‘LET’S NOT WASTE A GOOD CRISIS’ The good side of the Covid crisis! Wot?

‘LET’S NOT WASTE A GOOD CRISIS’ The good side of the Covid crisis! Wot?

A Think piece: By Winston Sutherland – 27 June, 2020

Hardly a day has gone by since February, without grim news about the ravages of Covid. The SARS Covid 19, properly known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 which was first discovered in 2019 has been on a march across the globe from Wuhan, China to Italy, to Spain, the United Kingdom, The United States of America and now Brazil. The epicenter of the virus has waged a grim war. The toll has been high. We have seen the daily reports of persons testing positive for the virus. We have seen the spikes in admission. We have seen the numbers of the dead climb. Higher and higher. We have seen the most extraordinary and appalling and catastrophic leadership. We have seen system failure. It’s been numbing. Frightening. Lonely.

The experience of this pandemic is like nothing we have seen in my lifetime and a lot has happened. Good things and bad things. Amazing things. Exiting things. I have experienced days when the world stopped or felt like it stopped. Days like the death of John F Kennedy. The day Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. The release of Nelson Mandela from prison and his rise to the highest seat in the land. We have seen the invention of the iPhone in 2007 which revolutionized the world as we knew it and which quite frankly is a modern day miracle. I actually advocate sainthood for Steve Jobs. If he had given the blueprint to someone to develop they could never have created what we now have. Why? It starts in the mind and only he could see it. So, we had those events and more but we have never seen anything like the Covid 19 pandemic. This has been mind boggling. The year 2020 was proceeding like a normal year January, February and next it’s……………June and fingers crossed to December. Is that a roller coaster ride or what?

But …’every cloud has a silver lining’

But there is a bright side to all this gloom and doom and misery. “Every cloud has a silver lining” Oh? Yes! Er, well…. here are four: First, we have been more productive working from home. We have proved that working from home is a viable way to work. We have upended the myth that work takes place in a place. We now know that work is not somewhere we go, work is something we do. Secondly, we have been more innovative. I grew up in Jamaica where we had the expression, ‘tun you han’ mek fashin’ the literal translation is ‘turn your hand and make fashion’. That means nothing to an English speaker but is the equivalent of ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. We now use the term innovation but it really is the same as inventing new things because just like innovation, every invention starts with an idea.

“I advocate sainthood for Steve Jobs”

Third, we have used technology to get stuff done like never before. From setting up home offices, to carrying out the business of our organisation to getting services from a range of providers. I have seen people who could barely operate their computers now zooming in and zooming out. Popping into this meeting. Hopping off and dashing off to another zoom room. Just like the old normal. We are as busy as ever. Even if we never leave the house for an entire week. Our eyes are wide open to the possibilities.

“We have upended the myth that work takes place in a physical place”

Fourth, Covid has been good for the environment too. The earth has had a chance to breathe. Previously hidden mountain peaks are now visible as the smog clears. Traffic! What traffic? It’s smooth sailing to work? Well, to wherever.

“The earth has had a chance to breathe.”

And one last thing before I run out of space. Families have spent time together. They have had time to have conversations, eat meals, cooked at home, together. And parents are now really clued up about school and have learnt how to enable distance learning for the little ones. It’s been a revolutionary learning experience and there have been instances of inspirational leadership. So, there’s a lot of good that we can take away from what has otherwise been an awful experience. Don’t you think? What have I missed?

Why your name matters “Don’t ask me how I got my name” – A Song by Toots and the Maytals which is more than just a song;

Why your name matters “Don’t ask me how I got my name” – A Song by Toots and the Maytals which is more than just a song;

A think piece by Winston Sutherland
20 June, 2020

I remember this song, by Toots and the Maytals, from when I was a bway (boy) growing up in the 1960’s in St. E (pronounced senti) and means St Elizabeth, a parish on Jamaica’s south coast. ‘Jamaica is the largest English-speaking island in the Caribbean’. Why oh why do they still teach that and why oh why do some Government of Jamaica ads and documents still carry that sentence? It is possibly the most irrelevant factoid ever! Ok, rant over😂. So, the first two verses of the song:

Don’t ask me how I got my name.
Don’t ask me how I got my name.
I told you once, I told you twice,
This time let’s make it quite alright.
Don’t ask me how I got my name.

I told you how I got my name.
I got this name way back in Spain
She called me ‘Mr. Santinavonoribbinanasibbinanaribbinanasib’
Don’t ask me how I got my name

So that’s Toots Hibbert’s version of how he got his name and you will notice that he can pronounce it too. ‘Mr. Santinavonoribbinanasibbinanaribbinanasib’ listen to the song in the link above. That’s a fantastic name. I think.

People who know me as Winston Sutherland are a bit bemused with my online name choices and speculate about my names. Is it because we have a mindset which says your name is what is on your birth certi? (short form of certificate in Jamaica but pronounced cerfitiket lol) Well that is your legal name and I use my legal name where I need to, but I am not restricted to my legal name. I am more than that for many reasons. In fact, my legal name only ties me to slavery. My Surname comes from a Scottish slave owner of my great, great grandfather, in St Elizabeth, Jamaica. My given name is English.

The English tradition is that you take your father’s surname but that limits your understanding of who you really are and that is why so many people undertake family searches on the numerous genealogy sites which have sprung up. Genealogy is not a new subject, doh!, St Mathew’s gospel sets out the Genealogy of Jesus Christ. ‘This is the genealogy of Jesus Christ’ etc. etc. (Jamaicans repeat words. Why? I don’t know but I know when to use it and I just did, i.e. etc. etc.). The gospel of St Luke does the same thing but both accounts are different

and that’s the point. One version is on his father’s side (no comment) and the other is from his mother’s side of the family. So, this is not new. Fidel Castro carries the name RUZ after Castro.

So, his name was Fidel Castro Ruz. Why? Ruz is his mother’s maiden name (although she wasn’t a maiden when she had him). That’s the Spanish naming convention. So, little me, and I am little, 5’ 8’ and 145 lbs for as long as I can remember, I have used several profile names on FB because I can. My registered name on FB is Winston Sutherland but my profile name has rotated through Winston Sutherland, Quashee Sutherland and Blake Sutherland and I have others which I will eventually come to, which is the point of this article. My options:

  1. Quashee = West African boy, born on a Sunday and I was born on a Sunday. It’s a corruption of Quasi or Kwasi. That is how my mother referred to me, affectionately. She taught me a lot about Africa because I never heard the word Africa in any lesson at school. Egypt, yes. Gold Coast, yes. Ethiopia yes, but Africa, No.
  2. Sutherland = My Father’s surname which he got from his father, Isaac Sutherland which he in turn got from his father, William Sutherland which takes us to 1845 shortly after the abolition of slavery in Jamaica.
  3. Blake = the surname of my paternal grandmother and cousin of former south St Elizabeth MP Vivian Blake. But I have other names:
  4. ROWE = the surname of my maternal grandmother which takes us back to her mother Mimi, born a slave in 1833. I am cousin of Jamaica’s former Chief Justice Ira Rowe.
  5. SALMON = the name of my maternal grand-father Joseph and his father which takes us back to 1850, which means his father, like my great grand-mother, was born a slave about 1830. I am cousin to the celebrated Jamaican ENT specialist Dr Barbara Salmon – Grandison.

  6. STEWART= the name of my maternal grandmother (my mother’s mother) from Big Wood (Lennox’s) in Westmoreland
  7. POWELL= the name of my maternal great grandmother (cousin of General Colin Powell)

I have just explained who I am using one element of the diagram which I used in another article a few weeks ago. I have circled the bit I used in the diagram above, self – concept or who am I? And that’s a small insight into who I am. Quashee Winston Anthony Blake Rowe Salmon Stewart Powell Sutherland the first or QuasheeWinstonAnthonyBlakeRoweSalmonStewartPowellSutherlandthefirst

Your name is core to your self-concept and now you know a bit more about me. What have you learned about you?

I have an idea or at least a half of an Idea! ‘How do we reopen schools safely and do we really need to go to ‘the office’?

I have an idea or at least a half of an Idea!  ‘How do we reopen schools safely and do we really need to go to ‘the office’?

A Think piece: By Winston Sutherland – 16 May, 2020

I listened the Prime Minister’s presentation on Sunday night followed by the autopsy and I got to thinking about one of the problems that came up. How to reopen our schools in a safe way.
There is quite a lot of anxiety, and rightly so, about class size and how to reopen schools safely. I think that assuming we can get the practical aspects of hygiene right it’s not as hard as we are making it out to be. Traditionally, you have a class of x numbers of students and they come to school, they do their school day and they go home each day. It’s a similar routine for teachers. Well, we can’t return to that world. We should have figured that out by now but no, we are hell bent on reopening schools the same old way. This new Covid world calls for something different.

It calls for a different mindset. A different way of delivering the same high quality service. This is true of schools as it is true of a restaurant as it is true of doing your food shopping. In the case of schools, we (i.e. teachers and parents) have significantly improved our ability to deliver learning online during Covid, so my idea is that we adopt a 2 x 1 x 2 model of service delivery. What do I mean? First, the model assumes that all children have an electronic device on which they can access online learning. Second, it assumes that all children have access to adequate wifi service. After that it’s simple.

All that needs to happen is to split each class into two. One half of the class goes to the physical school building on Mondays and Tuesdays and learn online on Thursday and Fridays. The other half of the class learns on line on Mondays and Tuesdays and goes into the physical classroom on Thursdays and Fridays. That leaves the teacher who teaches each half of the class face to face for two days and has Wednesdays for preparation and marking. So what do the children do on Wednesdays? Homework! Tutoring by Grandma or other trusted persons and of course the children get to mentor grandma on how to do stuff online? A variation of the model might be to have Friday’s as the off day and thereby create a longer weekend or a four day school week. ‘Simples’!

So, in effect the whole class is together for four days but only half of the class is physically in the classroom on any given day. This model should give parents and teachers the confidence that it’s safe for their children and teachers to be in a school where they will get 4 days of teacher-led learning per week. It’s a ‘starter idea’ which I think can work. What do you think?

Another problem the Prime Minister mentioned was the public transportation where demand outstrips supply by 10 to 1 or so we are led to believe. But does it? I mean does it need to?

The traditional way of working is to go to ‘the office’. We haven’t been able to do so for close to 100 days but we have still got a lot done. So, do we really need to go to ‘the office’? The work that many of us are doing does not require us to be in any specific space to do it. My office is wherever I am as long as I have my mobile and my laptop. We need to do work, not go to work and by working differently we can cut the use of public transport by up to 50%.

There are tools like Zoom and Webex and others. I have facilitated several workshops and team builds with people in many different places. I have chaired numerous meetings with participants in numerous different places and in all varying states of dress or undress and the meetings have been just as focused, if not more focused. Both Zoom and Webex have the ability to go into break out rooms, use a whiteboard, share a presentation (Share screen) raise a hand to speak, do a quiz (Poll), chat and you can even record the meeting and share with those who are not in attendance. This technology can also be used to deliver learning and development in a virtual ‘classroom’. About four years ago I was involved as a co-facilitator of a year-long leadership development programme with participants in about 15 countries. I was in the UK, two colleagues in Canada and the participants spread across the English speaking Caribbean and it worked exceptionally well. It was just a different way of doing it. The technology is quite mature and we need to make it work for us.

We are, to a large extent, a knowledge economy although many work in the service industry and will still need to go to a physical place to do what needs doing, but a significant number do not need to do so. Working from home gives us a greater say over when and how we work. The big challenge is for managers to get better at communicating (yes, that word) what needs to be done and by when. They do not need to see anyone doing the doing. When the work is done the individual submits the work. The manager reviews it and gives feed-back on content, on what is missing or what needs to be taken out and stop fiddling with grammar except where it is an essential quality requirement. This will improve feedback because it will require managers to be clear about what they want done and to be able to give specific and actionable feedback. It does not matter if the work was done at 2 am or 6pm.

This approach will allow parents to give their attention to their children during the hours of 6:00 am to 9:00 am and likewise in the afternoons and before bedtime. I can guarantee that managers will get better at managing work and managing their relationships and get outcomes that are just as good, if not better. What do you think?

Habits for a Covid World

Habits for a Covid World

A Think Piece: By Winston Sutherland – 01 May, 2020

What habits have you started in this brave, new COVID world?

What habits have you stopped?

What habits are you continuing?

Habits huh?

What are habits, why are habits important and why now?

Habits are just one more of those unconscious aspects of our lives. Ways of behaving which no longer involves conscious thought; Nail biting, thumb sucking, nose picking etc. One of those things you do without knowing that you are doing it. Unconscious competence, we call it. I don’t know what I know. In our professional life we exhibit unconscious habits, for example, taking care of one’s self and appearance or making decisions. We just make decisions and only when challenged do we talk out loud how we arrived at the decision. In a previous article I have written about the habits of leaders. In this article I want to talk about creating new habits for a COVID world.

First, why do habits matter? Stephen Covey in his book, The seven habits of highly effective people” names the seven habits he thought were important for effective leaders in pursuing a character ethic. He makes the link between values and behaviours. We have identified habits as behaviours.

So, why do habits matter now? Now, meaning in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the changes that this has caused to our lifestyles. Why do habits matter? Habits matter because they influence how we think, act and feel – which just about covers everything we do. We get into habits of thinking, doing and feeling. Habits are the brain‘s shortcut to behaving and feeling certain ways, it becomes automatic behaviour.

What habits have I stopped?
Since the start of this COVID experience I have stopped:
– Shaking hands;
– Sitting close to other people;
– Hugging / kissing people I meet. One of these things we do for no good reason;
– Touching my face. This one is quite difficult to not do, so it’s work in progress. Not quite a habit as yet.

What habits have I continued?
– My daily exercise routine. I have actually written it out on a sheet of flip chart paper and put it on the wall in my workout area as I no longer exercise outdoors, except for walking to the office. The best part about it is that I get to listen to music as I work out. All this in addition to using a standing desk.
– Washing my hands.
– Eating small portions;
– Drinking water and abstaining from flavoured drinks

What habits have I started and hope to continue after COVID?
– Keep practising social distancing ;
– Bumping elbows instead of a handshake;
– Writing down the names of people that I come into contact with. – I might need to help disease detectives (Public Health officials) do contact tracing if I were to become infected;
– Paying attention to how I am feeling when I awake and throughout the day;
– Researching every new word that I hear. Words like co-morbidity and epidemiologist;
– Wash hands with soap for 25 seconds. This is different from washing hands in the previous paragraph. Why? In my research I found out that the virus lives in a fat bubble and so just like washing greasy dishes, it’s soap that breaks down the fat pod in which the virus lives and eventually attacks the virus and kills it. Before I found that out my hand washing was five seconds, if that.

What causes anyone to start a habit?
First, there is a trigger, a cue: it might be a location, time of day, emotional state, thought, belief, other people, a pattern of behaviour. In the case of COVID the trigger is the fear of getting the virus;
This then triggers a routine, the behaviour itself. Washing hands for 25 seconds;
Then you get the reward. Feeling safe and protected from COVID.
How do I start a new habit?
Identify the behaviour that you want to become a routine subconscious behaviour;
Identify the benefits;

In my own case, in the current situation, I wanted to be able to trace people that I have come into contact with and so I have started to make it my job to pay attention. The time, the place, the person etc. Next, I started writing this information down. I developed a habit of keeping a notebook when I was about 19 years old in my first week at Sandhurst and now that habit is coming in handy;

The next building block is to repeat the behaviour at every opportunity until it becomes an unconscious behaviour. Remember, it will take some time for this to become a routine behaviour. A habit. Do not read any further.

Space filler – I have completed the article but the columns are not symmetrical. I am filling up the space with words. I could increase the font or change the column margins but I decided to do this. You couldn’t help yourself, Could you?

Well there you go! One habit that you might want to think about stopping. ☺

How has Covid changed the way we think?

How has Covid changed the way we think?

A Think piece by Winston Sutherland – 25 April, 2020

“My mom washes the dishes before she puts them into the dishwasher, so what does the dishwasher do?” This has got to be one of the greatest questions ever. That’s a child’s question but it stops you in your tracks. And makes you say hmmm I hadn’t thought of that. To be honest, I used to wonder about that very question until I saw the advert and realized that I was not alone and that it’s ok to ask what is sometimes called a ‘silly’ question. I was relieved.

Now, before you rush off and Google to see the answer, here’s a health warning. Most of the answers I saw, to the dishwasher question, were about telling you that you do not need to do so which completely misses the point of the question. So, what is the point? The simple answer is that during this Covid experience, this collective global experience, we have a great opportunity to be, not experts giving advice, but curious children asking questions which open up great possibilities and answers. In this article I want to help us to reflect on how we lead and how we lead others in times of uncertainty and to challenge us to use this as an opportunity to change and to lead in a different and more impactful way.

We know that it has been said over and over and demonstrated over and over that asking questions is a great way to solve problems. Some go as far as using the term ‘powerful 1 questions’. As coaches we use questions to help our clients to figure out the real problems they are facing and help them work out what to do.

Notwithstanding some clients being frustrated by the discomfort which these questions cause them. We know that medical doctors use questions as a diagnostic tool. We know that when we go to the doctor they ask us questions. They do that for a reason. Every question rules something out or rules something in. So, questions
can be insightful and powerful. But many of us would rather not ask them because our culture expects us to know the answer and so we pretend that we know the answer or worse we do not say anything at all. Albert Einstein is quoted as saying “If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.” And I could go on making the case but so not to get carried away, let me get to the core of what is supposed to be a short but thought provoking article. I have watched the Governor of New York’s daily press conferences and I have noticed that he has a pattern ofasking questions and then trying to answer them. So, what are some of the questions that we should be askingfrom the point of view of our real world existence? Here are my top ten?

1. What have I learnt about myself and others
during this ‘lockdown’ and what does that mean
for how I lead?
2. What pre – Covid habits have I stopped?
3. What pre – Covid habits will I continue?
4. What habits have I started to develop during
Covid and want to continue after Covid?
5. What is a habit anyway and why is it important
and why now?
6. What concerns do my colleagues have? How
do I know and so what?
7. How do I manage people who are working
remotely and who can continue to work
8. What are the opportunities that arise for our
business area and how do we respond?
9. How do I deliver the business differently to the
same high pre – COVID quality standard?
10. What are the opportunities for working in partnership with others to get work done?

My list of questions is actually quite extensive but I did say I want this to be a short article. The point is, we can develop lists of lists of questions for every sector of the economy but more importantly how do we use these questions to help us transition into a new world?

If I had any advice to give I would say it is to ask very simple questions. Questions which stop people in their tracks and make them think. Questions which start with – what, why, how, when, and who? The well-known principle which says, ask why five times and by the time you get to Y number five you have got to the root of the problem, applies here. If your question starts ‘Have you….. or Did you…… ? etc. you are probably suggesting an answer. I call that a ‘rouge’ question. In other words it’s an answer masquerading as a question. If you genuinely want to ‘up your game’, post Covid, I would say make yourself vulnerable. It’s ok to not know the answer. Let the people around you help you because
when people help you to create a solution they feel valued and that generates unbelievable opportunities for better working relationships and even better outcomes for those whose lives we want to make better.

Note: I haven’t actually answered the question posed in the title of the article because to do so would assume that I know the answer. It’s not a cop- out or oversight, it’s just my writing style.

David Clutterbuck and others write extensively about the concept of ‘powerful questions’ – https://www.davidclutterbuckpartnership.com/what-makes-a-powerful-question/