Rebel Diaries

Cathryn Barnard - Technology And The Impact On Communication And Engagement

October 03, 2022 Cathryn Barnard Season 1 Episode 25
Rebel Diaries
Cathryn Barnard - Technology And The Impact On Communication And Engagement
Show Notes Transcript

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Cat has a long background in building and nurturing high-performing teams for success outcomes. 

She entered the European telecommunications sector in the early 1990s, just as it was deregulating. For the first ten years of her career, she built and supported the engineering teams that designed and deployed 2nd and 3rd - generation mobile phone networks across Europe. 

Optimising team performance requires both EQ and a fascination for what motivates people. 

Cat’s interest in human dynamics has transferred across into her expert analysis of the future of work, and her insights help business leaders futureproof their commercial activities. 

What Scott Discusses with Cathryn

  • The hidden things we miss out on when we're meeting on video calls rather than in person
  • The key question organisations need to ask before adopting any technology
  • True employee engagement and how platforms are just posh survey platforms
  • Why you need to consider what you are doing with the data you collect and what is the strategy around that?
  • How many factors that affect an employee's engagement at work is outside of its control
  • Key factors in team dynamics and how being experimental plays a big part
  • How digital technology can allow ambiguity to form in human interactions
  • And much more...

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[00:00:00] Scott: Hi, I'm Scott Fulton, the host of the Rebel Diaries podcast. The show explores how to make work better for leaders and their teams in a challenging world of information and demand overload. You'll get tips and insights from me as well as the amazing guests I invite to be on the show. Many of them have disrupted their industries and are thought leaders, speakers, and authors who have fascinating stories and advice to share. 

[00:00:29] Scott: As your host, I spent 20 years leading teams of corporate rebels who challenged the status quo to deliver innovative services to customers and employees. 

[00:00:37] Scott: I saw firsthand how changing my leadership approach could unlock their full potential with my teams going on to win numerous international awards and being asked to share my insights at events across the world. 

[00:00:47] Scott: I now train and coach leaders and teams to do the same. This podcast provides me with a way to help thousands more people deliver more value and impact at work whilst reducing their risk of burnout, overload, and wasted effort. I hope you enjoy the podcast as much as I enjoy putting it together and sharing it with you. 

[00:01:04] Scott: Thank you for joining me on this journey. I'm Scott Fulton and welcome to the Rebel Diaries show.

[00:01:08] Scott: Work will never be the same again. 

[00:01:15] Cathryn: And so I think engagement ebbs and flows day in, day out for a whole range of factors that no employer can actually control, because half of it has got nothing to do with that employer to begin with. 

[00:01:28] Cathryn: The fact of the matter is, and I know this from 20 odd years of recruiting, people don't leave organizations. They leave mean colleagues.

[00:01:39] Cathryn: The future of work has got the potential to make the Brexit referendum look like a tea party.

[00:01:46] Scott: Catherine is the co-founder of Working The Future a company that helps UK business leaders understand and adapt to different work landscapes through analysis and co-designing future-proofing strategies. She spent a large part of her career building and supporting the engineering teams that designed the phone networks we depend on today . 

[00:02:02] Scott: She believes optimizing team performance requires both emotional intelligence and a fascination for what motivates people.

[00:02:09] Scott: Hi, Catherine. Welcome to the Rebel Diaries podcast. 

[00:02:12] Cathryn: Thank you for having me. 

[00:02:14] Scott: What was it that got you into wanting to fix the future of work? 

[00:02:17] Cathryn: I realized that the part of work that I had always loved the most was helping build teams that were high performing and I realized that the bit that fascinated me in my career the most was the intricacy of team dynamics. Like what makes, what are the key human ingredients that create a high performing team? . So that led me into a couple of periods of study. I went and qualified to become an executive coach and I also did a qualification in psychology.

[00:02:59] Cathryn: And I was on the verge like literally a week or so away from handing over a very big sum of money to sign up and become a master's student for. A degree program in business psychology at the University of Westminster. And I noticed in one of my email correspondences I noticed that they were running a webinar on and it was entitled, Is Business Psychology Delivering for HR?

[00:03:29] Cathryn: The keynote was Peter Cheese, the Chief Executive of the C I P D. and he started to talk and he's, I dunno whether you've ever heard him speak. He's a brilliant keynote speaker. He started to talk and I realized that what he was talking about was the future of work. And I had literally like the month previously given my own piddly little keynote on the future of work to a setting of IT directors. So I was already having some kind of goosebumps. And then he made this one statement which was loosely paraphrasing that most executive business leaders would be appraised of the trends driving the future of work through their MBA programs. Am I think I just had one of those light bulb moments that you have sometimes in life and I just thought I work, I had been working.

[00:04:20] Cathryn: Predominantly in the mid tier business sector. And I was just thinking, I don't know of too many people who've got the luxury to swan off and do an MBA. So there's gonna be this massive community of people who are driving organizational buses and where are they gonna get their insights from? Like, where are they gonna find out about? these trends that are converging to cause the level of business disruption that we are now seeing. And that keynote happened a fortnight after the Brexit referendum vote, and I just came away thinking, "Oh my God, the future of work has got the potential to make the Brexit referendum look like a tea party. And who is going to provide the guidance?" And in the really early stages of Working The Future, what we did was we built literally on the back of a fag packet, a website to consolidate all the convergent trends, the information about the trends into one place in order that there was like a single source repository.

[00:05:28] Cathryn: So you know, what is the impact of technology on workplaces? What is the impact of shifting sociocultural attitudes on the work, the workplace, and the workforce?

[00:05:41] Cathryn: What is gonna be the impact of an aging population, the end of retirement pension funds that don't deliver? The promised, pot of money at the end of the rainbow. What's the impact of climate change and resource depletion, all of these things? That's where we started from and it has been a journey ever since then.

[00:06:03] Cathryn: I dunno whether that answers your question. What led me here? What led me here was an absolute fascination. For what people can achieve in groups, in teams when they're motivated and inspired to do so alongside continuous perplexment that we have such low productivity levels in the United Kingdom in the 2020s, and a fascination for these convergent trends and how they intersect and interplay with one another and what that means for the experience that people have when they come to work.

[00:06:45] Scott: That's interesting. shall we get into one of those trends? I've got my views around digital tools and how organizations think they solve all their problems. And sometimes more often than not, they're can make them the worse, but what are your thoughts on this around internal communication? Leveraging things like internets and other tools. What kind of challenges are you seeing? 

[00:07:02] Cathryn: I think for me, this is how I see the world. And that's not to say this is the right view of the world, but this is how I see it. But ostensibly I helped build the teams that went out and designed and built the mobile phone networks that we now absolutely rely on for instant data in our pocket. And so I have been deeply immersed in the field of digital communications technology since the early 1990s, and one of the things that I think I see on a daily basis is that we rush to adopt the latest tools and platform. Without stopping to ask ourselves the question, "what is the problem that we're trying to solve?" And for me, I see digital communication as being the most amazing enabler and facilitator of improved communication but I also see it as being promoted as a replacement for human communication. So I think that what is missing is at the start of every digital adoption exercise, what is missing is a conversation around what is the problem that we're trying to solve and what could this adoption of this technology lead to if we don't put human parameters and human guidance notes around whatever this thing is. And that's what I think is missing. Like we've rushed to adopt the internet. Brilliant internet. As I was rightfully corrected earlier this week in a conversation, the internet was originally designed to distribute information to the masses. I think we don't have a common and shared understanding of the purpose of the internet. I don't think we have a common and shared understanding of the purpose and limitations of social media, and I actually don't think we have a shared understanding of the purpose and limitations of all of these digital tools.

[00:09:26] Cathryn: And of course, we live in such a digitally immersive world now, one of the overarching story narratives that we are told is the future is digital and we're all gonna get massively disrupted by AI and automation and robotics. We're all gonna massively benefit from AI automation and robotics, but that's a fraction of the reality.

[00:09:55] Cathryn: What are the problems that these technologies are solving and what are the limitations of them and what could be the impact? on us and how we live in community together with one another.

[00:10:08] Scott: Yeah. And the people telling us this is going to change our worldhave a lot to gain. Look at. Meta's massive investment in VR and thinking that, oh, we'll just live our lives with a headset on, and in the virtual world And, you know, that removes the human element even more.. It's just like trying to reinvent the human contact that we're missing because of technology. And obviously with covid and more and more meetings happening through video screens it's just not the same is it?

[00:10:32] Cathryn: It's not the same. It's not the same. And don't underestimate the amount of money that is spent by Silicon Valley on marketing, PR, and lobbying. I would hazard a guess. It is equivalent to the amount of money that gets spent, has been spent by the tobacco industry, has been spent by the fossil fuel industry and has been spent and probably is still continuing to be spent by the sugar, the confectionary industry, and it's now an open secret, the extent to which a lot of these technologies adle our brains and are addictives.

[00:11:08] Cathryn: That some of the whistleblowers to have come out of Google and Facebook have actually said that the design was predicated on human vulnerability to become addicted to dopamine hits and so on. And you are absolutely right in your statement about what we miss out on because when we meet in real life as human beings, and I don't fully understand the science behind this, but I am endlessly fascinated by it.

[00:11:43] Cathryn: If you and I were to sit in a room for a couple of hours, by the end of those hours, our heart rates would've synchronized. Our brainwaves would've synchronized. There's a whole bunch of hidden chemistry that if we are aligned and we like, that's not gonna happen. Obviously, if you are in a room with somebody that you don't like, but if you are having a great conversation, there's a whole bunch of biological stuff that happens behind the scenes that we don't actually know about.

[00:12:16] Cathryn: And interesting fact, when you have a great conversation in person, you come away with a sense of wellbeing that I think we can probably all relate to. That actually has been scientifically proven to strengthen our vagus nerve, which links our head, our brain, our heart, and our stomach, that goes on to boost our immune system.

[00:12:42] Cathryn: So actually having a conversation has got scientifically proven immunity and wellbeing effects, and I don't know. How? Even if we sit on a Zoom and we have eye contact with one another, and we are having this conversation at the moment, and I can see, I'm looking at your face and you are looking at my face, but we are not looking into each other's eyes.

[00:13:05] Cathryn: So to what extent does the Zoom conversation replicate an in-person conversation? Because I don't think it does 

[00:13:14] Scott: or a 3d avatar that's even worse. Isn't it? 

[00:13:16] Cathryn: Right. Let's not even 

[00:13:19] Scott: I liked your comment about jumping on technology without knowing why. When I started out in tech early on, I, I used to fall into that trap myself. Ooh. Shiny. I used to call it the shiny effect. Shiny tech. And I rapidly learned that that's not always what people wanted and it can be very, very wasteful. 

[00:13:34] Scott: For a large part of my latter career in a corporate. I was protecting the organization from itself. I would, I would challenge people and say, "how do we know we need this?" , it would probably annoy some people, but pushing for the evidence base is really important. What are the knock on effects on this? We've got multiple platforms and products these days that significantly overlap with each other. So employees are faced with 15 different tools available to them and they all do slightly similar things it's just overwhelming and i think it's getting worse does that play out into into what you're seeing as well?

[00:14:05] Cathryn: Yeah. Yeah. And I think we, we are submerged in a narrative that tells us that we're only moments away from something even shinier and even more compelling that is gonna come down the line and entice us. And actually, what I think is really interesting, is to take a moment and know, I don't think many people do this and I don't, I'm not gonna say I do this regularly, but to take a moment and contemplate the amount of technologies that launch and are nowhere to be seen five years later, like we are overwhelmed with the amount of brand spanking new. Sign up to this technology, sign up to this platform and actually you start to see a pattern and a formula emerge when these startups have their VC funding budgets, and you are incentivized as the user to sign up to this platform, and then they're trying to move you along.

[00:15:14] Cathryn: Purchasing cycle from a free bee user to a subscription paid user to a whatever, whatever. But actually, how many of these tools and platforms are entrenched in your day to day, five years later?

[00:15:31] Scott: It's the same with apps. Isn't it? I can't remember the stats. You install all these apps on your phone, but you're only using like 3% or something like that of the apps that have been installed. There's the regular go-to ones. And then rest you look at once and never use again. It's just sitting, gathering dust on your. On your device, virtual dust. 

[00:15:50] Cathryn: And, And a really great example to, to think that through exactly as you say, the apps. And I can't even remember what half of them are, but Angry Birds was one, wasn't it? Like these races, like for a moment in time, everybody does Candy Crush or Angry Birds or what's the one, what's, is it Wordle? 

[00:16:11] Scott: Yeah, Wordle. It got bought recently by the New York times. 

[00:16:14] Cathryn: Well, I wonder where Wordle will be in three years.

[00:16:17] Scott: Yeah. As longevity, these things may be just for the founders. They make millions out of it and sell it on. And that's just the way it goes until the novelty wears off. 

[00:16:26] Cathryn: But what's the problem? That's the really interesting conundrum, isn't it? What is the problem that we're trying to solve? Look this is the reality. If you are an organization doing anything, you are increasingly dependent on IT.

[00:16:41] Cathryn: IT has moved so quickly in the last 10 years that we've gone from living in an environment where if you wanted to grow a business, you had an IT department responsible for architecting and rolling out an infrastructure that was predominantly office based that would enable every single user to do their work, to a time where most of that infrastructure now exists in the cloud.

[00:17:10] Cathryn: So we don't need the service, the server rooms and the complexity of that IT infrastructure physically in the same Co-location as the users. Now we're all working in a distributed fashion. An IT director, a CIO, whatever we even want to call them these days, cannot possibly keep grasp of all the tools and platforms that could help and enable every single Functional area of his organization, a CIO, he or she could not possibly be, do their day job and keep abreast of the emergent HR tools and platforms, the emergent marketing tools and platforms, sales, operations, et cetera.

[00:18:01] Cathryn: So we are living now in a kind of catch up phase, aren't we? Where. , without the starting point framework of what problem is it that we're trying to solve? Everybody's just adopting whatever they perceive is the tool to be adopted in their niche, which means that we've got this ever scrambling, ever widening range of tools and platforms that probably aren't even compatible with one another. And a really key point to all of this, which you will absolutely relate to, is all of these tools and platforms. Who owns the data and what happens to that data when you've stopped using that platform? like it you 10 years ago, we'd be all about wiping the data off the hardware, but we are not in that zone anymore. Where, what happens to the data once we've fallen out of love with that platform? Do we ask for that data back? Where does that end up? Who knows? I don't know the answer to that question.

[00:19:11] Scott: And yeah, the other thing I've seen is IT they've had to give up a lot of control. So take Microsoft teams for example, before I left my last organization they had started to roll out Teams during the pandemic and then suddenly Microsoft released an update to teams and yeah, they communicate on their website about what's coming up, but who's got time to read that. So you log in in the morning and suddenly the whole interface Microsoft has changed it. So Microsoft has got a Trojan horse into these companies 

[00:19:38] Scott: And normally in the past, when there was a change, IT would communicate to the organization. They'd put some messages out. "These are some changes coming to the application just to give you a heads up", but you've just lost the ability to do that. You do some video demos to show advance warning. 

[00:19:53] Scott: But that's gone. Microsoft now decides. "Next week, we're rolling out a new edition that does this. That's available to your whole workforce and you've got no choice in the matter". I'd read yesterday Zoom and are looking at building in their own office suite into Zoom that will come with the package. So you'll have their own version of Word, Excel because they're trying to stay competitive. So yeah, IT have given up a lot of control. These big corporations are running software within your organization, and you have very little control. So they can deploy what they want into your organization, whether you want it or not. 

[00:20:23] Cathryn: Yeah. Scary really, because, I don't wanna get too dystopian, but in many ways we are just the serf, aren't we? We are the serfs. Douglas Coupland write a book. In the 1990s and I think it was called Micro serfs, and it was all about how we'd all become just completely emboldened to these big technology companies.

[00:20:47] Scott: Yeah, they say that more powerful than governments. These days they've got more influence, more control, and they've got more data on citizens then governments have. 

[00:20:54] Cathryn: When I think about that, I think, isn't there like a meme on the internet with two goldfish and a goldfish bowl and doesn't one say to the other something about, "Oh, blah, blah, blah water". And the other goldfish says, "What's water?" like we just don't know, cuz we don't take the time to consider the environment that we are immersed in and whether that is optimally serving us and the groups, the organizations that we choose to be a part.

[00:21:24] Scott: And how much data we've shared. I was reading something recently about Facebook and there was a Harvard professor promoting his book and he was talking about Mark Zuckerberg has three traits that bad leaders have and there was discussion on Facebook and the people were saying, yeah, Facebook's awful. Facebook's terrible It's just using our data and then the irony was the people were pointing out yes but you are having this conversation on the platform you hate. 

[00:21:49] Cathryn: And it is really interesting. I'll tell you as a I mean I, the whys and where fors, I can't even remember, but I closed my Facebook account in 2017 and and honestly without a word of a lie, I did go through about 10 days of feeling some sense of withdrawal regret and I have not regretted that decision, but I tell you what is also really interesting is the amount of tools, apps, platforms, et cetera, that ask you whether you want to sign in using Facebook as a default.

[00:22:20] Cathryn: And like for instance, at the moment for me, there's a coaching community that I would like to join on a subscription basis, but they run all of their discussions on Facebook, and I will not have another Facebook account. That's a difficult situation for me because I would like to join the group, but I'm not going to open another Facebook account and I do believe that we are going to get to the limits of all of this.

[00:22:46] Cathryn: To your point, exactly, that is just flawed, isn't it? That, that people could be participating in. Anti Facebook rhetoric on Facebook.

[00:22:56] Scott: Yeah, it's interesting. So, how do we fix this kind of stuff? What are your thoughts around enhancing the employee experience? But getting the balance right with technology in this new world remote work and hybrid working?

[00:23:07] Cathryn: I think this, I think for me, this feeds perfectly into the whole debate about hybrid work, and so I have some ideas about hybrid work, but I also want to caveat those ideas that I'm about to share about hybrid work are complexified, if that is a word, by the current fuel crisis. I am absolutely fascinated by the idea for what will happen once we enter the winter months and heating homes becomes a really pressing issue for individuals and heating sparsely populated offices becomes a really pressing issue for employers. But let's just put that to one side because that is gonna have a major impact on hybrid work, I think. But for me, if I come back to hybrid, the pandemic and the lockdowns neutralized, any argument that remote working wasn't possible, we had to remote work remotely for organizational survival. And I feel that the debate that is currently still playing, Will culminate in hybrid working, being here to stay. What I think has been missed is again, the sort of the foundational conversation around who we are as an organization and what we are here to do. our purpose. What are we here to do? What vision do we have for where we want to be in the future? And actually what values we collectively hold? And once we've had that conversation as a collective group of individuals, the shared understanding deepens. But I also think, we have the tools available to us to work remotely, but we also need to have a much deeper conversation about the benefits to an organization and to each participant, member of an organization of meeting.

[00:25:23] Cathryn: So what is the benefit of meeting in an office? And I'm not sure that I've seen and heard enough narrative around that. And I guess to some extent we're back to the age old argument and debate around engagement. True engagement is actually tricky to measure. You look at the range of digital engagement platforms, which are ostensibly, in my view, posh survey platforms but what are you actually, what are you actually trying to measure and what are you doing with the data that you are collecting and how actually do you build engagement? It's it's well and good to, to, to invest in an engagement platform, but what are you doing with the data that you are gathering around the extent to which people feel engaged and what are your s trategies then going to be for improving those engagement figures. And I think engagement is a really personal thing. I can come into work on Monday and I've had a good weekend. I've, I'm well rested. Nobody's had an argument in my family. I spent some time over the weekend with people whose company I enjoy.

[00:26:35] Cathryn: And then on Monday night, I get stuck in a traffic jam. I there's no food in the fridge. My kids have an argument with one another. I get to bed at 11 o'clock. Somebody sent me an email that I've, looked at. That means that I know that I'm gonna have a real headache when I go into work on Tuesday morning.

[00:26:52] Cathryn: And Tuesday morning is completely different for me than Monday. And so I think engagement ebbs and flows day in, day out for a whole range of factors that no employer can actually control, because half of it has got nothing to do with that employer to begin with. So the whole concept and construct of engagement and employee experience is so highly nuanced and contextual and subjective and so on.

[00:27:20] Cathryn: And and I think the best that we can hope for is to try. But obviously we live in a world now where everything has to be measured. Everything has to have a metric and a, an outcome and a, and what have you. And actually we were talking about it before we came on air, weren't we? The whole concept of agility is trying and experimenting.

[00:27:38] Cathryn: And I think, to a large extent, the whole narrative around engagement and employee experience. Can only be undertaken on a highly experimental basis. Every day you hope that your behaviors and your discourse and your interactions will re result in engaging in other person and leaving that person feel feeling incentivized to do good work alongside you, not for you alongside you.

[00:28:08] Cathryn: We should forget. You work for me. It should be about we are a team and we work together. So the whole kind of construct of distributed working and hybrid working, yes, it's about technology, but it's also more importantly about team dynamics and how we show up for one another and how we hope that we leave others feeling when we have an interaction with them and how we would hope that other people would leave us feeling we, communication and engagement on a one to one level is a dance, isn't it? It's a dance and it's every single interaction that we have with another human being is experimental in the sense that we will never we can't anticipate.

[00:28:58] Cathryn: Before we have that conversation, what the outcome of the conversation will be. We can hope, we can have a purpose to a conversation, but we can't guarantee how we'll leave another individual feeling. And how many times have we all said, ", I hope so and so didn't think that when I said x I hope they didn't think I meant y, I think I might have said the wrong thing, I might have upset someone". Part of being human, but that is also the part that encourages us to reengage with a person so that " Scott, oh , the last time I spoke to you, I've got this horrible feeling that you might have thought that I meant Z, but this time round I'm gonna make sure that you know that I didn't mean that, I meant this instead". That's the dance, isn't it? And that's the joy of being human and interacting with one another and strengthening relationships every single time. And I think digital tools are great, but they allow so much ambiguity to form. They allow us not to correct our inter social failings. They allow misunderstanding to happen but actually the bit about human life and sociality that makes our heart sing is knowing that we've connected and understood one another in a way that allows us both to feel seen and heard.

[00:30:18] Scott: And it's linked in to what you said earlier about knowing where the organization's going and what it's about. It's good leadership. That's what's going to drive engagement with the organization from the employee's perspective. The problem is if an employee has got a bully boss, for example, that they're going to come in pretty disengaged, no matter how many amazing employee retreats the organization puts on. Or whatever shiny tool they've deployed to. I'm going to do air quotes for the people listening, engage the employees more that's the task is quite often given to internal comms teams as well. Isn't it "increase employee engagement". Like they're fighting a losing battle. If the organization is rudderless, doesn't know where it's going and the leadership's just. 

[00:30:53] Scott: Awful. No tool, no amazing communications expert is going to improve employee engagement. 

[00:30:58] Cathryn: Yeah so the the articulated vision and the direction of travel that is a new leadership imperative. Like we, everything around us in 2022 is so fragmented and chaotic and disruptive and uncertain. It has never been more important to have a really clear articulation of who we are and where we want to get to, and that to me is one of the primary leadership imperatives now. And it's and that's a never ending journey because the external forces around us are so chaotic. Articulation of vision needs to be continuously reinforced, perhaps tweaked and modified to meet the new market forces as they arise. But we need continuous iteration and, sorry, continuous repetition of those messages to help ground us as individuals and as team members.

[00:32:07] Cathryn: But back to your point about nasty bosses. You're absolutely right. You can have the clearest articulation of a vision, but unless you have the right people dynamics in play for every person within that talent ecosystem, if you've got a nasty boss or somebody who lacks self awareness, And behaves in a fashion that has negative consequences for the people around them.

[00:32:38] Cathryn: The fact of the matter is, and I know this from 20 odd years of recruiting, people don't leave organizations. They leave mean colleagues.

[00:32:49] Scott: Yeah. I've read that before. Yeah. It's scary. The impact just one person can have on a team and an organization, the damage it can do if it's just not dealt with. 

[00:32:58] Cathryn: And for me right now, I just think, these are the conversations that we need to be having. We need to be having far more conversation about the impact of our behaviors on those around us. The way that we choose our words. None of us are educated on this stuff. We're taught, we learn how to speak as toddler. That's it. Who's teaching us? We don't seem to have discourse anymore about the impact of our behavior on others. I just don't think we have enough of that. And, it's a lifelong learning, that set of skills. In the non-digital communication age, our behavior would be modified by the feedback that we received from the people around us with whom we were interacting, but in the digital age, we don't get those feedback loops because we can just turn off. We just air people. We can ghost people. We don't have to witness. Or experience the feedback of how our behavior and our words have landed with another.

[00:34:01] Scott: No, just send a slightly aggressive email or an innocent email that gets taken the wrong way. And yeah, you just don't get the body language. Whereas, if it was a conversation, you'd see. "Oh, they didn't mean mean it in that way". Yeah, you're right. Or in video calls and video calls where people just turn the cameras off. You're just talking into the ether like, "why's your camera off what are you doing?"

[00:34:19] Cathryn: Yeah. It's funny, as you were saying that, I was thinking obviously how does that translate to the good old days when we would do telephone calls instead of video calls? But

[00:34:29] Cathryn: I think our ears were trained better to understand nuance and intonation and tone.

[00:34:39] Cathryn: But because we don't have enough conversation now, it's like a muscle, isn't it? You use it or you lose it and we are less capable of interpreting and navigating. Those interpersonal specific, I can't say that word. Is it specificity? Ugh. 

[00:34:58] Scott: Specificity, 

[00:34:59] Cathryn: my god. That's a whole new podcast. . But that we just, we're not practiced.

[00:35:03] Cathryn: We're not practiced.

[00:35:04] Scott: No. So the things that need to change, obviously the world is very uncertain at the moment and leaders are struggling and they're feeling like they're losing control. I'd imagine. Are you seeing them take correct behavior or they're just making problems worse for themselves?

[00:35:16] Cathryn: Clearly, anything that I say at this point needs to be caveated with. These are general observations and there will look. We can't make general observations anymore, can we? Because actually we are at the end. The every organization is unique, every business leader is unique and so on. So I see some businesses where the leaders have absolutely intuitively recognized that creating optimal working environments where every contributor feels included and seen and heard, and recognized for their gifts. Conducive to optimal performance outcomes. So I see that going on and in other places I see the fear manifesting as a doubling down of control and hierarchy and dominance and all the negative behaviors that I feel are redundant now, and at the time of recording, I think the jury I don't think the jury is out. I think we're heading into a pretty severe economic downturn slash recession, and I think the organizations that will survive are the ones that recognize the absolute importance of human and team dynamic. 

[00:36:48] Scott: That's when the leadership really counts though. Doesn't it? 

[00:36:50] Cathryn: It really does, and I, you know what, And I might be completely wrong, obviously I'm not like Mystic Meg. I, don't have a crystal ball, but I'm very drawn to some, I'll tell you actually something that really impacted my thinking earlier this year, which is a bit bit of a left field. Somebody in my network said to me during lockdown, "Oh, I read Jason Fox", Jason Fox is one of those guys that that does the SAS program on channel four.

[00:37:20] Cathryn: I can't remember what it's called. So he's ex SAS and he'd written a book and I can't even remember the name of it, Something Under Fire Grace Under something like that. And he'd written in that book. The book was all about resilience, but actually what he had written was. Something about the team dynamics of the military and in particular the SAS.

[00:37:40] Cathryn: And what he was describing was the sort of operating principles of the SAS whereby he said, "Look, you don't need to like your teammates, but what you absolutely need to know is that your teammate, your opposite would lay their life down for you just as they need to know that you would do the same for them.

[00:38:04] Cathryn: Because you are going into life or death situations. You have to have absolutely explicit trust in another person that they will put your life before their own and vice versa". And I think that's a really interesting thing, isn't it? I think that we are now facing clearly not life or death situations, but really stressful, really complex organizational threatening context . So it, it would do us good to think about how perhaps soldiers approach complexity and team dynamics because they are the embodiment of a lived experience of life or death situations. And so I do think there's some relevance there that we could all learn from for sure.

[00:39:01] Scott: Fascinating. I could chat to you for hours about this. So one of the things I ask all my guests, if you could take one book with you to a desert island and you're trapped for the rest of your life. And you're not allowed a Kindle. What book would it be? 

[00:39:12] Cathryn: Are we talking fiction or nonfiction? 

[00:39:14] Scott: Whatever, will keep you happy. 

[00:39:15] Cathryn: Ooh. So I, And am I on my complete own on that desert island? 

[00:39:20] Scott: Yep. You're stranded on your own. 

[00:39:23] Cathryn: At which point I have to say I think I would go into fiction purely because of the escapism that fiction affords you. And I think I would take Philip Pullman His Dark Materials, which is a bit of a cheats answer cuz there's three books in that.

[00:39:40] Cathryn: It's a trilogy. But I would take that.

[00:39:42] Scott: Great. So if anyone wants to work with you, how do they get hold of you? 

[00:39:45] Cathryn: So I'm one of the co-founders at Working the Future and you can find us at And send an email from there, or of course, I'm on, on LinkedIn, Catherine Barnard, Working the Future. You can find me there and send me an invitation to connect, obviously referencing your podcast.

[00:40:03] Cathryn: Scott. But yeah, I'm always really happy to talk to people about interesting things. So glad for anyone to get in touch.

[00:40:12] Scott: Brilliant. Thanks. And I'll put those links in the show notes. Catherine, thank you for being on the show. It's been great chatting to you. 

[00:40:18] Cathryn: Cheers. Thanks for having me.

[00:40:19] Scott: A big, thank you for listening to the Rebel Diaries show. Your time is precious so it is appreciated. The show has a new Facebook group for you to engage with others, discuss topics, get access to exclusive content and let me know what you think of the show.

[00:40:32] Scott: There's a link to the group in the show notes or search Facebook for Rebel Diaries Community

[00:40:37] Scott: Until next week take care be a rebel and deliver work with impact