Thinkers50 in collaboration with Deloitte presents:

The Provocateurs:

podcast series

REFLECTIONS EPISODE

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Stuart Crainer, Des Dearlove, Steve Goldbach, Stacy Janiak and Geoff Tuff marshal their thoughts and make sense of our podcast episodes from the year. What have they learned? What has surprised them? Which guests really made them re-think and re-set? 

There are plenty of inspiring stories to choose from. We have had some amazing guests: Valerie Rainford, who has championed talent and diversity in the banking world and now for her own company; Debbie Bial, the founder and president of the Posse Foundation; the board member, author, and now member of the UK’s House of Lords, Dambisa Moyo; the former CEO of Best Buy, and author of The Heart of Business, Hubert Joly; the trailblazer for Leading for Girls, Julie Carrier; Nobel Laureate, Bob Lefkowitz; astronaut, Charlie Camarda; the Dutch entrepreneur and pioneer of new ways of working, Tom van der Lubbe and the author of The Quit Alternative, Ben Fanning. In this special episode the Provocateurs hosts share their memories, insights and conclusions. And the results are as inspiring as the people who inspired them. 

Listen to learn more about flipping failure for learning, the virtues of transparency, humility’s role in leadership and how to really maximize diversity in teams. Be provoked!

#TheProvocateurs

This podcast is part of an ongoing series of interviews with executives. The executives’ participation in this podcast are solely for educational purposes based on their knowledge of the subject and the views expressed by them are solely their own. This podcast should not be deemed or construed to be for the purpose of soliciting business for any of the companies mentioned, nor does Deloitte advocate or endorse the services or products provided by these companies.

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Hosts:

Stuart Crainer

Co-founder, Thinkers50

Biography

About Stuart Crainer

Des Dearlove & Stuart Crainer are the founders and directors of Thinkers50. For two decades, they have been the recognized masters of finding and promoting the most accomplished and promising business and management thinkers worldwide. Internationally recognized experts on business ideas, they are the authors of more than 15 books available in 20 languages, editors of The Financial Times Handbook of Management, and are both former columnists to The Times. They advise thinkers and organizations worldwide.

Des Dearlove

Co-founder, Thinkers50

Biography

About Des Dearlove

Des Dearlove & Stuart Crainer are the founders and directors of Thinkers50. For two decades, they have been the recognized masters of finding and promoting the most accomplished and promising business and management thinkers worldwide. Internationally recognized experts on business ideas, they are the authors of more than 15 books available in 20 languages, editors of The Financial Times Handbook of Management, and are both former columnists to The Times. They advise thinkers and organizations worldwide.

Stacy Janiak

Chief Growth Officer, Deloitte

Biography

About Stacy Janiak

As Chief Growth Officer of Deloitte US, Stacy leads the Client and Market Growth organization and is responsible for bringing the breadth of Deloitte’s service capabilities and assets to the market to accelerate growth for the organization and create a differentiated experience for clients.

In her capacity as a Managing Partner for Deloitte, Stacy drives a go-to-market strategy to optimize the organization’s capabilities across service offerings, industries, and geographies, with an emphasis on bold, integrated, digitally-enabled business solutions, services and insights. For nearly 30 years, Stacy has worked side-by-side with clients to help them solve their most complex business challenges, always seeking innovative paths while harnessing the power of teaming and diversity of thought. She believes a focus on leadership, business growth, and inclusive prosperity will help build the framework that will support resilient, inclusive, and sustainable economies and societies. 

Currently a member of the US Executive Committee, Global Clients & Industries Member Firm Executive Committee, and Global Board of Directors, Stacy has held significant leadership roles throughout her Deloitte career. She has previously served as the Chief Client Officer, Assurance and Accounting Advisory Services National Managing Partner, Managing Partner for the Chicago office, and US Retail sector leader. She also served on the US Board of Directors.

In 2018, Stacy was recognized as a Woman with Impact by the Women’s Business Development Council. She is passionate about mentoring and developing the next generation of leaders at Deloitte and is committed to advancing inclusive leadership in the workplace. Stacy is a frequent speaker at influential industry events such as Fortune’s Most Powerful Women, CES, The Female Quotient and The Executives’ Club of Chicago.

Stacy is a proud graduate and trustee of DePaul University and a board member of Boys & Girls Club of Chicago, The Executives’ Club of Chicago, New Profit, and the US Chamber of Commerce. She lives in Chicago with her husband, Jeff, and two children, Tyler and Sydney. Outside of work, Stacy enjoys spending time with her family and friends on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Steve Goldbach

Chief Strategy Officer, Deloitte

Biography

About Steven Goldbach

Steven Goldbach is a globally recognized strategist, author and thought leader. 

Steve serves the Deloitte US Partnership as its Chief Strategy Officer. Prior to joining Deloitte, Steve was a Partner at Monitor Group and head of its New York Office and head of strategy at Forbes.  

Steve helps executives and their teams transform their organizations by making challenging and pragmatic strategy choices in the face of uncertainty. He focuses his work on clients and industries undergoing large scale transformation. Steve helps companies combine rigor and creativity to create their own future.  

Steve has co-authored two bestselling books – Detonate: Why – and how – corporations must blow up best practices (and bring a beginner’s mind) to survive (Wiley, 2018), and Provoke: How leaders shape the future by overcoming fatal human flaws (Wiley, 2021). Thinkers50 has nominated Steve as a finalist for the 2019 Distinguished Achievement Award in Strategy and in 2021 for the Distinguished Leadership Award.

Steve holds degrees from Queen’s University at Kingston, where he serves on the Global Advisory Board of its Smith School of Business, and Columbia Business School. He and his wife live in Manhattan with their young daughter.

Geoff Tuff

Principal, Deloitte Consulting

Biography

About Geoff Tuff

Geoff has almost 30 years of experience consulting to some of the world’s top companies on the subjects of strategy, growth, innovation, and adapting business models to deal with change.  Currently, he is a Principal at Deloitte Consulting and holds various leadership positions across its Sustainability, Innovation and Strategy practices. Prior to this, he led the innovation firm Doblin and was a senior partner at Monitor Group, serving as a member of its global Board of Directors.  He is currently based in Deloitte’s Boston office.

Geoff’s work centers around helping clients transform their businesses to grow and compete in nontraditional ways. Over the course of his career, Geoff has worked in virtually every industry and he uses that breadth of experience to bring novel, cross-sector insights about how things might operate to clients stuck in industry conventional wisdom. Geoff has a particular strength in using facilitation and personal intervention to help clients make hard choices and take action. 

For his entire career, Geoff has focused exclusively on helping companies grow. He has been instrumental in developing many of Monitor’s – and now Deloitte’s – core methodologies related to driving profitable topline growth for clients.  His expertise spans the domains of design-driven innovation, new business model development, product launch and growth strategy, and business transformation. 

Geoff is valued for his integrative approach to solving problems. He combines deep analytic and strategic expertise with a natural orientation towards approaches embodied in design thinking.  His belief that human behavior is still – even in the digital age – the fundamental driver of economic value for companies allows him to bring a unique perspective to his clients struggling to shift their business models.  

He is a widely sought-after speaker and writer on the topic of growth through innovation.  His writing has appeared in journals such as Marketing Management and Harvard Business Review and as a regular contribution to HuffPost. He is also co-author of the National Bestseller Detonate: Why – and How – Corporations Need to Blow up Best Practices (and Bring a Beginner’s Mind) to Survive, released in May, 2018. His new book, Provoke: How Leaders Shape the Future by Overcoming Fatal Human Flaws launched in September, 2021 and quickly became a Wall Street Journal Bestseller. In 2019, Thinkers50 named Geoff as a finalist for the Distinguished Achievement Award in Strategy; in 2021, they did the same for the Leadership Award.

Geoff grew up in Canada and the UK, and came to the United States for university.  He received his B.A., with honors, in English literature and creative writing, from Dartmouth College.  He also holds a MBA from Harvard Business School, where he was an honors student.  He currently lives in Wellesley, Massachusetts with his wife, Martha, and four sons.  

Inspired by the book Provoke: How Leaders Shape the Future by Overcoming Fatal Human FlawsWiley, 2021.

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REFLECTIONS EPISODE

Podcast Transcript

Stuart Crainer:

Hello, I’m Stuart Crainer. I’m the co-founder of Thinkers50, and I would like to welcome you to the podcast series, Provocateurs, in which we explore the experiences, insights, and perspectives of inspiring leaders. I’m joined by my fellow Thinkers 50 co-founder Des Dearlove. And from Deloitte, we are joined by Stacy Janiak. Stacy is Deloitte’s Chief Growth Officer, so she brings deep insights directly from the marketplace and Deloitte’s global clients. And alongside Stacy, we have Steve Goldbach and Geoff Tuff. Steve is the Chief Strategy Officer at Deloitte and Geoff is a Principal with the firm. Steve and Geoff are the authors of two books. Their first best seller was Detonate: Why – And How – Corporations Must Blow Up Best Practices (and bring a beginner’s mind) To Survive. Most recently, Steve and Geoff are the authors of the book, which sparked the idea for this series. That book is Provoke, which demonstrates why and how leaders must be purposeful in shaping the future, intentionally engaging with emergent trends, not only to benefit their own organization, but also to make the world a better place.

 

Des Dearlove:

This episode of Provocateurs brings Stuart, Geoff, Stacy, Steve and I together to talk about what we’ve learned from our amazing guests over the last year. What are we taking away from the conversations?

 

Stuart Crainer:

And we have had some amazing guests, Valerie Rainford, who has championed talent and diversity in the banking world and now for her own company.

 

Des Dearlove:

Debbie Bial, the founder and president of the Posse Foundation.

 

Stuart Crainer:

The board member, author, and now member of the UK’s House of Lords, Dambisa Moyo.

 

Des Dearlove:

Former CEO of Best Buy, and author of The Heart of Business, Hubert Joly.

 

Stuart Crainer:

The trailblazer for Leading for Girls, Julie Carrier.

 

Des Dearlove:

Nobel Laureate, Bob Lefkowitz.

 

Stuart Crainer:

The astronaut, Charlie Camarda.

 

Des Dearlove:

And the Dutch entrepreneur and pioneer of new ways of working, Tom van der Lubbe.

 

Stuart Crainer:

And the author of The Quit Alternative, Ben Fanning.

 

Des Dearlove:

So where to start? Stacy, can you tell us what you’ve taken away from these amazing conversations?

 

Stacy Janiak:

Love to, Des. As I reflect on these conversations, what really jumped out at me was the role that purpose played for each of our provocateurs and how they harness that to create greatness in each of their organizations. Debbie Bial, that was mentioned, she had a great comment around the need to stay true to the mission and that oftentimes she had to say ‘no’ to suggestions or opportunities for her organization because she needed to stay grounded in its mission. And Hubert, in his book The Heart of Business, which is really talking about how do you create a different paradigm to lead with noble purpose, he shared with us the story of creating an environment where people feel like they connect with the purpose of the organization and what drives them as individuals. And so just that connection between an individual’s purpose and what they’re able to contribute to in an organization is something I found very powerful.

 

Des Dearlove:

You mentioned Hubert. One of the things I remember him very openly sharing is that he had a bit of a midlife, he had a bit of a wobble. When he got to the top of the organization and he got to the top of the mountain, and he found actually, there was no joy and there was no meaning to it. And that actually he kind of had to reinvent himself and discover his noble purpose. So it’s interesting. It was a real personal leadership journey for him, I think. What did you take away, Steve, from the conversations?

 

Steve Goldbach:

Well, on purpose, I particularly felt like everybody had some sort of more noble purpose. Ben Fanning was about getting communications out and it was ironic that we were doing Ben’s… Des, remember when he was in the middle of Hurricane Ian coming down on him. And Julie Carrier talked about the importance of purpose. Everyone’s got a central thing and very few, I can’t remember a single comment through the whole thing, through the whole year about how important financial success was. It just happened when you had purpose lined up. And I know one of our future guests, Jim Stangle, will talk about that as well, I’m sure.

 

Stuart Crainer:

There’s also, I think Des just alluded to it with Hubert Joly, it’s easy to lose your purpose as you progress up organizations. I think there’s some research saying that CEOs, the biggest issues they have to wrestle with are isolation and ambiguity. And I think purpose can get lost along the way.

 

Des Dearlove:

Geoff, what are your thoughts?

 

Geoff Tuff:

Let me build on the purpose thing. And in case it’s not dead obvious to our listeners or watchers, these hopefully will be the secrets of what it means to be a provocateur. So I think what the five of us are trying to do here is to reverse engineer how to actually affect change in the world. And the thing that struck me in each of the conversations that we’ve had so far is that clearly, each of our guests has a mission or a vision. And that’s connected to purpose, but I see it as being slightly different. But in the stories that they told and the growth arc that each of them have been on, if you listen to what they say, if you read some of what the conversation led us to, they all evolved that mission and that vision. The thing that they helped passionately, they evolved it in their journey through interactions with people.

 

It struck me that the stories they told about certain incidents or certain people who influenced their lives are the things that actually led them to have an evolved vision and an evolved mission that actually, if not completely different, quite different from where they started. So Julie Carrier, for example, I think she presented as always having been passionate about enabling leadership in young women. That has been her mission, or at least my takeaway from our conversation that has been something that she has been trying to achieve through everything that she’s done over time. But as she met young women, and we met some amazing young women on that podcast that we did with her, I think I was doing that one with you, Des, as she interacted with these young women, she came to understand that it was enabling the growth mindset that ultimately allowed them to feel they should claim that leadership and play the leadership roles. And so Julie evolved her mission from understanding that leadership was important to really focusing on the growth mindset and enabling young women to take on a growth mindset. 

 

Steve Goldbach:

Geoff, it goes back to some of the principles of Detonate a little bit. All these folks kind of understood that purpose was, for them, the driver of changing human behavior, right? To some extent they all understood that if they had a really amazing purpose that was clear and well communicated, that they would get people to follow them. It’s true of Lefkowitz, it’s true of van der Lubbe. They were all different, but they used purpose to change the behavior of the people in their organizations and especially Hubert who is up against some pretty tough sledding.

 

Geoff Tuff:

To change people, but also, and this I think is critical, they kept their eyes wide open and listened to others. They were able to be impacted by the people that they interacted with, not just the people in their organizations, but people all around them. So I think it was Dambisa who talked about the fact that – and Dambisa has always been focused on enabling human progress – but the benefit of her having not grown up in a western society of having grown up in Zambia allowed her to enter into situations where she will was always paying attention to others, to what they were saying, to the way that they saw the world. And she was reflecting on how it was different from her perspective. But it’s that sort of learning journey that I took away in all of our guests, and I could rattle through all of them, I took away as being one of the most important components of being a provocateur.

 

Des Dearlove:

Yeah. I remember you referenced the conversation with Julie Carrier and how we met not just the president of the school where she was piloting her program, very much leadership development for girls and young women. And we met Ella. Do you remember Ella, who was 14?

 

Geoff Tuff:

Who, and by the way, I wanted to hire on the spot. I need to follow up and offer her a job.

 

Des Dearlove:

Yeah. And Julie got in touch since the podcast to say thanks for the little bit of attention we drew to it. But also to say that now that program has expanded vastly and they’re taking leadership development into 120 different schools around the world. So that’s really exciting. The thing that I took away from the conversation was the leader identity and discovering your leader identity when you’re in adolescence and realizing that you can be a leader and that you can have this moment of revelation. And we can help people. We can grow more leaders if we let people discover their leader identity at a younger age and then we nurture it.

 

Geoff Tuff:

It’s funny as we talk through this, and I hadn’t necessarily thought about this coming into this discussion, but so many of these threads are interconnected amongst these guests. And while I don’t think our nine guests to date have been totally random, we haven’t purposely tried to make them connected in any way. But what you just said, Des, about Julie and what she’s done is exactly the premise behind what Debbie has been building in the Posse Foundation and the journey that she’s been on over time to first shift the change of leadership on campuses in the US but now change the face of leadership everywhere around the country, in the C-suite, in government offices, in nonprofits, et cetera. And so there’s some very tight connections. I bet we could explore this actually for hours and Steve will eventually tell me I need to stop exploring it for hours. But I’m sure there are all sorts of interconnections amongst all our guests.

 

Stacy Janiak:

Well, I think that we could say for all of them on purpose, is that this was not something that was a relatively recent phenomenon for them, that this was something that was just at the very foundation of how they lead. And I think that’s something for all of our listeners to take away as they think about their foundation as provocateurs.

 

Stuart Crainer:

Steve, what have you learned from our sessions this year?

 

Steve Goldbach:

So, the points I want to reflect on are two concepts that I want to connect. So the first one is the importance of diversity contributing to a team’s success. And we heard about that first and foremost from Dambisa, who talked about the importance of diversity on the board, and the importance of cognitive diversity, and different ways of thinking, and how her background and different ways of thinking has been very important to driving diversity of thought on boards – how that’s critical. And the second one is around transparency. And we heard about that from Tom van der Lubbe and the way he runs his organization referencing the Kim Scott book of radical transparency and radical candor. And that’s a way that they’ve been running their organization.

And the person who I think best connects that is Valerie Rainford, who talks about the importance of – to drive diversity, you actually have to have transparency in your data. So if you’re not sharing all your diversity data, you’re not making it clear to your executives, to the public, then it’s very hard to actually take your organization forward. You will always be stuck in the mud. I felt like there’s an interesting provocation, I’d like to get the reactions from this group on.

Geoff and I together, with a colleague of ours, Jeff Johnson, recently had a piece in HBR where we talked about the problem of the interview as the primary mechanism that the corporate world uses to evaluate talent. And what makes for a good interview? Connecting with each other. And what makes for a good connection? I find something similar about that person. You’re always searching for that connection. And then you walk away saying, “Oh, that was a great interview. We connected.” And the challenge I’ve got was that’s the least likely thing to drive diversity if you’re looking for a mini me. And we’ve proposed an idea of a minimal viable demonstration of competency, and I think it’s pretty-

 

Geoff Tuff:

You can blame me for that mouthful.

 

Steve Goldbach:

Yeah, exactly. And we want to explore different things, but we know it’s going to be difficult for corporate America to get rid of the interview. So how might we do that? Do we need to do that? I’d be curious what you all think about that.

 

Des Dearlove:

That’s interesting. I recall Hubert talking about the fact that they paired him, the CEO, with somebody he wouldn’t normally spend time with, somebody from a completely different ethnic background and the different experience of life. Hubert is very sort of suave and French and very sophisticated. Not to say that whoever they teamed him up with wasn’t all of those things, but in their own way. But I think deliberately inciting diversity, putting people together, and maybe there’s something in that. I don’t know how that would work in terms of replacing your interview.

 

Geoff Tuff:

Well, and I think in some ways as I reflect on the conversation we had with Tom van der Lubbe, his organization is a very unique organization in lots of ways, but a very unique culture. And he talked a little bit about some people who came in and they didn’t like the radical transparency. They didn’t like how open everyone was about everything that was going on at the company all the way down to actually publishing different levels of pay throughout the organization. That, in some ways, is the ultimate manifestation of what you’re talking about here, Steve.

 

Stuart, you’ll have to keep me honest on this because you did that interview with me. But I seem to recall that anyone was allowed to propose someone to be hired and anyone was allowed to veto a hire along the way so that if someone came through and Thomas, the CEO, loved this person, still everyone had veto power for that. But once someone gets into the organization, in some ways Steve, that is the minimally viable demonstration of competence, if they can actually live in that type of environment and deal with that radical transparency, then they’re a good fit.

 

Stuart Crainer:

I think the issue with transparency is often seen that transparency begins at the bottom of the organizational hierarchy. But in fact, transparency should begin at the top. And I would question how many boards actually act in a transparent way, members of the board with each other. And I think there’s an issue there in that boards are not seen as teams. They’re seen as a collection of strong individuals and the team element is actually downplayed.

 

Stacy Janiak:

Valerie focused on the need for this to come from the top and that you could have an inclusive environment, without an engaged CEO, but you weren’t really going to make progress in moving the needle and creating equitable policies unless you had both an engaged CEO and you had the HR leader and the general counsel and a couple of other senior leaders around that table. So to your point, Stuart, it’s about that team that can actually affect change and starting that at the top. And I think your suggestion around boards is well placed because it has to be there as well in addition to that management team.

 

Des Dearlove:

Yeah. I was interested in what Ben Fanning was talking about, he was singing the praises of just what we’re doing now, podcasting. And he was saying that when a CEO starts doing a podcast, they get into the ear of employees and they can actually be much more transparent and reveal their authentic selves. And obviously, he’s an advocate of podcasts, he hosts a podcast. But he was saying it’s a different medium and you can get to know the CEO and senior management in a completely different way because you’re multitasker, you can be doing other things while you’ve got them in your ear. But it can be a very interesting medium to talk to people and for them to get to know you a little bit better so that you’re not just this distant figure up on the stage or in the boardroom, but you’re actually someone they can in some ways identify with.

 

Geoff Tuff:

There’s so much that we’re talking about in here, which is just literally about being a human being. And actually, I don’t know if it’s vulnerability or allowing vulnerability, I think that was some of what Ben talked about as well. But just every single one of these people, first of all, they’re fascinating individuals in lots of different ways. But every single one of them presented as a real grounded human who is open to having connections not just with us, but with lots of people and learning along the way. And it’s probably going too far to say that they are provocateurs, because they have been able to express themselves as real human beings more than most. But there’s definitely something about the ability to connect and to be open with others that, I would assume, that gets others to move, as you’re acting as a provocateur.

 

Steve Goldbach:

Maybe just to wrap this one up, maybe there’s something about being, and this is a maybe, so please comment below because we certainly didn’t solve the-

 

Geoff Tuff:

I know what happens when Steve leads with a maybe.

 

Steve Goldbach:

Yeah, we certainly didn’t solve the interview challenge. So if you’ve got a thought on that, we’d love to see it in the comments if you’re watching on a medium that has that. But maybe the connection is that provocateurs are able to connect with people who aren’t just like them. They’re able to actually create diverse teams and build those connections with a broader group of people than those who reflect back at them the things that they like in themselves. And so maybe there’s a skill there, I don’t know. But it’s certainly worth maybe exploring as we go through the next few podcasts with our next few guests. Who’s next, Des?

 

Geoff Tuff:

Well actually Steve, if I could comment on that, and I’m going to comment positively. You maybe this time turned out to potentially be right and I’ll link it back to actually one of the premises that you and I wrote about in the book Provoke. And that provocateurs generally are able to recognize when an uncertainty is shifting from being a question of if to being a question of when. The book was all about how we can all act as better leaders in the face of uncertainty.

My guess is, and connected to what you just said, Steve, you can’t actually notice that phase change. You can’t understand when an uncertainty is resolving from being a question of if to when, unless you’re taking in a diverse set of perspectives and you have your ears open more than others. And the best way to have your ears open and your eyes open more than others is to take in lots of different data, lots of different points of view, and get beyond the natural blinders that are created if you’re not actually working with diverse teams.

All right. With that, who’s up next, Des? I think we need to hear from Des and Stuart on some of your reflections.

 

Des Dearlove:

Yeah. So failure, that’s the signal I picked up. Our provocateurs weren’t afraid of failure. That was very clear the way they were talking. You just knew that these were people, that wasn’t something that intimidated them. But what came out of, particularly the conversation with Charlie Camarda, the astronaut we spoke to, was this sense of learning how to fail well. And one of the things we try and do at Thinkers50 is to try to pick up these kinds of static, the signals that are in the ether. And I definitely pick up at the moment that this notion of how to fail well is there, it’s in the ether.

 

I know. I was talking to Amy Edmondson. She’s writing – her new book is going to be on the right kind of wrong, the science of failing. Dan Pink’s book, he talks about, it’s all about the power of regret and he talks about having a failure resume. We should all put our biggest failures on our resume and see what we can learn from them. So there’s some interesting ideas out there. And Charlie, our astronaut, you were on that one with me, Geoff, that was really quite fascinating – listening to him talking about… Because I should give you a little bit of background. Charlie was an astronaut candidate in 1996 and flew as a mission specialist on STS-114, which was NASA’s return flight immediately following the Columbia disaster in 2003, obviously, which claimed the lives of seven crew.

So he was responsible for initiating teams to successfully diagnose the cause of the Columbia tragedy. And the thing that really struck me, he talked about, he said NASA forgot how to fail. And then when we drew out the lessons, if you remember Geoff, and you were sort of describing it as rather than failure as how to learn and the fact that lots of organizations forget how to fail, but Charlie’s point was that you have to interrogate information and a theory to the point of destruction, otherwise you do not understand that phenomenon properly. And he was talking about the difference between research engineers and just engineers who are happy that it works; and research engineers who want to take things into the lab and just keep on testing it until it fails, because only then can you know what you’re really truly dealing with.

And I do wonder in this kind of post pandemic world, when some things went well in terms of what our leaders did and some things didn’t go so well, whether there’s an appetite now for this idea of learning to fail well and not see it as a negative, but to actually see it as a positive. So what are your thoughts on that?

 

Stuart Crainer:

Yeah, I quite liked Charlie. I admired his dedication and I can see he’d be a difficult man to manage because he was very, very strong willed. And he said he tried being humble and a team player, but it wasn’t getting him anywhere. And what made him succeed was really a dedication to learning truth. He was a great speaker of truth and teamwork. So what I liked about him was the grittiness of his behavior. But his behavior went back to Stacy’s first point about purpose. Because he had the overarching purpose, nothing came in the way. He wouldn’t let anything stand in the way.

 

Stacy Janiak:

Well, what struck me in that conversation was the ability to flip failure to learning. Because I think that cognitively, whether you are failing or your team is failing – to be able to be unemotional about that and think about it as a learning process and go for the positive and what could be taking forward. Because he also said, “You should never say, ‘Well, we couldn’t do any more than we did,’ that there’s always something you could have done or tried at least to do.” And Des, I do think that there’s a different mindset after having the world go through a pandemic together and having so many leaders be uncertain and not have all the facts, clearly not have all the facts. I think that’s changed a little bit of the perspective and acceptance of failure because we were all trying and failing at things to try and move forward during such a volatile time.

 

Steve Goldbach:

Stacy, I wonder. One of the things that Geoff and I talk about a lot is there’s a lot of work that’s done or a lot of energy that’s devoted to celebrating failure and making it a positive thing. And I almost wish that instead of talking about some of these things as failures, it’s just reframing them. Let’s not even talk about failing, right? It’s like we got stuff wrong, but it’s… we’re on a learning journey. It’s not a failure to learn. We tried stuff and did it work out perfectly? No. But I don’t know how many tests you guys took in your life. I rarely got 100% on my tests. So does that mean I failed if I didn’t get everything exactly right? Well, no, I learned a lot of stuff on the way.

And I wonder if we stopped celebrating failure and started just saying, “What did we learn? What did we learn?” And make that the emphasis. Then we wouldn’t even be talking about things as failures. They’re not failures, we just didn’t get 100%. We learned something and we’re going to move on. I almost worry that constantly, we remind ourselves we failed and therefore, it’s like, oh, it’s a failure and then we’re sad about it. Let’s celebrate the learning process.

 

Des Dearlove:

Modes of thinking. It’s how we think about things. Again, reminded of Adam Grant’s book, Think Again, where he talks about thinking like a scientist, which is really what Charlie’s point was, is if you think like a scientist, it’s not a question of failure. And Adam Grant talks about an experiment they did where they took a bunch of entrepreneurs and got some of them to think like scientists. So that instead of thinking of their business as a done deal, they thought about it as a theory. So they were testing hypotheses. And actually, I think the results were quite startling. They found that they kind of created, I think it was 30 or 40 times the revenue of the control group because they were that much more open-minded. They had a different kind of thought process going on. It wasn’t the business, it was simply a series of hypotheses and if something didn’t work, you switched it around and they were more likely to pivot because they knew that it was an experiment.

 

Geoff Tuff:

And by definition, the scientific method is a method to learn. The one thing, and I’m not sure Charlie said this word in our interview Des, but it was pretty clear that what he was referencing was the issue that NASA had was one of hubris. And so I wonder if maybe the opposite of thinking like a scientist is thinking like a leader with little humility. I’m not thinking of the right adjective at this point. But there was definitely something in the circumstances when things went wrong at NASA was because people thought they knew the answer, they thought they knew which data to be looking at, they thought they knew that they had seen this type of issue before and they moved forward not thinking that there was a risk to ultimately something that became catastrophic. And I think the ability to act with humility and to lose the hubris as a leader is absolutely at the heart of every single one of the provocateurs we’ve spoken to so far.

 

Des Dearlove:

Oh, absolutely. Yeah, I agree with that.

 

Stuart Crainer:

Steve and I talked to a real scientist, Bob Lefkowitz, and he was really inspiring and he talked about failure as well. He didn’t see it as failure. He reviewed his year’s activities at the end of the year to see which ones were working well, and he was aiming for 15%.

 

Geoff Tuff:

Yeah, I loved that interview. I was just reading that transcript that I think earlier on today, Stuart, and 15%, he had that grad student who said, “What? 15%, that’s what you’re aiming for?”

 

Stuart Crainer:

But he didn’t regard any of it as failure. He regarded it as learning very clearly and was very transparent about it as well.

 

Steve Goldbach:

I remember in that interview-

 

Des Dearlove:

And he won the Nobel Prize.

 

Steve Goldbach:

Yeah, exactly Des. Exactly.

 

Stuart Crainer:

Yeah. Well, Des was talking about his specialist subject of failure. I’m putting my ego to one side and talking about humility. And I think humility, as you were just saying, Geoff, does come through virtually all the sessions. I think Jim Collins in Good to Great talks about level five leadership, which combines personal humility with an indomitable will and humility in that kind of framework is not a passive thing. And I think there’s a danger that we think of humility as a very passive activity, but it’s a feeling of strength and determination.

And going back to Stacy’s first point, humility, which we saw in the episodes we’ve done this year, is also characterized by, there is ambition in humility, but it’s ambition for a cause or a purpose. And you think of Bob Lefkowitz who described himself as an accidental scientist, which kind of plays down his success. He did win the Nobel Prize, and he’s affected tens of millions of people’s lives. And one of the things he said, which kind of stuck with me, was “I never gave orders to anyone. I worked by persuasion.” And he also said he’s never been the smartest person in the room. And he said, “I’m never embarrassed by not knowing something.” And he made a big deal of mentoring, which he’d done throughout his career. But he also said he learnt from those mentoring relationships.

So that’s kind of a basic humility. And I think lots of the others, like Debbie Bial, she was big on teams. It’s not about me, it’s us. Even though she was a founder of Posse, which has generated $1.6 billion in scholarships for young people, just putting themselves at the back and putting the team at the forefront. Steve?

 

 

Steve Goldbach:

Stuart, I love that point. And there’s an attitude about leaders, and we spoke a bit about it earlier, but I think it’s worth calling attention to it again. One of the longtime mentors that I’ve had has taught me all about Chris Argyris and productive interactions. And the phrase that Chris Argyris invented that he told people before he passed away, to say to themselves before every meeting to make that a good interaction was, “I have something important to say, but I might be missing something.” And that meant that they came into the meeting with the attitude that they weren’t there to be just a listener, they were there to contribute, but to also be listening because they were open minded that there was something about the world that they didn’t know. And I think Stuart, the point about humility, all of our guests came in with that kind of a mindset saying, “I could be missing something,” and valued the ability to hear from their teams, from outside perspectives, from everyone about what they might be missing. And Stacy, what did you think?

 

Stacy Janiak:

I’m going to connect what you’re saying because you’re reminding me of a great piece of advice I got once, which was when you’re confronted with an idea that may be different, than your own perspective, is to ask yourself internally, what if they are right? Because that causes you to then ask a lot of subsequent questions to really explore the idea in an unemotional way. But I also think it ties back to what Des was describing around failure. If you have that humility to be able to go through to make decisions that may not end with the outcomes that were intended, allows you, I think, to take the learning from that in a much different way when you approach it with a level of humility like our provocateurs do.

 

Stuart Crainer:

Bob Lefkowitz said he didn’t mind where great ideas came from. If he was in a room and it was an undergraduate, he’d be willing to embrace the idea, or if it’s a senior professor, he’d be willing to embrace it. It didn’t really matter because he had an overall purpose and he’s willing to, as long as ideas were willing to be shared, he was happy to go with any of them. It’s that openness, I think. There’s a nice line from Dambisa Moyo. Dambisa comes from Zambia, now on the board of Chevron, 3M and Conde Nast and actually just last week, was elevated to the House of Lords in the UK. And she said in our conversation, “I’m very much a debutante.” She was basically saying, “I go in thinking I know nothing and that revolves around listening and being willing to take on ideas from elsewhere.”

 

Geoff Tuff:

So it definitely feels like we’re starting to drive some themes here. We’ve got humility, we’ve got an extreme openness to learn, we’ve got the ability to have a mission, to have a vision, but to take in all that information and evolve. We’ve got a natural orientation to working with others and listening to others and actually being a human being. And we are, I think, ultimately we’re talking about a set of individuals, we have spoken with a set of individuals who really demonstrate that they have an ability to shift things in the world, to shift others because they’re able to show up in a way that is fundamentally open. So I wonder what that then means? What do you think is coming up next for our various different guests? Who should we be thinking about bringing in, who fits some of those attributes? Any perspectives?

 

Stuart Crainer:

Yeah, I don’t think the business world has a monopoly on the things you’ve just talked about, Geoff. And I think people in the business world have always been open to learn from other areas, and I think that’s ever more so. You can learn a lot from an astronaut and you can learn a lot from a sports person or a musician. And I think that willingness to learn is actually what marks business apart as a discipline.

 

Geoff Tuff:

I will say it was pretty amazing in the conversation with Charlie, just how many of the lessons that he learned at NASA are directly applicable to the businesses that we serve in the jobs that Steve, Stacy and I do.

 

Des Dearlove:

It was interesting too, how upon the kind of management thinking Charlie was as well. He was citing Amy Edmondson’s psychological safety. So that’s what went wrong at NASA was it wasn’t psychologically safe. So people couldn’t challenge, they couldn’t ask the questions about expertise and the knowledge they had because it wasn’t psychologically safe at that time. But I think our guests should, to Steve’s point about diversity, we should be mixing it up as much as we can because people listening to this will probably predominantly be in the business world, and they really need to hear those voices from the edges, I think, from different, different disciplines.

 

Steve Goldbach:

I mean, the disciplines that I’m interested in exploring a little bit, there are a number of very interesting folks at the leading edge of healthcare and longevity that are really disrupting the views of whether it’s healthcare or how do we take care of ourselves, and looking very much like a scientist and saying, “What causes death? What causes your health span to decline over time? And how can we take interventions early in order to create longevity in your health span, not just your lifespan?” And it requires a lot earlier intervention than people tend to think. And there’s some very interesting thinkers in that domain that it would be really fun to explore and how those ideas might eventually disrupt how we think about healthcare around the world.

 

Geoff Tuff:

You’re describing something that I think is generalizable to other industries, other situations, Steve, where you’ve got a foundation of incumbent thinking that is being challenged and that is actually being assessed in a different way. And so I’m sure that as we continue to identify our provocateurs and pick our guests, it will be something about challenging the incumbent thinking that will be one of their key attributes.

 

Stacy Janiak:

I think it’d be interesting, so many of these challenges, I see even to the healthcare challenges, that require both a public and private approach and being able to capture some of those provocateurs that are out there on the public side, particularly from a policy perspective, even some of the lessons that we’ve collectively learned or that they’ve learned in particular in dealing with the pandemic and what’s to come in that arena.

 

Geoff Tuff:

I totally agree with you, Stacy. As you all know, I do a lot of work in the energy space these days, and we are not going to actually make any progress, let alone achieve some of the targets that we’ve set via the Paris Accords and elsewhere, unless we do have that public private connection and ability to work together. And there’s some super cool stuff happening in energy, especially in particular around hydrogen right now that I think is going to be an interesting manifestation of that. So maybe I’ll put that on the list of someone to find as a provocateur.

 

Stuart Crainer:

Would you like to work for these people? I’m just looking at the list of people we’ve spoken to and I was thinking, would I like to work for them or with them?

 

Steve Goldbach:

Stuart, I might take a bullet for them, let alone work for them.

 

Des Dearlove:

Yeah, quite.

 

Steve Goldbach:

They’re so inspiring.

 

Des Dearlove:

They’re very, very, very inspiring, I thought. Yeah, that was another characteristic.

 

Geoff Tuff:

I’m looking down my list here, Stuart, and I’d say some of them. Yes, I would love to work with some of them.

 

Stuart Crainer:

I think they’d be pretty demanding.

 

Geoff Tuff:

I would agree.

 

Stuart Crainer:

Leads onto another question. Do you get promoted for being a provocateur?

 

Stacy Janiak:

Oh, that’s a good question.

 

Des Dearlove:

I guess that depends on the culture of the organization.

 

Stacy Janiak:

And time and place.

 

Geoff Tuff:

Again, I’m looking down the list here, and I can’t think of a real promotion path story that came out in any one of these. It’s almost like they went their own direction and ended up running the organization that they were responsible for, not through typical promotion paths.

 

Steve Goldbach:

I think about Valerie. Valerie became a senior vice president and a senior executive at JP Morgan, at the Fed. Dambisa sits on several boards. I know that boards, someone has to put you on a board. So people chose to have her views. Debbie was a founder, Julie was a founder. But I do think provoking is situation contingent. And I think we are often asked, “Should we be provoking from the middle of the organization?” I think the answer is yes, but you have to reflect that human behavior, you have to do it in a way that actually makes your ideas acceptable to those who are in the decision making mode. And that’s why it’s a challenge. But you have to do it with an understanding of what’s going to drive the behaviors of the decision makers.

 

Stuart Crainer:

I think one of my favorite stories, probably the favorite moment from the series so far was Valerie’s story about, she was working in a supermarket on a checkout. And one of the customers noted she was really good with adding numbers up and said, “You should work in a bank.” And I think a lot of careers and lives revolve around those moments, which I suppose you can influence, to some extent, being in the right place at the right time and following up on it.

 

Geoff Tuff:

All right. So Stuart, I like that as a topic. Favorite moments is something you’ve just introduced. Maybe we can each go around and talk about our favorite moments from the various episodes. And I’m sorry Des, if I’m going to steal one of yours. But mine, hands down, was when Ella joined us with Julie Carrier. And beyond being just an absolutely inspiring young woman who had a degree of self-confidence and willingness to put her out there, that gives me great hope for the future of this world. It really brought home for me, not just how amazing all our provocateurs are, but how they can impact the people that they interact with day in, day out.

If you look at the nine people that we’ve had on the show so far, there’s no doubt that they have impacted hundreds and hundreds of lives. And Debbie Bial, for example, we know that she’s impacted, I think at this point, the Posse Foundation has supported more than 10,000 scholars through that organization. You think about that, massive people that have been impacted by these provocateurs and who bring to society all the attributes and the capabilities that we’ve talked about amongst these nine amazing people. And that truly does feel like we’re going to be shifting the face of what leadership looks like everywhere around the world if we pay attention to these provocateurs. So my favorite moment, Ella.

 

Des Dearlove:

My favorite moment was talking to Charlie, the astronaut. And I think at some point I said, Charlie, “I have to ask you, what’s it like looking down from space and looking down at planet earth?” And I don’t know what I was expecting, but I wasn’t expecting him to say, “Well, I wasn’t really that bothered. I wasn’t really paying attention. I was busy doing what I had to do.” But that’s what he said. The commander of the mission had to get hold of him by the shoulder and say, “Charlie, look. Take a look at what…” And then he did say that there was some kind of meteorite or something that was quite cool and quite exciting. But how the guy could go to space and still be so intent on what he was doing to not really be paying attention to what the rest of us… Fantastic moment.

 

Geoff Tuff:

Yeah. That’s great.

 

Stacy Janiak:

Well, I would say my favorite moment was with Hubert, when he was describing the power of empowerment and putting so much in the hands of the associates out in the stores. And he talked about the story of the child that brought their toy back and the mom wanted to replace it, but he couldn’t let go of it. So the associates pretended to operate on it and to fix him and give him back to him all brand new. And it was nowhere in the store policy manual, that was how you were to address the situation. But the joy that that customer had and the joy that those store associates had was just incredible. It was an incredible example of empowerment.

 

Des Dearlove:

That was the dinosaur story, wasn’t it?

 

Stacy Janiak:

That’s right.

 

Des Dearlove:

That was the little boy with the dinosaur. Yeah, yeah. That was a great story.

 

Stuart Crainer:

I liked when we were talking to Bob Lefkowitz and he tells everyone to call him Bob, which is fantastic, really because he’s a Nobel Prize winner. It’s kind of proof that people who are down to earth can be brilliant and can change the world.

 

Steve Goldbach:

Yeah, Bob was amazing. And my personal moment, and I’ll start with our first episode, which was Valerie, which is – I could listen to Valerie talk for hours and hours and hours. She’s just so humble, matter of fact, but speaks plainly in the truth. And whenever I listen to her life story, and I’ve had the privilege of having it told to us for both the podcast and the book, it both brings tears of joy and tears of pain to you at the same time, to know what she’s personally gone through, but yet persevered and thrived so much. My favorite moment is that. I’m really looking forward to another year of this, guys, and doing it together. I just want to say that it’s been so much fun doing this together with you. I love these episodes, too. We got to do more of these, folks. So Stuart, over to you. Bring us home.

 

Stuart Crainer:

Thank you everyone for joining us, and thank you everyone who’s enjoyed any of our episodes during the last year. Thanks to Steve, Geoff, Stacy, and Des for making this good fun for us as well. But mainly, thank you to the provocateurs, the people we’ve spoken to, the people who’ve inspired us and will continue to inspire us, because I think the lessons we’ve learned from them are long lasting and important ones, personally and professionally. So we would like to thank Valerie Rainford, who’s our first guest, Debbie Bial, Lady Dambisa Moyo, Hubert Joly, Julie Carrier, Bob Lefkowitz, Charlie Camarda, Tom van der Lubbe, and Ben Fanning. And we hope we’ll have some more provocateurs next year. And thank you everyone for joining us.

This podcast is part of an ongoing series of interviews with executives. The executives’ participation in this podcast are solely for educational purposes based on their knowledge of the subject and the views expressed by them are solely their own. This podcast should not be deemed or construed to be for the purpose of soliciting business for any of the companies mentioned, nor does Deloitte advocate or endorse the services or products provided by these companies.

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