Thought Leadership 2016 – Evolution of the Workplace Part 2

We’ve already looked at the first keynote speaker from our latest Thought Leadership event, Marc Bird from Kinnarps. Now we can move on to Grant Morffew from Omada Consulting, with the intriguingly entitled, “That First Time You Picked Your Nose”!

Grant founded Omada Consulting in 2003, using psychology to make a difference to the results executives achieve and the way they lead their organisations, their people and the communities in which they serve.

Grant’s perspective on the evolving workplace looks at one of the most important aspects of any business, and especially in relation to an office design project; its people.

And the title? We’ll get to that later.

That First Time Picked Your Nose


“The three big levers of culture are people, place and technology; but I think place is probably the strongest determinant of culture”

Jeremy Myerson, Helen Hamlyn Chair of Design, Royal College of Art


Unsurprisingly, the work of Jeremy Myerson comes up again. In this context, while place will often be seen as an important factor in encouraging productivity in the workplace, Grant suggested that all too often, the importance of the people in the workplace can be overlooked.


“It’s not the tools that you have faith in – tools are just tools. They work, or they don’t work. It’s people you have faith in or not.”

Steve Jobs


The answer to one question should clarify this point. Would you prefer working with a great boss and a fantastic team in a poor office space, or a poor boss and a demotivating team in a fantastic office?


When stress is present in the workplace it will typically be the result of changes experienced by the workforce. Successful teams can be measured on 4 criteria;

  • Trust
  • Attitude
  • Skill
  • Knowledge

Difficulties will often occur because individuals feel challenged in one or more of these areas. This will invariably be due to a misalignment in the company culture, which needs to be communicated from the highest levels of the business. Sometimes, using executive coaching to try and resolve these kinds of issues can be seen as interfering. However, when it’s done well, it should be about supporting the business and reducing these feelings of uncertainty.

The 6 Fundamentals of Team Effectiveness™

70% of the work undertaken by Omada is working with teams rather than individuals. An audit is a good place to start and Grant offered the 6 areas that they focus on when looking at the effectiveness. This allows a business can rate their teams from 0 to 10 on the following factors.



Clarity and alignment on the vision, mission, strategy, purpose, goals and objectives of the team.



Clarity and alignment on the roles and responsibilities of team members.



Clarity and alignment on the operating principles of the team and then sticking to them (e.g. practices such as timing and format of meetings, how decisions are made, how we can reduce “administrivia”, unnecessary meetings, calls and bureaucracy).



Clarity and agreement on the requisite behaviours and values of the team and then demonstrating them routinely.



Taking time to reflect, often as a team, on how team members are working together and the development needs of both the team as a whole and individual team members.



Actively managing the reputation of the team.



Medici Visits

Grant then looked at one method of effecting change within a business that could relate directly to the evolution of the workplace.


“The best ideas arise from interdisciplinary intersections.”

Frans Johansson, The Medici Effect


Business strategist, Frans Johansson, wrote in his book, The Medici Effect, about The Intersection: a place where ideas and concepts from diverse industries, cultures, departments, and disciplines collide. The name of the book comes from the Medici Dynasty, an Italian banking family that came to power in the 14th century. It looks at examples of how Renaissance painters, sculptors, poets, philanthropists, scientists, philosophers, financiers, and architects, supported by the Medici family, shaped innovation in areas outside of their own specialist areas.

From this came the idea of ”Medici Visits”; opportunities to take the best ideas from industries outside of a business’ natural habitat.

Credit Cards & 747s

Boeing factory

The now former head of the National Australia Bank, Cameron Clyne, took a Medici Visit to the Boeing factory in Seattle. He was quoted as saying, “Boeing takes something like 6 million parts from 400 suppliers in 40 countries and in 11 days turns it into a 747. That is complexity. We can’t even get a credit card statement and a savings account statement in the same envelope.” As a result, they drastically changed their productivity goals.

Culture rolls down

The one thing that should never be forgotten when exploring the dynamics of teams within a business is that it all starts with the people at the top.

Change will only be embraced if it can be seen to have been adopted in the senior levels of a business. As a business owner, you can’t force people into living the culture of your organisation, but you can lead by example. If you show on a daily basis what is expected from your workforce, they should start to do it, simply because it’s the accepted way of doing things.

The early stages of an office fit out are the perfect opportunity to audit your teams and look at your existing culture. The look and design of a new office can go a long way to feed into cultural shifts within a business, but ultimately it has to be accepted by the people. The easiest way for this to happen is to ensure that it’s being adhered to at every level.

Businessman picking his nose

But why is it called “That First Time You Picked Your Nose”?

Oh yes. The title. It basically relates to the concept we’ve just spoken about.

The first time you saw your boss pick his nose, you may be surprised, shocked, or even disgusted. The second time, maybe not so much. By the third, fourth and fifth time, you may find that more and more people start picking theirs too! At the very least, you now know that this is the kind of workplace that lets you pick your nose!

It’s perhaps not the most hygienic example of the evolution of the workplace, but the idea itself certainly isn’t something to be sniffed at. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

Keep an eye out for our next Thought Leadership Event, coming soon.

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