Behaviour change… that old chesnut

Elon Musk is a master of behaviour change. His ability to set goals and reassess them towards a final solution to a wicked problem is pretty awesome. I’m sure he hires some brilliant folks too, it’s what smart people do ūüėČ I’d like to invite you take your time and go read the article which so evocatively and succinctly captures the magic of decision making by a master such a Musk. It is so craftily captured by waitbutwhy in this awesome drawing of how Elon makes things transform from wants, to goals, to strategies.

wait but why elon musk secret to success sauce

Goals and strategies, its always been about the motivations and the moves needed to execute on them. The path of behaviour change is a strategy that many of us apply to ourselves, our tribes, and into the world. Always striving to have a growth mindset we often pursue a series of behaviour changing paths. In obtaining external goals we also see individuals and organisations seeking to change and influence behaviour for the greater good or for their own gains.

The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. РSun Tzu

How might we subdue our own change challenges by applying Tzu’s principle of not fighting?

We might do so by understanding the motivations for behaviour change on individual and group scales. I’ll be focusing on the individual this week and in preparation I wrote a bit about how motivations tie into the structure of behaviour change success. I learned that insight is drawn from the source of desires. The ‘why’ behind a motivation can make our brain prioritise burning the requisite calories in order to sustain it. Today, on the plane on the way to lovely Portland I hand wrote this wee piece about behaviour change from another frame.








I am a feedback prism, critique me please

Being critiqued can be hard. Especially if we take on all feedback thrown at us as one more¬†point of improvement on our endless growth to do list. We all have that person in our lives who we want to please. Whether it is ourselves, our mothers, our fathers, our lovers. We push our boundaries to get better. We exit our comfort zones to grow. We are sometimes perfectionists, or passionate, or type A, or we just f***ing care. We really truly deeply care. So we want to get better. We want to know we’re progressing. We want to be high performers. It can be so difficult to see the feedback forest for all the constructive criticism trees. What can we do?

A few years ago I realised the perfectionist in me was taking on all the feedback too closely. Every critique I ever received was ALL the things in myself I needed to change, to fix, to improve. Everything needed fixing! I was overwhelmed. I wasn’t always able to cope. I couldn’t rationalise what I had heard into my own path forward. At times I was paralysed. That’s when I started re-framing feedback that came my way. I began imagining myself as a feedback prism and using all my self-care abilities and human centred way of viewing the world to look at feedback in a new way.

  1. Imagine that all the feedback you get comes to you as a single stream of white light.
  2. You are a self reflecting prism. Your job is to split the feedback up into its constituent streams of light.
  3. Choose to examine and tackle the feedback in the order that works for you. You can’t and don’t need to fix everything at once.

“I am a feedback prism. Critique me please.”¬†

Feedback Prism


What is an ethnographic interview?

Recently a renewed discussion with an important colleague of mine resurfaced the common use of the phrase ‘ethnographic interview.’ We had previously discussed our concern that any old folk would be running around and using the powerful adjective of ‘ethnographic’ without putting any deep¬†ethno power behind the phrase. This weekend I sat down on the dock with Charlie, my dog,¬†and wrote out my thoughts in long hand, hence you’ll have a chance to¬†enjoy¬†the loopy cursive, occasional misspelling, and unedited sentence structures. It is hopefully worth a read, I promise you a twist is in store for those lucky readers who stick it out!

p.s. if it is truly¬†awful to load the scans or difficult to read let me know and I’ll put it on the to-do list to type it up soon ūüėČ


Ethnography in the strategic core, non-attachment, & weaponising empathy

(*This is a post on ethnography, strategy, & non-attachment written in first person voice for ease of reading, in many cases there are many ‘we’s’ involved and entire villages that helped me see clearly)

There is this older blog post of mine where I proposed uniting agile & ethnography through their common thread of stories . It has been getting heaps of readers this week. To be very honest the stats kept pinging through which reminded me I should maybe write something of interest for my future self to recall this time in life and my vision emerging from the fog.

Lately I’ve been attempting to weave. Working to weave together the concepts of ethnography and the strategic core of business decision making. In the last year I felt my career vision crystallising into “how can we get empathy to be felt & utilised in the core strategic business decision making machinery?” This is a timely vision with the huge shift in the market place toward purpose driven businesses. I feel this mirrored through our species beginning to awaken¬†to the fact that if we don’t figure out how to be¬†kind to our home and ourselves we might not even want to live on a diseased and discontent rock swirling around a fireball.

This recent thinking brings me to today’s musings and proposal: I propose we meet the world’s wicked problems with weaponised empathy, there is no better way to make a better world.¬†The risk of confinement to a single mindset exceeds the cost of expanding your skillsets into the realm of weaponised empathy.

It would be hard to change a lot of the fundamentals behind how our planet is run by our 8 billion strong tribe. After all, culture is a very slow technology, and don’t let the speed of subcultural developments fool you. The fundamental mechanisms of scapegoating and emulating drive our desires and actions in such deep ways that even those most committed to the growth mindset fall into their traps. We must have examples of good and bad in order to learn, and we learn by mimicking and reading reactions to behaviours. Even the most profound buddhist teaching of non-attachment must be passed through language and example. (I resonate with these words about non-attachment)

Now back to the vision that’s been emerging:¬†“how can we get empathy to be felt & utilised in the core strategic business decision making machinery?” My hypothesis behind this is that ethnography’s power lies in the transformation of the observer. Not in their ‘going native’ but in their ability to take on perspectives in order to expand their own knowledge and conciousness. I’ve only been doing ethno-work for a few years now, and I feel so empowered to spread the influence of the customer into the minds of leadership in organisations. In fact I got so attached to this role of going into the field to bring back the points of view that I threw quite a few tantrums earlier in my career when the bulldozing of the space to get out into the field took too long or caused the precious time spent with customers in the field to evaporate. Then 2 years ago I flipped my thinking & my role, I started to work to become¬†the best bulldozer I could be and began teaching others to do the work. I became non-attached to doing the work and the outcomes of the work. Any ethnographic thinking was more helpful than none at all. At least there was a glimmer of a chance of empathy. I simply delighted in the ability to get to propel others out there to have the transformational perspective taking experiences that I had had the privilege of having previously.¬†That moment was my first true understanding of combining a growth mindset with non-attachment.

Now about ethnography at the strategic core. This is a hypothesis many of us have heard of, or attempted, or mused upon. It’s one of those funny things which feels weird when you mention it to people… ethnography? in core strategic business decision making? You must mean ethnography to ideate on which products to build and how to build them. You might mean ethnography used to transform the organisation itself so it produces better upon its strategy… That’s not what I mean. I mean ethnographic practice that directly transforms the leaders, employees, & customers themselves into the powerhouse of driving strategic decisions & change. We’re all in it together and we can only learn from each other. Empathy through ethnography to empower a changing of the lens as we move into the era of purpose driven businesses. For all these very reasons most design thinking methodologies begin with empathy and insight discovery tools.

We’ve read and heard how PARC at Xerox & Intel have done it at times in a variety of ways. It is likely there could be a company out there kicking a** at it right now, but I’d never know. It is weaponised empathy, a smart business wouldn’t announce their latest greatest strategy artillery to the world. But on the other hand you see it everyday in the world’s most successful Kickstarter campaign, TED talks, start-ups, & radically astute¬†solutions to world problems. Weaponised empathy is at the strategic core in all these cases, and those weapons are aimed directly at the world’s wickedest problems.¬†

Let’s come back to non-attachment and why it matters to the weaponisation of empathy, that thing we need to tackle the world’s issues. If¬†you can imagine everyone getting a little bit of an ethnographic skillset. Give folks out there just a touch of ethno-mindset to help them take on perspectives through a human centric, design research methodology. Sure it would be hard to teach so many people something so deep. If we were to non-attach ourselves to the business outcomes, and just injected those ethno-skills as well as we possibly could, what would happen? Would we not achieve the business outcomes anyway? Would people not be more open and observant of others? Would communications and actions in organisations not become more mindful of perspectives? Would customers needs today and tomorrow not be more easily understandable or accessible? Would insights not be readily available at the finger tips of every single employee? Would those employees not be more happy, effective, and mindful of customers current & future needs? Would not these people create better outcomes… even if those were not the outcomes traditional business strategies would dictate?

Wicked problems take empathy to tackle because the only thing in common in every wicked problem is that there are people and motivations involved. If we were to become non-attached to the outcomes and just did the absolute best we could from a place of compassion and empathy… how could our results not be ‘better’?

A great many of us in the innovation world, the ethnography world, the whole world just want to make an impact that makes this world a better place. We want to give a little bit of a contribution so that the next one along or the one next to us can learn from our journey. We can’t let the machinery we’ve been born into crush our ability to act upon and for the best outcomes for¬†this place. No more can we become attached and paralyses by the outcomes we might achieve or fail to achieve, we simply must strive to do our best. I propose our best is to meet the world’s wicked problems with weaponised empathy.¬†

From @picardtips: “Picard economic tip: The risks of confinement to a single planet exceed the costs of interstellar travel.’

Hedge your bets because we’re all in it together.

The risk of confinement to a single mindset exceeds the cost of expanding your skillsets into the realm of weaponised empathy.¬†Love is all you need to make the world a better place, but the knack is in how you use it. Weaponise your empathy and you can aim your sights at the world’s wickedest problems. Ethnography for all and into the strategic core. Intrepid explorers! Who is¬†coming along on the journey?

“If there is one ideal that the Federation holds most dear, it is that all men, all races can be united.” – Captain Jean-Luc Picard






IBM’s Watson can analyse your personality based on your writings… and for me it was spot on!

The IBM Watson Personality Insights service uses linguistic analytics to extract a spectrum of cognitive and social characteristics from the text data that a person generates through blogs, tweets, forum posts, and more.

Go try it for yourself here:

IBM’s gigantic super smart computer Watson can now analyse your personality based on your writing. Give it between 3000 and 6000 words of your personally reflective opinions and thoughts, and it will whiz bang you better than any personality test I have seen. I highly recommend reading The Secret Life of Pronouns,¬†by: James Pennebaker which was used in the Watson analyses.

What did Watson have to say about me?

“You are heartfelt.

You are empathetic: you feel what others feel and are compassionate towards them. You are assertive: you tend to speak up and take charge of situations, and you are comfortable leading groups. And you are proud: you hold yourself in high regard, satisfied with who you are.

You are motivated to seek out experiences that provide a strong feeling of well-being.

You are relatively unconcerned with tradition: you care more about making your own path than following what others have done. You consider helping others to guide a large part of what you do: you think it is important to take care of the people around you.”

*Compared to most people who participated in our surveys.
Rock on Watson!

RE-MOTIVATION: “If you’re not also in the arena getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.”

The art of re-motivation: championing yourself

Welcome to my re-birth! Rise phoenix! Rise!

Your critics all got burned up in your last demise!

‚ÄúIt is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.‚ÄĚ
‚Äē Theodore Roosevelt

“If you’re not also in the arena getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.”

‚Äē Brene Brown

I’ve been a rather demotivated design ethnographer lately. It has been a decades long journey for me to be able to say these sorts of things aloud, but I’m doing it here so you can feel with me.¬†I am in the middle of a very long Sisyphean rock roll uphill. (Aren’t we all?) I’ve been here for a while. I will probably be here for a while yet.¬†I have talked it through with members of my team and my leaders. Other folks are doing what they can to support me through this mid winter, seasonally compounded slump. I love the people I work with and the amazing perspective they help me achieve.

It came about when I started to feel like an askhole (someone who asks others for advice / feedback but doesn’t take on-board anything when they don’t like what they hear). I’ve been working on this stuff for what seems like forever. I thought I was done. Yet, all the feedback and interested parties just kept coming. All these people who have an interest but haven’t made it any easier. All these people who have feedback or something to say without saying much at all. All these critics and critical thinkers expounding on what needs to be done better, paralysing me into taking¬†very little baby steps so as not to offend anyone. BAH! Out of my way! BAH!

As a consultant you get the creation to a recognisable format to tell the story meaningfully of what must happen and then you hand the baby over to others so they can raise the child to be a fully functioning ‘thing.’ What I had not counted on, as I changed roles this last year, was that I was now responsible for this child until it was a fully functioning thing. I had thought this was what I wanted when I changed roles. I wanted to see my babies grow up. Who knew raising babies was such hard work?, and it is never done! So just when I thought it made sense and the adoptive parents would swoop in… turns out there are no adoptive owners, you own this thing. Yes you! The ethnographer, you the researcher, you the ‘other’ must become one of us now and raise this child. Yeah yeah, so I’m learning new skills. Yeah growth is uncomfortable. Yeah anything worth doing is hard. Got it, now how to we get ourselves to feeling better when out of FLOW and in a slump?

If I am one thing it is stubborn, and I do not quit when I’ve signed on for something. I can think of so many instances where I signed my name on the dotted line for huge, expansive, massive adventures and then want to dash part of the way through. I never do. I cannot stand to think of leaving something half done. To imagine my name on something that is only partially complete makes my spine crawl. So I will persevere, I will keep coming back and trying new ways. I will be fuelling my fire from a diverse range of support systems. I will be looking at the issues with fresh eyes and from new angles. I will make this baby sing its way into a glorious adulthood.

So what has changed? What has helped me rally out of discontent?

  • Talking -> to those closest to me at home and at work
  • This too shall pass & I’m gonna make it go! Brrrrmmmm BRRRMMM!
  • Done is simply putting one foot in front of the other repeatedly while breathing deeply.
  • Today I watched Brene Brown talk about sweaty creatives and the arena & critics: Here is Brene‚Äôs full speech:

So if you’re feeling what I’m feeling drop me a comment or a tweet (@aliciadudek) & let’s help each other with our stories.

Business as movements by John Hagel – Centre for the Edge Talks – Sydney June 2nd, 2015

John Hagel from the Deloitte Centre for the Edge gave an interesting talk at Deloitte in Sydney today. He was all about that narrative and that creation space! How you need those two working together to craft a movement & such! Here is my on the fly visual capture of the conversation. I haven’t seasoned it yet so take it with a grain of salt. #BAM Find out more about John & corporate narratives here

You can click on the images to expand them to larger size & higher quality.

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How fungus foraging is like business + South Aussie guest blogger: Mel talks mushroom foraging!

Boletus Edulis a.k.a. my precious
Boletus Edulis a.k.a. my precious

I am a fungus fanatic. I have always adored hunting for our fungus overlords. I affectionately call them a variety of pet names.

Boletus Edulis, or Porchini as you might know it, is a find that never ceases to make my heart flutter. It is a hobby with magnificent rewards and myco-mania at its best.

I often liken it to business development activities. The parallel is natural to me. To be successful you must look under dozens of trees. We forage in a variety of micro climatic, time disparate, 4 dimensional spaces in order to identify the moment of finding our target. Similarly in business you must have your finger on the pulse in order to pursue the fruitful endeavours that make you happy and make you money.

Once you have found the identified and qualified target, you must inspect it thoroughly for defects, hangers on, and possible future problems. Then you weigh the decision does it belong in my basket? Is it good enough to carry all the way back to the car, drive home, clean and cook / dehydrate? Same with projects and business pursuits, is it worth the slice of my time that it is going to require?

Next comes the risk radar and decision making equipment. Do I want it? Will it be right? Will it go as planned?

The answer is always it depends.

Fungus and business my two hobbies for life.

Have a gander at this simple post from fellow fungus fanatic Mel Haynes.

Guest blogger: Mel talks mushroom foraging!.

Warning! A rant on thoughtless interactors!

thoughtless interactor

Have you ever been on the receiving end of a thoughtless interactor? Have you ever been approached by a person whose thoughtlessness in their communication to you created irritation? An interaction that simply bamboozled you in its obliviousness and immediately annoyed you? Someone who just made you shake your head in disgust and ask:

  • Why are you emailing, texting, or calling me at inopportune moments?
  • Why are you¬†sending massively verbose documents and requiring feedback via email?
  • Why do you think that I don’t want to interact with you?

As a thoughtless interactor could it be that you are on the receiving end of these negative client/customer* situations?

  • Because you haven’t taken the time to get to know me enough to gauge how I will take your message. Stop charging ahead with what you want from me before you understand me.
  • Because you keep making more work for me. Stop adding things to my to-do list and make it easy for me to talk to you.
  • Because I don’t like your thoughtless approach to getting what you want from me. Stop and think before you¬†create an interaction.

Basic human interaction design principles centre around lessening the ‘cognitive burden’ on the client or customer of the interaction. Many daily interactions could be better with a small dose of human interaction common sense!

Basic interaction design principles would encourage us all to:

  1. Understand the client/customer & their world
  2. Know your role in interacting with the client / customer
  3. Craft your messaging, medium, & response required from the client / customer to fit or exceed their expectations
  4. Follow through & follow-up to create follower-ship (the making of advocates)
  5. Be fun, different, & a breath of fresh air (apply the power of positivity)

Let’s all be thoughtful interactors! Huzzah!

Rant over.

*Remember that everyone you interact with is your client or customer in one way or another. When in doubt follow the chain of customer-ship.