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What might be blocking the RegTech revolution?

What is RegTech?

Regulatory Technologies (RegTech) –  according to Harvard Kennedy School

“the application of new technology to regulation-related activities in order to shift them from analog-era to digital and computational models and, thereby, gain dramatic increases in effectiveness, efficiency and scalability”

It’s not surprising that amid an increasingly regulated global business landscape, many financial institutions are turning to RegTech to help them cope with greater scrutiny and the potential for hefty fines for non-compliance.

RegTech, however, is still a relatively new phenomenon but its growth has been rapid.

  • But has it been too rapid?
  • Has it left us focused on the goal while the fundamentals have been forgotten?

Whenever the term RegTech is mentioned there’s also the immediate thought of Policies and Procedures. In many organisations the proliferation of these controlling documents just means more qualified regulation officers and employees need to go on refresher courses. This is a huge cost and commonly lost in a training budget held by HR that is rarely measured as to the effectiveness of the training.

Now if it works well, your organisation would have well-trained teams and you’re making RegTech work for you – a real competitive advantage.

But the evidence suggests organisations are struggling. And they’re caught in at least one known gap called the ‘Knowing-Doing Gap’. But most likely they’re stuck in other gaps and traps that are collectively referred to as Behavioural Waste™.

‘You cannot change your future, you can change your habits. And surely your habits will change your future”  Dr. Abdul Kalam

In late 2017 Philip Creed, director and head of RegTech at fscom said “The main barrier for RegTech firms is a lack of compliance expertise on integration. Most RegTech firms are heavy in technology expertise but light on the compliance knowledge. When it comes to solving the financial institution’s actual problem, there can be a skills gap. To overcome this, RegTechs will need to bring in talent to shore up the gaps or outsource that element to experienced consultants.”

Skills gaps are interesting as it’s obvious that they need to be identified and filled by all organisations before they enter any innovation, disruption or change. But the real gap, the real elephant in the room – organisational culture – rarely gets addressed because it’s assumed it’s too difficult. Ignoring culture and the cultural change needed just adds to more Behavioural Waste™.

Philip Creed’s statement might almost come straight out of the book “How to make Lean Management Work”, which, had the book been written in the 1970s perhaps such change management programmes would have had more than a 20% success rate!


RegTech is a Change Programme

This may sound simple but RegTech is not only change, but a massive change. So why don’t we listen and learn from what the experts have researched time and time again, that demonstrate the characteristics of successful change programmes?  Once such in-depth research is the published work of Rao, H. and Sutton, R.I, “Bad to great: The Path to Scaling up Excellence”

“Before leaders attempt to adopt good practices, it is necessary to remove the bad, by identifying and reducing destructive and negative attitudes and behaviours to necessary change” in McKinsey Quarterly February 2014.

This sounds obvious too, doesn’t it? Yet, we still make assumptions that this RegTech project will alter these behaviours automatically. The facts show that it rarely if ever happens.


RegTech officers, employees and training

As Policies and Procedures grow, RegTech officers need to know a lot more which again is obvious.  That includes employees too although to a much lesser extent. The traditional route to increasing knowledge is Training. But there is a flaw in most training programmes and Rao and Sutton and others have highlighted it.

If someone hasn’t the right mindset and ready to move, then any training intervention will have much less of an effect – and “ better than random chance” according to the CIPD.

The aim of any training programme is also to ultimately change behaviours to improve results. Initially, this change is a conscious action and when we regularly practice these behaviour changes we will convert the conscious actions to automatically happen. This is commonly known as unconscious competence and in some cases can be called common sense.

Consider the analogy of learning to drive a car. Initially, it can be clunky and quite erratic. With focused practice, in a relatively short time, we become proficient enough to pass a driving test. Then after more practice, we can experience travelling to our destination with very few conscious thoughts towards our driving. When there’s a traffic build up or incident, our awareness will then automatically engage conscious behaviours to navigate the problem. We also have an advantage in this state-of-mind and that’s having a clear purpose – safely arriving at our destination.

Isn’t that what we’re aiming at within the RegTech space?

Perhaps the issue is you don’t have a clearly defined purpose that your team are completely engaged with?

Changing organisational culture, personal attitudes and behaviours can be difficult. But if you assume they’ll change because RegTech is the saviour, then we wish you luck, because you’ll need it!

Next steps

There is a free to join global group emerging in the RegTech and FinTech arena called Disruption Disciples and our CEO is head of the London Chapter. Here are a few links to demonstrate you’re not alone YouTube LinkedIn Company  Website

If you’re in the risk business, ignoring this advice is taking a risk – can you afford to ignore it?

As ever you have a choice – what’s yours?

How can we think outside the box today?

How can we think outside the box today?

Edward de Bono

It’s generally accepted that Edward de Bono is one of the pioneers of “Brain Training” and in 1967 he invented the world famous Lateral Thinking technique. It revolutionised the concept of thinking as a separate skill.

Indeed Forbes Magazine said

If you haven’t heard of Edward de Bono or of Lateral Thinking, perhaps you have been too busy thinking in conventional ways.

If however, you’ve always questioned the status quo, never taken no or can’t do for answer it’s likely you’ve never been restricted by comfort zones or boxed thinking. But as the vast majority of people are we need to understand what they see and why they’re locked.

Lateral Thinking – what is it?

With logic, you start out with certain ingredients just as in playing chess you start out with given pieces. Each piece has a clearly defined role and a value. But unlike on chess, in most real-life situations the pieces are not given, we just assume they are there. Most people assume certain perceptions, certain concepts, and certain boundaries. Lateral thinking is concerned not with playing with the existing pieces but with seeking to change those very pieces. Lateral thinking is concerned with the perception part of thinking. This is where we organise the external world into the pieces we can then ‘process’.

Comfort zone

Layered onto this we also need to appreciate that for most there is a quite clearly defined Comfort Zone which is a psychological state in which things feel familiar. A place where we like to stay and perform with little or no anxiety or stress.  A comfort zone to a person is where they are at ease and in control of their environment.

Dr Brene Brown describes it as

“Where our uncertainty, scarcity and vulnerability are minimized—where we believe we’ll have access to enough love, food, talent, time, admiration. Where we feel we have some control.”

In essence, it’s where people feel safe. But it’s an imaginary place as it only exists in our mind, although it might be similar to many others that are around us.

The following may help further although all may not be common in everyone:


How to break outside the box?

You can try training but regular readers will now be aware of the problems of knowledge training and that results are small and rarely sustainable.

Change the culture and encourage people to come out of their comfort zone is an obvious answer but as most HR leaders will know this elephant in the room is hard to budge. It’s also assumed to be expensive and will take time.

But there is a way that’s guaranteed to budge it once and for all and may not take as long as you expect.

Develop Reality-Driven Leaders and focus on reducing Behavioural Waste™ will always work –

If that’s too much to take in you can always look at another sector. One we all frequent and will revisit based solely on our memories or recommendation of a friend. I’m talking about restaurants, where every meal delivered to each guest is of a standard or the quality of the house. It’s why you go back, you perceive value for money.  And the good news here is that there are reality TV programmes about it.

Ramsey’s Kitchen nightmares highlight the problems on what is a simple business – good food and good service at a price we will buy.

Here’s a 5-minute insight

And the full 45 minutes

I wonder if like me you laughed at the obvious that a professional consultant points out? They are classics of manufactured comfort zones and boxes that are killing what is a simple to understand business.

Next steps

If this resonates with you the good news is you can fix it. So you can choose:

  1. Do nothing and hope it fixes itself
  2. Take the examples and run with them
  3. Have a discussion on Reality-Driven Leadership

As ever, the choice is yours.

Are you in Cyber Security Denial?

Are you in Cyber Security denial?

Can you remember the first time you heard someone advise you to backup your PC? There isn’t a person on the planet that wouldn’t acknowledge all the arguments or reasons why you should take the advice and implement it. Yet how many people have lost data, documents or life stories because they failed to do that one simple thing? Make a backup or back it up to a separate and independent storage device is ringing in my ears as I write this, so what’s it doing to you?

And when you don’t do it you say I forgot or I’ll do it later or blame the PC “isn’t it automatically done?”

Today in this highly technologically driven society, backups are indeed automatic and mostly done in the cloud. (I expect a few reading this will be thinking… “the cloud! That’s a great idea, I’ll do it later.”)

Lessons Learned

If you’re disciplined and not only take advice but act on it because it’s not only right but it’s the right thing to do then you don’t need to read on.

Alternatively, I really hope you were one of the lucky ones and didn’t lose everything because you didn’t make a backup. Maybe you only lost a few documents that luckily someone else had kept an old version – phew that was lucky!

But if you have in the past lost everything, I hope you learned the lesson, hard as it was to learn. I’m not looking for empathy, but I did lose everything once in corporate life only to be told the server that failed also took out the backup! So what I believed to be our IT experts, they clearly weren’t practicing what they preached!  This practice is as you may have guessed, just another small drop in a sea of Behavioural Waste™(and this one is good example of Systemic and Cultural Behavioural Waste).

Today’s Lesson – or more Behavioural Waste?

The press is full of examples of the frailties of organisations in the world of cyber security. Recent front page news in the UK was the TSB Bank which is interesting because the changeover they had instigated was to prevent cyber-crime, and resulted in opening a side door for fraudsters to manipulate.  But it’s not only large businesses that are prime suspects. We are all a suspect, especially when it comes to the digital world.  And we’re all responsible for our own data as the recent Facebook investigation has brought to everyone’s attention.

We are also made aware of the perils of the digital age and the onslaught of cybercrime by the intervention of government advice websites and phone lines of which the UK is but one example

Now it’s only a peril if it is going to affect you and you choose to ignore it (that’s your Personal Behavioural Waste™). If that’s the case, then good luck, as you’ll probably need it!

However, if you’re still unsure whether it will impact your life then the following picture of what could happen at home might nudge you into action.  (courtesy of the Joy of Tech – Nitrozac & Snaggy)

Cyber security
Cyber Crime

Are you in Cyber Security denial?

As ever you have a choice. What’s yours?

If you want to reduce the Behavioural Waste™ in your organisation then we’d be pleased to help you do it, once and for all.

How to Beat Fake News

Beating the Fake News Problem – in your world

Fake News – it’s printed so it’s true!

The world is awash with poor or simply fake information and because we see it on website, or in a newspaper or social media many, if not all of us will believe it.

Do we know how dangerous that can be? If you have ever used someone’s advice and run with it only to find out much later, too late sometimes, that it was just not true, then you will know!

Today, Fake News is just another form of Behavioural Waste™ that can be funny and innocent but in business, it’s likely to be damaging and destructive.

Behavioural Waste TM


Here are 5 questions that come from a link recently sent to our CEO and they look like great advice – or what we at Mind Fit would say is common sense…

  1. Where is this NEWS coming from?

What do the advisers have in terms of credentials and background? What’s their perspective, their bias, their connection? The more you know about the source, the better you can evaluate the advice.

  1. Does this person have an ulterior motive?

There’s an old phrase in Latin: Cui bono? Translation: For whose good? It doesn’t mean to treat potential advisers mistrustfully or with suspicion, but to think through their likely motives to make sure they’re aligned with your own.

  1. Does this person have experience?

No matter how much a person may know in theory, there’s a depth of understanding that comes from first-hand experience that nothing else can bring. Broad experience brings a wide perspective, and experience that’s close to your own brings familiarity with the issues at hand.

  1. Does this person listen?

We all know a few people who like to hear themselves pontificate with advice that tends to be long-winded and not always appropriate to the situation at hand. Is the adviser taking the time to hear and understand your specific situation?

  1. Does the person sound like a cliché?

Sometimes people give you advice and it starts to sound like a bunch of clichés: Time will tell … Haste makes waste … Don’t put all your eggs into one basket … Clichés have their place–that’s why they’re called clichés, after all — but they can be a red flag for shallow thinking and a lack of perceptiveness.

To read more on spotting the FAKE NEWS here’s an article from Lolly Daskal click this


Common Sense


Unfortunately, common sense is not common practice!

But to Mind Fit people common sense is their common practice.

If you’d like to know more then we’d love to show you, your team and your leaders.

Of course, as ever you have a choice, so what’s yours?

Are You Hiring into Your Culture?

Are you hiring into your Culture?

Hiring Talented People

Research shows that organisations are focused on talent more now than ever before. Getting the right person for the job is paramount. However, in what is believed to be a reducing talent pool, it is therefore getting harder.

Unlike 5 years ago when there was no consistent message when we asked people with the word Talent or Talent Management in their title, we have at least a description that many will agree with in today’s market.

Define Talented People?

Many organisations will define Talented People along the lines we at Mind Fit do which is being professionally qualified to do the job and

  1. Able to be strategic and operational
  2. Adaptive to change
  3. Able to inspire and motivate

Is that what you would say?

Item 1 is usually only achieved by experience and whilst I would have hired that kind of person when I was in senior roles in the Oil & Gas industry, it was rare to find one let alone a few that would be available to compete for a job.

Items 2 and 3 are underpinned by attitude and again these are rare qualities. Many believe only lots of relevant experience will develop them.

With 87% of UK employees disengaged (Gallup Engagement Statistics) to find someone with 1, 2, 3 and be engaged would seem to make a recruiter’s job even harder to find the best person.

Is the Best the Right Choice?

When we have asked this question we get into a deep discussion about driving the organisation forward with the best people. 

But a simple thought is needed first that many recruiting processes assume.

The best person will just fit in with the culture. 

And of course, that’s a normal and rational assumption to make. But if you ask leavers why they leave the old saying is reinforced

People leave managers not organisations

We forget that it’s people that create the culture of the organisation.

So before you enter the recruitment process there seems to be a simple question that we need to ask.

What culture do we have?

And I’m sure you’ll say, we know what culture we have? That’s great if you do, but if those leaving reinforce “people leave managers not businesses” perhaps you should check what’s happening in your organisation.

Checking your culture

It’s a lot simpler than you think! You can ask your own people, do a 360, or as one HR director said ” it’s on the website… but we’re not as open-minded to change as it states…” . Just by asking questions you’ll find out a lot about your own organisation!


Blackboard Disengaging and Engaging Culture

What happens when you have a dysfuntional, disengaged culture is seen above. and of course, there is a cost! The cost is poor performance and lack of productivity and that has a value to the Balance Sheet too!

Some questions to consider for your organisation:

We can easily forget that it is people that create the culture of the organisation.

Whether it’s defining your culture, or looking at your hiring process to get talented people you always have a choice::

  • do what you currently do
  • review what you do based on new information
  • do something else

So what’s your Choice?

Do You Know the Power of Storytelling?

Saving Mr Banks – the power of storytelling

“Saving Mr Banks” is the charming tale of how Walt Disney persuaded PL Travers, the author of Mary Poppins to bring the magical nanny to life on the big screen. There is a moment about three-quarters of the way through the movie where Walt Disney, played by Tom Hanks says”…. it’s all about saving the children…” to which PL Travers, played by Emma Thompson said in a way only British leading ladies could say “Oh, you think it’s about the children…” and the message of the story which is clear to her, but obviously hidden to most, suddenly becomes clear to the watching audience.

Why use storytelling when speaking in a business setting?

The power of storytelling is well documented as it’s a great way to engage the audience. After all, it’s used throughout our early years before and during primary education, but seems to fade off in secondary education which may explain why we have academically well-educated students, but lacking experience and common sense.

In the business world, Steve Jobs was one of the pioneers in the use of verbal storytelling supported by simple images and one line concepts. TED Talks have carried that practice forward and their world-class speakers are expected to speak in simple narratives, using stories and powerful imagery to convey their message.

Death by PowerpointYet with a business backdrop, most companies still rely on offering leadership and management change ideas by supplying data, numbers, statistics, analytics, and so on. The inevitable suffering of “Death by PowerPoint” in presentations still seems to rule the day.

Why don’t we change?

The answer is simple. Because today’s leaders don’t know any better and that’s the way they’ve been taught and so that’s the way they like to deliver messages.

While storytelling is not the only way to engage people with your ideas, it’s certainly a critical part of the recipe and when carefully employed and well executed the impact is considerable.

.People will remember a story!

Stories powerfully connect us to our listeners. When we share our own real-life stories or the stories of others (Example or Proof stories) our audiences feel that they get to know us as authentic people – people who have lives outside the corporate setting, people who have struggled with problems and who have figured out how to overcome them. Doesn’t this just underpin what we all want – authentic and honest leadership?


Not such an ugly duckling

One Hans Christian Anderson equivalent in the business setting is Geoffrey Berwind, a professional “Storytelling Consultant and Trainer”. He has created storytelling projects for historic sites and provides consulting services for leaders, entrepreneurs, speakers, and companies worldwide. His clients include Historic Philadelphia,, Kennedy Space Centre Visitor Complex, UNUM Global IT Leaders, along with thousands of experts in many fields who want to make a deeper impact on their audiences, customers, management teams, and influential stakeholders.


Storytelling – just one part of Natural Learning

Some of the best leaders will know of the value of natural learning because without it they wouldn’t be the best.

We have all heard phrases such as ‘learning the hard way’, ‘coming from the school of hard knocks’, or studying at the ‘University of Life’. All these sayings usually refer to a level of ‘street-wise’ knowledge where the individual has learned how to survive through experience, watching others and listening to stories and fables. This often takes the form of an ingrained ‘how-to’ knowledge and can lead to great successes. One very visible champion of this sort of learning is Lord Alan Sugar, who has worked his way up through the system using a combination of instinct and experience, as well as considerable factual knowledge. Interestingly this type of ‘natural’ learning is hard if not impossible to pass on to others. It is highly subjective and lies deep within the individual. It is the kind of learning that we use to become ‘mind fit’ – or ‘mind unfit’.

What is Natural Learning?

Implicit or as we call it Natural Learning is unconscious and automatic. It is action based and goes into long-term memory. Simple examples are walking, tying a shoelace, riding a bike or driving a car. All could be painful when starting, but in time through actions, awareness and focused practice we improve.

How does this Naturally Learning happen?

It happens in a variety of ways like:

  • Physical experiences
  • Mind experiences
  • Copying
  • Stories
  • Maps
  • Feedback

Compare this approach to the familiar academic ‘book-based’ approach to learning which in many ways is far easier to quantify and it has been adopted by every education system around the globe. Discussing theories and looking at diagrams is reassuring and a wall full of certificates certainly lends an air of legitimacy to the proceedings. This form of learning is called explicit or educated learning. This form of knowledge can be passed down from generation to generation. Some of the greatest thinkers in history can open our minds to new ideas and lead to a shared learning experience which is edifying and exciting for all involved. But in many instances we are just adding to the “knowing-doing gap”, creating highly knowledgeable and educated leaders that are still ineffective and inefficient.

Natural Learning – the good the bad and the ugly

Not all we learn naturally will be good as it’s as easy to form good habits as it is to form bad habits. We may all think we’re good drivers, but if you were really honest you’d find something you could be better at when behind the wheel – such as indicating, using two hands on the steering wheel, proper hands-free mobile phone kit! Maybe you are thinking of other improvements?

In business wouldn’t it be ideal if we can eliminate all the bad habits of leaders, managers and in fact all employees? Collectively  these bad habits Mind Fit calls “Behavioural WasteTM

All forms of behaviour that divert energy, talent and resources away from the personal or organisational purpose.


One of the problems in larger organisations occurs when people have long ‘to do’ lists and can be easily over-whelmed. The problem only starts there, as when you merge all the long lists together and then separating out each project, it becomes abundantly clear that priorities assigned by people are different, so projects will take longer. And then tomorrow it all changes as the next top priority pops-up from more fire-fighting operations created in a different department. And so it will continue until the next meeting… I’m sure you have lots of examples you could share.

Here are a few more examples of Behavioural WasteTM :

  • Unnecessary meetings occur through habit
  • Underperformance not challenged
  • People stuck in their beliefs
  • People say things like – ‘it’s not my fault’ or ‘we didn’t know that’
  • Disengaged people: people give up, go through the motions
  • Conflicts not addressed
  • Businesses fail to adapt to change
  • Rigid and habitual processes and systems become dated
  • Poor leadership
  • Cynical attitudes
  • Over-controlling behaviours – maybe even bullying

Any Behavioural WasteTM means your business is underperforming and if you deal with it now, not only will you improve business performance but it will be a better and happier place to work. People will be engaged, looking to improve and be more effective and efficient in what they are doing.


Storytelling – the message others hear

While we will never really know the true story of how “Mary Poppins” came to the screen, we do know that first film wasn’t called “Saving Mr Banks”. Although it was only a movie, until the line “Oh, you think it’s about the children..” Walt Disney was in the land of Behavioural WasteTM, stuck in his own belief and pulling all his team in the same direction – which as the movie sjows was the completely wrong direction.

Imagine what the ending might have been if it was all about the children? Would the family Banks all have been flying a kite at the end?

The art of a good storyteller is to impart the true meaning. And make it real for the listener.

Great leaders know the power of good stories, and all have a simple meaning. But they also know storytelling is only part of your armoury. A great leader uses the combined power of all the elements of Natural Learning.

Want to know more about being a great leader and using Natural Learning to do it?

As ever, you have a choice.

What’s yours?


Do You Let Technology Rule Your Life?

Are we giving technology permission to disengage us and block communication, collaboration … growth?

Everybody knows…

Ask anyone in business, education or life in general and they’ll agree with you that the brain is incredibly powerful. Most will agree that we only use it about 10% of its capability probably because they heard or read it somewhere. But has technology helped or hindered us in using the untapped 90%?

As we ‘know’ technology has catapulted our computing capability where a smartphone is standard issue and occupies a special place in handbags, purses and pockets. There’s even a special stand on the desktop and some have their own personalised cover with inbuilt tracking if you misplace it. It’s like an appendage, a limpit to which we have a physical and mental attraction. When it beeps, we reach for it as some form of (un)controlled automatic reaction… “someone needs me!”

Has “Technology” the Tool, become the Master?

The following video was sent to me with comments about how great this was and what it would do to make the scenes from “Minority Report” become a reality. And yes, if you watch this 10 min TED talk you’ll get that belief – even if you’ve no idea what the movie “Minority Report” with Tom Cruise was demonstrating.

The video, however, started with a message that maybe many miss and says a lot about where many people are today…

You might think that it was a very clever subliminal advertising promo for a new product. And you might be right. But that’s just a distraction for this purpose.

What else did you see? Behavioural Waste?

Did you see what I saw in the first 2 minutes – a message about awareness and giving our permission for a computer (smartphone) to become our master rather than a tool extending our capabilities? Do you observe behaviour that Meron suggests in restaurants – with others or yourself? How we easily give ourselves permission to be distracted even in a personal conversation where the other person perceives (their reality) disinterest…   (at this point my toes are curling up as I’m answering my own questions in my mind …and once again I unconditionally apologise to my wife …)

“… he forces his eyeballs back up to mine and said, ‘keep going, I’m with you’… the moment was dead.”

For me this short introduction captured the very real problem we have today of being engaged and disengaged. We do it mostly automatically without noticing – it’s our habit, we always do it that way. Of course when you start to think deeper lots of other messages come to light. What does it do for you?

Communication is a collaborative discussion

It also says to me that communication can easily be engaging or disengaging – no surprise there! The guy on another table sharing and laughing with his colleagues using the same device, a smart phone, about Instagram pictures. His colleagues were engaged in a collaborative moment. I’m sure we’ve all experienced that too.

Some questions may be…

  • Do you agree with Meron Gribetz that tools should extend our senses rather than going against them?
  • Is what you do, or what your organisation does blocking the collaborative brain power?
  • How do you see that manifest itself?


If you ask the simple but tough questions and answer them honestly you’re on the right road to developing your can-do attitude and winning mindset. Of course, technology, business systems/processes and other people could block or distract you. But it’s how you handle those ‘blockages and distractions’ that will make all the difference to your future.

Despite the complicated nature of some business, and with my oil industry experience I’ve seen a lot of complexity, you can always break it down into bite-sized chunks, so I still believe

business is simple, people make it complicated

To gauge where you are and see what type of attitude you, your team or organisation has – Can-Do, Can’t-Do or Won’t Do –  here’s a link to the Mind Fit Footprint that will give an insight into how much Behavioural Waste™ exists 

Want to take this further?

As ever you have a choice – what’s yours?

Read about Behavioural Waste™ ?  Improve your Communication skills?

What is the Poor to Peak Performance Continuum? Part 2

From Poor to Peak Performance – Part 2

In Part 1 (click here to read it ) we questioned the Learning & Development (L&D) status quo and made a bold suggestion that knowledge training was in effect a complete waste of time. (But it wasn’t that bold as others have researched it in detail and if you Google it the evidence is out there – but don’t dig too deep as it may shock you.)

Here we look at the business reality and what could easily happen if an organisation were to take up our offer – it’s a GUARANTEED offer if the organisation wants to change. Because what you see in the picture below actually happens. And it starts to happen during the first workshop.

Behavioural Waste Reduction to Performance Improvement

Current interventions – the reality

We know from the Gallup surveys that the vast majority of people in organisations are disengaged either passively or actively, and these are generally poor and ineffective performers who generate Behavioural Waste™.

So what difference would it make to your organisation if people stopped or reduced the behaviours and activities that cause Behavioural Waste™? What if they converted 1 hour a day from Behavioural Waste™ into being more engaged and increased productive time?

We know that L&D’s aim to ‘unlock people’s potential’ also does not work.

Should we simply lower our sights and seek to get a majority of people, the 87%, to become ‘just good enough’?

People regularly move between different performance states

We know that people, who are Mind Fit and have a Can-Do attitude, willingly perform to their optimum in different situations. All they need is a reason for doing so, have some control over what they do and how they do it. The optimum level will depend on the amount of experience a person has at that point in time. For most it may not be at a peak level. With the right conditions a person will at least be a good performer or even an excellent performer if that’s what they choose, and deliver value.

However, if the job is such that people find it boring and they can see no purpose in it then they will simply function and probably play games (business politics). What that means is they will probably be a poor and ineffective performer. In other words, one of the 87% of disengaged workers. Let’s face it, some jobs are repetitive in accounting, sales, IT etc and yet you’ll know of two people doing the same job – one who’s engaged and the other just functioning.

Performance Continuum

What if we looked at performance as a continuum? One in which employees could move from one end to the other at any moment in time depending on what the task is. Businesses mostly do this anyway and have terms like outstanding, good, average, needs help(!) applied to their teams.

While you’re reading this you might want to ask the question “Who goes to work deliberately to fail?”

                  Poor —— Just good enough —— Good —— Excellent —— Peak

Poor performers are ineffective and usually operate with a Can’t-Do or Won’t-Do attitude. They come to work and avoid what should be done or make excuses for not doing something. They generate most Behavioural Waste™. They are an expensive resource for the organisation but you can’t afford to lose them. In one hospital in the UK most nurse managers spent a majority of their day in meetings that were unproductive. That is cultural Behavioural Waste™ – which drags down the individual even if they are high performers!

Just good enough performers also have a negative attitude and do the bare minimum of what they should be doing. However, what they do is often what the organisation requires of them at a basic level. They are the moaners and blamers who spend a lot of time talking instead of working. These are the “jobs worth” types. In one Power Company we found engineers working for only 2 hours per shift whilst the rest of the time was spent avoiding real work.

Good performers have a Can-Do attitude and know why they are at work and want to deliver a good job that is of value. Their level of awareness is high and they will know what is going on around them. They will seek advice to improve and are willing to learn. Such employees are generally trustworthy and make good team members. The workforce on the Brompton Fold-up cycle assembly line are a perfect fit in here. They are very active, proud of what the company makes and like being part of the team.

Excellent performers go that extra mile. Not only will they deliver value but will routinely add value to their role. These people are innovative and look for new ways of doing things to improve effectiveness and efficiency. Many will be seen as the high flyers in an organisation. But don’t be fooled by rank! An unskilled person employed in a paint shop on a production line identified 25 improvements that could be made to the production process along the whole assembly line and over half were implemented. The company saved £100,000s.

Peak performers can be found in a myriad of roles in an organisation and elsewhere. They look far beyond their immediate role and constantly identify ways of improving their own performance and doing much more. Such people are driven to succeed. Peak performing managers do exist as Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman have published in their latest research where these people drive results and employee engagement at the same time. Peak performers include London black cab drivers that have learnt ‘the knowledge’, comedians such as Michael McIntyre or top barristers. All have spent thousand of hours improving.

Where does your organisation fit?

Round pegs in square holes Think about these questions on a personal, team and organisation level:

  • Where on the continuum do you consistently operate from?
  • What causes you to move your performance along the continuum in both directions?
  • How much of your time at work do you deliver or add value?

The Business Reality

What we find is that that poor performers will at some time during a day move into ‘just good enough’ and that is just good enough for the business. However, these people are unlikely to remain there and will require constant supervision. If you were to ask them and show them life could be a lot better, as we do in every programme, most if not all will change their behaviour. No one goes to work to deliberately fail.

Good performers will sometimes move into excellent and occasionally into peak for a specific task or role. They will effortlessly flex between the three positive levels as required. What can stop them remaining good performers or more is systemic and cultural Behavioural Waste™. One of the culprits is simply poor leadership and that can cause them to slip to the negative end of the continuum in a heartbeat.

Your New Reality

What difference would it make to your organisation if people moved from poor and ineffective performers to become ‘just good enough’. Could this give an extra hour a day of productive time to deliver value for the organisation?

What difference would one extra hour per day per employee of focused performance make?

What would the impact be on leadership and supervision?

What impact would that have on sales, production, or on service delivery?

What would have to change to move people from ‘just good enough’ to ‘good’?

Do you want better engaged employees that perform better?

  • Start by removing or reducing Behavioural Waste™ – personal, cultural and systemic
    • This reduces and prevents poor and ineffective performance
  • Identify what ‘just good enough’ performance is for all staff
    • Link ‘just good enough’ to delivering value
  • Encourage some people to be ‘good’ performers and for others ‘excellent’

While Gallup suggests 87% globally (UK 83%, USA 75%, Asia 90%) are disengaged, even if only 25% of employees in your organization are disengaged it is still worth starting at the beginning of the journey developing ‘just good enough’ performers.

Organisations live in the real world so it’s best not to be idealistic or have a utopian dream of unlocking people’s potential which becomes a meaningless statement as many providers do not know how to change attitudes and deliver results.

Would a paradigm shift from poor to just good enough performers be a good start for most?  Poor leadership, given their impact might be the best place to start?


As always you have a choice  – what’s yours?

GuaranteeTo find out more download a free chapter from Recycling Behavioural Waste or email us through the contact page. We GUARANTEE results if you really want to change.

What is the Poor to Peak Performance Continuum? Part 1

From Poor to Peak Performance

As we stood outside a conference room in Pakistan waiting to deliver a Masterclass on Behavioural Waste™ Management we did what we always do and looked at the banners by the entrance. Why? Simply because that’s what the delegates see last and it’s always good to know what you’re going to say first, so the audience and you know you’re in the right place!

At this particular event, there was a banner by the entrance from a Learning & Development (L&D) provider stating,

‘We unlock people’s potential’

which as ever got us thinking. It’s a great quote and can be found all over the world not only from L&D but it’s also prominent from coaching and probably other sources too.

One such coaching source, as some will say the guru of business coaching, former racing driver Sir John Whitmore, who sadly died in April, quoted in one of his books,

 “Coaching is unlocking people’s potential to maximize their own performance”

and Graham Williams knows all too well having been part of Sir John’s team that John saw a clear link between potential and performance.

But what does this actually mean for organisational performance on a strategic or operational basis?

Do organisations really want everyone to unlock their full potential and become peak performers?

The answer to the second question would probably be a resounding NO! Now at first reading that might be a surprise to you but in short it’s unrealistic, as we’re only human and we can’t all be Superman or Superwoman and what would it be like if we were all peak performers? However when you think a little deeper what organisations want are most of their employees

to perform to a level that delivers value and, in some cases, adds value.

This would therefore seem a reasonable expectation – people engaged with what they do and ‘performing’ at work.

So when you try to measure this reasonable expectation what we unfortunately find, according to Gallup, 87% of employees across the world are disengaged, which means that they are probably poor and ineffective performers.

That doesn’t mean people are doing nothing and many are not busy, but that they are probably engaged in activities that do not deliver value, directly or indirectly. In other words, busy doing things that amount to Behavioural Waste™, which can be personal, cultural or systemic, of no value or of negative value to the organisation, and yet are costly and will negatively impact the bottom line.


If a majority of people at work are disengaged then unlocking their potential to some degree would make perfect sense.

This ‘unlocking’ process however requires a Can-Do attitude on the part of all the participants and then it’s linked to a clear purpose. Traditionally, the L&D’s approach to this challenge is to provide these disengaged underperforming people with an assessment of some sort followed swiftly with knowledge training.

Does this approach work? Has anyone ever checked it does?

An opportunity not to be missed

We regularly take the opportunity to ask L&D professionals five basic questions to try to understand how effective this knowledge training input has on improving performance by unlocking potential, and what it actually delivers. The questions are simple:

  1. What do you do to unlock people’s potential?
  2. Does it work?
  3. Does it change attitudes and behaviours?
  4. Does it improve business results?
  5. Where is the evidence?

What do you do to unlock people’s potential?

The first question is usually easily answered. With great enthusiasm L&D professionals tell us that

they create programmes that provide people with the knowledge that they, the L&D professional, think people need to perform their role in their context.

Does it work?

The second question took a bit more thought as most say that they sometimes did test the learning, at other times they didn’t. This did not answer the broad question as to whether their approach works. Nor indeed were they able to say with any confidence that it did work. But they all performed feedback after the learning – the proverbial happy sheet was logged in the filing system. Most said they used these feedback forms to bring back the best trainers/teachers.

Does it change attitudes and behaviours?

On the third question we’re told that it is almost impossible to measure attitude and behavioural changes. It was obvious this is a very strongly shared belief that dominated the L&D mindset and culture. It can’t be done! Sadly for them we know it’s not true. We do it! How can we measure the success of what we do otherwise?

Does it improve business results?

On the fourth question (which is what a manager, leader, board and shareholder wants to know) we’re told it is up to the participants to take that knowledge and use it. It’s not the responsibility of L&D! Whose responsibility is it?

Where is the evidence?

The fifth and last question is met with a simple reply, ‘they had no evidence that the training worked’ apart from the happy sheet taken on the day.

This last response doesn’t surprise us because it’s likely to be beyond their responsibility – but if not theirs whose responsibility is it? Who should measure the real ROI of the training?

Interestingly if anyone had looked, since 1989 (Alliger and Janek) it has been known that the link between learning, behavioural change and results is virtually non-existent. In 2005 Donald Kirkpatrick of training evaluation fame stated that there is a ‘devastating disconnect between learning and behavioural change’, and in 2007 the CIPD said in an article on training evaluation that the transfer of learning into results is ‘no better than random chance’. Clear research evidence simply proves it does not work. Is anyone aware of that? Should HR or L&D be aware of it?

The amount of time, effort and money that is invested in training by organisations across the globe is staggering yet they still do it, and organisations ask for it. If there is no evidence that it works, surely common sense says do something different. Or perhaps we’re just insane?

Einstein definition of Madness or Insanity

This is the first of a 2 part article because this 1st part may take some believing – but these are facts that you can research and a Google search may give some surprising results. Why not ask your L&D team to demonstrate improvements in performance?

Tune in next week for Part 2

GuaranteeIf you’re curious or keen to understand the impact of Behavioural Waste this free chapter is a must read Recycling Behavioural Waste

As always you have a choice  – what’s yours?

We GUARANTEE results if you really want to change

How we can all achieve Peak Performance

Thoughts by Graham Williams on ‘Peak’ – by Ericsson and Pool

‘Peak – how all of us can achieve extraordinary things’  by Anders Ericsson & Robert Pool

Peak performance has always fascinated me, not that I am a peak performer. However, having been fortunate to work alongside those that were, from the world of sport and adventure, some of whom were Olympians, a racing driver and polar explorer, it has always intrigued me to discover what is special about them.

I first came across research papers by Anders Ericsson many years ago whilst doing my own research into the effect of beliefs and attitudes on our behaviour, and how it affects our performance at work. Ericsson has spent over 30 years interviewing and analysing high-flying professionals from different fields. He has been looking at the difference between the exceptional and the ordinary performers and the reason that some people achieve amazing things whilst most of us operate in a world where we peak at a level of ‘it’s good enough’.

all the right or wrong notes

That ‘good enough’ attitude means that not only will we never achieve our potential in anything we do but many of us will never leave the starting blocks. We end up functioning at work, in other activities and sometimes in life. Consider driving a car. If we believed that we could be good or even great as a driver, and continued to improve through focused practice; the driving standard on our roads would be much higher. Most of us give up focusing on improving our driving shortly after passing our driving test. We just try to drive faster, not better.

It is easier to give up and make the excuse that certain people are natural, are gifted or have a special talent so why bother to try.

Leaders are made not born – do you believe there is a talent or leadership gene?

Peak was published in 2016 and Ericsson and Pool brings Ericsson’s work up to date with many examples. The book explores the power of practice, that of deliberate practice, and of harnessing adaptability. It explores the gold standard and the road to the extraordinary. It also looks at ‘natural talent’ that appears to be a current flavour within many organisations. Why wouldn’t organisations look for natural talent if the majority of staff were just functioning.

Ericsson has stated that when we see an expert exhibit superior performance their behaviour looks so effortless and natural that we have been tempted to attribute it to special talents. Many of us assume that this is an innate talent that a few people have and use to become the best of the best, whilst the rest of us watch.


This natural talent, which we all possess, can be applied across all areas not only in sport, for example in chess, music, research, accountancy, doctors, London taxi drivers and teachers… and more. Ericsson explains that people who are exceptional are in fact no different to anyone else except they put in an inordinate amount of practice. He has suggested that to be an expert each performer commits at least 10,000 hours over 10 years. He explains that just practising is pointless, as many people who practice golf regularly will have discovered, as they never really improve, even with advice from a golf coach. The practice must be deliberate and the focus on something specific at that moment in time.

There is the famous line from the golfer Jack Nicklaus who said to a reporter

“The more I practice the luckier I get…”

So does natural talent really exist according to Ericsson? The answer is NO.

However, having longer legs will be an advantage if you play basketball as will having a small body mass if you are a gymnast, but in general, those people who are exceptional performers have put the hours in to train and they continue to make tiny improvements as they go along. What they all have developed is determination, mental toughness, persistence and dedication and most of that is directed at challenging themselves.

Michelle Griffiths Robinson, Mind Fit Coach and former UK Olympic Triple Jumper said,

“As an elite athlete every day you have to be the best, give your best and travel down a road of uncertainty. Competitions happen weekly but training happens daily and it’s the mind that acts as the biggest competitor as it’s always with you and, without question, is always going to challenge you.”

Juggling childHer quote clearly shows that to be a peak performer you have to be very committed and the right mindset is the key.

So the question is :

How committed are you to improve and how quickly do you give up?

Of course, most of us need only operate at being good to enjoy ourselves.

A recent article in “The Week” (6 May 2017) explores the urban climbers and freerunners who continue to attempt ever-more dangerous stunts; some for the glory while others seek happiness. They glide, they flow up and across buildings; it all seems effortless as they perform such amazing moves that do not seem possible, leaving the majority of us breathless. What they do not show is the time spent in the gym; time spent getting fitter and stronger, sometimes injured and hundreds of practice jumps while working on a single technique.

And this goes for any top performing sportsperson and as we see regularly on the behind the scenes insights into Formula 1, the driver has a team of 600+ that are all focused on the performance of the car, and hopefully if the driver is on top from, they might win.

People With Talent Stand Out

So talent is really about those few people who are willing to put the effort in and therefore they stand out. They all have a Can-Do attitude, a clear reason for putting that effort in, and in organisations they are willing to act and add value.

The danger for organisations that do focus on talent is that they leave the majority of staff feeling undervalued and therefore disengaged. This is the dark side of talent management. Ignoring the majority who all have the potential is flawed thinking.

What organisations should do is find out why people are not willing to put in the effort to be at least good performers and the answers may not be welcomed. And the reasons are common and have been identified for years. Poor leadership and a lack of support are common. Not tackling bullies, or jobs that are locked into routine systems and processes so that they become boring are common reasons for disengagement.

According to Gallup with disengagement at 87% across the world, something different needs to be done.

What needs to change in your organisation so that you become good? A business peak performer?

Does anyone in the organisation go to work to fail?

If employees knew how talented they were what would be the result?