10 Thoughts and A Poem (For times of crisis and political despair)

  General thoughts if you didn’t vote for the people who are now in charge of the professional political power structures that govern you, when it is also pretty clear they don’t care about how many people get harmed or killed in their pursuit of the economic- or power-grabbing interests of the privileged few: 1. You may feel overwhelmed. You may feel like you can’t do anything, like it’s all gone to hell. If this is the case, you are losing sight of yourself, and of your place in the world. Sometimes people influence us to do that. Sometimes we do that ourselves. Either way, bring it all back home. You are sufficient, more than sufficient. Everything you need to be strong and courageous has always been available to you. Remember where you are. Who you’re with. What you love. Who you love. Where you love. The anthem of resilience is the beating of the human heart. 2. Trust the way things run against your grain. Resistance is first and foremost a physiological reaction. Anger is often a helpful response to extreme conditions. 3. Anger as a response to conditions doesn’t last. If you are staying angry, you’re generating that

Not Our Circus, Not Our Monkeys #GE2017

It’s a really important time in Northern Ireland. It is now that we can refocus on the possibilities of politics as a hard-edged commitment to nurturing, inclusiveness, and openness. At a shallow level, Northern Irish politics has recently been driven into cul-de-sacs by certain members of an increasingly well-remunerated political class, who often seem to find themselves having too much fun engaging in ritualised battle to concern themselves with the work of transforming Northern Ireland that they have actually been tasked with, and for which they are being paid. All of the patient work of the peace process was in order to achieve structural change in governance following a long period of conflict, killings, sectarian exclusion, discrimination, corruption, and state-sanctioned murder. Some (not me) would argue that at least one side of the paramilitary activity was a normal response to all of that under abnormal conditions, and others (not me) would likely argue something similar about the paramilitary responses from the other side in retaliation. Either way, almost all of the structural gains can be wiped out overnight if certain things happen over the next few days as they seem to be shaping up. If the Conservatives form a government

Performing The Heart of Care (Compassionate Care conference presentation)

Here’s a link to a PDF of the presentation I gave at the Compassionate Care conference at Teeside University in April. The presentation develops on some of the points I made in earlier talks I gave in Toronto and Tasmania with regards to our attempts to practice kindness, compassion, and healing care in culturally unsustainable and toxic environments. The programme of the Compassionate Care conference is below. McCann The Heart of Care Teesside 2015    

Self-care and Enclosure

Self-care isn’t impossible in culturally unsustainable environments of enclosure (difficult, even toxic working environments), but it does tend to be rendered unlikely, unless you make ready, strengthen your sense of presence and resolve, and clarify what’s important to you before entering the arena.  When all around you is swirling, it’s important that you don’t start swirling too. You can go into it convinced that all will be well, that the integrity of your ego and confidence will remain intact. Some people go the other way, actively wanting their personalities to be displaced, dissolved, and reformed, but the consequences of that can be disastrous. People work in difficult environments for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes it’s because they love the buzz, the conflict, and the drive. That stress can get addictive. Sometimes it’s because they feel like they have no option but to, on account of financial necessity. Sometimes it’s out of a sense of family loyalty. Whatever the reason, the most difficult work environments often shroud their cultural unsustainability through high employee turnover. Staying in a difficult environment for a number of years will grind anyone down, even if you rise to the so-called top of the pile. Sometimes it’s as simple as your adrenal system

Gentle Method: from actor training to culture-change leadership

Draft, please only cite the published version in the May 2015 edition of the International Practice Development Journal (www.fons.org)  when it comes out. Last September I presented a keynote on healthcare and culture change at a Practice Development conference in Toronto. On the day before I left I spent an entire day auditing a marathon six-hour session at Miriam Laurence’s Integrated Acting System studio. I was grateful to experience a working studio before setting up my own, which I did in January 2015. I established the Hummingbird Actors Studio in Bangor, Northern Ireland, because I love acting, theatre, and film. Another reason is because we need to start experimenting with new ways of thinking about leadership training for long-term culture change. As I’ll explain, actor training is for me one of the best places to start reimagining what helpful training might look like. What strikes me while watching actors in training is the emotional courage they bring to performance, their commitment to vulnerability in the cause of learning. I taught for 17 years at university level, and the height of expectation for students was always that such levels of courage and vulnerability might be a destination for them. Possibly. Occasionally. Hopefully. For

The He(art) of Care: Changing the Cultural Climate Equation (full text)

This is the text of a keynote address for the Enhancing Practice 14 conference for Practice Development in Toronto in 2014.         The audio recording of the talk is available here: http://soundcloud.com/dr-anthony-mccann/the-heart-of-care-changing-the-culture-change-equation. *** I’d like to thank Nadine and the organisers for the invitation to speak here today. If keynotes are anything like giving a speech at a wedding, I suppose I’m obliged to start with a joke. Two fish in a tank. One turns to the other and says, “How do you drive this thing?” My relationship with healthcare goes back a long way. I was born in a hospital. And I wouldn’t have been born at all if my Dad, a young seminarian training for the priesthood, hadn’t fallen in love with the good-looking nurse that tended to him while he was waiting for an operation. And on behalf of my family, thanks to all of you who work in hospitals as nurses and doctors. You’re awesome. My wife is chronically ill and lives with a myriad of complications that come with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, a connective tissue disorder, and epilepsy, and we have two kids under two. Without the support of health workers our

The Elimination of Uncertainty: the engine of enclosure

Operating as if the elimination of uncertainty is possible, plausible, and desirable is what drives the cancer of “enclosure” at the heart of organisational or institutional practice. Enclosure is the accelerative and intensifying process in play when good situations go bad and when bad situations get worse. When left unchallenged, enclosure spreads, it deepens, and it corrodes the core cultural supports of your organisation, among them productivity, employee engagement, creativity, and trust. When this happens, it is “business as usual” that makes the unhelpful difference. The assertion of control, the quest for perfection, the correction of error, the drive for efficiency, the targeting of enemies, the defeat of competitors, the solving of problems, the silencing and eradication of opposition and resistance, the assertion of unquestionable truth, the desire for purity, an insistence on sameness, a lack of acceptance or respect for women in the workplace … all of these and more can be versions of the elimination of uncertainty in practice. Following the principles of Hummingbird’s Cultural Climate Framework, an enclosing cultural climate comes with what I call the Organisational Enclosure Triad – an environment saturated with the elimination of uncertainty ethos tends also to be characterized by chronic heightened intensity, and by chronic heightened directivity. While there are many more features of enclosing cultural climates, these

Reading to inform, inspire, and ignite your exploration of leadership and culture change (Oct 2014)

David Abrams. 1996. The Spell of the Sensuous. New York: Vintage Books. Les Back. 2007. The Art of Listening. Oxford: Berg. Marc Ian Barasch. 2005. Field Notes on the Compassionate Life: A Search for the Soul of Kindness. New York: Rodale. Bernard M. Bass. 1995. “Theory of Transformational Leadership Redux.” Leadership Quarterly 6(4), 463-478. Gregory Bateson. 1973. Steps to an Ecology of Mind. Frogmore, St. Albans: Paladin. Annabel Beerel. 2009. Leadership and Change Management. London: Sage. David Bollier and Silke Helfrich, eds. 2012. The Wealth of the Commons: A World Beyond Market and State. Amherst, MA: Levellers Press. David Bornstein. 2007. How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas. New York: Oxford University Press. Richard E. Boyatzis and A. McKee. 2005. Resonant Leadership: Renewing Yourself and Connecting with Others Through Mindfulness, Hope, and Compassion. Boston: Harvard Business School Press. Peter R. Breggin. 1997. The Heart of Being Helpful: Empathy and the Creation of a Healing Presence. New York: Springer Publishing. Brené Brown. 2012. Daring Greatly: how the courage to be vulnerable tranforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead. New York: Gotham Books. Bernard Burnes. Managing Change. Harlow: FT/Prentice Hall. (Most recent edition) Pema Chödrön. 2003. Comfortable with Uncertainty: 108 Teachings on Cultivating Fearlessness and Compassion. Boston: Shambala. Ann

Culture has to change at Tesco, new boss Dave Lewis tells staff

http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-2771317/Culture-change-Tesco-new-boss-Dave-Lewis-tells-staff.html “Tesco’s new chief executive Dave Lewis has written to staff telling them the culture needs to change after the firm admitted inflating its accounts by £250million. Lewis, who took the helm at Britain’s biggest grocer at the beginning of the month, sent an email, seen by the Mail, saying he wants ‘to work in a business which is open, transparent, fair and honest’. Investors in the grocer were left reeling amid claims it ‘cooked the books’ to cover up stuttering profits under former chief executive Phil Clarke. …” (More)  

How You Can Keep Culture Strong In the Face of Change

http://www.business2community.com/leadership/can-keep-culture-strong-face-change-01023065 “How can you maintain your organization’s cultural norms in the face of new demands, like the pressure of market forces or your own internally generated growth? What if you need to be more nimble, flexible, or responsive to meet the nature and volume of market demand? And what if you can no longer rely on old products or old methods — even though they were successful for you in the past? As a business changes, how does the leader — of a department, cross-functional team, or entire organization — explain the way forward? How can the leader get everyone to stay on the same page and figure out what parts of their jobs need to be adjusted? And how does the leader retain the strong, supportive parts of the culture, so that both the spirit of the business and the emotional energy of the teams remain vibrant?” (More) Read more at http://www.business2community.com/leadership/can-keep-culture-strong-face-change-01023065#BZ2MMUTcgLU9MQI6.99