Only one thing is certain...
And that’s this: things are going to get even more uncertain.
Instinctively you know this. Nearly everything is changing, and faster than ever before. And in amongst this increased pace and uncertainty, three major challenges face all leaders:
- The challenge of leading through uncertainty and doubt;
- The challenge of keeping strategy relevant and nimble; and
- The challenge of 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 meaningful 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.
Pioneering Leadership Development
A frontier leadership program designed for senior leadership teams looking to pioneer into unprecedented territory.
An immersive 6-month program.
Only available to existing clients.
Thought Leadership Development
This program will turn your organisation's experts into industry authorities—the type of people that get invited to speak at conferences and interviewed for leading publications. A great program to provide for your leaders and intrapreneurs, you'll also benefit from an enhanced culture of learning and sharing within your organisation.
A 12-month program developed in conjunction with Thought Leaders Business School.
Exclusive mentoring for pioneering executives looking to unlock new progress by leading a quest.
A tailored 1:1 mentoring program. By application only.
Read How to Lead a Quest, then let's talk.
Keynotes & Workshops
Conferences and events are golden opportunities to get your people to step up and lean into the challenge of leading through change. Pop over to my events page to learn more.
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 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 I can assist.
Pioneering Strategy Development
Not your typical strategic development process—first we rethink the business model through a series of contexts, resisting the urge to leap to quick fixes along the way. Then, over a series of sessions, we explore possible future contexts. We go deep, contrasting our current efforts against possible future contexts, identifying areas of strategic advantage and risk. From there, we develop a quiver of viable alternative options to our default strategy. Finally, we make decisions and identify the progress map for making clever happen.
A 1–3 month series of immersive workshops designed to unlock pioneering, game-changing strategy.
Your Next Strategic Offsite
A strategic offsite can present immense opportunity for any leadership team to venture beyond default thinking and ways of working. I wrote an article on how to Get Away to Get Ahead—have a read. It identifies the many benefits of a strategic offsite (and how to not screw it up). If you're keen to do one well, I can assist. Our office can even organise the whole thing for you, if you need.
A 2–3 day offsite, with 1-2 months planning and prep, plus a follow-up one month after to ensure momentum.
This is where we translate strategic intent into the motivation and behaviours to make it happen. It's one thing to say 'we need to be more agile'—it's another to actually work through the motivation design required to make that happen. Ideal for when you have pivoted your strategy, and need to get your people on board.
A 1–2 day workshop (or 2–3 days if I wasn't involved with the development of the strategy).
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.
Even the best strategy in the world won't mean anything unless people are actually on board and motivated to make it happen.
This is where work culture comes into play. A change in strategic direction can mean a significant change in the way we work.
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 a couple of ways we can take a science-based approach to influence work culture in your organisation.
Organisational Culture Change
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 shift the collective behaviours (culture) of an organisation.
A 1-2 year program. Available to existing clients only.
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.
Here are a few short examples of some recent projects.
Motivation Strategy & Design with Suncorp
Suncorp are a fantastically progressive company, and I've had the privilege of working with leaders across most elements of the business, including strategic innovation. Of course, most of this is behind NDAs, but this particular project involved using motivation design to translate a new business strategy into the specific behaviours (and work culture) that'd make progress happen. Here's what they said:
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 (and the following year saw us undertake a 12-month leadership program). 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.
This was a big task, and it involved the development of a set of sequenced set of strategic motivational and behavioural interventions—a living 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. McDonald's execute like no other—you can now see the shift in their restaurants and the adoption of the 'Create Your Taste' initiative. It was—and continues to be—a huge success.
Again I wanted to thank you for being an integral part of [our strategy]. Feedback and engagement 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