I love this picture because everyone’s washing up brush will look like this after a while. (scary enough, so will many toothbrushes…) It made me think about pressure in a team context. A washing-up brush works, like any other brush, at the tip of the bristles. Too much pressure and you will not use the tip, the effective part of the brush, but the middle of the bristle. The result is that you have to scrub harder and harder to have any effect at all. Before you know it the brush is worn out. In many teams pressure is used to get things done. Individuals or whole teams are put under pressure to achieve a result. This is good. Pressure makes things happen faster than they would happen without the pressure. When applying pressure, though, we have to be careful about the level of pressure. Whatever we are trying to achieve, pressure works when we use the tip of the bristle. Pushing harder and harder just because a little pressure works, is counterproductive. The added benefit of not applying too much is that the brush will last a lot longer too. If you really need to apply more pressure (and you probably don’t), then try a different tool. Just like washing-up, the brush doesn’t tackle everything. Sometimes you need a scourer: different tool, different pressure. If you were planning to apply some pressure today, consider the washing-up…

Communicate, communicate, communicate


A recent HBR article outlined the science of teamwork, which we summarised as ‘communicate, communicate, communicate’.  I also discussed this topic with a recent podcast guest Anneleen Kaptein and again the summary would be the same; communicate, communicate, communicate. Many of the issues that arise when people are trying to achieve something together come from a lack of communication. It is worthwhile reminding ourselves that it is our responsibility to communicate! 1. Communicate at the start of a team task. Establish clarity on the goal  and what is expected of every team member Agree the ground rules for working together Set the milestones and checkpoints 2. Communicate during the task Praise Give feedback Be critical (repeat) 3. Communicate at the end of a task Make sure everyone knows the task (and the teamwork) is complete Evaluate, even if everything went the way you wanted it to Celebrate, even if not everything went the way you expected It is never too late to start communicating and it doesn’t matter what your role is in the team. Everyone has the responsibility to communicate, communicate,…

Impossible? – Get P!NK

The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. ~Nelson Mandela Normally when I am in the car I listen to podcasts and audiobooks, but recently I was running around town with my daughter in the car. The radio was on. We heard two songs (and what must have been a dozen adverts!), and they could not have further apart. The first song made me depressed : James Arthur’s rendition of ‘Impossible’. The title alone should have made me cringe but the song was enough to make me want to drive the car into the first big tree we saw! Impossible Fortunately the next song played was P!NK’s ‘Try’. The contrast could not have been greater and the irony was completely lost on the presenter.  Try Impossible? I just can’t get my head around it. Why be so negative? The topic of P!NK’s song is no more exciting; both songs are about finding and losing love, and even the tone in both is quite minor. But the title (try) and message in the song is so much more positive. Got to get up and try try try. This theme of trying, of getting up every time we fall, is often quoted as one of life’s greatest achievements and a mark of a life lived to the fullest. I certainly have tried, fallen and tried again many times so far and will no doubt do so many times more. This wisdom is as old as philosophy and has most recently been attributed to Nelson Mandela. In a perfect antidote to seemingly impossible obstacles Mr Mandela kept his composure and tried, tried, tried. Rising every time he fell. It pays us well to remember one of his other great quotes: “It always seems impossible until it’s done” Whether you are rallying a people, a nation, yourself or your team: you’ve got to get up and try try try….