Is The Biggest, Unchecked Business Disease – Behavioural Waste™?

The biggest, unchecked Business Disease – Behavioural Waste™

Organisations believe in leadership development as there are $billions invested in leadership development every year, made on the assumption that “better leaders get better results”. Some, more focused (maybe informed) investors focus their leadership programmes on engagement, assuming better leaders create more engaged employees and teams and that then leads to higher productivity, better results.

If leadership development programmes are an investment, what’s the ROI?

Why make assumptions when the facts are there, if you care to look?

Well one thing is true and has been unequivocally proven that changing and improving attitudes and behaviours will improve performance (1). So it’s great to know that all those $billions spent on leadership are based on having the right belief. It can work! And that is also true in every part of life and can simply be seen in athletes and sports people, where focused training, changing behaviours by doing something marginally different will increase performance. You only have to look at the stories behind Olympic and Paralympic athletes, broadcast on most TV networks, to see where they started and how they progressed. The whole idea behind terms like ‘marginal gains’ is nothing new but has been exposed to a much wider audience thanks to TV, the Press and social media.

But who notices those improvements in sports people can be replicated in business, or other areas of one’s life? What if you saw the Head Coach as the COO, driving the business forward?

Interestingly, books like “Winning” by Sir Clive Woodward demonstrate the processes that Sir John Whitmore (of coaching fame) and his team were practising in businesses way back in the 1970s and 1980s.

In sport, it’s also well known that talent isn’t enough and Woodward’s TCUP (Think Correctly Under Pressure) made the difference between winning and losing. The bottom line is that attitude and behaviour makes the real “sustainable” difference to performance.

If you changed your mindset and believed everyone were talented in your organisation, how would that change your thinking?  

Now if that’s got you thinking differently, and prepared to take the first step, the burning question is…

Where do we start?  Behavioural Waste

There’s lots of great advice from evidenced and relevant research that says mostly the same as Sutton and Rao (2014) in their book “Scaling up excellence: Getting to more without settling for less”, highlighted in the Harvard Business Review in 2014. They point out the intuitive good sense that before leaders attempt to adopt good practices, it is necessary to remove the bad; and that this can be done by

“… identifying and reducing destructive and negative attitudes and behaviours that block the adoption of necessary change.”

In other words, the importance of removing embedded avoiding and blocking behaviours before introducing innovative practices. The authors’ research found that negative interactions with bosses and co-workers have five times more impact than positive ones to the extent that bad behaviours usually swamp the good, undermining the “scalability” or wider adoption of new excellent practices.  A key insight from this kind of thinking is the power of encouraging leaders and employees that they are “doing the right thing” when they start to focus not just upon their own needs and wants, but upon the people affected by their actions.

Eliminate or Reduce Behavioural Waste™ (BW) – the business disease

We could list all the negative behaviours and disruptive activities that could be in existence in your business. The 10 Fatal Leadership Flaws  –  Jack Zenger & Joseph Folkman (2009) – are all in that list.

But it’s easier to define them in what they are collectively –

Behavioural Waste TMBehavioural Waste™ – all forms of behaviour that divert energy, talent and resources away
from the personal or organisational purpose

Rao and Sutton and others have merely pointed out that (1) above also works in a business setting. Change (negative) behaviours and results improve, and you can now innovate, value-add and grow. Now the question is

“ How much Behavioural Waste™ have we and what do we do to get rid of it?”

Well the key is you don’t have to get rid of it and eliminate it. Reducing it so it doesn’t prolong and impact the business performance is good enough. Pareto’s 80-20 rule still exists here!

Organisations will have 3 forms of BW that can be quickly identified : Personal, Cultural and Systemic.

Each of these BW are business diseases and with the right diagnosis coupled with the right remedy, you can permanently get rid of them. A leader that operates their own agenda for personal gain, “do as I say not as I do”, or constantly uses management (MBA/MA) speak for effect are not the engaging, inspiring examples for your employees.

Next Steps?

Being a leader puts us all in a position of making decisions, but only those decisions that are ours to make. As you are still reading then there are now 4 choices:

  1. Free chapter of Recycling Behavioural Waste download – the business disease
  2. Assess your own organisation’s BW
  3. Do something else
  4. Do nothing – keep doing what you’re doing and hope your medicine works

As ever the choice is always yours.

So what’s your choice? If you choose any of the above we’d like to have your feedback on what influenced your decision.

What motivates people? How about you and your staff?

What motivates people?

Start by thinking what motivates you? If it’s not just money, why do most companies use hard cash as the only motivation – other incentives may well have a much higher value.

As Dan Pink says there is a mismatch between what science knows and business does. It’s shocking to say but business doesn’t know best – that is apart from those businesses that have used this knowledge to their advantage. But they are so few it’s not worth mentioning.

I can hear it now – “I don’t believe you, it’s all about the money”. Beliefs are really strong but if you’re prepared to challenge them, and go with Dan Pink’s years of research, you’ll know it’s also true that what motivates you may also be completely different to your peers, staff or your boss. It might be money and tangible incentives but it might not.

Career analyst Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don’t: traditional rewards aren’t always as effective as we think.

Dan Pink is well known but is not a lone voice with this research into human behaviour and what motivates people, but it’s only a few companies that have embraced it. When they did, and they unraveled the puzzle of motivation the result was amazing … it has transformed their business.

Take a look at Apple and Google – great places to work, effective, high performing? Through design or being lucky they seem to know what motivates people. And what’s more, their blend of motivation, attracts the right people to apply for jobs.

Now many reading this will think it’s difficult to change things. But what if you started the change today. Take a simple action – ask your staff what really motivates them. Of course, it all depends on what relationship you have with them as to how they might respond. If they tell you what  they think you want to hear, that could be even more revealing. either way you’ve started.

We can of course accelerate the process and include motivation as part of a Mind Fit  programme specific to your team. Dan Pink also mentioned about one team doing better than another – motivation is linked to performance, so whatever you do, don’t ignore it.

As ever you have the choice.

The Marathon Runner that’s in all of us

marathon runnerMarathon runner – can you imagine setting out to run 26 miles and 385 yards?

The enormity of the challenge is beyond most of us yet thousands of ordinary people give up their time to take part in something that is one of the most demanding, both physically and psychologically, in order to achieve something that they don’t have to do. It’s bizarre. There is no sense in doing something that is potentially damaging to us – are we mad?

Thousands of people take up this challenge. Why?

marathon runnerGeorge Mallory, whose is famous because he died in 1924 whilst climbing Everest having been seen 800 yards from the summit, when asked why he was doing it said, “Because it is there.” Yet for George, if he made it and no one knows whether he did or not, he knew he would have been the first person to achieve something. Today, taking part in a marathon is nothing new. So why do it?

To be a marathon runner is a personal challenge. It takes a lot of time and effort to get yourself fit enough and the amount of training that you do will be reflected in how fast you run the distance. People need to be committed, resilient and driven to do it. Through the sunshine, cold, rain, sleet and snow. Those who dedicate their lives to running and become great at it will cover the distance between under 2.5 hours whilst those who are regular runners will seek to run it between 3 and 4 hours. Many people will participant simply to cover the distance as a means to raise money for others who are less able.

Of course, what most of us fail to consider is that as a member of the human species, we are all anatomically designed to run long distance – to be a marathon runner. It’s true! It was how we survived in the past when covering long distances was essential for evading life threatening situations or pursuing food. However, for most of us life-threatening situations are fortunately rare and food is for most of the marathon participants is readily available.

Having a purpose; a meaningful reason seems to be the driving force behind why people become a marathon runner. Sometimes it is a habit that was ingrained at a very early age and becomes a way of life that certain people pursue into greatness. For the majority, it is probably a life-changing event whether personally or as a result of something happening to other individuals or groups. Ask a marathon runner why they did it, what might be the answer?

These events spark a change that becomes what drives us to achieve. Whatever the event is that becomes the tipping point for change, it gives the individual the drive and determination to succeed. For most the journey will be difficult and they will suffer pain and injury yet people will pick themselves up and carry on.

This ‘can do’ attitude will ensure that they cross the finish line and receive their medal. The personal pride will be immense and the satisfaction that for many, they will have raised money to change the lives of others who are less fortunate.

Having a reason, a sense of purpose is part of being Mind Fit. What difference would it make to our lives if we could find a reason, beyond personal basic needs, to achieve something in which we added real value? What difference would it make to our job if we were part of something that added value in a meaningful way?

Find the marathon runner in you or at least a real purpose and you will achieve.

What ONE thing ALL Great Golfers have?

Is it a great swing? No, some great swings don’t produce the results the golfer desires, and that is frustrating.

Is it a fabulous putting stroke?  No, because if you still don’t sink putts, you don’t succeed.  If you really want to get on your knees and learn some more technical skills, then fine.

However the real answer lies in having a great mind set – resilient, adaptable and able to block out negative thoughts and negative self-talk.

Sometimes the biggest problem is in your head. You’ve got to believe you can play a shot instead of wondering where your next bad shot is coming from.

Jack Nicklaus

Thanks Jack, but we don’t need you to tell us, we know it! It’s common sense and we tell ourselves all the time. So why does it work sometimes and not others? The simple answer is if you were Mind Fit we guarantee it will improve your golf – great golfers also need to develop the technical part of the game. It is all about focused effort and practice, and so is being in the right mindset when on the course.


It works like this; if you believe that the shot you are about to take is doomed to failure and your focus is on the ball going where it shouldn’t, then that is what is likely to happen. A friend said that he knew that his ball was going to go into a bunker and I could hear him rehearse failure. He was right. It was a perfect shot into the bunker!


Now in addition to imagining failure, many people who play golf focus on the technical side of the game and get annoyed to varying degrees when they are unable to put together in one stroke all the variables that make up a successful action. If that’s you, you’re acting on information overload. You can only focus on one thing, not a hundred things simultaneously.

Be honest, how often do you know exactly what you did that led to a poor shot? Did you blame your stance, your club, the ball, the course, the weather, the ducks …?

We use a process of natural learning to make this clear.

For a moment, can you imagine ( or remember) the amount of focused effort a 4 year old needed just to hit that plastic ball with their first plastic club. Through encouraging them and their unbridled enjoyment, within ½ hour the ball was being hit with every swing. That’s natural learning.


Natural learning is action based and used successfully by the top performers and one of the simplest examples is when we learn to ride a bike. We get on it and do it – sometimes with assistance at first with stabilisers, or a friendly helping hand. Technical knowledge to improve your bike riding comes later. Olympic athletes use this form of learning and spend most of their time practicing one aspect of their sport until they get that part right. Then they put it all together. Most golfers unknowingly, go to play an unsuccessful game. They don’t practice or focus on one input variable at a time so there can be no improvement, and you are setting yourself up to fail. If a shot goes well they put it down to luck – or ‘I’m feeling good today!’

Success depends almost entirely on how effectively you learn to manage the game’s two ultimate adversaries: the course and yourself

Jack Nicklaus 

We can’t help you with the course, but we can with help with you. By being Mind Fit, you have a learnt ability to perform to your optimum in different situations, through ‘can do’ attitudes and behaviours. So it will help your golf, your work and in fact all parts of your life. Most of us like to think we are ‘can do’ people (have you ever said I can’t do that?) but there are other options. Despite being unique and complex people, there are only three options relating to how we behave and perform. You’ve met the first. The other two, ‘can’t do’ and ‘won’t do’ attitudes and behaviours demonstrate a mind where effective performance will be curtailed significantly. So be honest with yourself, what state do you operate from and where would you like to be?

You can go from poor, to good, to great so if you want to play a better game start by conducting your own reality check. Identify exactly what you do at the input end that leads to the result you either want or don’t want. If you don’t know what you are actually doing how can you improve? And one thing, if you believe you’ll be shouting ‘Fore!’ a lot, you best take extra liquids as you’ll be delaying your visit to the 19th.

Mind Fit is about performance and leads to better results.

Get your head right then your game will improve.

If you don’t believe us or Jack Nicklaus, there’s always another bad day on the golf course that might convince you. 

Want to be one of the great golfers? Start with you.

To check where you operate from download the Mind Fit Map. 

If you are on Linked-In, come and join our group Mind Fit Golfers and find out more. We intend to hold some learning events on ranges and courses, and perhaps hold some tournaments – when you’re ready!

Change your mindset, change your business

What’s the best marketing message you have ever seen?

Nike’s “just do it” campaign increased their share of USA sport shoe business from 18% to 43% in 10 years.

In the jobs market CV’s arrive at an alarming pace thanks to the internet and social media, and jobs in the UK can be oversubscribed by hundreds if not thousands. How do you get to the top of that list, or at least in the top 3?

But you’re selling products and services, what has that got to do with you? The answer to that is it has everything to do with you – you’ve got the same problem – if you’re not at the top of the pile your customers will go elsewhere. And thinking how others might do it better, could be your most innovative move.

Some businesses have woken up to the simple fact that standing out in the crowd is one way to succeed.

Most reading this will already be making the excuses: we’re not that creative; haven’t got the time others have; budget is already stretched; we don’t need to stand out; our customers know who we are…

For those that want to succeed, are open to change your mindset and grow here’s one of our favourites…

Picture yourself on the Mind Fit Map

mind fit mapDo you thrive on complexity and enjoy the challenge or have a tendency to be overwhelmed by it? We all rely on those that thrive on it to break it down into manageable chunks so the rest of us can make sense of it, and then get on with it.

So when it comes to the most complex of systems, YOU, questions like  “what makes you, you?” most of us will switch off, and revert to do what we’ve always done.

So here’s a quick way to see who you are. Put yourself on the Mind Fit MAP.


We are a result of our beliefs and experiences and high achievers or low achievers are created in the same way. By finding your default position, you can choose to change.

Why the Mind Fit Map?

We are all very complicated and unique, but despite all the complexity and difference there are only 3 routes our beliefs, attitudes and behaviours take us – 

‘can’t do’, ‘won’t do’ or ‘can do’

and that’s the reason for the Mind Fit Map – to help you turn complexity into a simple to use map, so you can achieve what you want to achieve.

So now ask yourself – when someone says something new or something you think you know, do you?

  •   ignore  – I’ve heard it before, it’s irrelevant to me
  •   avoid  – I’m too busy, can’t be bothered, I’ll wait until I’m told
  •   block  – we tried it and it didn’t work , we’ve too much to doing to take that on
  •   be curious – I wonder if we could do that, maybe it will help my colleague
  •   explore  – let’s see how it would look, who do we need to evaluate the options

Try it with your friends and your team – it’s a bit of fun but will tell you a lot. Remember, you weren’t born that way  and  it’s not hard wired, so you can change if you want to. We are mostly a result of what we have created.


Here’s some more of the Mind Fit Map


What is the cost of Behavioural Waste? How much can you afford?

What has been ignored - Behavioural WasteBehavioural waste – what is it?

Have you ever wondered why no one makes decisions, there are too many meetings, some people never seem to be available and always busy, and projects always take longer? Could it be true in your business or with your clients and suppliers?

Surveys suggest your business could easily be losing half the time available through behavioural waste. Although you may not think it or believe it, you do have a choice. So how much behavioural waste do you choose to handle?


Behavioural waste is

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

One of the problems in larger organisations is where people are over-whelmed with long ‘to do’ lists. The problem only starts there, as when you merge them all together 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 in a different department. And so it will continue until the next meeting…

Here are a few more examples of behavioural waste:

  • Unnecessary meetings occur through habit
  • Underperformance not challenged
  • 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 bullying

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

Current thought leaders like Dan Pink will agree

…this internal drive as the result of three factors: autonomy, mastery and purpose. People want control of their own destiny. They want to be challenged and find fulfillment in getting better at something. And they want to feel they are making a difference.”

Do you know how much behavioural waste you have in your company? Can you calculate it?

Consider that a recent survey in the IT industry suggested that in a 7 hour day only 3.1 hours were productive – that is 55% of the working day being unproductive. Global surveys are carried out regularly and report that about 80% of the workforce is disengaged, and these will add to the unproductive state in your business.

You can easily calculate a rough cost of the waste in your company by taking a look at the IT example above. We’re not talking about a return to the days of an old style of time and motion study here where you’re timed every time you leave your desk!  One of the most productive areas you’ll see in some organisations is where people congregate informally and communicate effectively – the coffee machine – but it could also encourage unproductive behaviour too. Again it’s down to your people and the level of engagement or disengagement.

So what would it look like if you improved your business by an hour a day per person? In the IT example that would be an increase of 30% in base line productivity – that could be managing 30% more clients, finishing projects much faster and still there’s room for more improvement. And it’s a fact that people enjoy being valued, engaged and productive – the day goes faster when the job and environment  is a pleasurable experience.


For more on the cost of behavioural waste to your organisation click here