Your transformation PODCAST

Creating Synergy Podcast

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Ep. 5 – Working in the accelerated Future – with Pete Holliday

Intro:

Welcome to Creating Synergy where we explore what it takes to transform, whether you are transforming yourself, your team, your business, or your community. We’ll connect you with insightful and challenging leaders who share their stories of successful transformations to give you practical ideas for your own journey. Join us for another insightful episode of Creating Synergy.

Daniel Franco:

Welcome back to Creating Synergy. Today on our show we have a special, special guest, and I have a little bit of a man crush on this man, Peter Holliday, an organizational futurist and a business agility expert. He specializes in helping leaders in organizations be fit for the future and understand new ways of working. He has a postgraduate degree in complex human systems, from Harvard, and the first Master Integral Coach in Australia. Pete is an accomplished leader and an Agile focused change expert. He assists forward-thinking leaders, teams and organizations create their own version of the future of work. His specialties include creating Agile teams and high-performing cultures. He works with the leaders of multinational organizations, helping them to rethink leadership development, assisting their organizations to redefine their performance in the 21st century. Some of these big corporates include OZ Minerals, Salesforce, Thiess Global Mining, and more recently a large piece of work at SA Power Networks.

Daniel Franco:

He is known, when I think of Pete Holliday, I think of the future of work, business agility, modern leadership development, and creating Agile organizations. The word futurist is an exciting one. How do you get a title like futurist, Pete?

Pete Holliday:

Thinking about the future, I think, more often than not. I used to work in part of my background with a consulting company that had a large amount of futurists that used to work there, so I think you just pick things up working with people as you go along.

Daniel Franco:

Perfect. So yeah, when I think of the word futurist, I think of the Elon Musks of the world, so good to be in that category?

Pete Holliday:

I wouldn’t quite go that far. I think there’s a substantial difference between myself and Elon Musk.

Daniel Franco:

No, very good.

Pete Holliday:

For some reasons good and some reasons bad, I think. He’s an interesting character.

Daniel Franco:

He is an interesting character, very interesting. He’s another one of my man crushes, while we’re on the topic. So the future of work and business agility, very, very interesting space, especially considering current events right now. Can you just provide us a little bit of a brief background on your journey, onto how you got here?

Pete Holliday:

Yeah. So I think primarily my background has been leadership development and organizational development. So prior to arriving in Adelaide, I used to work for a couple of boutique consultancies in Melbourne. Then moved to Adelaide, and then did a little bit of a stint with the Leaders Institute of South Australia for a year when I first got here, and then before moving out to consulting by myself. So yeah, my background is really coaching, leadership development, organizational development and change. Then over a period of time, I realized that modern versions of that really had to take on an Agile aspect. And then helping organizations see over multiple horizons, and then be able to work back from those projected futures about where they see themselves and where they want to go, and then retrospect or retrofit their approach to culture and leadership development into those horizons and those frameworks.

Pete Holliday:

So that’s primarily my background and where it comes from, my growing interest in always adding skills. I think you’ve got to, in this particular industry, as they say, eat your own dog food. So there’s always a part of telling other people to be consistent and upgrade their operating system all the time, I think it’s imperative that you do it yourself. So I’ve always been one of those people that has always, like, “What’s next?” It’s very hard to position yourself as a futurist in anything and not be thinking about what’s next and just doing what you’ve always done.

Daniel Franco:

If you are out there telling people how to think about the future, you need to be thinking about the future, it’s pretty simple.

Pete Holliday:

And thinking about it a lot. Because I think, the circumstances we’re under at the moment, there’s only one thing constant, and that’s change. I think at the moment we’re seeing a lot of organizations in that space, and being defaulted into that space of the future.

Daniel Franco:

So where do you get your information from? You obviously read, you study, you learn. Is there something that you turn to quite often that other people could turn to? I don’t want to give away your tricks.

Pete Holliday:

No, no, look, it’s actually a really common question that I get quite a lot, because when I have a conversation with people, they’re like, “Oh, you read so much. You know this and you know that.” I think for me it really comes from, I use things to minimize the amount of time I have to think about what I read. So things like Flipboard Medium, where there’s some sort of AI preference running in the background, which helps curate things that you’re interested in, and therefore lower the time it takes to find something interesting to read. So I try and use technology in those instances to my benefit, and minimize my search time, and let the computer or the technology maximize my interests for me and give me a prefabricated or pre-populated selection.

Pete Holliday:

Usually I’ll spend maybe an hour each morning, both Saturday and Sunday morning, just going through my curated lists and finding what’s interesting, and having a bit of a read. Then, obviously, if there’s anything that I think is really worth a really deep dive followup, I’ll either go and buy the book or buy podcasts, or something on Audible, to try and deepen that knowledge around that thing that I’m interested in.

Daniel Franco:

Yeah, that’s awesome. So you’re dealing with large corporates right now?

Pete Holliday:

I am.

Daniel Franco:

OZ Minerals, SA Power Networks, these are the likes. What’s some of the work that you’re doing with them? Obviously, I can understand the confidentialities behind it. But what’s the type of work that you would do with general large corporate?

Pete Holliday:

Usually organizational change, organizational transformation, leadership development, and then the whole shift to Agile, which I think Agile will be the default operating system in the next five years, because it is the system that is best positioned to help people and businesses navigate the way that the market is. We’ve got that term, VUCA, things are volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. I think Agile seems to be the system that is best designed to help businesses and people in teams navigate that space.

Daniel Franco:

Can you clarify Agile in one sentence for our listeners?

Pete Holliday:

Probably not. Yeah, so I think it’s really about the process of dealing with being continuously adaptive, to match the market, because the market itself is changing so frequently and so quickly, that it’s a bunch of ceremonies, practices and processes that help organizations to be adaptive in those situations.

Daniel Franco:

Perfect.

Pete Holliday:

Have a go. It might have been a little bit more than one.

Daniel Franco:

So the work that you’re doing is generally in that space, helping them become more adaptive?

Pete Holliday:

Yeah, definitely. And that is in multiple disciplines, it’s the leadership development, it’s the integration of Agile, and then there’s this thing, vertical development, that’s a whole…

Daniel Franco:

Whole another podcast there. We’ll get you back on later for that.

Pete Holliday:

Yeah, it’s a little bit of a hot potato that one at the moment. So again, where I think Agile is the new operating system for organizations, I think vertical development is the new leadership operating system for the modern world. I think if you’re not doing that, aware of it, or integrating it into your leadership development, then you might be a little bit Back To The Future-ish.

Daniel Franco:

All right, so give us a quick snippet on vertical development.

Pete Holliday:

It’s quite interesting, I think, and I’ve been speaking to quite a few people around vertical development and saying that Agile is actually the collective version of vertical development. It’s really, how do you build an individual’s mind so that it deals with the level of ambiguity and uncertainty that we have? We know from research that that goes through several stages. The higher up those stages you are, the better you are equipped to deal with the level of uncertainty and ambiguity that we have in today’s environment. It doesn’t mean you’re necessarily a better person. But it says generally you’re better equipped and more adaptive. There is some value.

Daniel Franco:

It gives you a different perspective, doesn’t it?

Pete Holliday:

Yeah, not only does it give you different perspectives, it gives you more perspectives, but it gets you the capacity to be able to coordinate those perspectives in more effective ways, which generally leads to better decisions, and therefore, better outcomes.

Daniel Franco:

I heard or saw an example of this type of thinking, it was about, you think about someone walking at the bottom of the street, walking down the road, and they’re looking up, and they’re looking up at all the big sky-rise buildings that are placed, and each of those buildings is potentially a problem or a problem that is going on in that person’s life at that particular time. Then you think about a same or different person who’s in a helicopter above the city, looking down at those exact same problems that are going on in their life. This example talked about how the person walking down the street, that was their level of thinking, at the lower level, and the higher level of thinking, and just the perspective and the scenery and everything just changed from the level of thinking. So it was one example that I thought really resonated with me.

Pete Holliday:

Yeah. To use that metaphor, when you’re up that high, you can also see further out on the horizon. So not only can you see what’s going on, but you can see what’s about to happen, and therefore, move the pieces on the chessboard around a little bit more effectively. So you’re operating on the system rather than in the system.

Daniel Franco:

How do you, Pete, take these leaders to that level thinking?

Pete Holliday:

The stages of vertical development, depending on the model you use, there’s various models, anything from Kegan’s model of five stages, all the way up to some of the phases that Lectica use, which is another complexity assessment that I use, all the way up to 10 or 12 stages. So I think, depending on which model you’re using, it’s a slow process. So you’re talking, not months, but years, for a substantial step up in a stage of thinking. This is, again, one of the things that makes it difficult, is because if you’re implying that it’s going to take a couple of years, then from a business, you’re implying that it’s going to take a lot of money.

Pete Holliday:

So I think, when you think about these things, the way you tell the story, you have to be really, really clear about, this is what it’s going to take, this is what it looks like. Don’t expect this weekend workshop to solve this problem that you’ve got. We can load more skills on you, but if you don’t have the capacity to deploy those skills in you in creative ways, then you just get the same old thing over and over again.

Daniel Franco:

I think the simple fact is that if you believe your mindset can change in a weekend’s workshop, then you’re not at that helicopter level, you’re clearly not, you’re not thinking along the lines of someone who is at that level, and you understand things take time.

Pete Holliday:

Yeah, I think the other thing that’s really interesting is, the brain will lead the activity. So you will get a cognitive sense of what it’s like to be at these larger levels. But to actually execute an activity at that level, that’s the piece that takes a long time. I think it’s very similar to an athlete, you could run at a certain faster pace, but only for a certain amount of time, and then you’ll drop back. But after a while of building your fitness and your consistency, then that new race pace, that becomes your standard pace, and you move on to the next. So I think consistency is the thing that really drives vertical… You have to be learning and focusing consistent. It’s developing new muscles. It’s like going to the gym. You don’t get fit going to the gym once, unfortunately.

Daniel Franco:

Yeah, most people think that’s the way it works though, isn’t it?

Pete Holliday:

It’s how we’d like it to work, yeah.

Daniel Franco:

Very good. All right, so what are some of the ways that you’re seeing these businesses right now accelerate their work? Especially with the time of COVID that we’re in, how are businesses accelerating their working in this day and age? What does that look like?

Pete Holliday:

Yeah, so I think, we spoke about before coming here, I like to call it the accelerated future.

Daniel Franco:

Yeah, I like that.

Pete Holliday:

It’s where organizations, you would see papers by the Big 4, and any of the mainstream media, you’ve heard about the future of work, and everyone’s been talking about it for a couple of years, but very few organizations are actively engaged in the activity of the future of work. Lots of people talking about it. And COVID-19 is an interesting space, because with all the workforce, a large majority of them being pushed out of their standard corporate head office or environment, then it’s really forced organizations to accelerate a lot of their plans, and some of them have now been pushed into a default of the future of work. So now they’ve got to go home and think about what the next future of work, right? Because the future is now.

Pete Holliday:

So some of things I’ve been seeing is, obviously, the uptake of online technology, things like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, all of these platforms that have been used in very traditional ways are now being pushed into the forefront of how we work. So I would say that many organizations are facing their own vertical development moment at the moment, of, how do we create ways of working that fit into this space that we’ve been forced into? It’s a really exciting time. Some organizations are, this kind of feels like it’s going two ways, it’s either, we’re using this as a launchpad to a new normal, and there seems to be some organizations that are just waiting and going, “How long before it goes back to the way it used to be?”

Daniel Franco:

Yeah. What do you think will happen to those businesses that are waiting?

Pete Holliday:

Look, I think there’s a space for both, there always is. But I would hope that when they go back to what they have previously been, that it’s a little bit further forward than that. So it may not be the launchpad to the future, but it’s certainly, I hope, not going back to exactly like it was. It was interesting, I was shopping the other day in the supermarket, and there was a lady talking about having to adjust to the new way of work, and, I didn’t sign up for this, I just want to go and do my job and then go home, and no one’s taught me how to do this, and there’s been no training. So it was really interesting listening to the conversation about how some organizations are really driving into the future and saying, there’s training for this, this is how we do it. And then some organizations, it’s kind of, just deal with it, and you’re on your own. So there’s very different approaches that I’ve been seeing from different organizations, to tackling the challenge that we have. It’s complex and it’s adaptive.

Daniel Franco:

It is. What do you think will happen to these companies that don’t use this as a launching pad? If now is not the launching pad, when would we see a launching pad in the near future?

Pete Holliday:

Well, I possibly don’t think you will, for a lot of organizations. I have a little bit of a rant about senior leadership teams and people in senior leadership teams that get to the top and feel like that’s it, they’re done in their career, and now it’s a freewheel down the other side of the mountain, after this big climb all of your career up to the top. The impact of not doing anything is probably not going to be seen in their tenure, so they tend not to worry about it particularly too much, somebody else will deal with that. So I think there’s that responsibility.

Daniel Franco:

I think global warming is one of those things.

Pete Holliday:

Yeah, it’s kind of a market version of that, of how that happens in organizations. So I think that’s sad that that’s the mentality that we have in a lot of organizations, “Oh, that’ll just be somebody else’s problem further down the track.” Rather than leaders that really want to take responsibility and leave the organization in a better place than it was. I think that’s the reference people use around that heroic and post-heroic leadership, is around just being the hero and being seen as the savior, or then opposedly that post-heroic mode of collaborative engaging, creative, creating a new future.

Pete Holliday:

You see it with organizations that people benchmark themselves against. They attain that benchmark by going through their own journey to get to that place where they are at the moment, where they’re renowned for something special about their organization, whether it’s Spotify or Hire, or any of those organizations that are really throwing the traditional organizational models on their head and saying, “Well, actually, just because you’ve done it that way for the last 100 years, doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do it that way for the next 100.” Then there’s some really creative approaches out there around organizations that are starting to think about the environment and think about the organizational design and structure and how you could actually be different in that space.

Daniel Franco:

Who are the companies who are leading the way in that space at the moment?

Pete Holliday:

So I would say there’s quite a few.

Daniel Franco:

Particularly in Australia.

Pete Holliday:

In Australia? Atlassian’s got a pretty good reputation.

Daniel Franco:

Oh, Atlassian, let’s not get into them, I’ll talk about them for an hour or two.

Pete Holliday:

Okay then. You know, you’ve got people like Dom Price, who are really huge advocates of the future of work, and really drive their brand quite strongly in the market. You’ve got REA group, who are pretty famous for their little TV portals that go through to China.

Daniel Franco:

Oh yeah, really great.

Pete Holliday:

So then you’ve got ANZ with their big move to Agile. And a lot of the banks, although some of them not held in the best regard, over the last couple of years are definitely trying their hand at this. Anything that’s software-based, client-facing, those organizations, again, a lot of these places that have got to being prominent in their field, have those people that have used Agile and used Agile well.

Pete Holliday:

So there’s this really weird relationship between progressive organizations, Agile, and then when you look at the organizations and the leadership in there and the way they’ve done things, there’s a really resonant of that vertical development component as well. So they’re three spheres of influence which tend to orbit around progressive organizations in a really interesting combination.

Daniel Franco:

On the technology piece, when you think about the future of work, you hear all these comments like, the gig economy’s coming in, and all this sort of stuff. Where do you feel human beings will be in the future? Because with the rise of technology, especially now, where we’re seeing technology just taking off yet again in the world of COVID. What’s your thoughts around that?

Pete Holliday:

The future of work is an interesting space in this regard, because a lot of people will talk about, “A robot’s not going to take your job.” I think the robot probably will take your job, but it will depend on the level of anything that can be repeated numerous times with low levels of complexity, then you’re in the danger zone. So I think all these people that say that a robot won’t take your job, I think that’s a little bit disingenuous. I think there are some roles that will get taken. But I think the expediential creation on the end of that is that as technology emerges, then new jobs get created. So for every one that goes by, there’ll probably be two created. But it will require new kind of skillset to be in there.

Daniel Franco:

And new of thinking.

Pete Holliday:

Yeah, and new ways of thinking. And I think different industries are at different places along that path. Some organizations that pick that up and run with that quite well, and then there’ll be organizations that struggle into that period, because there are people that, like the person I overheard in the supermarket, they’re not really interested in the future of work, they’re purely just interested in doing their six hours or eight hours a day and then out the gate they go. That level of stability is what they’re looking for. Then you’ve got the real go-getters that want to make a difference, make a change, make the world a better place. That comes down to how that person thinks about the world. Then also there’s things like where you are in your career. So I think there’s space for everyone. But we are on a trajectory forward, whether we like it or not, and I think if that’s not where you want to play, then you might get your ticket punched at some point down the track. That comes down to personal responsibility, I think, at the same time, I think, yes, you have the conditions of this accelerated future pushed onto you, but then you also have a sense of responsibility to do something about that or not.

Daniel Franco:

So the alternative is have no job, isn’t it really? It’s, get on the bus or the bus will leave without you. It’s quite simple.

Pete Holliday:

It is when you break it down to that really polarity thinking about, is either going to be on the bus or off the bus. Or then as you mentioned, there’s the gig economy and it’s creating value in different ways. Does that open up a space for you to chase a career somewhere else in some other industry? I think technology has been amazing in the ability, in the ease it is to create value these days, is just crazy, and it will get crazier in the future. Before, you used to have to have an office infrastructure, IT. Now you can register a business with ASIC, you can pay a Google G Suite account for $10 a month, and you’re officially a player in the market. And that’s why I think collaboration’s going to be really important, because for these sole traders or small people they can’t compete with places like the Big 4, but they can network together and produce outstanding outcomes.

Pete Holliday:

One client I’m working with at the moment, we’ve been through that phase and got a couple of really talented, really smart individual consultants working together, and they’re great by themselves, but as a collective, we all work really, really well together and create something special. So I think there’ll be more of those collaborative collectives coming together to create new value, rather than that traditional Big 4 massive rollout.

Daniel Franco:

Yeah. When we talk about the gig economy, do you think everyone will be working for themselves in the future?

Pete Holliday:

It definitely seems to be increasing. Look, I have to put a stamp on my own bias here, because I work for myself, right after coming out of working in consultancies. But it definitely seems to be easier for people, as I’ve mentioned, it’s easy to create value. I think there’s more confidence that you can create a living that way. So I think there’s a title shift going on there. Then, I’m going to start showing my age here, you’ve also got that millennial shift, and all those age groups below that coming through, where they don’t necessarily want to work for big corporate or a big organization. We’re really in an age where capturing your own individuality and the value that that individuality can offer the market, there’s a platform for that now, which is this gig economy.

Pete Holliday:

So I was watching some vide on YouTube the other day, and there was an ad Squarespace. It was this woman in a hotel in Bali, saying, “This is how I managed to create the life that I’ve got,” just through views and things channeling through her website, and that was it. I was like, well, if you want to live in Bali 12 months a year and have that life, wow, good on you.

Daniel Franco:

Everyone can do what they want.

Pete Holliday:

Exactly. The non-locality of technology is fantastic.

Daniel Franco:

Well, that’s what COVID’s done, I think. Michelle [Holland 00:23:23] and I have been discussing this quite a fair bit, is, right now, potentially we could hire people interstate to do a job in Adelaide, I think. Not that that’s what we want to do. We promote South Australia and everything like that. But it bring home the simple fact that we could potentially hire someone in Canada to do work for us as well, just purely if there doesn’t need to be the face to face, we could hire people from all around the world. So this has just completely opened up the market to everyone, I guess. I mean, everyone’s turning to Zoom and Teams, aren’t they? Expecting them to create what is the new way of working.

Pete Holliday:

Yeah, look, it’s interesting to see. I think that’s a really good indication for why Agile is so good, is you can run all of those processes virtually by remote. I think that’s part of the power of it as well. So you can get your development, you can get your processes, you can do it all by remote Teams and Zoom, and some sort of digital kanban repository for everyone monitoring their work. Everything’s always better in analog face to face, but if you don’t have that opportunity due to whatever conditions it may be, then I think it’s a wonderful… I was having a conversation with someone that, could you imagine what it would be like trying to work this way if there was no such thing as the internet? So many companies would just be wiped away instantly. But it’s allowed people to carry on and continue to add value to the market, especially when we’ve got a market like it is at the moment, which is struggling under the pressure of the virus, it’s really interesting.

Daniel Franco:

If there was no internet, we probably wouldn’t be panicking as much maybe.

Pete Holliday:

Yeah, everything has a good side and a bad side.

Daniel Franco:

The media hype. So just on, you talked about, there’s companies who are going to take and get on the bus, I guess, and get on the ride, and take their business forward. There are companies that are sitting around waiting. Is that a leadership issue?

Pete Holliday:

Yeah, I’ll pick up my rant from earlier.

Daniel Franco:

Yeah.

Pete Holliday:

It’s one thing that I really see, a lot of value for companies gets left on the table at that level of an organization. You always see it in leadership development, where it seems to turn up, where senior leaders are always going, “You’ve just got to keep it simple.” And it’s like, well, no, you don’t need to keep it simple, because that’s part of your actual core problem is, you actually need to upgrade your thinking to the next… I’ve got a saying when I work with leaders, it’s, every time you upgrade your iPhone, upgrade yourself. So you’ve got to get into that mindset of upgrading, every time you do an upgrade of a phone, you get into that lifecycle of a piece of knowledge or information really only has that 6-12 month lifecycle in it before you need something else on top of it. So we’ve got to keep building our capabilities.

Pete Holliday:

When it comes to senior leaders, getting to the top and coasting, it may be great for you, but I don’t think it’s necessarily great for the organization, and you need to keep building on that. It’s the perfect time actually to be doing more complex work rather than less complex. But they see it generally as a distraction from doing the kind of work that’s required. There are some businesses that are in that mindset, and there are some that are in the, “Yep, actually we need to be doing more complex work. What does that look like for us? How would we do that, given the market that we’ve got at the moment and the climate?”

Daniel Franco:

So depending on what happens now with COVID, what do you think are some possible scenarios coming out of this, for the accelerated future?

Pete Holliday:

I’ve been running over this over my chai latte over the last couple of weeks, every morning just thinking, pretty much in the same way that most people that have been thinking about the horizons have. I think there’s a V-shaped recovery. I think we will rebound quite quickly. I think some of the assessments that people have made around why that’s not possible, could possibly be a little bit more traditionally minded. I think, again, technology unlocks value far quicker than we’ve ever had the opportunity before. So I believe there’s possibly more of an opportunity for a V-shaped rebound than there probably had been in the future, because you’ve got to start all that infrastructure back up again, where you’ve actually got a large majority of it running in the background digitally, so it’s less effort to get back up to running speed.

Daniel Franco:

Just flick a switch.

Pete Holliday:

Yeah, basically. So I think that’s definitely one thing. I think what’s probably going to happen will be the U-shaped recovery, where, the bottom, where we’re at at the moment, it won’t be a V, a straight bounce, but it’ll be a bit of an elongated recovery before we go back up. There’s the L-shaped recovery where things stay where they are for quite a long period of time before they start to move back up.

Daniel Franco:

That’s not really a recovery, is it?

Pete Holliday:

No, it’s kind of stay where we are. We’ve landed flat on our backsides and that’s where we’re going to stay for a while. I don’t think that will be the case. I think as soon as we can start to move in spaces physically, I think we will start to see rather quick accelerations.

Daniel Franco:

I think we’re already seeing that.

Pete Holliday:

Yeah, that’s what I think as well. My only fear is the W-shaped recovery, which is where we get to where we are, we have a [inaudible 00:28:47], and then we get into the winter season with the flu and-

Daniel Franco:

The second wave.

Pete Holliday:

Yeah, the second wave comes through and we get another wipe-out period where we’re all back to where we are, or have been in the last six weeks. Then after that possibly recovery and then vaccines. Once we get into that space, I think then it’ll be pretty much whatever normal we’ve established by that period, will see an acceleration beyond there as well.

Daniel Franco:

Have you thought five years down the track?

Pete Holliday:

It’s hard to think five years at the moment, because things are changing so much.

Daniel Franco:

Yeah, it’s hard to think two months ahead.

Pete Holliday:

I think there’s a few key indicators. You’ve got quantum computing, lots of technologies that will not necessarily be the single technology, but the convergence of multiple technologies. Depending on when our best friend, Mr. Musk, gets autonomous driving and those things up. I think there’s a real trend though towards distributed everything. Google distributed information, that was the movement of moving information and distributing. Blockchain has started to think about finances and how you distribute finance. Elon’s thinking about distributing transportation by autonomous mobile taxis and car ownership. Then there’s big questions about entire sections of the market surviving that kind of revolution. Then the gig economy again.

Daniel Franco:

On top of that.

Pete Holliday:

Yeah, distributed value seems to be a key underlying theme that technology seems to be driving for us. I think that will continue. Home ownership that is the one thing that I think will possibly go under the microscope next, about, how would you distribute home ownership in a more effective way? Because I think what happens is, all the things that seem to cost lots, seem to run under the distributed microscope eventually. Because when things become too onerous to own yourself because of the cost, then people want to share that cost, but share in the benefit.

Daniel Franco:

Are we seeing that already with Airbnb?

Pete Holliday:

Yeah, so I think probably Airbnb is a great example of that, of distributed home ownership. Long before I came to Adelaide, we did a big project for an age care company in Melbourne, and one of the things that we came up with for them for their internal innovation was an internal Airbnb for their particular age care group, where people would trade their houses around Australia. Because that was one of the major deterrents to traveling at age is cost of accommodation. So if people could agree house swapping internal through an internet, then freed up one of the primary costs, and deterrents from traveling. Which, as you age, you want to get out and about as much as you can and see the world as much as you can. So it was a really great innovation around the distribution of housing and how you could make that work for you, rather than against you.

Daniel Franco:

Yeah, that’s so cool. Scary though, because I’m into real estate, so I want to make sure I keep my investments keep running. Okay, so I know you deal with more in large corporates, but there’s a lot of people that would listen to this who are in small business. What do you think the future looks like for small business? What is the main difference really?

Pete Holliday:

I think cashflow, which generates opportunities. So the more cashflow you have, the more flexibility or choices that you have. Big corporates, despite what they might say, generally have enough money to float themselves over particular periods like this. If you’ve had a look at the stock market, there’s a lot of companies that have been doing capital raising at the moment to float themselves over this. Webjet and Flight Centre, and all of those particular places, which have really been hit quite hard. So I think cashflow seems fairly obvious because of its ability to empower your choices going forward. But it would be extremely stressful, I think, for some people in small business, where your income is generated off your ability to interact which each other.

Pete Holliday:

As a consultant, everything that I do, low infrastructure, everything can be done virtually. The service’s value can be virtualized quite easily. As opposed to, if you were in, even retail, there’s so many retail places at the moment that can’t operate. I was going to go out for dinner, it must have been not last week, the week before. But when you don’t get out of the house, it’s hard to realize, until you actually get there and look around, that there’s a lot of places that you would normally go without a second thought, that aren’t actually open. So it’s incredibly challenging for them at the moment. I think cashflow is the key in there. And hopefully, for most people coming into it without enough to float over the period, and hopefully things turn around in the next week or so and we get an increase in our capacity to open up those businesses to people.

Daniel Franco:

Going back to real estate, I guess, as an industry that is potentially going to be affected. And you talk about the world moving into a virtual world, office space becomes…

Pete Holliday:

It’s a big one at the moment. Everyone’s talking about it.

Daniel Franco:

What’s your thoughts in that? I guess that’s commercial real estate is definitely an industry that’s going to see some type of effect, whether it be positive or negative probably, looking more likely negative at this stage. Are there other industries as well that you can see that are getting affected by this? First, what’s your thought process on the commercial real estate?

Pete Holliday:

I think it’ll fall into one of those two categories we spoke about earlier. I think there’ll be people that want that new normal into that space. COVID-19 has been a really great experiment ground to test lots of hypotheses about what’s possible. A lot of assumptions are getting reevaluated, I think, that that’s not possible. We’ve had places that are similar to this before, like ANZ’s building in Melbourne, where it’s really only structured for 70% of the workforce to be present on site at one time. But now you’re starting to see articles about, do we need the corporate office at all? Moving from a 70% occupancy to zero. What would that look like?

Pete Holliday:

A client I was at the other day, was asking some of these similar questions. I proposed, well, an office is really just a collection of people sitting around a table. I said, “There’s a great opportunity there. You could run a team from a café for a day, support the local business, reduce your overheads. And there’s a win-win for everyone in that particular instance.”

Daniel Franco:

Wow, I hadn’t thought about that.

Pete Holliday:

Yeah. So people who know me, I’m a big advocate of, I seem to have high productivity rates when I’m at cafes. So it seems slowly working my way through every café in Adelaide.

Daniel Franco:

Café [crosstalk 00:35:52]

Pete Holliday:

Exactly. So I really find that there’s these possibilities, asking the questions about, how would you be co-located? Are there coworking spaces that you could work at? Is the corporate office a thing of the past? I think there’s some very, very serious questions being asked about the possibility of that. I think I posted an article at one of my clients the other day, there’s an article in Forbes where they’re just saying, “The head office is now a thing of the past.” People have been actually able to see that they can operate reasonably well without it.

Daniel Franco:

That is scary for the commercial real estate industry. These people have put millions of dollars into buildings for no one to be leasing them out. That is a bit worrying.

Pete Holliday:

I think the amount of people that take that approach will be small to start with. A lot of businesses, they’re always looking for someone else to go first. “You go first and then we’ll see how you go. Then I’ll be the second adopter. We’ll come in over the top and learn from your mistakes.” Kind of thing. But I think there’s several businesses talking about it. So it will be interesting to see what the outcome from that is.

Daniel Franco:

We’re actually seeing, I mean, we work with obviously culture and change as well, we’re seeing, what we’re hearing from our clients is that productivity has never been great, purely, A, because people are getting potentially two hours a day back in, they’re not having that 9:30, 10:30 coffee, then half an hour, an hour for lunch, and their 2:30 coffee, not to mention the hour each way from getting in and out of the city. So they’re probably spending more time on their laptops. So that’s number one. But number two, there’s so much less micromanagement going on right now, in this instance, someone can’t breathe over their neck and look at everything that they’re doing. The level of trust has to go up.

Pete Holliday:

Yeah. I think that’s the level of psychological safety you have in your team, and trust, and they’re being accelerated into a future where that’s your requirement because that’s the way you have to work, because you can’t micromanage people 24 hours, unless you want to be really creepy and send cameras to everyone’s house and really take an overlord picture of it. But everyone’s, I think, embraced technology quite well.

Daniel Franco:

It does put onus on leaders though, to become more innovative and creative than ever with their people. And think about, right now culture is more important than ever.

Pete Holliday:

Totally. I think, there’s that theory of constraints, and it actually drives innovation as much as constrains it. It constrains certain things, but then it opens up thinking about things in different ways when you have those constraints in place. So I think we’re seeing, yeah, it’s really interesting at the moment, which way people are going, how they’re doing it, what systems they’re using, what platforms they’re using, thinking about productivity. You see it all the time in Agile when you do sprint planning, and you’re thinking about your sprint, you’re doing your planning, and you’re blocking work for a day and thinking about estimation and how much work a person gets done in a day. You’ll ask a team, “So when you’re doing your planning for the day, how many hours are you thinking you’ve got up your sleeve to do this work?” They’ll go, “Eight hours.” I said, “So I want you to take out the toilet breaks, the chats, the coffees.” And what you’ll actually find is, people end up with about six hours or five and a half hours work.

Daniel Franco:

Absolutely.

Pete Holliday:

So when you’re doing sprint planning, people will do their first sprint and they’ll go, “Oh wow, we only got half of what we got done.” It’s like, “Why do you think that is?” We’ll eventually come round in the retrospective to figuring that is like, “Oh wow, we overestimated the amount of work we did or could do, because our primary assumption was wrong at the start. We started with eight hours when we only had five.” Once they get that, they understand the fact that their own bias overestimation, and they get around about the right amount of time, they nearly hit their sprint goals every time. So they mature quite quickly to realize that, you don’t have eight hours of the day to play with.

Daniel Franco:

No. I’ve got a couple of mates that work for government, could almost say they spend a couple of hours a day on the toilet.

Pete Holliday:

Yeah.

Daniel Franco:

But it begs the question, because they do that to get away and get that break. But when you’re in your own home, you actually don’t need that.

Pete Holliday:

No. If you can keep the dogs from barking from everyone that rides by.

Daniel Franco:

My business partner, Michelle Holland, who you know, I reckon I’ve gotten to know her dogs more now than ever. They’re just barking in the background. They know my voice, I think, better than anything too. So it’s quite funny. So any other industries that you think will be affected. We talked about the real estate commercial industry, all that sort of stuff. But other industries that you feel could take a hit or change completely?

Pete Holliday:

Well, obviously there’s travel.

Daniel Franco:

Travel is huge. But that’ll bounce back quite quickly when the confidence-

Pete Holliday:

I hope so.

Daniel Franco:

Or will it?

Pete Holliday:

I think what’s interesting is Virgin, which is really interesting. They had so much debt and they couldn’t cover it in the short-term, and it’s been in collapse until someone can pick up that, or purchase it, or buy it at a bargain, and then we’ll see. I think it would be sad for Australia as a whole, that if we had a monopoly airline, which we did in the past when Ansett collapsed, and that was definitely not good for customers.

Daniel Franco:

No. But there’s already talk of them getting bailed out.

Pete Holliday:

I think so. I think something will come about.

Daniel Franco:

I hope they do. I’ve got credit for me.

Pete Holliday:

Yeah, I think I’ve got a couple as well. So I’m praying that that does turn around.

Daniel Franco:

Yeah. Very good. All right, so what’s the next steps for the world?

Pete Holliday:

I think it’ll be grounding the learnings that they’ve had through this period, and then realizing, what does a new normal look like for us as individuals? Depending on how we’ve adapted and how we’ve adjusted to the changes that we’ve had to go with over the last, say, two months. It’s going to be interesting to see which way people go out of those two, let’s go back to the past, let’s get in the DeLorean and go back to the future, the way we were, to talking about things, we’ve had a dose of it and we didn’t like it. Or there’ll be those organizations that go, that’s really shifted the way we think about the world, and we’re going to maximize that going forward into the future. How are we going to do that? And how are we going to take our learnings and scale those learnings across the organization? How is this our new point to work forward from?

Pete Holliday:

So I think a majority of them will go in reverse, and I think the organizations we talk about as being innovative and future focused, two years into the future will be the ones that have made that decision. Even though technology is a wonderful thing, changing everyone, how difficult is it to make a personal change in your life? So changing a whole bunch of people takes a long time generally. So I think there’ll be early adopters, innovators, early adopters, all the people that exist through that innovation, not only in organizations, but the organizations themselves that find themselves on that curve.

Daniel Franco:

So do you think they’ll go back, I guess, to the way that they were working, but with the mindset that they do need to change? So go back to get their foundation right? Do you reckon, is that a common thinking? Or do you reckon they’ll just go back and go, “No, we’re just going to put our heads in the sand and carry on.”

Pete Holliday:

I think it’ll be both.

Daniel Franco:

Yeah.

Pete Holliday:

Yeah, it depends. Every organization is really different. You do have particular industries that are particularly a certain way. It’s really hard to do. Maybe I just need to save with a caveat, I’ve found it really personally hard to shift things like government organizations and councils. There’s always the outliers that I think are really, really good and that do really progressive things. But they’re generally in the minority in that particular sector. Then there are organizations that have high technology, high digital literacy, where it’s much easier to capitalize on the environment and the technology that we have, and can use that quite easily to generate new ways of working. Not only do that, but think about it in a way that actually helps future-proof them to running into the same kinds of problems again, and makes them virtuous learning organizations, then adaptive organizations continue to adapt as they move along.

Daniel Franco:

If you had a tip for people right now-

Pete Holliday:

Oh, you’re putting me on the spot.

Daniel Franco:

I am. One tip that you could recommend people right now, to think about during this downtime, what’s one thing that people could be doing to prepare for the potential V or the U that goes back up.

Pete Holliday:

I think it’s, use the opportunity, the downtime, use it to accelerate the starting blocks and put them further down the track. So when it is good to go… Even if it’s try one new different thing a week, from an individual or leadership perspective, one thing a week, over five or six weeks, that’s six things. Then it’s not the collection of those six things, it’s the way those six things smash into each other, that creates that novel, new, interesting way of working. I think that’s one of the things that I see, is that people think about things as a collection of individual things linked together in a linear line, where people that really get the…

Pete Holliday:

Elon Musk’s a great example, took technology, took cars, smashed it all together, and he’s made this brand that has this multi-application across multiple things. So by learning those six things, the end result is more than just the sum of the parts. If you continue to take that attitude and take that into multiple disciplines in your life, then I think that situates you in a good place to have that learners mind and that creative mind about going… I think, Simon Sinek’s calling it the finite and the infinite game, that mindset, that infinite mindset, yeah, I think that puts you in good stead to start.

Daniel Franco:

It’s a culmination of things coming together.

Pete Holliday:

Yeah, but it’s the emergence of the novelty of those things crashing together that’s really interesting to me.

Daniel Franco:

Yeah, that’s cool. That’s a really great way of thinking. All right, so we’ve come to what’s probably one of my favorite parts of the whole thing.

Pete Holliday:

Ooh, I’m feeling the pressure here.

Daniel Franco:

So we’re almost at an hour now, so we’ll start thinking about… But we’ve got some quickfire questions. Now, I’m trying to change these up every time I shoot through. Some might throw you, there’s particularly one that might throw you. I like this, I’ve thrown this one in today. But first off, what book are you reading right now? No, you’ve said [inaudible 00:46:35], so I’ll ask that differently, what’s one of your favorite books?

Pete Holliday:

From a business perspective?

Daniel Franco:

What’s one of your favorite books?

Pete Holliday:

I really liked Brave New Work, Aaron Dignan’s book from last year.

Daniel Franco:

Brave New Work.

Pete Holliday:

Which was really influential in thinking about Agile without all the fuss, and about this new world of work, Agile, all of these really concepts in a really concise, easy to digest way, where lots of people that I gave it as a present to were like, “Oh, finally someone’s put it all together and taken all the complicated bits out of it and just made it really easy to read.” And he’s just a really engaging speaker. So I encourage people to watch his videos, and they’re like, “Oh wow!”

Daniel Franco:

So Aaron Dignan?

Pete Holliday:

Dignan.

Daniel Franco:

Dignan?

Pete Holliday:

Yeah.

Daniel Franco:

Excellent. I’ll look him up.

Pete Holliday:

I’m starting to sweat now.

Daniel Franco:

All right, what’s your favorite movie?

Pete Holliday:

Favorite movie, I really liked Interstellar with Matthew McConaughey and [crosstalk 00:47:31].

Daniel Franco:

Scientifically incorrect, but I won’t go down that. I’m a bit of a sci-fi geek.

Pete Holliday:

Okay, right.

Daniel Franco:

But the concept of the storyline is fantastic.

Pete Holliday:

Yeah. I found in the end of it, it must have been dusty in the theater, just shed a tear, just the sheer scale of the concepts being played out. So yeah, I really enjoyed that.

Daniel Franco:

He’s a good actor, McConaughey.

Pete Holliday:

Yeah, he’s really evolved over a period of time.

Daniel Franco:

He has.

Pete Holliday:

He’s moved out of the rom-com situation that he used to be in, to quite a diverse actor.

Daniel Franco:

He has. So what’s one thing on your bucket list?

Pete Holliday:

Now you’ve put me on the spot. I hadn’t really thought about. Don’t know. Can I have a think about it while we circle through the next couple?

Daniel Franco:

Yeah. You a morning person or a night person?

Pete Holliday:

Morning person, definitely, yeah. I’m up at 5:00, 5:15 most mornings.

Daniel Franco:

And start work?

Pete Holliday:

Yeah, definitely work, it starts, I try and get a couple of hours, especially when you’re client-facing a lot of the time, a lot of the actual work on your own business, you just don’t get time to do that.

Daniel Franco:

Yeah. I hear you loud and clear. What’s one thing that annoys you the most? You mentioned leaders a couple of times.

Pete Holliday:

Yeah, I’ll stay off that, everyone’s said to me, you need to lay off that rant. But some people will laugh. But just generally, I think when you have a really complex inside of your mind, having a tidy outside is important, because it can’t all be messy. And sometimes I don’t succeed at that, I must admit. But I find the people that work with a lot of complexity all the time, that having something that’s neat and ordered somewhere along the track is important.

Daniel Franco:

Absolutely.

Pete Holliday:

So I like to try and keep things reasonably clean.

Daniel Franco:

Last question, this one’s going to throw you, what color is your toothbrush?

Pete Holliday:

White and pale blue. There you go. I’ve got one of those electric ones. Although it’s getting a bit grimy, I must admit. I looked at it today and I went, “Oh god, that really needs a clean.”

Daniel Franco:

Brilliant. Thank you very much, Pete, for joining us.

Pete Holliday:

It’s been an absolute pleasure, my friend.

Daniel Franco:

It’s been awesome. Much appreciate it. Where can we find you?

Pete Holliday:

So you can just find me on Instagram, just PeteHolliday1, or on my website: peteholliday.com. And just on LinkedIn, just Pete Holliday.

Daniel Franco:

Perfect. We’ll post the links as well, won’t we, Gabs?

Pete Holliday:

Yes, we will.

Daniel Franco:

We will post the links. Yeah, thanks again for joining us, much appreciated.

Pete Holliday:

No, it’s been a pleasure. Fantastic. Like I said, I’ve been a big fan of yourself and Michelle for a while. So it’s been good to sit down and have a chat.

Outro:

Thank you once again for joining us here at Creating Synergy. It’s been great spending this time with you. Please jump onto the SynergyIQ Facebook page where the discussion continues after the show. Join our mailing list so you’ll know what’s happening next at synergyiq.com.au. And of course, don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast and if you really enjoyed it, please share it with your friends.

Meet our Host

Daniel Franco

Daniel Franco

Daniel has a passion to help people shift their lives and businesses to another level, regardless of their current success. His pure enthusiasm and joy for creating long lasting relationships is paramount to the success of our Clients and SynergyIQ.

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