88 episodes

Disruptive conversations is a blog series where I record Skype conversations with people who are working to transform or disrupt a sector or system. Sometimes I do in-person interviews, but they are usually done over Skype.

This podcast was recorded on Skype.

For my first 30 episodes music was provided by Clint Harewood.
Email - clint.harewood@gmail.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Tamo.T
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/clint-harewood-42446342

Disruptive Conversations Keita Demming

    • Business
    • 5.0, 6 Ratings

Disruptive conversations is a blog series where I record Skype conversations with people who are working to transform or disrupt a sector or system. Sometimes I do in-person interviews, but they are usually done over Skype.

This podcast was recorded on Skype.

For my first 30 episodes music was provided by Clint Harewood.
Email - clint.harewood@gmail.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Tamo.T
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/clint-harewood-42446342

    S3: Ep. 82: Successful conversations are not free of negative feelings featuring Misha Glouberman

    S3: Ep. 82: Successful conversations are not free of negative feelings featuring Misha Glouberman

    In this episode, I talk with Misha Glouberman and I explore the nuance of a conversation. Admittedly, this was not my best interview. There was a moment in the interview where I was so caught up in being understood that Misha and I got in a silly dance where I broke all the rules of successful conversations. The irony of this conversation is that it demonstrates the best and the worst of great conversations.

    A few of the key things that stood out for me are:

    So often conflict blinds us to how what we are fighting for is actually working against our own goals and objectives.

    At the start of the conversation, Misha tells a fascinating story that can be teased apart in many different ways. He tells the story of how a group of neighbours were fighting very hard to close a bar and, in the end, if they got what they wanted, they would have been worse off. In that story, he also highlights that conflict is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it is just a part of life and we can use conversation to improve our experience of conversations.

    How much do you caught up in your own story?

    So many of us hold on to the story we tell ourselves without question our own conclusions to the story. So often, the stories we tell ourselves prevents us from helping the conversation move forward. Can we take a “yes and” frame for the conversation?

    Language and framing are important.

    In this episode, we explore different framings of the story he introduces in the beginning. Sometimes when we get into a fight with someone, the truth is, even if we win, we lose. Can we be intentional about how we contribute unproductive conversations?

    It is important to acknowledge that a successful conversation is not free of bad or negative feelings.

    We spend some time talking about the importance of seeing what are trying to say. In many conversations, we do not actually say what we wanted to say. Some of this is that we try to smooth things over and we put aside the things that are important to us. What is the easy thing for us to say?

    How can I get better at having my mind changed?

    For most of us, our goal is to change the mind of another person. What if the goal was to get better at changing our own mind? I find this to be a profound provocation and to sit deeply with this question takes a lot of work. Even deeper to try to turn this into a conversational practice is even more difficult but a worthy pursuit.

    Very often it is against your interest to make things antagonistic.

    For most of us, we get so caught up in what we want. So, we focus on ensuring that the person hears the point we think they are missing. We tell them that thing we have always wanted to tell them. In the end, our approach to the conversation is self-serving and not generative. What if instead you tried to understand what they wanted and worked to ensure what you both get more of what you want. Part of the goal of this podcast is to find ways to improve conversations.

    Conversations sit within a social context.

    One of the biggest insights from this conversation came for me when Misha reminded me that many of our beliefs are largely influenced by our social context. It is difficult to hold a belief that contradicts the dominant beliefs in that culture. The views we hold can alienate or provide us with belonging. The social context plays into the beliefs we hold.

    Change others mind by changing what you do.

    A good reminder for me was that, if the goal is to change the mind of another person, then we are both caught in a gridlock. Instead of trying to change their mind, we can manage what we are in control of. Our own behaviour.

    How do you get people to do x, do x?

    If I want to get people to be more collaborative, I need to be more collaborative. We get people to change by changing the way...

    • 1 hr 9 min
    S3: Ep. 81: Find “The Nudge” by being a tourist in the world you wish to change featuring Sille Krukow

    S3: Ep. 81: Find “The Nudge” by being a tourist in the world you wish to change featuring Sille Krukow

    Sille Krukow is a Nudge Behavioral Design expert. She describes her work as using applied behavioral science to work to change behavior in a variety of industries. She stumbled into the field out of a desire to create an impact in the world. In her previous experiences, she found that she did great design and campaign work but she was never really able to create real change.

    Her insight was that if we are to impact the world, we need a different set of skills than what we are currently taught in design schools and traditional education.

    Her disruptive internal conversation was that she realized something was missing in the way we thinking about behavior change. Providing information or telling people about the importance of change or why they should change was not working and does not work. We need more. Consequently, she has honed her expertise as a Nudge Behavioral Designer.

    We need to change the way we think that we change behavior
    A good friend and mentor of mine says, we need to change change. For Sille, she draws the insight from Nobel Prize winning work of Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. She reminds us that the brain is divided into two basic systems. System one, the fast-reactive portion of the brain. While System two is the slow reflective portion of our brain. Additionally, when we draw on System two it takes a lot of energy and drains our blood sugars. For most of us, we are under the illusion that our behavior is driven by the thoughtful side of our brain. The truth is more likely that most of our behavior is driven by the fast-reactive side of the brain.

    Behavior design is contextual and specific.
    The first challenge in designing behavioral change is understanding the context in which we seek to create change. The second task is getting very specific about what change we seek to create.

    This is where Sille looks for missing nudges. After understanding the missing cues, she then works to design nudges that will create the change she seeks to create. Sille and her team draw on a library of behavior change principles. Using these behavioral change principles, they then build culturally specific behavioral cues or nudges that then create the changes they seek to create.

    What is a nudge?
    A nudge is an intervention in our surroundings that makes the right decisions, the easy ones. The challenge for Sille is in implementing. Especially at broad scale. For example, she and her team explored the perception of the toilet hygiene in a train. People generally perceived the hygiene as fairly poor. One of their solutions was to change the colour of the toilet paper from white to bright blue. And by making this small change, they increased the perception of the hygiene in the toilets by 51 percent. That challenge was the blue toilet paper was more expensive and difficult to implement.

    Change lies in the small things.

    Sille explains the very novel solution known as the fly in the urinal. The fly in the urinal was used by one architect to improve hygiene in male toilets. He used a technique anthropologist Mary Douglas calls matter out of place. The architect placed a small fly in the urinal. The fly was a matter out of place element of design and bumped men out of System one when they need to pay attention. This small intervention reduced the amount of urine on the floor by 80 percent.

    Be a tourist in your own organization.
    When Sille talked about this, it reminded me of the Buddhist notion of seeing like a 4-year-old. Seeing things “as if” you are seeing them for the first time. Sille understands change as an “in the world activity”. We need to begin by understanding what people are actually doing within the context we seek to create change and then design nudges that fill-in what is missing.

    Important Links from the Episode:

    Sille and her team have created...

    • 30 min
    S2: Ep. 80: The job of the disruptor is to harness self-interest. A Disruptive Conversation with Tonya Surman

    S2: Ep. 80: The job of the disruptor is to harness self-interest. A Disruptive Conversation with Tonya Surman

    Tonya Surman is the CEO of the Center for Social Innovation. One of the largest purpose driven coworking spaces, likely in the world. In this conversation, we explore a number of lessons that she has learned over the years. A few that stood out for me are:

    The goal of the work is to understand how to better support people.

    A major theme in this episode was about how do we support people? How do we help communities thrive? We discuss a number of ways in which Tonya’s work has always centred around helping other people thrive in community.

    Polarizations are not helpful.

    Both Tonya and I are fed up with polarized conversations. They do not give us energy. I would argue they are not even helpful. In fact, they detract from our energy. How do we have conversations that focus on the evidence in front of us and bias us towards solutions?

    What goes in a life?

    Tonya has a theory around what goes in a life. It starts by understanding we can only control our response to things that happen in the world. We then need three ingredients: joy, belonging, and meaning. So many people struggle to these three things. We are usually missing one of them. I am might be putting words in her mouth by saying that the combination of all three makes for a full life.

    The job of the disruptor is to bring order to the messiness.

    Tonya described the job of an entrepreneur. I am using the language of the disruptor because this is my podcast. The person who wants to change a sector or system is what I refer to as a disruptor. For Tonya, we need to acknowledge that life is messy. Messiness is the land of opportunity. Tonya uses an amazing metaphor in which she compares the banks of the river with the structure that disruptors provide. The banks give the river structure. It determines where the river flows and directs energy in the system.

    I love this metaphor and cannot help but think of what happens at the edges of rivers. How watering holes become congregations of wilder beasts and other animals. There are a lot of things to think about here. The banks of the river carry water, which then fuels other life forces. This is the role of the disruptor the person trying to redefine an existing sector or even create an entirely new sector. Even when you provide that structure, remember, like Quincy Jones said, “leave 20% for the lord to enter the music.”

    Social Innovation is about three things.

    There are four entry points for social innovation. Policy, Education, Culture, and Market Transformation. We need to work at all three levels and work with each approach instead of trying to compete, it is about developing a Portfolio approach.

    The Power of Social Capital

    Social Capital appears nowhere on your balance sheet, yet it is the most important measure of your success. Tonya makes the point that she has been able to turn social capital into financial capital. She has turned that into several properties that she uses for to create community. She stewards a purpose-driven community and leverages all of the types of capital to help her community thrive. We make big change by fostering relationships. We need to focus on people.

    Never underestimate the role of self-interest

    The first task is to align everyone’s self-interests. The job of the disruptor is to start with finding the common ground that aligns the self-interests of more people. As entrepreneurs mature and narrow their scope, they begin to be open to partnerships and collaboration. The challenge of being able to hold the space for self-interest.

    How much space do I give the next generation?

    Today, Tonya is struggling with the question of how much space she gives to the next generation. This is a question that most people who are thinking about succession struggle with. How do we deal with failure? How do we let go? This is...

    • 53 min
    S2: Ep. 79: Being intentional with your language. A Disruptive Conversations with Jon Shell

    S2: Ep. 79: Being intentional with your language. A Disruptive Conversations with Jon Shell

    In this conversation with Jon Shell, we talk about the a range of topics loosely connected to Impact Investing. Jon, throughout this episode, problematized a lot of the language people use. For example, instead of talking about the Future of Work, he talks about the Present of work. I really enjoyed this conversation and some of the take ways I have got from it were:

    Focus your energy on changing one small thing.
    I almost missed this insight, but it is the one that stood out the most for me. Jon and his team, at the time of the recording, were focusing on one thing that they change. I think it is such a good insight and reminds me of setting priorities. If you have one priority it is hard to get distracted. It is hard to suffer from mission drift.

    One encounter can change the course of your life.
    Jon tells the story of how he met Bill Young, the founder of Social Capital Partners. He went to that meeting for one thing and at the end of the meeting Bill offered him a job. That one meeting changed what he was doing from that day forward.

    There is no future of work it is already here.
    Jon and I talk about how work has been changing for many years. The conversations about the future of work and the role of automation are already happening to people in all parts of the workforce. What Jon is most interested in, at the moment, is getting people to talk about how our systems are designed around permanent work. As a result, people are self-employed have to do things that that other people do not have to do. It should not take a self-employed person three times as long to file taxes. Yet, our system is designed with the assumption that most people are permanent employees. Jon is trying to change that narrative.

    We should check our assumptions.
    Be smarter than a pigeon. You going to need to listen to the episode to get this one, but so many systems are built on a set of assumptions and the assumptions are never revisited. If you put a pigeon in a cage with two feeders and only put food in one feeder, the bird will periodically check to see if there is food in the second feeder. The pigeon has an ingrained system to check assumption but the systems we build do not.

    There are levels of complexity in any system you are trying to change.
    Jon highlight three levels of complexity that I reframe as follows:
    1.Equality of opportunity.
    2.The system usually has successful examples in it.
    3.We need to be intentional about the platforms we build and not take the ones that presented to us by the most powerful players in the system.

    I hope you enjoy this episode.

    You can learn more about Jon and his work at:

    • 50 min
    S2: Ep. 78: Learn to be wrong with grace. A Disruptive Conversation with Andrea Reimer.

    S2: Ep. 78: Learn to be wrong with grace. A Disruptive Conversation with Andrea Reimer.

    Andrea Reimer is known for her disruptive public policy initiatives. She attributes her knack for disruption to her belief in fairness and justice. When she sees things that are unfair on unjust, she feels like she has to embark on transformative change initiatives. In this episode we explore many of the ideas that inform her knack for starting on disruptive conversations.

    Here are a few themes that stood out for me.

    Sports can teach you a lot about disruption.

    Andrea is an avid soccer player. She attributes some of her best lessons to the game of soccer. For example, you don’t get anything done alone. You need to build your team. You have to learn when to pass the ball and when to keep the ball. You have to know to whom you should pass the bal. Sports teaches you when to strike and when to wait. It also teaches you that slumps are just part of the game and you have to learn how to pull the team together to overcome slumps.

    You have to learn how to be wrong with grace.

    As an extension of her lessons from soccer, Andrea describes learning to be wrong with grace as a significant lesson that she has taken with her. She started her career by choosing the issues she felt she was right about. She was trying to help people have a voice on those issues. When she got elected, she could no longer choose her issues. Suddenly she needed to have an opinion on a casino proposal, gang shootings or snowstorms. Topics she may not have wanted to speak on in the past. She had to learn how to sit and listen. She had to learn to admit when she was wrong. She had to know when to change her stance and do that with grace.

    Assume other people are reasonable.

    This is a tough lesson that many of the guests on this podcast have spoken about. It is better to assume that that people are reasonable. They often have reasons for their beliefs. Although it is challenging to give people the benefit of the doubt, it is important to remember that people usually have the opinions they do for a reason. Having a stance that people are generally reasonable can often lead to a better outcome.

    The stories we tell can cripple us.

    A point that stood out for me was the idea that we need a common story to rally around. We all tell ourselves stories and these stories can be limiting, or they can be enabling. When we try to mobilize people, we have to remember that the public is not monolithic. We all have our own stories. The challenge is getting people to coalesce around a common story.

    Be patiently relentless.

    My favorite phrase is being patiently urgent. It is a term I learned from Ric Young, a friend and mentor. Andrea describes herself as being patiently relentless. I love these two phrases, and I think there is power in being patiently urgent and patiently relentless. Patiently relentless implies that we are doggedly persistent and are willing to keep trying until it works. Patiently urgent implies that although we need some things to change faster than they are happening, we are willing to be patient in waiting for the right time. We are willing to wait for the window of opportunity.

    Changing sectors and systems involves gameplay.

    Gameplay has become one of my favorite ways to understand how people disrupt sectors and systems. For example, in a game, the field is not always level. People enter the game with different skill levels and fitness. People have different specialities and are better suited to some positions than others. Disruption can often be understood through the analogy of a game. Rules often govern games and sometimes you are trying to change the rules, other times you are trying to use the rules to help you achieve an outcome. Finally, in most games, you have to go back to go forward. It is not uncommon for teams to move backwards, regroup, and then try to another line of attack. In the game of disruption,...

    • 40 min
    S2: Ep. 77: Stop doing the wrong things righter. A Disruptive Conversation with Cameron Norman.

    S2: Ep. 77: Stop doing the wrong things righter. A Disruptive Conversation with Cameron Norman.

    Keita Demming • Disruptive Conversations • Cameron Norman.mp3
    Cameron Norman is a psychologist and designer who brings together the science of systems, program evaluation, and design to help people create impact and innovation. In this conversation, he and I explore a number of themes related to change and innovation. Here I highlight some of themes that stood out for me.

    Pay attention to what is front of us.
    So often we are so busy trying to make a difference we forget to pay attention to what is in front of us. We forget to pause. We forget to breath. Cameron talked about how he uses mindfulness in his work and how he has found it very effective in getting people to pay attention to what is in front of them. It stood out for me because in today’s social media world where our gadgets hijack our attention and so few of us are listening to the other side. I really apricated Cameron highlighting the skills of paying attention and listening.

    What are we not paying attention to?
    In this episode, I was talking about how I love the question, “what are we not paying attention to?” Where Cameron took the conversation surprised me. I mentioned that I first learned about that concept in a photography class and the teacher reminded us that what is most important is what is out of focus or what is not in the frame. Cameron picked up on the theme of “the frame”. For him the frame is important. He reminded us that frames are of their time. We all frame ourselves in a positive light. We see ourselves as being on the side of the angles and ignore the things we fear the most. The truth is we have motivations that are self-serving, we are attracted to things we like, and we avoid things we do not like. Sometimes the biggest insights can come from rethinking the frame.

    Too many people pick the low diving board.
    This is a theme that has come up in other episodes, but so often people do not do those things that are most daring. We play it safe. As a result, sometimes we end up doing the wrong things righter. I loved this insight because do think so many times we choose to do 10 things on the low diving board because if we fail on the high board, the consequences could be so big. To me really disruptive things live on the high diving board. The question is are we ready to jump

    Do you really want this?
    This is perhaps my favorite part of this episode. Cameron explained that he was working with an organization that said we want to be client centered, but when you look at everything they did, they were self-serving. This is where I see the most opportunity for disruption. If organizations just looked in the mirror and asked, are we doing what we set out do? If the answer is no, then we need t change. The challenge is that if often requires substantial change and not many people are ready or willing to do that. What often happens is that people know what is expected of them socially, so they say and perform to those social norms. For example, an organization might say we are working towards being more client centered. They know, politically, this is what they need to say, so they perform to the social expectations. The do not want to change. The do not really want this because it would mean too much change. I loved this insight. It is a recurring them and many organizations.

    I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I did.

    • 41 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
6 Ratings

6 Ratings

swinarick ,

Shifting perspectives

Keita- love this series! Wonderful to hear perspectives of people with expertise in specific areas talking not just about challenges but, importantly, solutions. Thanks for including me in the conversation, too!

nkivell ,

Power of Disruption

Any podcast that helps challenge how I think about the world is a winner in my books. Disrupt away Keita!

ddemming ,

Almost Fearless

This has the potential to be the "go to" place for ideas amd themes which can make a dofferemce.

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