In preparation for a recent meeting I was trawling through some accounts and reports exploring why the UK has such astoundingly poor productivity. In a recent Huffington Post article, 11 reasons were cited, amongst them poor investment, zombie organisations supported by low interest rates and cheap labour. However at least 6 of the reasons cited were linked and relate directly to our risk averse nature and inability to deal with uncertainty.

The absurdity of certainty

The article goes on to list, lack of innovation and engagement, poor leadership, management, resistance to change, and failure to make decisions which, it can be argued, all spring from the limitations our fixation on being certain and in control create.   We invest too much time and money on the appearance of being right.  In doing this we fail to deal with unexpected outcomes, capture emerging opportunities, and fail to create the right conditions for enterprise, growth and innovation.  We have a vast disconnected workforce, undervalued and underused, with increasingly isolated leaders and managers whose value is on being right – at any cost.  Our diminishing productivity is linked to our diminishing sense of possibility, overcast by the shadow of loosing our jobs and status.

Certainty and control are poor taskmasters, requiring us all to conspire in the myth that our leaders can see round corners and have control over all they survey.  In a turbulent, fast moving world that has little respect for strategies and spreadsheets, this method has little credibility as an approach for success.

Continuing to work in a way built on the notion that we can predict the unpredictable is rigging our system against innovation and sustainable growth. We are so afraid of not delivering on ‘promises’ that we corrupt and distort our outcomes, so fearful of making a ‘mistake’ that we do not explore, test, use our instinct or have the courage of our convictions.  We’ve become dishonest and racked with mistrust.

The power of small action strategies – Low investment, high impact

But we do have the capacity, the capability and the resources to deliver a better outcome. Having worked for many years with clients on grassroots projects, I know that by making small but significant changes we can benefit from an abundance of untapped potential residing in our communities, organisations, government and businesses.

By employing a Grassroots Attitude (GRA), predicated on the belief that it requires very little to make massive difference, we can begin to open opportunities and learning to create sustainable growth.

In our Burst Workshops we work with clients and their employees to guide them through 5 key steps to develop a GRA:

1.Seeing and engaging your potential

2.Articulating a common purpose

3.Developing small action strategies

4.Building a learning framework

5.Creating a successful failure narrative

Grassroots Attitude is about working with what you already have, being clear about common purpose, and introducing small actions to test, explore and innovate. GRA is about being open and agile to the world around you. Less about predicting more about responding, working with what you have rather than what you think you have. Essentially, GRA is about creating the best possible conditions to exceed expectations in business.

Over the course of the next few months we will be writing about each of these steps giving examples of how impactful introducing small change can be.