Posts Tagged ‘sensitivity’

Behavioural Conflict

Friday, January 20th, 2012

I listened to Major General Andrew Mackay talking about what he perceives as key shortcoming in the Army’s management of the conflict in Afghanistan.  He suggests that in modern warfare, in which the civilian population’s ‘hearts & minds’ have a significant impact, it is essential to understand their thinking, needs and values if you wish to influence them and their behaviour.  This seems pretty elementary stuff in the field of business, but if it is being overlooked by an institution as big as the British Army, then perhaps it bears examination.  In warfare, and change management, you have to win the hearts an minds of the populace.  No one behaves in a way that damages their self interest, so you have to understand how they perceive and measure this.  Whether it is in the size of their harvest, the amount in their wage packet, or the rate of expansion of the local cemetery, you simply have to understand it, if you wish to influence it.

The war in Afghanistan has cost the British taxpayers something like £18b, and there is no clear success or endpoint yet, certainly little visible R.O.I.  Most companies don’t have this kind of budget for an unclear result, so remember, step 1 in any change program, define a clear vision of what success looks like (for everyone involved, not just you!), step 2, is understand the WIFM factor for the people affected (not just you!)

How many people have died needlessly in Northern Ireland, the former Yugoslavia, the Middle East and elsewhere in the world because of cultural ignorance and insensitivity of the leaders of those who are trying to help?  You can’t bomb your way to peace, and you can’t bully your way to harmony…

Making bread and using your loaf

Sunday, March 1st, 2009


My wife is a bread maker ‘par excellence’ and yesterday she made some bread that was simply The Best!  I simply couldn’t imagine it being any better.  So I said to her “That was perfect!  Can you make it exactly  like that every time?”    She told me that it was impossible as it all depended on so many variables like the atmosphere, the weather, one’s mood amongst a few.

That got me me thinking…. there are a great many things that are like this.  When one is working with people, one has to work with who turns up on the day, their moods, health, energy levels etc.  The unique cocktail that this interaction makes means that each meeting / interaction is unique.  Whether your are dealing with business teams or online communities this chemistry makes its mark and if one is to be successful, one needs to be sensitive to this factor.

 “The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.”   Mother Teresa of Calcutta

“There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.”   Mahatma Gandhi