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So far Aiden Choles has created 246 blog entries.

The paradox of listening to your staff in a Fast & Slow world

The debate. I had a heated exchange with a client last year about how quickly an organisational culture changes in medium to large organisations and whether relying on an annual staff survey as the main dose of engagement and culture insights was optimal for leadership and employees. Her position was that culture changes slowly, taking multi-year cycles to bear fruit from change and transformation journeys. Based on this premise, she was quite comfortable with running a staff engagement survey once every 12 to 18 [...]

By |January 10th, 2018|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

The holy cows, hamster wheels & not-so-deep dives of staff surveys

One of the things that gets in the way of fostering a healthy culture in large organisations is the very thing we implement to address culture: annual staff surveys. Although well-intentioned (we do after all want to know how our people feel about their organisational world), annual staff surveys tend to throw us onto a hamster wheel that ensures we never achieve meaningful change. Here are just two aspects of how our reliance on quantitative staff surveys introduces constraints to meaningful [...]

By |June 8th, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

A plea to take back the pen in your work story

"I suffered a severe stroke leaving me paralyzed for many months. The cause: work pressure and how I didn't handle it correctly." This was the start of an email I received a few months after publishing The Broken Boss in 2014. He believed that Howard's story in the book mirrored his own story. When Natasha and I were writing the story of Howard, we had in mind the archetype of a senior leader who's work story was on a trajectory to ruin. [...]

By |June 8th, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Tracking science and engineering students’ experiences using participatory narrative approaches

This post was originally published by the Association of Commonwealth Universities on 22nd April 2015 (link). 'Even a spoonful of narrative is worth more than oceans of opinion' - Cynthia Kurtz (2014) This blog post will discuss how a Participatory Narrative Inquiry (PNI) approach was used in the evaluation of the Sasol Inzalo Foundation's bursary programme in South Africa. As part of the evaluation process, students were encouraged to record their experiences using self-quantified narratives, with the aim of using the insights [...]

By |April 28th, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Bitch switches

Small talk at recent client meetings has revolved around the now infamous CellC CEO’s, Jose Dos Santos, statements around women in the workplace. He made himself quite unpopular in a radio interview by drawing on a caveman mindset, candidly referring to the role of pretty woman in the workplace (men suddenly shave when they work with beautiful woman) and how women have a “bitch switch” that turns on when they are competing for promotions. It’s a storm in a teacup, some have [...]

By |April 28th, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Getting out of the values trap

What are we to do when our efforts to embed the corporate values are failing? Are they compelling enough to inspire an authentic culture? Do they make enough sense on the ground to guide everyday decision-making? A series of client conversations has got me wondering about the state of organisational values. I really thought that we had matured enough in our understanding of HR, organisational development and leadership to not be stuck in the same old trap of trying to [...]

By |April 7th, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Challenging the growth story

If you're of the working class you should really take some time today to read this brilliant essay from Bertrand Russell, titled "In Praise of Idleness". Written in 1932, Russell challenges the idea that there is virtue in work and casts a vision for what our world would be like if we worked less and leisured more. It's fascinating to consider how relevant his argument is so many years later given the fact that we are mainly knowledge workers now. [...]

By |February 11th, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Bridging Worlds

Instead of relying on the silo metaphor to describe the ineffectiveness of how we work together in organisations, let’s rather see how we participate in ‘worlds’ that can be bridged. Shifting the metaphor means we let go of the desire to ‘break down’ barriers, choosing a constructive means of investing in connectedness. I do not believe that the metaphors we use to describe our organisations are innocent. They have a real impact on they way we work. For example, in [...]

By |February 9th, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

What’s the story here?

There are two simple but powerful questions you can use to make sense of what is happening in your team or organisation. They will bring out the 'silent themes’ that are holding you back. I was facilitating a team story process recently with a senior management team which is tasked with some hefty targets within a multinational firm. After an hour or so of conversation I observed something peculiar about the way the people interacted with each other. I would pose a question and a [...]

By |February 9th, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

News: formation of the PNI Institute

We are really proud to announce that we are founding partners of The Participatory Narrative Inquiry Institute at Alongside Cynthia Kurtz (of Working With Stories fame), Harold van Garderen (Top-innosense) and Ron Donaldson (Ecology of Knowledge) we have formed the PNI Institute out of a desire to connect PNI practitioners and to advance the theory, methods, tools and application of PNI on a global scale. Please visit the website, connect and subscribe to our blog feed to receive regular articles [...]

By |October 2nd, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments