons tend to do, that the title was ‘rubbish’; and so the term “The Ceannas Index” was born – ‘ceannas’ being the ancient Gaelic word for leadership.