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April 25, 2023

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‘Be More Dog!’ – A cultural change

Tony Roscoe, Director at Implexis Consulting shares his thoughts on failure and a lesson learnt from canine behaviour… 

Tony Roscoe, Director at Implexis

During a couple of meetings recently with new clients discussing how they felt that they had, in different ways, become either ‘stuck’ or that they needed to change their approach in terms of culture and behaviour change but did not know how, a phrase that I use quite often came to mind, “be more dog”.

This is an odd phrase when we are talking about being confronted with a problem to which there is seemingly no simple solution, but if you think about how a dog behaves when it is confused, it simply turns its head on the side to look at the problem from a completely different angle. This is a valuable lesson for us when we are confronted with obstacles to change, look at the problem from a different angle.

At Implexis, we often talk about staff ownership and stakeholder involvement, but why is it that is so important? Because they will look at the problem from a completely different angle and come up with highly creative and ingenious solutions, but only if we allow them to.

So how do we allow them to?

A key part to this is a second thing that we can learn from our canine friends – that it is okay to fail.

HedgeI walk my dog through fields in the morning and every morning she chases the rabbits (which she has no chance of catching), she does this because it is fun, not because she really wants to catch one (she did find an ill one once and just wondered why it wasn’t playing the game and running away!).

So, the pleasure of chasing rabbits for her is not diminished by never succeeding in catching a rabbit, i.e. it is okay to fail.

Making it okay to fail is an essential part of any culture of continual improvement. We humans will often not attempt a solution to a problem simply because it may fail.

Failing is how we learn, failing is how we continue to improve. My dog doesn’t chase rabbits to catch them, she chases them because it is fun, and that is exactly what a culture of continual improvement should be, fun!

A culture where we are learning, we are trying new things (because we looked at the problem from a different angle) and if this approach doesn’t work, we celebrate that we learnt something and move on to the next opportunity to learn.

So, in summary, next time you are confronted with a difficult problem, be more dog! Look at it from another angle and don’t be afraid to fail.

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