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(Virtual) Education Lecture 19 May:  Unconscious Bias
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The difference we make in the world ....

On how we make a difference in the world - both good and bad - and delivering world changing assignments in a moment....

Management consultants play an important and valuable role in society. We identify problems and develop and implement solutions (in collaboration with leaders, teams and organisations). We compile and then share learning and experiences with others - clients, colleagues and the wider world - all the while aiming to make things just a little bit better.

But it doesn't need to be big, global, all encompassing solutions. We can act with purpose and passion at an equally profound but much simpler level. And we have the power to do considerable harm in the same way.

I enjoy grappling with a big, challenging and supposedly intractable problem. Yet the more work I do, and the longer I live - changing and growing wisdom through experience I guess - the more I see it's often the simplest things that matter.

One of the fundamental issues I see in clients is groups of individuals who don't feel heard. From the biggest charities to corporations, it often feels like no one is really listening and those individuals translate that to ‘no one cares’. We are not - yet - machines and how we feel determines our motivation and outcomes. Unhappy teams are less productive teams.

In the course of developing ESIP (Emerging Scholars), an intervention programme for adolescent girls, we defined a model of engagement - Listen, Understand, Inspire, Push. It's a model I've successfully translated to a number of client projects since. Start by listening - deeply and intently listening. Understand the ‘real’ issue in depth, ensure the individual feels safe and secure so they can tell the truth, work to create an optimistic but viable opportunity and then, through trust already built up, push just hard enough to deliver.

It works, it's solved issues in some intractable cultures. And it made me think what more I could do for the wider world...

Aside from the big initiatives, I'm conscious that every word, expression or small act makes a difference.

·         Offering to move seats in a train so a mum (or dad) can sit next to their toddler.

·         Smiling at the person looking glum as they walk past you in the street.

·         Saying hello to a stranger in an upbeat tone of voice - and yes I know this is London (forgive me, I’m a Northerner,it’s natural where I                come from).

·         Giving a few minutes extra to listen in response to 'how are you?'.

·         Letting someone go first even when you are in a hurry.

·         Being positive and understanding even when you don't quite feel like it.

·         Not complaining...

This matters because we are the sum of our acts and others are also the sum of their experiences. We never know the difference we make in these cases but we do know those days when one person has tipped us over the edge (and given us the excuse to wreak havoc and misery on others) or conversely made our day and fired us up to do great things.

Sometimes a smile, kind word or taking time to listen can be as important as trying to solve world problems. And a darned sight easier!

So smile at a stranger, say good morning/afternoon and change the world for the better. And you'll still have time to do great management consultancy.








Dr Simon Davey, Freeman

- as School Governor, surveying the development of their brand new school....