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John Le Drew on Solving Technical Problems by Addressing Human Issues

| Podcast with John Le Drew Follow 0 Followers by Shane Hastie Follow 28 Followers on Sep 11, 2018 |

In this podcast recorded at the Agile India conference Shane Hastie, Lead Editor for Culture & Methods, spoke to John Le Drew about solving technical problems by addressing the people issues.

Key Takeaways

  • Very diverse teams will naturally have conflict, but they still produce better outcomes despite the journey being more of a struggle to get there
  • Cognitive biases are real and are an evolutionary survival tactic and we need to be very mindful of them
  • We all like to think that we aren’t biased, but the imbalances in team formation and hiring practices are still perpetuated
  • We can’t reprogram our brains to remove biases, the way to overcome them is to be aware of them
  • If you address your people as unique human beings with individual needs and work out how to support them in the best way possible for their needs then you will get better outcomes

Show Notes

  • 0:35 Introductions
  • 1:58 John’s talk titled “Diversity, Chocolate & Safe Cracking
  • 2:10 More diverse teams get better outcomes
  • 2:35 Very diverse teams will naturally have conflict, but they still produce better outcomes despite the journey being more of a struggle to get there
  • 3:00 You need to create a safe environment for conflict to occur
  • 3:32 Looking for a way to clearly show how different viewpoints can see problems in different ways
  • 3:54 Describing the Perspex safe which needs different viewpoints to solve the problem
  • 6:08 Cognitive biases are real and are an evolutionary survival tactic and we need to be very mindful of them
  • 6:35 We haven’t changed much in 30000 years of human evolution
  • 6:55 In evolutionary terms this is a short time period
  • 7:38 Examples of how those biases manifest in social settings
  • 8:14 Cognitive bias impacts the recruitment process
  • 8:32 We still have a gender pay gap and massively disproportionate representation of different groups in technology
  • 9:04 There is a disproportionate number of men called “Dave” or “John” leading large global corporations
  • 9:48 We all like to think that we aren’t biased, but these imbalances are perpetuated
  • 10:08 How we feel affinity for certain candidates in the recruitment process even before we meet them
  • 11:46 An example of a team with six men named John
  • 14:40 Explaining the various biases which come into play in the employment process
  • 15:32 The importance of consciously checking you decisions for the influence of bias  
  • 15:58 Describing the impact of the halo effect
  • 16:48 The horns effect has the opposite impact to the halo effect and biases us against someone
  • 17:42 Examples of how this plays out in the hiring process
  • 18:02 The difference between decisions based on skills (eg language proficiency) and biased decision making
  • 34:20 How different biases reinforce each other
  • 18:56 Describing confirmation bias
  • 19:06 How choice affinity bias reinforces the impact of confirmation bias
  • 20:38 Examples of how the positive bias can make us miss signals that indicate the decision is a bad one
  • 21:28 A study that showed that people who don’t believe they have biases are more biased than those who acknowledge they have them
  • 22:01 We can’t reprogram our brains to remove biases, the way to overcome them is to be aware of them
  • 22:50 How to deliberately explore your biases through a conversation in the hiring process
  • 23:42 When faced with a complex problem deliberately pair with someone who has a different viewpoint to yours
  • 25:14 The most common biases in the recruitment process are the horns effect, the halo effect, confirmation bias, conformity bias, affinity bias
  • 26:20 Using flash cards to remind yourself that these biases exist and to be conscious of them
  • 27:20 Biases are part of system one thinking and they are not always wrong
  • 28:48 Gut feel is not wrong all the time – it is often right, the key is to be mindful about our process
  • 29:14 An example of mindfully allowing system one thinking to tackle a problem
  • 30:48 Facilitation skills are really important In order to enable healthy conflict in diverse teams
  • 31:30 The ICA Facilitation class
  • 31:16 Advice on how to facilitate a diverse team activity
  • 33:08 Facilitation includes bringing divergent opinions to the fore
  • 33:28 The role of the facilitator is to build the safe space for conflict to happen
  • 33:38 Techniques and practices to build respect in a team
  • 34:20 Describing how the showing appreciations exercise from Norm Kerth builds team cohesion
  • 36:18 Being told thank you feels good and builds social cohesion
  • 37:05 Describing the Management 3.0 practice of Personal Maps and why they help build empathy
  • 38:03 The story of an outsource engagement which had broken down and how it was overcome through pairing and collaboration to build empathy
  • 44:18 We find diversity threating not because of moral objections, rather it is because of the fear of complexity and human messiness
  • 45:32 The biggest risk to delivery on any project is the people working on the team
  • 46:20 An example of how fear of consequences results in risk factors being hidden
  • 47:00 How employment practices need to change to accommodate people’s circumstances (John’s personal circumstance of not working Mondays because he is a single parent)
  • 47:48 The ThoughtWorks approach – as much as it is feasible they will make flexible hours work
  • 48:20 Why being flexible in your working practices is cost effective 
  • 48:48 If you address your people as unique human beings with individual needs and work out how to support them in the best way possible for their needs then you will get better outcomes
  • 49:48 If you want to get the most value out of your people then you must see to their needs
  • 50:50 One of the most valuable things a company can do to engage their people is to provide opportunities for them to learn and develop themselves
  • 51:10 Engages staff members are your best advocates for employing good people
  • 51:52 If people don’t want to work in your organisation, then what are you doing wrong?
  • 52:04 Discussing what happens when the organisation environment is unhealthy and how the contractor rates paid get pushed up in those types of organisations in order to have anyone actually stay there

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