Chris Hutchinson brings so much passion to his work of helping teams produce better results, make a bigger impact and feel happier while working together. He loves talking about connection too, and you’ll here him share some heartfelt thoughts on the positive power that we can all bring to the world when we decide we matter, and when we start looking at ourselves not as individuals but as integral parts of a whole from which we all benefit – as long as the whole is healthy – What Chris teaches us here about how teams can be better and why it matters applies to all of us when we remember that we all belong to several teams our families, communities, countries, and the world.
To find Chris: https://trebuchetgroup.com
Chris Hutchinson’s Book “Ripple: A Field Manual for Leadership that Works : http://www.rippleleader.com
Rana Olk (Host): Hi, everyone. Thank you so much for being here we are on the last episode of season one of the school connection podcast. And it’s hard to believe. But that means it’s been six months since our first episode. And that span of time, I’ve met such amazing and lovely people, the majority of whom, by the way, I had never even spoken to, before I was looking at them and meeting them from my laptop screen. I have to say, I was really nervous when I started this podcast. Because Hey, anytime you do something new, it’s kind of scary, right? But here we are. And this has just been such a gift. Each one of the people I met as a result of this podcast as far is now someone I actually care about, I want to keep up with them, I want to know them better. And I certainly have been doing my best. I’ve also learned so much. And I hope you have to. So today we are ending the season with a bang, let me tell you about Chris Hutchinson. You know how there are certain people you meet and you immediately just click with them, it’s you can almost hear the click in your brain. I know this has happened to you, you meet a stranger at a party or at a conference. And within minutes, you feel like you’ve been friends forever, and you’re totally on the same wavelength. Which by the way, neuroscience tells us may literally be the case. But I digress, you can look up what that click is all about on Google. The point is, it doesn’t happen every day. It’s special. And it’s such a blast. When it does happen. Many of my guests Lucky me have felt that way for me. And actually, Chris Hutchinson is most definitely one of the strongest we just clicked immediately when we were perfect strangers, I love the passion he brings to His work of helping teams produce better results, make a bigger impact and feel happier while working together. He loves talking about connection to and you hear him shares some heartfelt thoughts on the positive power that we can all bring to the world. When we decide we matter. And when we start looking at ourselves, not as individuals, but as integral parts of a whole from which we all benefit as long as the whole is healthy. So what Chris teaches us about how teams can be better. And why this matters applies to all of us. When we remember that we all belong to several teams, not just at work, we belong to our families, communities, countries and the world. You guys his energy and enthusiasm for his mission to make the world a better place and inspire others to do the same with the business he’s created, called troubleshoot group is a great way to end our season one each one of our guests, if you think about it, has had that overall big mission of making the world a better place. So here he is Chris Hutchinson. Enjoy. Hello, Chris. Thanks for coming on.
Chris Hutchinson (Guest): Hi Rana, I’m delighted to be on. Thanks.
Rana Olk (Host): What is the change that you’re wanting to make in this world, Chris?
Chris Hutchinson (Guest): Through my career experience, I found that there were a lot of people out there, myself included, that were just completely suffering at work, trying to make a big impact feeling thwarted all the time. And the worst part about it was the wording is incidental. It’s not really intentional, a lot of people. So the flip side of that is that I really believe that when you’re on an amazing team that’s doing incredible things together, there’s nothing that’s more satisfying than that, especially at work. So we’ve really built this company and the things that I do around having, you know, you get amazing accomplishments with amazing teams.
Rana Olk (Host): When organizations or businesses are looking for you. They don’t know you yet. But they’re looking for someone like you, what might they be looking for?
Chris Hutchinson (Guest): I think most organizations, it’s a little tough to answer the question exactly. Because frequently, it’s something that’s sort of implicit in what they’re doing. And frequently they’ve settled for it, it’s like, well, that’s as good as it’s going to get, usually the team is working pretty well, but could be better, the leader understands that they’re doing a lot of work, and it’s hard, but feels like is there something different I should be doing, or it could be the organization just not quite getting results that are possible. So those are the sort of things that start making people think he couldn’t be better. Most people say, yeah, that’s as good as it’s going to get because they work with teams. And you know, it’s messy. And that’s it. So a lot of times when organizations are not quite performing the way they could, in any of those aspects. That’s the time when people can come to us and say, let’s have a conversation about what’s possible, what’s in the way and if you could help us get past that.
Rana Olk (Host): So it sounds like you do teaching, consulting training.
Chris Hutchinson (Guest): There’s a bunch of tools in the tool belt, really, a lot of it is really, it’s an organization getting to where it could go, and the leaders feel that they’re confident getting there does the team know how to work together and we all rowing in the same direction, because if we’re not, we can cause a lot of friction and problems. And it gets to where people show up, and they hate their job, they really, you know, or maybe it’s just, it’s something they’re settling for, rather than something they’re excited to go to work for.
Rana Olk (Host): What are the kinds of organizations that you are excited to go into, and work with?
Chris Hutchinson (Guest): The ones that we work together with the best with, and I get really excited about this. So hopefully won’t go too fast. Here. It’s the ones where the leader feels like they’ve got the way to the organization, they care about people, and they’re really looking long term, they are trying to figure out how to make this succeed, not for coordinate for a year, but for five years, for 10 years. We have one client, they’re part of the tugboat Institute, and they are trying to build a 100-year company. So you really think about things differently when you’re thinking like, how do we make this place successful for 100 years? And that’s just fun. Because it changes the way you look at yourself. Last minute changes the way you work with people when you think we could have multiple generations of you here. How do we build this so that that’s still exciting, intriguing, builds you grows, you grows, grows, what we’re doing together,
Rana Olk (Host): I love that it’s more of the long term vision that they’re focusing on, rather than any kinds of short term gains. And that brings in a lot of uncertainty, though, doesn’t it?
Chris Hutchinson (Guest): Well, you know, when I was I took a motorcycle safety class, and then I don’t know if you ever wrote a motorcycle, sometimes it’s skiing depends on it. But really, essentially, the farther out you look, the more stable you’re right is. So in motorcycle safety, they actually have you like, look through the hill, and then use your peripheral vision to handle rocks and things in front of you or stuff like that, because if you look at a rock or guardrail, you’ll hit it. And there’s a lot of organizations that do that, where they’re just looking at the problems like right in front of them. And so the chance of them being wobbly, and kind of trying to figure out how to avoid those things is a lot higher than if they have a clear vision of where they’re headed. And they’re just adjusting to situations on the fly. They’re coming up in front of them. But almost preferably, it’s almost like an instinctual thing versus focusing on those issues. Usually takes a leader says yes, to get this quarterly thing I need to look further out I need to build in how are recruiting people? How are we helping people be successful? How are we working as a team, because that’s going to be what’s going to give us long term results? And we may even have to invest a little while we may have to die before we get to that height that we want to get to
Rana Olk (Host): Your background is not in consulting coaching training, or that we’re talking about can you exactly that’s how you started?
Chris Hutchinson (Guest): Well, I was I was in mechanical engineering has at CU Boulder and I graduated and got commissioned at the Air Force and went into a team and thinking, you know, I’m really looking forward to four years of serving my country and working with people who have all pointed the same direction. And that’s not what happened. I was on a team where it was Doggy Dogg, don’t put your head up, or it’s going to get shot everybody for themselves that all it was, you know, cover your weaknesses be this plastic cut out, that’s so you don’t attract attention. And it was really six months in, I thought, I’ve made a horrific mistake, this is going to be really hard for me. And then I got shifted to a different team. And it completely changed. We were all supportive of each other, there were people, hey, I can do this, you can I have the strength and people being in sort of this all for one one for all kind of attitude. And in reality, the reason I switch teams is that the leadership had the rotational model and my leader rotated out and a new one came in everybody on the team is the same except for the leader. And at that point, I went, you know, it doesn’t matter how good of an engineer I am, if I’m on a team that doesn’t have a clear direction, we’re not rolling the same way. We’re not working together, we don’t have a leader, the supporting that I’m really I’d hate my job. I mean, I didn’t like going to work versus when I had those things. It was awesome. I look forward to the accomplishments we were going to together. And so at that point, I said, you know, great, I can be a good engineer. But really, in my mind, it was the bigger system that mattered not just the work product, but how are we working together? And what are we trying to do? And how can we get there? So the way back then I did that work to the Air Force went out to private industry work there. And then at some point, I said, You know, I want to do this beyond the bounds of one company, I want to help other companies have this kind of experience where people feel that they’re doing amazing things together.
Rana Olk (Host): You mentioned systems, is there any kind of overlap in thinking styles between what you’re doing now, and engineering?
Chris Hutchinson (Guest): Definitely. And that’s probably the biggest overlap is kind of seeing, stepping back and saying, Well, what are we really trying to achieve together, you know, whether that’s in a meeting or in a development program, or, you know, in the next five years in this company, what are we trying to achieve? And then how do our, especially our company’s efforts help advance that and, oh, by the way, it’s not we do it to people, we do it with people, so we partner with them, and we co-create that with those goals in mind, what sort of program will be assembled? How would we help what sort of supports going to make sense within your constraints of time, and energy and funds? And then so he’s kind of design-build that so you can hear a lot of kind of technical terms here, but really, it’s creating a structure so that the right kind of relationships and activities can happen. I like to call it an eggshell structures, where it’s just thin enough to hold together what’s happening, let it evolve and grow and can easily break open to the next level. It’s not high beams and girders, you know, because that’s some people think structures is like, here it is, it’s here forever. Good luck. But I think what you do is just get just enough structure. And so it’s very light compared to what needs to happen, but enables the right things. And if you have that kind of continuous attitude of what’s the next big show, I think your team can do amazing stuff.
Rana Olk (Host): What are the tangible visible results that you see? What does this look like, if I’m somebody who is working in the organization that you have come into with your team educate, I guess, or train?
Chris Hutchinson (Guest): Well, let’s see, I can think about some of the things that the clients have told us. And I know we frequently work with the senior leadership team, because if they are aligned and working together, it cascades or ripples out for everybody, although, you know, could be a subsection of the organization engineering or automotive or something like that had this one group one time where we had two people, among others that were diametrically opposed, and what motivated them, one was totally about results. The other was totally about people. And they were working organization that actually needed both, but they, they saw the other person as a best, you know, toleration, you know, well, yeah, we have to have you in the organization because you see the frontline people, but I’m the one that handles thousands of requests from students, therefore, I’m doing the work vice versa, the other person was saying, I’m the person who’s handling the people one on one and making sure they get helped. And these other people run all those applications, things up in the background, but to have them actually hear what the other person is coming from the actually both wanted to serve the students in a deep way and in a successful way, as many as possible. And when they saw themselves on the same side, they were able to align their efforts instead of sort of, they were both leaders there were sort of pitting one side, the organization, it’s the other so even though it wasn’t something like we’re going to go fix this that emerged as the challenge they saw that it was in their way, and they themselves were able to eliminate that barrier and then move forward together,
Rana Olk (Host): What are some of the bigger mistakes that organizations like that are making? How would you summarize it?
Chris Hutchinson (Guest): Some of the bigger mistakes that organizations have people, especially leaders tolerate the behaviors they’re having, and when they tolerate behaviors they’re having, that’s what the standard becomes that’s across the board leaders just think, well, it’s not a big deal. It’s one person, you know, they’re getting results, they’re, they’re getting whatever kind of numbers or results we need. So we’re just going to come to tolerate that, or Yeah, you know, these functions, they’re naturally opposed to each other, we have quality on one side, and, and the people who ship the product on the other, they should be an opposition. And that’s just the way it’s going to be versus saying, how do we set them up to be successful together so that we have the most high-quality product go out. And so when leaders think small and think, well, it’s just about doing the work and, you know, what can you really expect, that’s what they get, whether it’s an individual or group or team or the whole business. And that’s sort of settling for what it is one of the sad things that we see, let’s see, I think when we look at it, and we see that we don’t criticize people for that. We’re just like, okay, here’s what we are, this is normal, what’s possible, how well we don’t really think what’s possible. Well, imagine what’s possible, if you run a magazine cover in five years, you know, what would they be saying about you? That would be pretty cool. And I think that the second, the second thing is, people don’t only settle for what is in the organization, they settle for what could be they don’t really dream big, they don’t think about what’s possible. What could be amazing here? They’re just like, yeah, we’ll do us plus 5% every year, let’s get you to know, rather than what’s the impact we really want to make any kind of having that challenging us to figure out how do we work together? How can we, how can we get great accomplishments together?
Rana Olk (Host): I guess that’s why it’s important for you to do these kinds of things. podcasts and get the word out. Because of the way I see it is some of these organizations or leaders or managers, you don’t know what you don’t know sometimes.
Chris Hutchinson (Guest): Exactly, yeah.
Rana Olk (Host): So the people who come to you have to know that something better is available or possible or at least have the notion there’s no way to help people who don’t know.
Chris Hutchinson (Guest): Yeah, I think you’re right. And I think there’s a fair number of people who come believing there should be something better, they just don’t know what it is, they figured out this sort of like, there’s got to be a better way. So it can be that they’re just frustrated with what is or they’ve heard some things that are possible or an answer some of its the podcast or some of the stories we have about our clients not, you know, your mileage may vary, but trying to figure out how do we help people see this is normal, and it’s us overcome. In fact, it can be done to the point where you can be very successful without promising them, you know, work with us, you’ll be three x in three years kind of thing. So that’s the big challenge. Because we are an enabler, we’re like a catalyst. We are not the people who come in and tell you how to do it. Our clients will say, in fact, I heard one say that she’s never heard us say, well, that’s not the right thing to do, or you’re wrong, or you’re stupid, it’s more exploring, okay, if that’s the case, what’s going to be the end? How are you going to get there? What could be better? So it’s a lot about a lot of coaching approach. Even within our consulting and our facilitation. It’s figuring out how to help people be successful within their terms, not on our agenda.
Rana Olk (Host): The question that occurs to me now, with everything you’ve been speaking of, is an ideal number 14?
Chris Hutchinson (Guest): I’ve seen some stuff that talks about eight people are a place where you start doing more work to bringing each person into the team than they might add to the team. I don’t know that that’s totally true. Because, I mean, if everybody is really diverse in their perspective, the next diverse perspective you bring in could add more to the team, then they take However, there is more overhead of like communication. And I connect, I’ve seen teams that work pretty effectively up to about 15 because they were really committed to each other and work together. I’ve seen teams that were smallest two or three work very well, I would say sweet spots, like six to eight, because you got a lot of communication people unless they’re reading extroverts, you know, when they get to the bigger teams, it’s harder to get their inputs, or the team has to say, “Julie, you’ve been kind of quiet, we need to hear what you’re thinking to make sure that we’re not losing people just because they’re not jumping in and saying what they think one of the rules we’ve used,” I know that we’ve inherited from somebody said, sort of like buffets, you know, you can have seconds, but everybody else needs to have first. So when you speak, make sure everybody else has a chance to speak, which is limited me quite a bit when I put that in place, because I wanted to share another fun. But instead of that, I would wait. And I’d say I want to hear everybody else’s thoughts. First, it was amazingly powerful, just doing that kind of thing.
Rana Olk (Host): And for those of us who are more outspoken, it would be difficult.
Chris Hutchinson (Guest): Yes, there are times when I have to, we put in little pauses that say, okay, we’re going to take three minutes and quietly write down the answers. And this is for the thing to talk to people. So you talk to think people, please sit on your hands and wait, make sure that we get the best remember, because, again, we’re trying to do is we point back to the outcome that we started the beginning of the meeting with and said, here’s what we’re trying to get everybody aligned or whatever, therefore, we need to take a moment.
Rana Olk (Host): He said, talk to think See, what you’re referring to there. It’s interesting is people who sometimes have to hear themselves talking in order to sort their thoughts out.
Chris Hutchinson (Guest): Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah, those people who talk out loud, so they can get the words into their ears. And then they can do that. And the hard part is if those people are in leadership positions, or, you know, have a pretty direct personality, other folks just kind of consideration in a comedy, but you lose out on their thoughts, you lose out on what they can bring to the conversation.
Rana Olk (Host): You talked about people in a team is committed, what does it take? or What does it look like for them to be committed, you go in and they’re not very committed, or do they realize they’re not? How do you work with?
Chris Hutchinson (Guest): Most teams are agreeing without commitment. And when you agree, without commitment, what that means is that you actually you say, yes, but do know, the conflict happens outside of the meeting, because people in their offices as a Can you believe such that I don’t know, are, you know, so that you don’t get the benefit of the group. You also don’t, the group doesn’t get the benefit of you. And you’ll revisit decisions over and over and over even like, Oh, I thought we agree to that will Yeah, we agreed. But we’re not really committed commitment. And I really lean on Patrick Lynch. And his definition of this is a commitment is when a group of different minded people can commit to something even though they disagree, as you think about the real, let’s say, let’s say you and I are in a company and we’re not having a good year. It’s really tough and weekend like 2008, right? There were things are going downhill and people like, well, I don’t know. But we could just not make a decision, let it keep going. But we can even say, we don’t agree that we should lay off people. And we don’t agree that we should follow folks. And yet where the leadership team, we somebody’s got to make that decision. So can we, what can we commit to, even if we don’t agree to it for the health of the company like nobody wants to lay people off, but if we can commit to the right thing to do in those circumstances, will do the right thing. So that’s, that’s an extreme example. But a lot of time, it’s like, if we’re not committed to it, it means I’m like, Yeah, sure. You know, if it works great, but that’s not you can hear in my voice, if I hit a barrier or block or it’s a little bit out of my comfort zone will, you know, I tried guys, I did what I could, we’re not going to get anywhere that way. It’s like me saying, Hey, I’m worried about this effort that we’re undertaking. I see the risk. Here are the risks I see. And we talked about it out loud. Yep. Yep, those are risks. Okay, good. Well, you’ve heard my risks. So I’m going to basically let you know that I’m going to commit even though I’m not fully agreeing on the solution. And we do it actually, we do a thumb check. You know, we actually show like, thumbs up means I agree, and I commit some sideways doesn’t mean I’m half committee meets, I’m hundred percent committed, even though I don’t agree. And thumbs down means I can’t commit. So the only time we talk with people is when the thumbs down, we stay. Okay, why is this group making a bad decision? What’s happening here that you have information on or question that we would hold us back from going off the cliff? And if the person just says, I don’t like it, you know, as a facilitator said, Well, let me ask you again, is there anything that you can share with the team to let them know? And they’re like, I don’t like it. Like, frankly, the team’s committed to moving forward your question from I have of you is, are you committed to the team I like, which is a hard, hard question to ask. But there are many, many times when people get hijacked from good intentions, you know, I don’t know if I like this. Well, you got to get me to agree. So we talk it to death, we’re looking for certainty, we’re looking for 100% consensus, like, we’re all in agreement, I’m not going to be an agreement. So I just basically put a screeching halt or whatever there is, even if it’s a really important discussion, because it’s uncomfortable for me, or it trades on my area responsibility, I’m gonna have to give our resources I don’t want to look bad. So you know what, I’m gonna hold us all up. Now, people don’t consciously think that I think I’m winning in I’m doing the right thing. But when we think about what are we committed to as an organization? And what do we need to do? I’m probably gonna have to sacrifice likely, you know, in terms of if we’re going to get an optimum result for how we’re working together, it probably means that my function is going to work sub-optimally.
Rana Olk (Host): Can you explain that?
Chris Hutchinson (Guest): Yes. So let’s pretend we have an organization and there’s, it’s simple this is? That’s a really great question. So we have sales, I’m sitting in the table here. So I’m thinking people around the room like I’m in marketing, their sales, there’s product development, there’s production, it could be anything, right? But let’s say those functions. Well, let’s say that right now, we have the machines that can produce twice as much as we can sell, if everybody runs at full speed, what’s going to happen, we’re going to start spilling out of the warehouse, it’s going to cost all the money and the company probably will do likewise, if we have sales, let’s say sales can do twice as much as production can, what if we sell twice as many products as we can produce angry customers pissed off people, right? So and that’s, that’s an extreme example. But that’s the idea is that we need to see what can our system of us working together. And it might guess what the limit in our system is production, we should only sell to production if the salespeople are, you know, maybe we need to go figure out how we can make the product better or make more throughput there. But that’s where we focus to that constraint. And then put the constraint of the system up. But that means that I might need to I’m not even taking some of my people and send them over to the sweep the shop floor so that the people that run the machines aren’t taking away from that.
Rana Olk (Host): And what usually happens is love that example. I know you said it’s extreme, but it’s very demonstrative of the concept I can picture it. Yeah, happens. And what has happened to me, I’ll admit, when I worked in corporate I did not like working with teams because if I was the person in sales, who could sell twice as much as was being produced I was ticked off be great. I’m being held back. And or I’m the person who then let’s just say, again, for example, sake, does the sales but also goes into production to try to beef up the production so that I can do more sales, And nobody, when I was working in corporate there wasn’t this, this idea of, well, gee, everybody here is a team. And it’s ultimately the bottom line. I mean, leadership would come in and maybe toss all kinds of, you know, pep talks to us, but sure to have somebody like your group come in and say, Hey, there is a better way to do this. And here’s why would have been amazing.
Chris Hutchinson (Guest): In some cases, it’s even saying, how’s this working for you and people like they’re pissing me off. And the poor production people like, we can’t do it any faster? Well, that’s because you’re not good people. I mean, under the context, there’s a thing called fundamental attribution error, which is it’s a psychological construct, which means basically, when I don’t know the constraints in your situation, if something bad is happening, I think you’re not a good person, I’ll assign it to your character. But I know my constraints. So I know I’m doing the best I can’t. I’m a good person. And that happens all the time. The other thing is that my job is to be the leader sales. I’m in here to fight for sales, my people count on it. And my first allegiance is to my function. My second Legion says to the company, from what I just explained to you, if that’s the case, we’re going to drive it into the ground, right, because I’m going to be fighting you. And that happens a lot versus saying, our first time allegiances to the company and this team around the people responsible these functions, and we together, figure out how are we going to optimize this company, keep it growing, you know, what are you going to do for resources, or people or time or energy, or if it all gets sucked up into production, I’m not whining about it, I’m saying darn good, that we’re spending time over there because we need to get that up. Because ultimately, the wind should be the collective when I think that’s where a lot of the balanced scorecard stuff came from, because it’s not, you know, I need to see my piece in it. But it’s are we doing quality work for customers, and the amount that’s going to make our profit, so we stay in business, you know, it’s the big picture that okay, grudgingly I’ll sign up to otherwise. silos naturally reinforced themselves. My job is to be a shop manager. My job is to be an engineer, my, I’m supposed to do this job, I don’t do your job. I do my job. Instead of thinking, I’m a person at this company that does great work. And I think companies like a Gore. I mean, they are very intentional. They make gore-tex and things like that. They said we’re here to do stuff. And then the job functions come, they’re all flexible. They don’t, they don’t even have much hierarchy is because we’re all looking at the bigger picture and trying to bring your talents to it. And they’re wildly successful at that. Now, a lot of companies can’t do that because there’s too much hierarchical baggage and there’s also times when there is our Yorkie somebody who makes decision to be responsible, that a different level, so I can go do what I need to do, doesn’t mean that I make every single decision with a company. But if I know where I can add value, I see where we’re going, I get feedback from the system of the company that says, yep, I can usually self-control, I can use my autonomy to help the company be successful, versus my autonomy makes me successful, and oh, well, the company loses. That’s not my problem.
Rana Olk (Host): I’m going to shift gears just a little bit here because this kind of started out as people being happy at work. Now you like what you do, but is it possible I love what I do? Is it possible for us to go to work and love our work every day and be happy at work every day?
Chris Hutchinson (Guest): I think it is and I think it’s not 100% joyfulness I think it’s understanding the rhythm and the balance of the things that maybe aren’t the most fun or uncomfortable or caused me to grow or difficult at the same time, I get to do the things that can make me feel successful. And I’ve made an impact and in whatever way that is, whether that’s a number or smile on somebody’s face. I mean, I need those things. But I think it’s sort of like in any relationship, it’s not all fun and games, it’s, there’s work to be done. And then there are amazing benefits. And in fact, I think the happiest teams I’ve seen are the ones that challenge themselves, tremendously lean on each other very hard, end up doing a lot of self-development and, and, you know, sort of pure development and come out of it, like, we can do something even harder, you know, those are the teams that are just rocking and you want to be part of you want to be on those teams? I think, would you say they’re 100% joyful? I don’t know. But would they say where they’re making a difference in the world, and they’re feeling better about themselves. And usually if the systems aligned, right, they should be getting benefits, like decent pay, maybe bonuses, you know, they feel like they’re making a difference when they go to see the product in place. Or, or see, you know, a symphony hall built or, you know, whatever it is, they get some feedback, it says, I matter, you matter. And I matter and let’s go make things that matter.
Rana Olk (Host): I think more and more people are realizing that they want that in their work. They want to feel more connected to their co-workers and leadership and in the work that they’re doing in a way that shows them that they matter and what they do.
Chris Hutchinson (Guest): I heard this story and I’m not sure where it came from. But it was a story of a hospital where they were interviewing This was consultant or something that we’re talking to all the staff and I just want to give it to me, because some people think mattering means you know what, we make the billion dollar company or someone like this, and it was the janitorial staff where they would come in and clean the ceilings in some of these rooms, like on a weekend basis. And there was no requirement to clean the ceilings or whatever. And these were, there were, some of these people are comatose. So they had comatose patients who were lying on their back all the time and looking at the ceiling. And they said, You know, I don’t know what they can see. But I want the ceiling to reflect something peaceful and the did not seem that cobweb up there they matter. So in any job, you can decide how you matter. It’s not being told to do that. Not allowed. But they weren’t being asked. But they thought what if I was that personally and comatose? What would I want? That is powerful. You know, it’s, it can be so simple in some ways, and people make this stuff super complex. And I think it’s just, you know, a bunch of people getting together, figuring out how we can make stuff work together, how do we matter together and individually in a way that lets us keep mattering
Rana Olk (Host): A group has been around for 15 plus years? How long have you been a B Corp, and can you explain what that is?
Chris Hutchinson (Guest): We’ve been a B Corp for about a year, my best understanding of the simplest thing, it’s sort of like a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval on the way we do business. So the way that we work is that we’re not only looking for to be a profitable, ongoing enterprise, we’re also trying to make an impact on our community around us and the businesses we use local bank and that we care for our employees deeply rather than, hey, we care for and we, for instance, pay 100% of our healthcare premiums for all the staff so that they don’t have to worry about, you know, being healthy. We also try to make an impact and how we tend to our environment don’t make a big deal out of it. But I ride a bike almost every day to work or are we using an electric car, there are some small changes in things we do. We, every year, we buy offsets for trees that are planted and things like that. So we’re carbon neutral, we do a lot of travel. So it’s not a small investment. But it’s a way that we can make a difference. And so the B Corp is a group of companies that say, like Ben and Jerry’s, or Patagonia or New Belgium brewing one, our clients, how can we make a difference in the way we do everyday things to go beyond just selling beer, or great products, or whatever, you know, good ice cream. So it’s neat to be part of that sort of community of people trying to intentionally do business in a way that’s going to make a better a better society, better world without putting anybody down. I don’t think it’s anything like, well, we’re better than you. It’s more like, here’s a way that we’d like to operate. And we’d love you to join us. If you felt like.
Rana Olk (Host): You and I, the first time we talked, discussed how you came across this gift, you seem to have been able to coach people, you are a good listener, people came to help them think of their challenges differently. Let’s put it that way. Can you talk a little bit about intuition and how you came to the realization that doing some of this coaching?
Chris Hutchinson (Guest): Yeah, and engineers are not supposed to have intuition. I mean, you’re training least I was trained to be data-driven. So do you have data? Can you prove it? Yes. Therefore, you can use that information. And so when I would walk into the city, I remember my first job even with that, not so great team. It wasn’t I wasn’t two weeks and I went into the boss and have these notes. I remember writing down a little book. I had a covey planner, and I use that all the time to college, thank goodness got me through. But I was like, writing notes like, this is really interesting. And I sat down with him. And I said, you know, I’m just wondering boss, and he was a civilian, I was military, we were sort of mix there. And I said I’m noticing that there’s like, these people don’t talk to each other. And this group seems to be really not wanting to they want to go their own direction. And there’s a real breakdown and in communication, kind of within the group, and I’m not sure people know the direction that we’re going. And he looked at me, he’s like, you’ve been here two weeks, what are you telling me, you know, and I was like, you don’t see this stuff. And he’s like, I don’t know what the heck you’re talking about. So I just took my notes and my kind of walked away and I was like, Okay, well, you know, I didn’t know people couldn’t see that, right, because I saw it. And then a few months later, I came back and it’s like, those are exactly the things that were happening. But it took me a while to believe that I knew that because I was like, “I can’t know that.”
Rana Olk (Host): You are coming across as a know-it-all to him.
Chris Hutchinson (Guest): I guess so. You know, and, and it was like, I could see things I would like neon lights, like system breakdown, we’re not talking to each other. I’m like, doesn’t everybody seen this and nobody. I was like, I felt like I was an insane person. And, you know, didn’t even see that. So I really denied it for a long time, until I had some very stark experiences where I walked into situation soft, I immediately knew something had happened with quite a bit of detail that like I couldn’t know, in a second, a year and a half later, I found out that’s exactly what it occurred. But I had no external way to know that and that was when I was like, I gotta pay attention. This, I’m not going to use it as an absolute. This is what happened because I might have eaten a bad sandwich that day and might feel kind of queasy or something. I didn’t want to judge that we but using it as a piece of information that I should trust and use as an input along with everything else. I know, it’s something I’ve gone I’ve grown accustomed to that’s really helped me a lot in my coaching and facilitating.
Rana Olk (Host): Were there any challenges with starting to have a shading group?
Chris Hutchinson (Guest): Oh, yeah, it was, it was a good chance. So in 2002 is when we started and I actually started working, I got sort of a larger assignment, I was working with a company called Coach Phil and take some classes and then I became an instructor. And then there was a pretty tragic circumstance of the leader passing away, the company went to probate. And because I’d had some experience, I guess the person who was having the company will to him, asked me if I would help out. And I lasted in that job for a while. So it was, well, I have my company, they were like, 100%, my only one, and only client. So I did that for a while. But I think the other challenges were I got everybody. I think that is successful. They start getting referrals, we get referrals, I brought some other people, we had contractors that kind of came in and out. And at one point, we were bustling. Pretty good 2008, I had lots of diverse clients. We had builders and home remodelers and supply houses and architects all in the construction industry. And it was March or April 2008, we have a clause that says we can stop our work and a joint way if we need to, things need to change. And I had 13 or 15 clients called me that month and said, I have to stop the bank called my loan. We are working with groups on the coast that we’re growing very, very quickly and want to preserve their culture. Like how do I keep my team when we’re tripling in size? How do we keep us working the same way and they were laying off their teams, they were shutting down their businesses, and they’re like, and after my 13th call, I thought, okay, 85% of our business. We have a real big problem here. So I tried to encourage the contractors are working for, as I said, if you’re not going to be getting work through us, I’m terribly sorry, what can I do? Can I write a recommendation letter? Can I help you because it looks like this is me pretty tough that was having gotten through that, you know, it’s like everything out of the plane? We’re running on fumes. But two years later, we’re able to soar back up again. So you just stuck with it. Yeah. I don’t know if it’s just blind faith persistence, you know, hardheadedness I’m not sure which one work but we made it through that my angel investor known as Diana Hutchinson, who was my wife who was keeping a steady job at the time and putting food on the table. So my salary didn’t have to be the same thing that it didn’t have to be quite what I needed, it’s what would work for the company.
Rana Olk (Host): Great. Before we run out of time, I definitely want to touch on something that we mentioned a little bit earlier, but I want to come back to it. Because I think it’s really important, you have something to say about dysfunctions that can occur in a team, and I want to make sure we get to that, can you tell us about that your models?
Chris Hutchinson (Guest): Yeah, the models that we’ve built on are really Petland journeys. If you’ve read the five to seven, have a team, some people get offended, because they’re like, why is my team dysfunctional? Well, they’re all can be improved. But really, I think one of the things that I think our group is really good at doing is taking these nice ideas and actually getting him to action. I think that’s just a huge challenge for people. Well, it was a cool book, but how do I do it. So one of the things we do is help step teams through the different layers, he has five different layers in this model. The bottom one is really the fundamental one, and that’s vulnerability based trust. So do I have psychological safety, which Google’s done some work on, can I say something and not have it be a black mark against me, if we have that as a team, which is a good thing to just ground in, then the conflict we have around ideas doesn’t feel personal? Or if it does feel personal, I know you, I trust you, you’re not trying to hurt me, you’re trying to help us. So let’s have healthy positive conflict around ideas. When we do that, the next layer is commitment, which we are kind of poke that already it’s my committed, even if we don’t agree, even if I’m wrong, lot of other things, you know what, we’re going to try this, we’re going to see what’s going to happen, I’m committed, we’ll see what the results are. And we’ll go for it. And when we do that with each other, there’s an accountability at a pure level, not just from the boss down, or when somebody watching, you know, or when I put my numbers in, it means we’re all helping each other, not only to you’re going to look at me and say, Chris, you committed to that this report is what you said you were going to do, it’s not happening, what can we do to help you rather than catch a speeding, you know, and if we all do that, the very tip-top is, and I poked at this before, is what’s our shared result that we all win as part being part of rather than I’m winning for me, my ego, my department, my function, you know, my legacy, right? When we went together, we went more broadly. So. So that model is something that we find over and over just proves itself as building on each layer. And continuing to develop those strengths as a team can help you be resilient and get you through a lot of challenges together.
Rana Olk (Host): Know that okay, I’m glad we talked about that. I think it’s really important. And it’s a good segue into the last question I have, or rather, the second to the last is most people listening out there right now are part of a team somewhere, or leaders or even in a family, you could say, you know, teamwork, I usually like to leave people with an action item, something that they can take action on as soon as they’re done listening. But asking yourself certain questions or reflecting on things is also something they can do right away. What would you like to tell our listeners to think about or do to be better leaders happier at work or better teammates?
Chris Hutchinson (Guest): Perfect. I can think of two things right off the top of my head, one of them is a very powerful question. And you can adjust it to whatever bigger organization you’re part of, but really is asking in the middle of a crisis, whether that’s privately sitting in a chair, or actually in the middle of it says, what does the business needs when we asked ourselves, what does the business need? It’s a born our own needs and says, you know, maybe it’s that we have to figure out how to deal with layoffs in the most positive way. Or maybe we just have to reduce the money, can we go out and ask people and there are groups that have actually furloughed themselves to say, we’re all going to take a furlough because we know what the business needs it needs to cash to survive so that we can have a job here in the next year. So when you ask that you ask people to kind of step up, what does the family need? What does this organization need? And I think that makes a difference for how we approach problems. I think the second piece is around individual effectiveness. And most people I think the challenge is not that we don’t get feedback is that we don’t really ask for it in a way to give ourselves the right feedback. So if I was working with you as a peer, or you were my boss, or you were working for me, a great question to ask, and this is immediately implementable is like it’s a Rana “How does my behavior affect you? How does it help? And how am I holding you back? Or how does it hurt?” I’m not asking you to fix it. I’m just asking for just feedback and how it’s going. Now, most relationships, I’m gonna have to ask three or four times before I really get an answer. Because you’re gonna be like, sure, right? You know, you’re just using this against me. I mean, we’re brains are wired for survival. But after three or four times, and you see me honestly, is that you’ll say, you know, Chris, when you don’t show up prepared, I’m not I think you’re okay. But I don’t know what to do. Or, you know, maybe there are times you don’t let me have time to talk. And then there are things I’d like to share, you know, we could get into that kind of, regardless of what place in the organization is, it’s not making you happy as my boss, or if somebody is working for me, making them happy. But my peers, even that’s a very cheap, you know, how, how’s my behavior affecting you, like, as a salesperson sales leader to somebody in engineering house might be, “Hey, can you imagine what kind of organization we have?” when people ask themselves that we start getting real relationships and unable to tackle some of those issues? What is the business need? How’s my behavior affecting you, we can go to great accomplishments together for you to break through that.
Rana Olk (Host): Wow, I see that in the even grander scheme of things, if we applied that to just every interaction or group or society or community, how does my behavior affect you if we just pay more attention and connect more with one another? I think that now I’m going to be rambling because that was so powerful to me. I’m sorry,
Chris Hutchinson (Guest): I think it is pretty and is that the one-two punches are really both because if we ask, what is the bigger what is our country need from us? And then how’s my behavior affecting you, as a fellow countryman or woman, it would be a lot different now that it’s not that high of a standard actually. And you can go live it out tomorrow and you start asking those questions. I think what that’s going to do is change the way we interact, have us look for a broader purpose and know how we’re influencing others negatively or positively. And then we can decide what we want to do with that. And I agree with you, I think it’s just incredibly powerful. And when people show up differently with each other with a picture of our shared benefit in mind, we can go do amazing things.
Rana Olk (Host): Chris, thank you so much. Before we go, I need to let listeners know how they can find you. And there are going to be some show notes. You mentioned a book I’m going to put those in the notes, listeners. Anything that we mentioned here will be there but most importantly, the websites can you tell us what that is?
Chris Hutchinson (Guest): Sure. Well, there’s two I have a book as well but the easy one to get too hard to spell is trebuchetgroup.com, I’m sure you have it in your notes. Sometimes people say trebuchet. That’s totally legit. You know, there’s a T in there. But that trebuchetgroup.com has information about how we help people sort of what we aspire to do to help others and it’d be great to hear from people on that.
Rana Olk (Host): Great, and can people find you on LinkedIn?
Chris Hutchinson (Guest): Yes on LinkedIn I’m my handle is ripple leader and that’s the name of my book is ripple it’s a field manual for leadership that works double entendre intended you know people that work and people that need leadership skills and abilities to go get that work done.
Rana Olk (Host): Love it thank you so much, Chris. I really enjoyed our conversation.
Chris Hutchinson (Guest): Rana, same here. Thanks for having the time and the people to reach out to so hopefully we can go make amazing things happen together.
Rana Olk (Host): That’s right I think our listeners are going to enjoy this very much as well everybody thanks you so much. If you have any comments questions please do reach out email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Look forward to hearing from you. Bye
Chris Hutchinson (Guest): Bye.