From Systems to People: Oliver Banks on Human-Centered Leadership

Welcome to Episode 90 of the TIE Unearthed podcast!

Today, I’m thrilled to feature Oliver Banks, an expert consultant who works with senior leaders to transform retail and consumer-facing businesses.

Ollie's career began with designing intricate systems in engineering, driven by a childhood curiosity for how things work. Seeking a more dynamic and people-focused role, he pivoted to retail with Tesco, the UK's largest supermarket.

Now, as a consultant, he advises on navigating transformation and the ever-evolving world of retail.

In this episode, we explore what true transformation means and why a human-centric approach is crucial in retail.

Ollie shares his thoughts on the industry’s responsibility to cultivate future leaders, hybrid working, and the delicate decisions of company policies when considering variables such collaboration, trust, and mental health.

We also discuss leadership, engagement, and the power of courage, with Ollie reading an excerpt from his book.

This episode is a treasure trove of wisdom and practical advice for anyone interested in transformation and leadership.

Join us as we uncover the mosaic of Oliver Banks’ career and the invaluable lessons he’s learned along the way. Let’s dive in!

Please don’t forget to let us know what you think of this episode, leave a review and subscribe.

If you would like to be reminded of future podcasts and other inspiring stories from TIE, join our newsletter ⁠here⁠.

If you would like to order Return on Humanity: Leadership lessons from all corners of the earth, you can do that ⁠here⁠.

If you would like to order Driving Retail Transformation, you can do that here.


Welcome to the show where we expose new perspectives on our ever evolving world through the lenses of various industries, cultures and backgrounds.

Our guests are disruptors, united by a common goal to bring their purpose to life.


Whether they’re from the commercial world or third sector, from the global North or the global S, expect an inspirational journey that will transform your perspective on just what is possible.

My name is Philippa White and welcome to TIE Unearthed.


Hello and welcome to episode 90 of TIE Unearthed.

Today I’m speaking with fellow best selling author and friend Oliver Banks.

Ollie and I did the Practical inspiration course together with Alison Jones and launched our books a few weeks apart from one another.


Not only that, but we worked very closely together as we created our campaigns and got the word out.

Which is why I’m so excited to bring this episode to you.

Not only for more people to know about Ollie as he’s a known name and thought leader in the world of retail, but also because his story is an interesting one.


A perfect example of someone starting in one area, in his case engineering, discovering their purpose and then implementing and then thriving in another by fitting all of the pieces together.

Oliver Banks is an expert consultant working with senior leaders to transform retail and consumer facing businesses and operations and advises on navigating transformation in the ever evolving world of retail.


He is one of the most influential voices in retail, author of driving retail transformation, How to navigate disruption and change.

He’s a LinkedIn top voice host of the Retail transformation show podcast and is a keynote speaker today.


We talk about everything from why it’s important that the retail sector taps into the power of more human cultures, to the power of being courageous, to how best you can collaborate with others and ensure you engage with people in the right way.


Expect interesting insights, stories, and tools to take away with you.

So throw on those running shoes or grab that favorite beverage, and here’s all.

Oliver, I have been looking forward to this for a while.


Welcome to TIE Unearthed.

Thank you so much for joining us.

Philippa, this is so exciting I can’t wait to dive into.

This I know.

I’m so happy that our book journey brought us together, which obviously we will be talking about on this call, so.

Absolutely, incredibly grateful, incredibly grateful.


What a journey it has been, and just the beginning as well, right?

I know.

And it’s, it’s funny, isn’t it?

Because you you spend however long writing the book and then you launch the book and then it sort of feels like, OK, it’s happened.

And then you realize the tip of the iceberg.

This is the beginning of a journey.


So yeah, it’s very, very exciting for both of us.

But before we get into all of that, can you just tell us about your background before your work with retail trans and obviously your book driving retail transformation and your podcast, which obviously is the retail transformation show.


So you’ve got, you know, you’ve got a lot in that area, but I feel like there’s more to you.

So if you could give us a little bit of a background to you.

Yeah, if, if.

Your own guest from all of that, my bag is definitely retail transformation, but we certainly won’t be diving into the specifics of retail transformation today.


We’ll be certainly diving into some of the the nuances of transformation.

I’m sure my background was not originally in retail, although there were some really interesting seeds which I’ll come back to in just a moment.

So I started my career officially in engineering.

So systems engineering, Canaco engineering, bit of software engineering as well.


Really understanding how complex systems work, how do things fit together, how do they integrate?

I was designing photocopiers for, for a long time and really it was all about how do you design this sort of incredibly complex series of parts and software to create an output that is meets expectation and, you know, sits within a whole series of constraints.


And it’s, it’s really complicated set of problems essentially.

And how do you balance it all off?

And so I just love that.

And you know, as, as I look back in my past, as you know, very curious, wanting to understand how video players work and televisions and stuff like that is that’s kind of where my head’s at kind of probably getting the measure of me.


And, and I suppose I, I moved into retail because I wanted a, a career change and I wanted to think fast, dynamic, close to people and meaningful.

And retail kind of ticked all those boxes.

And I moved into EU KS largest supermarket, Tesco and worked around a number, number of different parts to that business, ultimately into their internal consulting function, which is then how I came to the world that I’m in today.


I mentioned that I had retails kind of seeds earlier on in my life.

And it’s funny because, you know, I’d run a mobile cocktail bar at university.

I’ve set up my own e-commerce business selling barware and glassware for for cocktails, and I’ve actually worked with my mom at Dolls House Market selling dolls house accessories and furniture and so on.


So I have these sort of retail experiences embedded throughout my life and it wasn’t until then obviously I joined Tesco, that I thought I was starting a new career, but actually it was a continuation of everything else.

Yeah, it’s funny because I, I often say this in conversations that I’m having with people, but I do think it’s so relevant just for us sometimes to just stop and think how life is basically just a whole lot of puzzle pieces that just fit together, don’t they?


You know, and some you don’t really know what the picture is yet, which actually I, I actually really like.

I don’t want to know what my picture is yet.

I, I’m starting to get a, a better understanding, but maybe that picture is going to evolve.

Maybe there’s going to be a whole new color scheme that comes into my puzzle.

I don’t know.

But it’s interesting how when you do follow your purpose or if you live your life with intention and the decisions that you’re making fit with you, it’s unbelievable how you suddenly think, Oh my God, who would have thought that that experience actually is going to be helping me here?


Okay, yeah, wow, now I see why I’ve made that decision.

And you just, you know, these puzzle.

Pieces live together.

I love the analogy of a jigsaw because it’s so perfect.

Because like when you’re doing a big jigsaw, you manage to get like two or three pieces that fit together and it’s like, I don’t really know where they fit.

They’re sort of sitting in the abyss by themselves, and then suddenly they connect and it’s like, ah, OK, that’s.


Yeah, that’s a bit of the picture, yeah.

I hadn’t asked you this.

I didn’t know this about you, that you, you come from an engineering background.

But that of course makes so much sense because in business, in retail, I mean operations is, I mean, that’s how you survive or you don’t survive and you need to be able to make all those operations work beautifully.


That is what an engineer does.

That’s how you work.

That’s how you think.


Yeah, very, sort of very logical, very much thinking about the output things creating, how they connect, how they integrate.

You know, it is a complex system retail and you know, I have a great affinity to what we call operating models, which is essentially the makeup of a particular business such that it can deliver the customer proposition, it fulfills the business model.


It meets the various constraints that are within the business as well in terms of things like budget, in terms of how it can support and be driven by people, lots of different aspects that fit into operating models.

So I have a a huge passion point for that and that’s absolutely read straight through from my engineering background.


Yeah, right.

So, and what was the catalyst then to you doing what you do now?

I was fully, fully into that career and Oh yeah, I wanted a bit of a shift.

As I mentioned, I wanted something different to, to the world of engineering and I, I took a really open view as to all different walks of life, all different industries and yeah, retail really fitted the bill.


It intrigued me and to be honest, Philip, I’ve not looked back since.

I was hooked really early on.

I can remember some of the really early experiences at Tesco and I’ve just not looked back since.

And from that point on, it’s really been a bit of an evolution.

I can’t say I necessarily had a exact career path that said, oh, I’m going to have a podcast, I’m going to have a book, I’m going to do this and that and everything else.


It’s evolved over time.

Do you remember the moment that you decided to make that shift?

What was it?

Was it just so you woke up one day and you’re like, no, this is just too.

I don’t want to use the word boring.

I don’t want to eat.

But maybe that was it.

You said if you wanted a little bit more dynamism in your life and you’re sort of looking, was it just, no, I’m going to start talking to people and see where this can go?


Or was there something that kind of happened that you said, Oh my God, wow, I’m seeing the light.

Like, I’m just wondering how you unearth that because a lot of what you’re doing in my world, we talk a lot about purpose, right?

So we talk a lot about people finding their thing and it’s fascinating because your thing is engineering, but it isn’t your thing working as an engineer in a, a typical engineering role.


It’s fascinating how you found your thing.

And I, I’m just curious as to sort of what was that?

And then you followed it and it’s fascinating how that then has snowballed into all of this, which is, I think quite.

There’s been a couple of catalysts if you were to pinpoint a particular moment that has forced me to change direction.


So when I was in engineering, there was a, a redundancy program announced that was going to lead to a number of different job cuts, quite sizable.

I can’t remember the exact percentage, but it got me thinking, you know, right about to get my CV ready, think about what to do if I get that tap on the shoulder.


I didn’t get the tap on the shoulder, but by that stage I’d sort of mentally prepared for what if I were to move on and what should I do.

And it just opened my mind, to be honest.

I’d joined the company from university.

It was an exposure to the wider world, I suppose, thinking what else could this be?


So that was the first catalyst and then the second catalyst was for me leaving Tesco, which again was another redundancy programme.

There’s a theme here.

I decided actually to take a voluntary package and go out of my own way ultimately, although even then, my plan was to get another corporate job rather than setting up my own business.


And it wasn’t until later on that year where I’d looked at a number of different jobs and I was like, yeah, I can do all this, but it just didn’t excite me taking another corporate job.

And it took me a long time to realise, several months to realise like, this isn’t the right fit.

And then I remember I had a conversation with a career coach and they sort of said, oh, what about doing something by yourself?


And it was this almost light bulb moment where everything just ticked into place.

And I came home and I spoke to my wife and we spoke about it and we said, yeah, let’s take a risk.

Let’s, let’s see what happens.

We can always change direction if it’s not the right fit.

Well, that’s that’s nine years ago.


So I haven’t changed direction yet, although the path has meandered quite significantly.


Right, So to that point, talk to us just you know, what are you doing now and what’s working?

What isn’t working?

What are what are the areas that you’re now using?


Obviously, these puzzle pieces and then these puzzle pieces are fitting together and your background to deliver what?

Retail transformation is my thing.

My primary focus is as a consultant and advisor for retailers who are embarking on transformation.


It’s a difficult time in the retail sector.

There’s lots of disruption happening.

There are a number of different companies that are really pretty challenged at the moment and need to recognise the need to change and be able to successfully deliver that change.

And you know, I believe any company can change if they choose to, but that’s it.


They must choose to and they must then take the intentional action to do that.

And I help with that.

I help take that intentional action, defining what it is, giving the confidence and the capability to the leaders and the people that drive that particular transformation in a company.


And then as alongside consulting and advising lots of other aspects, you know, like you mentioned, I’ve written a book, host of podcasts, do keynote speaking, create content with companies, lots of different elements that sort of fit into my jigsaw, if you will.


Yeah, yeah, I I love it.

I love all aspects of the evolving world of retail.

Can you give us an example of, because when you’re talking about transformation, I mean, transformation is a huge word.

The world is transforming.

Yes, retail is transforming, but I mean, there’s so many nuances there and there’s so many different elements to that.


It would be great for me as well just to be be able to understand.

Maybe you just have a case study or an example or a story that comes to mind.

Just very briefly, just before we dive into that, let’s think about the word transformation just for a moment.

Yeah, because it’s a really emotionally charged word that when I say it, you initially and immediately think of something and your expectation for what transformation is versus what say my expectation or the listener’s expectation is, is all going to be very different.


And sometimes that can mean big massive change where we’re going to completely rewrite the rule.


Or it can also mean a much smaller set of incremental changes, both arguably our transformation.

But we need to understand what that means because otherwise, if you’re talking about transformation, and I am, we could be talking about very different things.


Although we’re using the same word, you know, in my book, I actually recognise 6 different types of transformation on that spectrum.

So we can actually start to say, well, are we talking about optimisation at one end of the scale or are we talking about disruption at the other end of the scale?


And I, I’ve worked with clients across the scale.

So, you know, if we’re talking about disruption, this could be creating a new business model, for example, for a particular company that says we want to expand into a whole new area.

It’s going to mean a different flow of money.


It means that our people are going to be used in different ways.

We’re going to have a different type of customer, a different customer proposition.

Everything essentially is different, but we’re using the resources from the original company, for example, whereas then down at the other end, we might be looking at let’s say a warehouse and we’re looking at ecommerce picking and adjusting the flow and the process steps and even the systems as to what that is.


So really my new changes in the grand scheme of things.

But for the pick up that is actually going round assembling your e-commerce order, it’s a really big shift.

But for the company it’s a tiny shift.

So it’s, it’s a real, a broad remit, should we say?

Do you have a story, an example of something that you’re very proud of?



So I guess working with a company where the board had been talking about this new idea that they had had, they’ve been talking about this new business idea for a long time, but nothing had happened.

And actually working then with the senior team to say, well, let’s add some meat to the bones, so to speak.


What does this mean?

Who are we targeting?

What is the, the proposition?

It was targeting AB to B customer rather than a, a consumer, so to speak.

So slight shift from a a retail point of view, what does that mean in terms of how we need to work with that B to B customer rather than a A consumer?


What are the different processes that we need to put into place and how do they fit alongside the core business?

How do we deal with priorities?

So lots of these really big conversations that ultimately if you don’t focus in on those big conversations, everything’s going to not work because it’s going to cause conflict.


It’s going to cause lots of different challenges, confusion, disruption within the company, not a good way.

So working, working through and defining that new operating model as to how, how does this work as a business essentially.


And you know, we got it up and running and profitable in six months, which.

Wow, that’s great.


And you know, the board were like this is brilliant.

We’ve been talking about this so long and now it’s here and we’ve, we’ve, we’ve got it and now we can move forward.

So you have a book and you’ve launched your book and it’s been a journey and I, I know because we’ve done it together.


So why don’t you, why don’t you talk about your book and why did you write it?


Question so it’s called driving retail transformation, how to navigate disruption and change, I suppose why, why did I write it?

It’s it’s a recognition that retail alongside many other sectors is going through a number of different disruptive factors right now.


And there is some fundamental change going on with the industry and and has been for some time.

But to manage that change, many companies decide to look to their functional experts.

So you’re great at supply chains, let’s create this new supply chain.


Or you’re a great product designer.

Let’s do something completely radical.

But actually all these people are brilliant at what they do functionally, they’re brilliant at their day job, but they’re not also transformation experts.

So when coming up against this journey of change, they struggle, they make mistakes, they they find it stressful.


Additionally, as an industry, we talk a lot about the what is changing, but we don’t talk about how we’re actually going to change.

So driving retail transformation is a guide for those leaders to give them the how of transformation.

It gives them the guide book, a flexible framework, if you will, to help apply to all different types of change, whether we’re talking about that disruptive change at one end or an optimization change at the other end.


How do you overcome the common challenges?

How do you avoid the dangerous pitfalls that we know are waiting for us along any given change journey?

Talk to me about just how the journey of writing the book has been and then post sort of launching it into the world.


Just what’s the yeah like what have you heard from people that have read it?

I’ve really loved the journey of writing, to be honest, Philip I I knew I wanted to write a book for quite a while.

I suppose what I didn’t know was what that book exactly was.


So I’d spent a long time looking at a whole bunch of mind maps and post it all over the wall and all this trying to work out.

Well, firstly, what can I help people with?

What does that look like?

And trying to map out how does, how does this all fit together in a way that is both useful and, and novel as well?


There’s a million books which are kind of there.

It’s, it’s all the stuff you’ve heard and seen and read before, right?

And I didn’t want to just add to that noise.

Essentially, I, I spent a long time therefore planning it all out.

But once I knew what it was and we did the proposal challenge together where we met and we mapped our house in, in detail in a really quick time period.


And then it was away with the racist.

And you know, as well as I do, we, we both wrote a pretty furious pace.

Certainly when I talked to other authors about the speed we were writing a letter.


You what you did you did.

Sorry you started when.

But but it all all depends on when you know a lot of that thinking ahead of time was valuable, but the Word document was empty at that stage.


Since it’s launched, it’s just been fantastic.

I’ve been blown away by the positive feedback.

I I’m thinking of one review recently of a a retail leader saying, yes, it’s a must read.

He’s a jokingly questioned, do we need another book on this topic?


Yes, we absolutely do.

So just comment and he’s like, yes, this is exactly I’ve.

I’ve loved when people message me either on on LinkedIn or via e-mail and they’ve just received the book and they’re sending me pictures or quotes that they love I it fills me with joy, frankly.


Yeah, it’s so good, isn’t it?

It’s so good.

Absolutely, yeah.

I’d like to also tell you one of the things that happened recently, I was at an event and someone had a look at the books for the first time.

I didn’t know them.

They just flicked through, literally opened the page at random and had a look at something and they turned to their colleague and said this is exactly what we need to do.


It was the best moment where it’s completely random.

It’s not like they tried to look something up.

It was a random flick.

And I opened the page and it was like immediate value added.

And it was like, yes.


That’s really, Yeah, that’s really such a good feeling.


As you know, I mean, one of the topics that I really wanted to talk to you about on this podcast, because it’s a topic close to my heart.

And obviously what I heard about in my book Return on Humanity, I’m very passionate about more human ways of doing things.

And my book Being Returned on Humanity is actually talking about the return on that in comparison to return on investment, which is obviously what a lot of business focuses on.


Now I believe that it’s not even that.

I just believe it is also proven that companies that do focus more on more human ways of doing things, they are actually more competitive.

There are, there’s a stat out there which says that the companies that have a more human culture are 32% more competitive than their than those companies that aren’t.


And also people who are happier and feel more fulfilled within the places that they work are 400% more innovative and creative.

I think we can think like we can relate to that as well.


So the stats are there and, and my company, I’ve been working in this area also for a long time, so around 20 years.

And the strap line of my company is better leaders, better companies, better world.

And what I mean by that is better leaders are the leaders that are more human.


They lead to better companies, which in my view are more human and more competitive because they’re more human.

And then that leads to and is proven to then lead to a better world.

So it’s sort of this win, win, win situation.

Now retail is a tricky 1 because it’s, as you say, it’s transformed a lot.


There’s just a lot of evolution in the area, a lot of sort of click and buy cheapest, cheap, cheapest thing.

I need it, you know, less, more on the Internet, less in shop.

You know, there’s just a, there’s just a whole, it’s a whole other world out there.

And I am so curious to know your thoughts in this area because there are some companies out there.


And I’m going to talk about John Lewis just because I think it’s such a great example of a company that I think is doing such a great, you know, there.

It’s a fascinating company, started I think shortly after the Second World War, if I’m not mistaken.

I can’t remember the actual dates by a behavioral.

I think one of the son of the owner who’s originally started it was a behavioral scientist.


He really wanted to create an environment where it’s a partnership, so everybody has sort of a stake in the business.

It’s been running like that since then.

As a result, it is very family focused.

People feel a part of it.


People have been working there for years.

But you know, it is not the norm.

Not all, not all retail companies are like that.

So it’s a fascinating area and you being a specialist in this area.

I’m super curious to know your thoughts.


So kind of an open-ended question really, but I guess is it more compelling or more successful if a company is more human and sustainable?

What is the reality in the world of retail?


So let’s face straight into it, right?

People are fundamentally important to retail.


We’ve got this incredibly large frontline team.

So if we’re thinking of, you know, certainly a nationwide retailer, you know you’ve got people working in stores up and down the country or maybe even all across the world, right.

Additionally, we’ve got people working in warehouses and distribution centres.


We’ve got people working in call centres and service centres.

And then we’ve got people in the office and we’ve got all of the support function that helps all of those people operate.

You’ve then got an extended supply chain with a number of different suppliers feeding into the retailer and that it again extends that retailers influence across the world, especially into some of the areas that are being used for manufacturer or production, which may be developing countries as well.


So you’ve got these big corporates that have got quite a lot of power and influence to to some of these more developing countries.

You’ve then in addition to all of those people, you’ve got vast, vast customer numbers.

One of the things I love about retail is that we are all consumers.


We all have to do shopping.

We all have an opinion.

So in many ways, there is no way that a retailer cannot be people focused.

Even if you want to to arguably slur some of the companies out there, there is still an element of people focus in those companies.


However, that said, there are absolutely companies that have been challenged.

They have been pulled up on things like human rights for working conditions, for things like fair pay, the amount of work that any given individual is doing, how they’re being treated for overtime, etcetera, etcetera.


And again, that can happen in any place in the world.

You know, there’s certainly been instances where companies have been called out for operating negative working conditions in the UK.

I’m sure we can all recall the, the terrible scenes of the, the Bangladesh factory collapse just over 10 years ago now that was essentially born out of the modern day world looking to squeeze productivity and squeeze the ROI and ultimately leading to poor decisions that helped to deliver the bottom line.


But costs on humanity, so to speak.

That’s not a great place to be in, but it’s ultimately it is driven unfortunately by consumers and the mass market desire for cheap and fast and, and, and good as well, right?

You know the the whole cost quality delivery triangle, if you’ve come across that, you know where you can only have two of them, but actually consumers want till three and companies are are trying to to appeal to that consumer demand.


So yeah, there are some fantastic examples of companies that do put people at the heart.

They do put customers at the heart, they put their people at the heart and they do fantastic things.

And I think the other thing to factor in, people start their career in the retail sector, so.


I did.

I started working at GAP.

Yeah, there, there we go.

And as a listener, think about where did you start your career?

Was it, was it in a retail setting?

Was it in a consumer facing setting?

And in that respect it’s incredibly important because when you first start your career, you know, it’s very influential and I’m sure everyone can remember their first manager.


Yeah, good or bad.

And therefore as a sector, we’ve got this huge responsibility of setting up the next generation and their behaviors and their attitudes and their beliefs and then how they will treat the generation afterwards.


So it’s a huge responsibility the retail sector has for for the workforce and humanity as a whole.

You know, what are some interesting trends along this line of thinking you think that our listeners would be interested in hearing about?


So that there’s a couple that I, I immediately come to mind.

And the first one is certainly one that a number of different retailers are thinking about right at the moment.

And I know a number of other companies outside of the retail sector are thinking about.

And that is the shift from work from home or return to office or some sort of something in between, a hybrid solution, right?


And lots of companies are changing their policies right at the moment.

We spoke about the new normal an awful lot a few years ago.

And it turns out that actually, do we maybe want to revert back to the old normal?

Do we want to encourage our people back to the office?

Do we want to force our people back to the office?


And we’ve got different companies taking different viewpoints at this moment.

And it’s really interesting because there’s so many factors in, right.

You know, we think about aspects like trust, you know, is this actually about trust?

Is it about productivity?

Is it about collaboration, about relationships?


Is it about mental health, inclusivity?

There’s so many different aspects and such a human decision.

And I think what’s really important is that actually what’s right for one person isn’t right for another person.

So how can we as companies suggest, right here’s the, the diktat one way or another, right?


Because again, what’s what works for you versus me, let’s say won’t, won’t be the same thing.

So how do we, how do we best find the solution that appeals to our strengths, our preferences, our work as well?


So it’s a fascinating discussion right now and I don’t think there is a right answer, but there’s certainly a, a, a wrong approach that you could take, if you will.

Definitely, definitely.

And it’s so interesting because it again, a lot of this comes down to human behaviours and human leadership and being empathetic and understanding to different people’s realities and obviously it being a two way conversation.


I mean, by no means am I ever suggesting that people need to be pushovers and sort of, oh God, well, whatever people want will do.

No, I mean, there’s certain responsibilities and, and certain necessities within a business.

But at the same time, it’s like with anything that, you know, a bit of give and take.

And I think one of the biggest challenges that I think, I mean, I just in business in general is when you look at the workforce and the necessity of that workforce being more female because, you know, the further up in companies you get, the more male it becomes.


But actually, if women are not at the table and making decisions, it is proven that those companies are not as successful.

Like that is totally proven in the stats.

But the problem is that companies aren’t understanding how to maintain and keep women in the workforce.


And unfortunately, many times the child care falls on falls on the responsibility of the women, unfortunately.

And that’s a bigger conversation.

But again, it is just figuring out how to be understanding and creating situations where, yeah, it’s more conducive to having an equitable workforce working for you.



Absolutely interesting time that supports people through different stages of their lives.

Of their lives.


What’s right for you today versus 10 years ago versus 10 years in the future?

Again, very different.

Very different totally.

And it’s interesting because I was in London just recently, as you know, and, and I was talking to a few people and, you know, again, it, it, it totally depends on life stage.


So I mean, there’s some people like, Oh my God, you know, thank God we’re back in the office.

I love being here because I, you know, I live on my own or I have just a couple of housemates and I feel super lonely.

And I just, oh, I, I, I just, you know, it’s so sad that on Mondays and Fridays, like no one’s in the bloody office, like I’m here by myself.


But it’s so much better than being stuck at home.

But on the other hand, you know, there’s people who have kids and who are sort of like rushing to get the train to then pick up the children from daycare or school or wherever.

And you sort of think, yeah, it’s like it’s, it’s figuring out those nuances of life, right.


And what is the responsibility of a business and a company to create that structure to be able to respond to these very nuanced to needs of different, different individuals.



Yeah, absolutely.

One of the other trends I wanted to pick up on Philip was the fact that the retail sector, given there is so much disruption and there are so many different opportunities available right now, both in a good way and a bad way, right, is that of overwhelm.


So given there are so many different ways that we could change, could transform alongside running the business and actually continuing to trade, it’s very easy to be stressed out, confused as to what you meant to be doing at any given moment in time and trying to find time and headspace to fit everything in.


And for that reason, prioritisation is such an important skill, a really emerging skill, that we haven’t quite worked out as a community.

We haven’t quite worked out the best way to do prioritisation right.

How many times have we all sat in prioritisation meetings where 90% of whatever it is we’re prioritising ends out as high priority or top or whatever?


Straight back to square one then.

And actually, how do we become really ruthless at prioritising in terms of choosing what we do and choosing what we do not do as well?

Yeah, yeah, it’s good.

It’s a good question.

Back to your book.

I’m wondering if you have any takeaways that people can reflect on and think, Oh my God, that’s like the guy who flipped through the book and said, oh, this is what we need to start doing.


Do you have anything that our listeners would find useful?

Yes, absolutely.

So I’m sure everyone’s come across the phrase managing stakeholders, right before we, we, we have to interact with all sorts of people, whether we’re delivering a transformation or a change or whether we’re doing day job, whatever that is.


But the biggest illusion about managing stakeholders is that you can’t actually manage them.

Managing implies there is some form of influence that you have, some form of control, arguably that you have as well, right?

And actually it’s not about managing stakeholders, it’s about earning the opportunity for engagement.


So if we just take a look at two of those words, earning and engagement.

So earning is about being open and, you know, being empathetic to their viewpoint, being generous with time, being respectful of time as well, seeing it from their perspective, being fair.


And then the engagement side is actually it’s not about I’m going to just tell you what to do, tell you what to think.

It’s about, again, understanding their perspective, actually acting then on their perspective, you know, it being fair in how you’re listening and hoping that you can have a two way conversation rather than just a a tell.


So think about the opposite of earning engagement.

What is that?

That would be, let’s say, leaving it to the last minute.

I’m going to just send you an e-mail because it’s convenient for me.

It’s not being trustworthy, not being open as to what’s happening.

It may be just a simple you do this I’m sure.


Imposing your ideas I’m.

Sure, we’ve all been on the receiving end of this and ultimately pushing the relationship further than the relationship has been built up to.

So I have a really strong belief and introduce a framework in the book to help inspire others as you’re thinking about that engagement.


So it’s it’s called the faces framework and faces is an acronym.

It stands for frame Attain the sea.

I’ll come back to in just a moment, explain and sustain.

And then the the sea that sits in the middle, figuratively and literally, literally is a conversation.


So frame is about defining the situation and the context and setting out the vision.

Attain is then about how do you put that vision into reality?

What needs to happen, who needs to do what?

How do we make this achievable?

I’ll come back to conversation once again.


The explain is about sharing that rationale, recognising the risks, making it clear what needs to happen and also feeding back around the the other person’s perspective.

And then sustain is about reinforcing that vision and continuing the loop.

And it’s a recognition that it’s an ongoing conversation.


It’s not a one way broadcast.

It’s not a one time broadcast either, for that matter.

It’s a +2 way exchange of ideas and concerns and listening and sharing, ultimately to make the future better.


So I introduced the FACES framework in the book as a way to inspire and motivate and earn the engagement.

Interesting because as you know, I’m going to be doing these keynotes in around Brazil for the American Chamber of Commerce and they’ve asked me to do a workshop for 400 people.


And it’s so interesting because it’s it’s different, but it’s the same idea.

So it’s basically, how do you, we all know that we need to collaborate.

We need people to come on board, to understand our ideas and to feel part of something.

You can’t do two people.

You have to work with people.


And so by doing that, you need sort of read between the lines and you need to kind of earn people’s trust and they need to be bought in.

You can’t just come and sort of say this is what’s happening because if you do that, no ones gonna care.

And so a lot of obviously what I, you know, the area that I work in as well is sort of around this leadership and human competencies.


And how do you develop these nuanced competencies?

And, and so this workshop is focusing on how people show up and how you are able to engage people in your ideas in the best possible way.

And when has it worked and when hasn’t it worked?


And so I tell a story that’s actually in my book.

And then the workshop is just getting people to reflect on on that story, but in the context of of their work.

And when they have managed to get people involved and interested what what happened and what you know, what did you do?


And then when hasn’t it worked and what happened and what did you do?

So it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s very much in line with what you’re talking about.

And it’s really, and it’s really important because I think it’s something we sometimes forget.

And I think in our personal lives, but also in our working lives, I mean, we have children, we have partners, we have big ideas.


You know, we have, we’re pretty sort of, you know, we’re people who have pretty strong ideas.

And yeah.

And so, you know, in our day-to-day, we need to kind of bring people along with us.

It’s sort of buy into things.

I mean, it’s not even just at work, is it?

But it is, it’s, you know, how do you do that?


What’s the best way of making something a success?

100% and yeah, the tell is, is of yesteryear that does not work anymore.

How do we earn that engagement?

Yeah, sure.

So it’s so important, so important.

Listen, this, this has been fantastic.

I’m just wondering, before we finish, is there anything that I haven’t asked you that you’d like to tell our listeners?


So one element that we’ve not spoken about, but I think we really must do is that of fear, which is a very human emotion.

And it might be a slightly odd place to end the conversation, but we all suffer from fear.

Fear of the unknown and the failure are two really prevalent fears, both in work and life, and they’re very closely linked and they originate largely from our prehistoric selves where our Olympic system is driving our fights, flight, freeze or fawn response.


That means that frankly, we can behave in very unusual, unpredictable and often unreasonable ways.

Unfortunately, and ultimately, our fears often boil down to unsubstantiated worries.


Essentially things that we don’t know but we fear they might happen.

Right, We worry they may happen and we tend to over exaggerate things in our heads and the perceived consequences are disastrous.

So, you know, again, if we go back to our prehistoric selves, that might be here’s a dark cave.


Do I want to go in the dark cave where I might get eaten by wolves or bears?

I better not, even though I don’t know if there are wolves or bears in The Cave, right?

It affects our behaviours and our actions.

And fortunately, many of us don’t have to face those sort of mortal dangers on a day-to-day basis anymore.


But they still exist within our psyche and so they still come out when we’re at work.

So someone says something that.

Feels potentially dangerous and it will cause us to react in a a very prehistoric way.

And I think that’s a a really big challenge that we need to face into more.


And we need to start to think about how do we allay these fears?

How do we encourage ourselves and those around us to explore them, to name them, to be able to test them and say, well, is, is this the real fear?

Is the perceived consequence quite as bad as you think it is?


And ultimately it boils down to courage, which I think is such an important skill going forwards as we continue in the our volatile and unpredictable world.

And I’ve actually got a very short reading from my book which I wanted to share.


Yes, please.


This is from a chapter called Winning Hearts and Minds Starts with You.

Courage is not being fearless.

It’s about confronting fear sensibly and confidently.

To be courageous, you must trust your heart, your instinct, your mind, your intelligence.


Additionally, trust your colleagues that are on the journey with you.

And so courage is something that I would like us all to start talking more about.

What a great way to end this conversation, Molly.

Thank you for that.


And it’s a very good reminder, absolutely.

I think courage to trust yourself and courage to trust those around you is fundamental to human relationships.



A. 100% a. 100% thank you for joining me.

This has been absolutely amazing.

Thank you.

Well, thank you for having me on, Philippa.

It’s been really enjoyable to dive into everything with you.

It’s such a fantastic conversation.

Until next time.



Hey everyone, this is Philippa again.

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