Less is more

01 February 2017

I have to confess, I’m a bit of an Audi fan.  Recently I had the opportunity to participate in their  “Audi Ice Experience”, at the Southern Hemisphere Proving Grounds just out of Queenstown NZ. Trying to race against the clock and control the high spec’d vehicles in snow and ice was a lot of fun.

One of the vehicles I got to drive was the new TTS, with its “virtual” cockpit and its blistering 0-100km/hour performance of just 4.6 seconds from a 1984cc engine.  But the real buzz around the Audi TTS and TT has always been the shape of the car - considered by many to be a classic of design. The German makers drew heavily on the ideas of the Bauhaus movement - the “less is more” school of thought that included famous architects like Le Corbusier and Ludwig Mies van de Rohe.

So when two weeks later I heard Pat Reed talking about “less is more”, I was immediately interested.  Pat was delivering her “Adaptive Leadership” course at SoftEd in Brisbane. I was a member of the class.

Now Pat comes with great credentials.  Originally a clinical and forensic psychologist, her move into IT took her into senior exec roles in the likes of Disney and The Gap. Today she’s helping organisations like Walmart transform the way they work.  And, as we learnt in her class, it’s not about tech.  It’s all about the mindset, differentiating value, living in disequilibrium, taming complexity … and doing less.  Gosh! That’s quite different to traditional leadership courses.

“Adaptive Leadership” involved some cool stuff.  Like “think of a complex problem you haven’t been able to solve - and using the tools we’ve talked about, work in your groups to build some solutions.” Her psych background shone through in homework questions like “ looking at yourself from outside as if you were another person, what are the 3 or 4 most important challenges that your life (work and non-work) currently present? No chance to twindle thumbs on this program!

Over the years I’ve had a chance to participate in some interesting learning experiences, from a residential IT Strategy course at Oxford University to that wonderful day in the snow with Audi.  For me, “Adaptive Leadership” has to be one of the best.   

Post by Martyn Jones