Our first episode of Culture: Awesome is called “Black Box Businesses” and is a discussion of how we each were inspired by Matthew H. Syed’s book, Black Box Thinking: Marginal Gains and the Secrets of High Performance
In addition to the book, in this episode we discuss some of the tools that we use internally to support a Black Box approach to learning from mistakes in our businesses.
Rebecca mentions the Google Form that she uses internally at Fountain to address mistakes or errors – here is a version of it; feel free to copy it if you find it useful:
We’d love to hear your thoughts on the episode – we’re on all of the social links at the bottom of the page.
In this inaugural podcast episode of Culture: Awesome, hosts, Rebecca Lewis Smith, MD of Fountain and, Emily Groves, MD of Indigo Swan, share their passion for company culture and how they have created ‘black box’ businesses.
Introducing Culture: Awesome and black box thinking
[00:17] Rebecca and Emily introduce black box thinking and this first episode of Culture: Awesome
[00:47] Emily describes how their friendship grew in the last few years around black box thinking.
[01:23] Authentic leadership and the book.
[01:45] Women in business and company culture.
[02:32] Talking about the geeky stuff, play dates and sharing Audible playlists.
[03:40] Culture Shock event and keynote.
Black box thinking
[04:00] How Emily came across the book. IOD director magazine.
[05:10] Rebecca shares how she came across the book.
[06:23] Emily asks why the book is called, Black Box Thinking.
[06:42] Dealing with failure in the airline and medical industries.
[08:55] What Fountain do when something goes wrong.
[10:15] Emily shares a story from the book about a cult.
Integrating black box thinking into business
[12:12] How black box thinking relates to business practise.
[13:12] How Emily has implemented black box thinking into Indigo Swan.
[16:06] Rebecca shares the worst thing that can happen, in her business, if a mistake is made.
[17:54] Human behaviour, checklists and processes. Developing as a leader. Communicating better.
[18:55] Emily on encouraging openness in an organisation.
[19:45] Signots: the black box thinking process in Indigo Swan.
[23:49] How Fountain use the black box process.
Growing organisations and overcoming blame culture
[25:30] The challenge with people who are new to a black box culture.
[26:25] Rebecca describes the re-hab phase and having a non-hierarchical structure.
[27:57] Challenging “the way we do things.”
[29:19] Vistage and a culture of learning.
[30:00] How success is born.
[31:06] Celebrating black box thinking.
Resilience, authenticity and leadership
[33:23] Rebecca shares a short story about one of her favourite mistakes.
[35:51] One of many tools in a business’s evolving journey.
[36:43] Introducing the concept of black box thinking into a new business.
[38:40] How Rebecca dealt with a mistake that tipped her company briefly from profit to loss.
[39:28] Having a tolerance for, and the difference between, failure and incompetence.
[40:07] Rebecca and Emily wrap-up by sharing a bit about their own backgrounds.