Do we live in 2017 or 1917 ? / Learning every day – part 2

My reflections in part 1 – – of this 2-part blog series led me to cross reference a range of studies recently around engagement and productivity as below.

Mission, Purpose & Values

Should it matter that only 1 in 5 employees, at best, believe in their organisations mission (row 2 below), the results of which are based on a survey of 7068 respondents by Blessing White in 2013?

blessing 1

To me it does matter.  To me, this states that 4 in 5 people go to into work every morning without aligning their personal and work values, to at least some degree.

In 2017, with the evidence of neuroscience, positive psychology, CIPD research etc proving how important work with purpose is for individuals, with only 1 in 5 employees currently believing in their organisations mission, could this mean:

  • That ethics are sometimes being left at the door? If we look at the financial crisis in 08/09, the lack of purpose outside of the profit motive (result) could be a factor
  • Could this mean that when we see bullying occurring, we turn a blind eye to protect our own position?
  • Could this mean that our workplaces are, at times, fuelled by fear / lack bravery?
  • Could this mean that our organisations are not effectively structured to allow us to learn every day?

There is a lot going on in here but I firmly believe that a lack of organisation purpose, for employees to deeply believe in, is to some extent a factor as to these lower levels of values alignment evidenced above.

To coin @simonsinek ‏and his Golden Circle model, how often do any of us “start with why” when reflecting on any aspect of our work or personal lives?

Shauna O Handley’s talk was hugely inspirational at the CIPD L&D Show in 2016 when she spoke so eloquently about how she used this very model to shift the culture within her organisation.


If I may, lets carry out a small exercise:

  • Why does your organisation exist?
  • Why do you work for your organisation?
  • Do your personal values and beliefs align well with the organisations values and beliefs?

How often indeed, when we are faced with a challenge or a query, do we simple ask that most basic of questions, “why?”  This simple 3 letter word, I feel, is a critical word in supporting continuous improvement and learning every day.  The day we stopping asking why is the day learning stops.

Interestingly @DanielPink recently tweeted the following link which wonderfully reinforces the above messaging around the importance of truly starting with why.

Engagement vs Productivity

From here I reflected on the same survey by Blessing White of 7068 respondent’s, which was a global survey across multiple continents, from which we see engagement levels of only 1 in 3 being people fully engaged (orange row below) in their work?

blessing 2

This is not a unique statistic.

Gallup and Towers Watson, both powerhouses within the engagement research arena, have carried out significant studies over the past years which consistently come back with 1 in 3 employees (or thereabouts) being fully engaged.  The most recent examples being a Gallup survey of 320,000 people registering 29% as fully engaged and a Towers Watson survey of 32,000 people registering 35% as fully engaged.  These are huge surveys.

So using these 3 completely separate studies, for every £1 we invest in this so called ‘Human Capital,’ we are deriving only 33p of highly engaged, fully committed productivity.

Conversely, what a huge opportunity to turn the above engagement level and in turn productivity levels around. 

The OECD released its 2016 report on the GDP slowdown of advanced nations (as below), which shows that the UK fares badly.


Looking at the leader/line manager level, the below recent article in The Telegraph cites ‘bad managers’ as a major challenge to UK productivity.


Depending which article, blog or report you read, between 50% and 60% of employees leave their manager and not the organisation they work for.  Do organisations and line managers ask “why?” that is happening?

In amongst all of this I smile as I had the pleasure of meeting @happyhenry at his most wonderful of offices in London during a recent WorldBlu event.  Henry is one of the most vocal advocates for freedom in the workplace of which he is an approved WorldBlu freedom centred workplace , which includes allowing people to change their line manager if the relationship stops working.  Sounds a little cuckoo right?  Not if you see the above news article and the consistent statistic that people don’t leave their organisation, they leave their line manager.

Summary and the way forward

Seeing the evidence of poor alignment to organisational mission/purpose (1 in 5 people), only 1 in 3 employees being fully engaged and on-going, sub optimal productivity all says to me, that the time is right for a wholesale change in the way we lead and learn within our organisations and our workplaces.

I personally feel that the two key areas holding many organisations back today in 2017 are:

1)      Too many organisations lack effective leadership (humility and bravery) and organisational structures (not designed to be adaptive) to handle 21st century operation, including technological change

2)      Too many organisations prefer the safety of fixed mindset hierarchies, protecting the power base and those close to them over the growth mindset productivity goldmine that could arise from more openly collaborative, cross functional networking for concurrent individual and organisational growth

If every single individual within every single organisation sought to learn or improve something, every day, could the above trends be reversed?  I think so.

Both of the above points, for me, sit heavily with the overarching purpose and culture of organisations, an area that I am deeply passionate and purposeful to help change, in whatever way I can, going forward.

This means then, to me, that we need to start transforming our organisations and be ready that transformation may become the new normal, as scary as that will be to many.  I have had the pleasure of reflecting on HR and wider societal transformational topics with @PerryTimms over the past weeks and I must say, I am very excited to get hold of his book in Oct when it comes out.  It WILL be game changing.


This is the evolution of the Deliberately Developmental Organisation (DDO) which will become the norm for the highest performing organisations moving the alignment of one’s personal values to that of the organisation, thereby driving improved engagement, motivation and in turn productivity.  These DDOs, importantly, also operate without fear.  They challenge, they have brutally open dialogue (always dealing with the ‘truth’) but never fear.

The middle part is a key personal focus at this time following my WorldBlu experience last week as I reflect on my Power Question every day for 30 days, but I firmly believe that every human being should strive and be allowed to learn every day, no matter how large or small that daily learning is.

This has been evidenced by 3 work colleagues actively showing interest to go through The Power Question Process within the past week, which in itself demonstrates that with an open mind, it is truly possible to learn something every day.

Learning = Growth.  Fact.

“Start with why, be free from fear and strive to learn every day.”

In summary I quote one of the simplest equations ever known to man as follows:

Shared Purpose leads to Higher Engagement leads to Higher Productivity.  The above I feel reinforces that message.

All of which has to be underpinned by learning every day

Any comments or feedback as to your viewpoint are greatly appreciated.  Debate is good and again fuels learning and growth.

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