When nothing happens when nothing happens.
Published: December 6, 2023

I was having a conversation with one of my clients the other day when the question of consequences came up. The context of the conversation was familiar; a consistent pattern of behaviour within a team where outcomes had been set, apparently agreed to but not delivered. Inevitably we began to explore why that might be and one of the clear conclusions that emerged was that there were no consequences for failure to deliver. In other words, nothing happened when nothing happened.

Inevitably, our conversation then shifted to exploring the consequences my client had at his disposal. The initial options – including withholding of bonuses, demotion and, ultimately, exiting – were both heavy duty and ultimately complex to apply. So, we began looking for other, more easily deployed (and probably more effective) options.

I had two things in mind as I sought to help my client. The first was our Odyssey Behavioural Decision-making Model©. The second was the Lumina Spark© model that we use extensively to help clients understand why they do what they do.

With the OBDMM© in mind, I was aiming to help my client think about two of our three drivers of change:
– How could he make the outcomes he set for individuals important enough to them that they’d ensure they delivered?
– What might make the thought of failure feel unacceptable enough that they’d likewise ensure they delivered?

The Lumina Spark© model also provided me with at least 8 lenses through which I could encourage my client to look at importance and unacceptability. For example, what might make an outcome important to:
– An Inspiration Driven individual? Possibly a sense of excitement at the possibility of exploring something new?
– A Down to Earth individual? Possibly the prospect of doing a thorough analysis of an issue that, if not managed carefully, might put the business at risk?
– A Big Picture Thinker? Possibly the idea that they’re making a contribution to a better understanding of a complex, multifaceted challenge the business is facing?
– An Extraverted individual? Possibly the prospect of engaging with a wide variety of colleagues in order to build a shared way forward.

Or, what might make failure to deliver feel unacceptable to:
– A People Focused individual? Possibly the sense that they would let my client down personally if they failed to deliver?
– A Discipline Driven individual? Possibly a belief that their reliability might be in question if they failed to deliver?
– An Introverted individual? Possibly the prospect of having to explain to peers that they had failed to deliver?
– An Outcome Focused individual? Possibly the prospect of being seen by their peers to have failed to deliver?

I’m wondering how others approach an issue that I’m sure isn’t confined to my client and his team?

Think we could help you?

Great, let's talk!

Enter your details and a short description of how we can help, and we’ll be in touch to arrange an initial chat.