Only one thing is certain...
And that’s this: things are going to get even more uncertain.
Instinctively you know this. The pace of change is getting faster. Heck, everything is getting faster. Technology was supposed to free us, and yet we are busier than ever.
And in amongst this increased pace and uncertainty, three major challenges face all leaders and organisations:
i| Leading through uncertainty and doubt;
ii| Keeping strategy relevant and nimble; and
iii| Building cultures fit for the future of work.
Conventional attempts to tackle these challenges are typically fixed and rigid. We're encouraged to set big hairy audacious goals with a crystal clear vision and a rock solid plan to which we pursue with unwavering conviction. And so targets get set, carrots get dangled and boxes get ticked. It's all rather comforting and familiar.
But it won't last.
To build for the future of work, we need something different.
When it comes to leadership, it's easy to get lost in buzzwords. What's more important is how your leadership contributes to progress.
Leading progress through uncertainty requires a counter-intuitive approach that makes many leadership teams uncomfortable.
To gain conviction, we embrace doubt. We must be comfortable challenging our own thinking and assumptions. We must resist the urge to jump to quick fixes and default solutions.
To gain clarity, we embrace uncertainty. We must be comfortable to lead progress without clear goals; to take a science-based approach — conducting experiments, testing assumptions and learning along the way.
To achieve success, we embrace progress. Shining a light on the path is more important than fixating on a distant goal. Success is fleeting and overrated. But progress is eternal.
Here are some of the things we do for clients looking to enhance and develop leadership.
Frontier Leadership Development
A progressive leadership development program designed for senior leadership teams looking to pioneer through unchartered territory. An immersive 12-month program — we'll probably start with something smaller first. Yes, let's talk about it.
Future Leadership Development
This one's for your emerging leaders. Here, we give them the skills and insight needed to lead for the future of work. A half-year program — you know what to do.
Progress Mentoring for Executives
Exclusive mentoring for adventurous executives looking to progress new ideas uphill, through doubt and uncertainty. By application only — it's a pretty involved thing, and so I only have five mentoring clients at any one time. Get in touch to learn more.
Keynotes & Workshops
Conferences and events are golden opportunities to get your people to step up and lean into the challenge of leading through change. See our events to learn about our keynotes & workshops.
This is where the clever happens.
Well, assuming we've got an adventurous team of leaders willing to go beyond the default.
Otherwise strategic development just looks like another box ticking fest — a meeting in which everyone flirts with the concept of change, but yet defaults to a familiar set of goals that could be the same for any company (optimising ROI, enhancing service delivery platforms, expanding into new regions, leveraging existing markets, enhancing operational efficiency, and so on). Bah!
True strategic development looks very different to this. And it's an ongoing activity — not an isolated meeting.
If you're looking to break the cycle, and truly progress strategy into unprecedented territory, here's how we can assist.
Pioneering Strategy Development
Not your typical strategic development workshop — here we rethink the business model through a series of contexts, resisting the urge to leap to quick fixes along the way. We go deep, and unearth the insights that could develop into brilliance. Got a strategic summit coming up? Shall we make one? Let's talk.
“How to Lead a Quest”
A workshop designed to improve the strategic thinking capacity and efficacy of your leaders. Ideal for leadership teams that are great at executing — making shit happen. But rather than simply find good answers, here they’ll also learn how to ask better questions, and make clever happen. Curiouser and curiouser — find out more.
Motivation Strategy & Design
This is really at the core of our expertise. Everything we do comes from this perspective — it’s where we translate strategic intent into the motivation and behaviours to make it happen. It’s game changing stuff. Ideal for when you have pivoted your business strategy, and need to get your people on board. Let's make this happen.
Keynotes & Workshops
If you're pulling all your leaders together into one room for a conference or event, it makes sense that we ask the bigger questions. See our events to learn about our keynotes & workshops.
Good leadership makes for good strategy. But even the best darn strategy in the world won't mean crap unless people are motivated to make it happen.
And that's where work culture comes into play. Sometimes a change in strategic direction means a significant change in the way we work.
Now, we can get all fluffy and ethereal about it — or we can approach work culture for what it is: a set of behaviours replicated within any given context.
The three main elements that make up any culture are:
Structures — the things that influence effort
Rituals — the activities people repeatedly do
Artefacts — the physical things you can see
To shape culture, we focus on the structures, rituals and artefacts that influence behaviour. And we do this through the lens of motivation strategy and design.
Here are some of the ways we can take a science-based approach to influence work culture in your organisation.
Team Culture Design
Got a new team happening? Or is it time to refresh the way your team works? This program rethinks the structures, rituals and artefacts of your team — how you meet, collaborate, learn and grow. How you build time for slow thinking, in amongst the business. And how you identify and progress the projects that matter. An iterative program driven by curiosity and experimentation. Let's chat.
Organisational Culture Change
Ah, the big one. We don't start here, and certainly don't try tackle this all at once. But through a multitude of strategic, sequenced projects (motivational interventions, friction-removal, progress visibility, a reworking of incentives and good internal comms) coupled within a science-based and bi-modal approach, we can significantly pivot and shift the way we work. Want to learn more? It starts with a conversation.
Keynotes & Workshops
Conferences and events are a key ritual within any work culture. They're also a prime opportunity to instil new aspiration about the purpose and meaning in the work we do. See our events to learn about our keynotes & workshops.
I also help organisations go beyond the hype and avoid the myriad of traps and pitfalls associated with gamification. We go deep, and build sustainable motivation strategy and design to make work inherently motivating.
And finally, I've been known to help organisational intrapreneurs and experts develop and progress their thought leadership — to unlock intellectual property, leverage their expertise, and become known for what they know.
Here are a few short examples of some recent projects.
Motivation Strategy & Design with Suncorp
Suncorp are a fantastically progressive company. This particular project involved applying motivation design thinking to translate new business strategy into the specific behaviours (and work culture) that'd make progress happen. Here's what they thought:
Our Commercial Claims team spent time reviewing our strategy and needed a way to share the work we had done with our teams. We were originally going to bring Dr Jason Fox in to contribute his expertise in progress design (he came highly recommended), but after our initial discussion we realised we could go a whole lot deeper and Jason could help us deliver the ‘why’ as well as the ‘how’.
Jason not only helped us to understand how we could translate our strategic intent into the behaviours and work culture that would make it happen — he worked with his partner Kim to produce a hand-drawn ‘visual narrative’ video to communicate the story behind our strategy to the wider business. Instead of producing another PDF report that lives buried away in the intranet, this approach has been a hit and everyone knows what we’re working towards, and why.
I highly recommend Jason’s input for any organisation looking for a fresh approach to strategic development. Jason was really easy to work with. His input was thoughtful, practical and progressive — he really helped us to rethink the way we communicate strategy. — Senior Leader, Performance, Strategy & Optimisation, Commercial Claims, Suncorp
Navigating strategy & culture with CSIRO
The CSIRO — like many research institutions — was facing significant cuts in government funding, which in turn meant redundancies and tough decisions about what research projects were prioritised. This challenged staff morale. And so, in amongst a climate of uncertainty and tension, the senior leadership team were advised and assisted in the communication of a new strategy, which was unpacked in an open forum that solicited authentic input from staff.
It went well. Here's what the client had to say:
We were facing some serious challenges across the CSIRO, and as a result we were forced to make some tough decisions about what programs and positions could continue. This, coupled with redundancies and a climate of uncertainty meant that the morale of our researchers and staff wasn’t at its highest.
The leadership team organised an important event to present our vision and strategy for progress to over 400 of our people. We wanted to solicit input from them to shape the strategy — but it was critical that the day was facilitated delicately, with good thinking and deliberate design.
And so we hired Dr Jason Fox to ensure this important event was a success. Serving as our facilitator and closing keynote speaker, Jason maintained a buoyant and practically optimistic tone throughout the day. His use of humour and intelligence was masterful — he had everyone constructively contributing to our strategy, connecting and collaborating at a level we rarely see. And finally, his expertise in motivation design was exactly the pragmatic yet strategic perspective our people needed to move forward.
I recommend Dr Jason Fox for any organisation wanting to progress important strategy in challenging times — his work is magic. — Director, Manufacturing Flagship, CSIRO
Culture Strategy & Design with Macca's
Early in 2014 the VP/National Director of Operations for McDonalds Australia got in touch about a gloriously audacious and unprecedented pivot in McDonald's business strategy. For it to work, the 90,000+ staff culture needed to shift and embrace new ways of working.
For this one, I brought on behavioural scientists, psychologists and internal communication specialists from Pragmatic Thinking and Jaxzyn. Plus some talent from the Dangerlam. Together we developed a set of sequenced, strategic motivational and behavioural interventions — a road map for bringing the new strategy to life through their people. (This was presented at their big annual licensee event — you can see a picture of me at the event at the bottom of my events page).
Again I wanted to thank you for being an integral part of [our strategy]. Feedback and engagement post Friday has been better than even expected and the business drives forward as one with confidence. — VP/National Director of Operations, McDonald's Australia Ltd
Strategy Facilitation with UNSW
This one wasn't a huge project — but it was an important one. At the University of New South Whales, the senior leaders from various research divisions meet once every two years for one day to discuss research priorities and share what they're working on. Getting this one day right is critical — and here's what they said after the event:
Every two years our whole research division meets together for a very important strategic planning day. Over the years, you see a heap of speakers, and you get used to the standard thing. But this year, we engaged Dr Jason Fox, and what he provided was very different — something fresh, relevant, practical and compelling. If you're looking to develop and progress new and important strategy, I highly recommend Dr Jason Fox. — Vice-President & Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), University of New South Wales
Strategic Development with CRDC
It was time for the Cotton Research and Development Corporation to do strategic development. Thankfully, the director of Research and Development had foresight and vision — she wanted to ensure we created something that genuinely facilitated an innovative new approach to strategy and development. This culminated in the first ever "Futures Forum" — a diverse and collaborative strategy forum incorporating a diverse mix of researchers, growers, distributors and manufacturers.
We had the goal of bringing together key stakeholders and leaders from our industry to focus on prioritising long-term research for future innovation.
Anyone who has attempted this will know that it can be a challenge, as the tendency is to focus on existing priorities or at least those which we can see more clearly. To get people truly thinking to the future requires a different approach, and we are very fortunate to have engaged Dr Jason Fox for this.
He has a unique and refreshing approach that just works. His expertise and experience were invaluable. Jason partnered with us from the start, working and mentoring us through concept development, communication design and progress management. This all lead to an inaugural ‘Futures Forum’ event that facilitated solid breakthrough thinking, and left us with a refined set of priorities and areas to focus on.
Jason’s involvement allowed us to make great progress in this new area of investment, and it really motivated people to get excited about the possibilities and future of the industry. If you’re serious about exploring new opportunities for innovation and competitive advantage, you can't go past Jason Fox. — General Manager of R&D Investment, Cotton Research & Development Corporation
Leadership Development with Optus