I don’t sleep very well. Actually, that’s not true – once I get to sleep I am world class at it, but I don’t find it easy getting to sleep. I think (and there’s your first problem) that there are numerous reasons for this the primary amongst them is I don’t switch off easily…
Sometime in the late 90s before broadband and Twitter and numerous other distractions I used to watch TV to pass the time. Late night TV then (as now) was not of the highest quality but before Sky + and a gazillion channels, I watched what was on – which was often ‘Late Night Poker’.
I had never seen “No Limits Hold ‘Em” before and had only played more traditional forms of Poker. I was fascinated with this new variant and being able to see what the players had in their hands, the shared river cards and the game strategy and betting behaviour this drove. If you have no idea what I am talking about watch “Casino Royale” that’s Texas Hold ‘Em.
The thing that amazed me was this notion of going “all in”. The idea that you could bet everything on a single hand and that the show of strength was either an indicator you had an amazing hand or the biggest bluff on the planet but it often worked – either way. Watching the players who were ‘short stacked’ (low on chips) who had limited opportunity for tactical betting but had to wait for a half way decent hand and then bet it all.
I read a blog this afternoon by Kate Griffiths-Lambeth who talked about the state of the global economy (borked) and the behaviour that it drove in business. She made some excellent points and discussed the difference between being risk astute and risk averse. The latter generating behaviour of arse covering, constantly shifting sands and a form of organisational inertia as everyone waits for the next u-turn.
It took me back to a conversation I had recently with 2 senior people (one a colleague of mine, the other a contact of his) regarding the safe playing that is happening in organisations and what it would take to move that on. Given this conversation happened later in the evening and a we had already sailed past the 5 beer mark the conversation was more ummmm wide ranging than may normally have happened but out of it came a random idea…
What if you took the leadership team of a business – say the top 30 people in the organisation and said to them that they had 3 years salary in escrow. The organisation didn’t own the money anymore but they didn’t have it yet either. Whatever happened they would either be fired at some point in the future or make it to the 3 year mark but what proportion of the money remained on the day they were dismissed it was theirs to keep (I told you it was random).
- What behaviour would that generate in the leadership of the business?
I could speculate (but not go all in!!) but I don’t want to. I just want to let that thought sit there for a moment. I know it would generate some good behaviours and some bad and that would need managing but how different would the leadership be? Would they go “all in” or keep tactical betting and arse covering?
I’m going to leave it there but before I do I just want to ask a concluding question…
- How could a business create that behaviour in its leadership without putting several million pounds in escrow?