Creativity is this ability to think of stories and you can go back to kind of the origin of stories that stories were kind of invented to help us solve problems as humans, but not like problems on like how to start a fire or how to build a boat or something like that. It's problems on like how to live.
And how to love and how to be courageous in the face of death and how to like deal with the messed up craziness of our existence, you know, like big, big questions like that. And we can actually use stories to solve other problems too.
Welcome to the managing mid simple podcast. I'm Lia Garvin, your host and team operations consultant. Through this show and my signature ops playbook, I condense a decade of experience driving team operations in some of the most influential companies in tech to save you time, money and stress. It doesn't matter if you're a business owner who realized that running a team isn't as easy as you thought it would be, are a new manager looking to learn the ropes or are a seasoned manager ready to up their game.
Everyone is welcome to hang out with managing made simple from conflicts to feedback to delegating and more. We leave no stone unturned when it comes to what makes us love managing, kind of hate it and everything in between. Let's go. I can't even tell you how many times I've been talking with a business owner or manager and they've said I wanna be a better manager.
I just don't know the step. Tell me what to do and I'll do it. And frankly, I've felt that way too. Even when I had been managing people for a while. Because this stuff is hard and it changes all the time. So the last time someone asked me for the steps, I made a cheat sheet. Head to Liagarvin.com/scorecard for 20 things you can do this month to be a better manager.
This is literally your tell me what to do and I'll do it steps to motivate your team and get better results. There's no time like the present. Grab the scorecard or write freaking now. LiaGarvin.com/scorecard.
Welcome back to the show today. I am so excited to have Andrew Barry with me. Andrew has an extensive background in learning and development, serving in executive roles at global organizations like KPMG.
He is the founder and CEO of Curious Lion, a company that specializes in high performance leadership and developing leaders. Some of his clients include PagerDuty and Pinterest, among others, and he is the host of the Learning Culture Podcast. As an expert in the learning and development space, I want to talk with Andrew today about the importance of investing in learning and development and how to leverage L& D to drive innovation within companies.
So this is something that I know I've talked a lot about in the show, talking with other folks in the L& D space, and, and you know, it's something that is very personally meaningful to me. someone that does manager development and trainings for companies large and small. But I think it's a place where, you know, when we see people experiencing more and more burnout and fatigue and limited budgets, it's something that can be on the chopping block.
So I'm sure that you are really passionate about talking about this as well. And so excited to have you on the show. Welcome. Thank you, Lia. I'm, I'm pumped to be here and yeah, people don't cancel the training like that. It's so important. It's so, so important. If we can say one thing, if you get what I mean, don't cancel the way in which you continue to have, you know, growth in leaner times and do more with less is to be investing in your people.
So let's just kick off with that. Mic drop right there. Exactly. Exactly. So when I interview folks who managed both in the corporate world and now outside of it, I love to ask about what are some of the differences or some of the learnings you've had across the two worlds? So, you know, what was easier for you managing within a large company like KPMG or within your own team and why?
Yeah, that's a really good question. I've never been asked that before. You know, it's interesting. I think that it seemed easier. At first at KPNG because there was a lot of like structure around it and there was a lot of you know process and all of that so you just had to Yeah, it's played by the rules.
You just basically play by the book. So you kind of, but what actually ended up happening is you're going through the motions and you know, like everyone dreads that, that time of year where it's like our performance reviews and it's just this like thing you have to do and you're not actually like caring and managing people's careers, you know, you're just like, you're just trying to complete a form, get it out so that you can like get back to your work, you know?
And I think with my team, it's very different. Like, and obviously, I mean, the incentives are different. I'm like. You know, this is my business and they are so, so key, you know, my, my most valuable asset, right. It's fully invested in them. And I think I just approach it differently. I think the biggest difference is that there is less structure and there's kind of more like autonomy and decentralization.
And, you know, just like, um, we're a big fan of OKRs and just like having like an OKR set up that everyone's on the same page on, and then letting people figure out how they want to get there. You know? Yeah. I love that. And I think it's so important when you called out that we can get in a bigger company kind of in the rhythm of like, Oh, I got to do the performance review every six months or every year.
And I have to do this because you know, I'm supposed to. And we don't always like really lean into thinking, well, why is it important to have a one on one with a team member? You know, why is it important to have career conversations? And all of that goes back to, You know, driving higher engagement and showing our team members that we care about them and their goals.
And, and this is going to lead to better results. So I would say managers out there, like I know everyone is feeling spread thin. We're approaching the year. Burnouts high. We got, if you're a manager in the corporate world, a lot of times you have your own. individual contributor things you got to be doing.
You have kind of pressure from your leadership and your team members. But, um, the more you spend time investing in your people, the better results you get, and then the easier your job is, right? So it is worth doing. It's leverage. And if you really like sit down and talk to people and get to know what they want and then help sort of figure out how that can be aligned to what the business needs, like you've, you've solved half the battle, right?
Like that's right. So yeah, I'm with you on that. Yeah. And that's what I share with business owners, right? Folks that I support in, in streamlining team operations is one way to, you know, not have to carry the weight of growing the business on your shoulders is actually to enlist everyone else into it and to really connect the dots right between what their roles are and the goals of the business and how to get there.
Well, there's a big difference between commitments. Uh, or compliance and commitments, right? Like compliance is when people have to do this thing and you're not getting the best out of someone when they're complying, right? But you get them committed, you're going to get everything they've got. Yes. I love that.
And then that drives again, more connection to work, lower turnover, right? So you're saving money in these different areas from that. I love that. So I'm curious, you know, Okay. When companies are thinking about learning and development right now, right? We said, you got to invest. So let's say folks are like, yes, I'm into it.
But where do you suggest people get started? Like if they, if they don't really know how to think about it or what that really means for them. Yeah, I think I love that question and it really does help like frame. I think everything else that I talk about, uh, you know, in public is that. First of all, I think it's about recognizing what learning really is.
So training isn't learning, training, whatever you want to call it. It's not an event. So that's often, that's the default thing. And that's also why people see it as kind of a budget line item, right? So now it's there. We bought some courses like that. We have, you know, a subscription to, or We've got some live sessions that we're paying for, whatever, right?
So it's like this event, but learning actually isn't like that. Learning is a process. Learning's happening all the time, right? Like if you are taking action in the real world and you're, you're spending a bit of time to reflect on that, on what went well, it didn't go well. You sharing those thoughts with other people and they're doing the same thing.
And now you're kind of like exchanging information. That's learning. That's like the most powerful kind of learning. So to answer your question, I think what people should really, really think about starting with is recognizing that learning is happening anyway, it's happening in the workplace, right? Like in your team and just formalize it.
Just bring people together in a slightly formal way to put a little bit of structure around this. And I'll just give you one example is kind of like to leave that off with is that my team, we do team office hours. All right, so we come together, it's not every week I joined them for one of them months and each time it's sort of like it's a slightly structured agenda and that someone presents like with something for the first 10 minutes, but then the next 50 minutes all about just.
Talking about what, how that thing relates to what you're working on right now. So people bring, you know, to this, this meeting, the challenges, the problems, the issues that they're working on, and they leave with real ideas on what to do about them and it's all about through exchange. It's amazing. I love that so much.
I mean, it looked like with, you can have limited or no budget to do that and really enlisting your team into it, right? We're learning from each other. So this builds more community and more, more trust and more safety. And I think, you know, really allowing people to step up and teach each other that, you know, emboldens them with like really stepping into that leadership role.
So there's so many awesome reasons about that. I love that. I love that you just added that to it as well. Cause that is the logical conclusion is that then everyone becomes a teacher. Like you said, and so, and, but you don't have to, you literally just need a zoom link for this, you know, totally. And I've done similar things with clients, you know, really trying to help when they're feeling like the work's feeling a little bit transactional on their team where folks are just doing the work and leaving and they want to create a stronger sense of ownership, but they're not really sure how to do that.
And I think. exactly the method you do on your team is the way to go, which is enlisting everyone, teaching each other, sharing case studies and wins and examples and getting it out there of, you know, we're a place where we think beyond the task and here's how we learn from each other about, you know, what are nuances the client had or how might we solve this problem next time?
And. And like you say, you create this sense of continual learning where people start to be thinking of that and their wheels are turning when they're back in their task. And they're like, wait a second, I don't just need to like mark this down and move on. There's actually a bigger way to solve this.
When we talked about this in the team meeting, you know, someone had this other really cool idea. I'd love to try that out. So it really fosters creativity. Exactly. Which is, which is a good segue into what else we, yeah. So yeah, because you know, you are an innovation expert, so let's dive into that. You know, the concept feels abstract, I think.
Some of these companies have like innovation labs and like, what does that even mean? So how do you help leaders think about this and how to create more of it? So first of all, I just love that you did segue into this because this is the connection that I'm starting to realize that the newest thing, the thing that keeps me fired up and passionate is this innovation thing.
And it feels like the natural evolution of everything else we've been talking about. So, you know, so I think first of all, it's, it's worth pointing out why we need innovation, innovation and new ideas are especially valuable in, in times in which there's very low stability. There's a lot of uncertainty.
So if we take the opposite of that stable times, things are pretty certain. We can rely on what's worked before. We can rely on playbooks and SOPs and those things to serve a purpose. Absolutely. But as soon as we start to venture into environments where it's uncertain, which I think you can make an argument is happening kind of broadly, you know, around us.
There's a lot of like factors on that, but also those moments happen day to day. Like if you're on a sales call with someone or, you know, you, you having a difficult Conversation with someone on your team. Like that's, that's a high pressure, low data environment that you're in. Right. And so the ability to kind of think originally is, is important that, you know, you can ask people where they get their best ideas and I almost can guarantee that no one will say at work, you know, out running or in the shower or cooking or whatever, but it's not at work.
And so, so what's the problem here? So we're not taught how to think creatively. At work, and there's a good reason for it, and it's because I'm going to try and, like, summarize a little bit of this because this might get boring, so also feel free to cut this, but all the thinking and methodology on creativity is based on an insight that someone in the 1940s, basically the end of World War II, came up with, which was actually very valuable at the time, which is that our brain is like a computer, and that was awesome because it helped understand the logical, analytical nature of our brain.
Thank you. Thank you. But that's only one sort of path of our brain, right? The other half is intuitive, creative, you know, all of these kinds of things. And what recent there's any, and it's like completely misunderstood. It's all, they call this our deep brain is kind of where that happens. And no one's really known until recently why, like how that all works.
And the recent breakthrough in this is that the ability to think in stories. Which is what that right brain does is actually kind of the root of creativity. So just to like, go back to innovation, innovation is essentially creativity that works, right? Cause right. And then creativity is this ability to think in stories and you can go back to kind of the.
The origin of stories, that stories were kind of invented to help us solve problems as humans, but not like problems on like how to start a fire or how to build a boat or something like that. It's problems on like how to live and how to love and how to be courageous in the face of death and how to like deal with the messed up craziness of our existence, you know, like big, big questions like that.
And we can actually use stories to solve other problems too. That's so interesting. I think a lot of times we look at innovation is like having to be new, like shiny object, cutting edge. And it's really, you know, I think hearing from you, it's, it's more about like thinking in different ways and maybe kind of outside of the box or applying, you know, maybe something that works for one situation to another situation and seeing how, you know, it unlocks all these different new opportunities.
Yeah. There's two such important points about that, if I can add here. So one is that there isn't actually, I think it's safe to say anything completely new and original. So any creativity we're talking about is a building on something else, right? It's like a little tweak to it, which is, which is good and helpful.
And I feel like a little bit relieving for people to hear, like, I don't have, right. Then the other thing is that. Creativity, sort of this ability to come up with new ideas. Those new ideas are not right or true, like in and of themselves, they have to be tested. That's all they are. They're testable. And I can come up with an idea and it's not creative unless you at least agree with me that it's creative.
And then it's not like, you know, world changing unless a lot of people agree. And it's that part of creativity that's so key. And that's why. I'm so passionate about doing this with teams, because if you can get like all the stuff we've been talking about around bringing teams together to share and learn union to come together to And then once you and come up with ideas, you're going to very quickly be able to test those ideas because you've got all those minds together.
I love that. And I will say, I think, you know, one point you made around, you know, in times of certainty, things like, you know, SOPs or playbooks are helpful. I do, I will push back and say, I do think they're helpful in times of uncertainty as well, because I think just having a free, framework of a process for how we bring ideas forward, for how we assess things for our creative process is really helpful.
And I think, you know, because creativity thrives in constraints, it's all about the way in which you interpret, like, what does that look like? And so when I work with teams and set up the ops playbook or look at, you know, what are the kind of repeatable systems? I think it's all about simplifying and removing.
steps. And I think that's why it works. Right. It's like, Hey, when we, this word process has a bad reputation because people think it's everything's bureaucratic and you have no creativity, but it's like kind of, you called out, it's actually just, what are the few repeatable steps that allow people to really participate fully?
And I think that's where we get all the innovation, right? And that's why something like an ops playbook on a team can foster more innovation because we're not worrying about like. Wait, like where do I save my files or like, why do we already have this document? Because we've sort of like cleared away all the little kind of logistical noise and free people's mental bandwidth up to actually be doing the great work.
Totally. And that's such a big call out. So you're a hundred percent right. I misspoke. Cause I've been, you know, around, I don't want to bad mouth Keeping Chief, but I've been around a lot of bad process and playbooks and stuff. And you're a hundred percent right. That's done well. It's exactly what you're describing as the process of elimination and deletion to like the essentials.
That's exceptionally valuable. Yeah. Cause it's, it's like the scaffolding that you can then be created from. Yeah. And so, I mean, I think it's important that we call it out with the word innovation and now it's processed. Like we get these terms out on the table in your company and talk about like, What do we mean by it?
What do we actually want to do here? I think, you know, we talked about creativity and I think certain times people can think, well, my role is really tactical. I can't bring innovative ideas or I'm not in a creative role or, you know, I've worked in design firms for a lot of my career and like, it was like certain roles were able to bring those ideas.
And like, you know, the, the program manager like me wasn't really supposed to, it's like, well, everybody can be innovating, that's not true, you know, and so really creating. environments where everybody is participating in that story aspect in, in the creating, in the out of the box thinking, because a lot of times you get, you know, your best ideas from someone that's a little bit farther removed because they're seeing, Hey, what if we looked at it this way?
So I think inviting people that conversation is really important. I totally agree. And I think for anybody who's listening, who thinks like that, I would challenge them and say, first of all, you were born creative. Right. Like my, so my son, he just, he's three and a half and he just got into like, he's, he likes the, we live close to the beach and he, he loves going to the beach, but he was petrified of getting into the ocean.
Cause in his mind, the ocean was literally this like giant container of sharks. Right. And so like, that's it. Like, so he's like, nope, not interested. Um, and towards the end of this past summer, I took him, I was like, I need, like, I need him to experience this. And, you know, so he would like watch me on the shore and stuff.
And this last time I took him and I pulled him into the ocean and, you know, we were getting these waves crashing up against us. And so the initial reaction was like, Oh shit, like, you know, I don't want to be here, get me out of here. But he very, he, his brain very quickly invented a new story. So suddenly now these waves that were coming at us with these like adversaries and we had to like Hulk smash them and chop them and, you know, punch them and he, and he loved that.
And suddenly now he like can't wait to go back to the beach to get into the ocean and that's linked to storytelling. You know, the ability of thinking, story thinking is that he just told himself a new story and suddenly. It's a whole new world, you know, being in the ocean emerged. And so you're born creative, you get taught, you like get taught to not kind of get beaten out of you almost like you kind of forget that.
And then the second thing I'll say to those people is that there was there originally, and the number one factor in Being more creative is the desire to be more creative. So if you want it, you will be able to be more creative. Wow. I love that. And I think, you know, linking this to combating imposter feelings, right?
Like what is the story that you can retell around the value of being new at something or of learning something or overcoming fears, right? Like you talked about with the OSHA. Yeah. Such a great use case. There's so much you can do with this. Yeah. Well, and so let's segue into, you know, Leveraging this for building higher performing teams.
I mean, I think there's so many connections we can draw here, but you know, how do you see innovation driving higher performance in companies? Yeah, there's, there's a lot of ways to answer this. I think one maybe most valuable for your listeners is a practical example. It sort of ties to what we were talking about earlier as well, bringing people together, like we have those off team office hours is structuring after action reviews.
So I think it was a military term, but basically a lot of companies do that, right? They're like, Oh, like a postmortem. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. And, and so they'll, they'll debrief these, these things. Now, postmortem is, and after action review, like they basically follow four steps, like what, what did we think was going to happen?
What did happen? What went wrong? Like, what were the gaps between those first two? And then what lessons are we going to learn from that? And here's the tip for everyone listening is that unfortunately, the myth, the sort of the way that most people, and this has been, this was definitely been my experience in most of these that I do is you come up with this long list at the end of lessons.
And it's like, and so you spend a lot of time in steps three and four, where you're talking about like what went wrong and what, what did we learn? And what research has shown is that people should be spending up to 75 percent even more of their time, say, of an hour meeting at step two. In other words, building, like, really understanding what happened through stories.
Tell the story of what happened. Involve every single person that was involved in that project and get them to tell their side of the story. Don't skip over details. Don't skip over specific facts because that's what adds nuance and richness and, you know, storytelling to it. And it's through that process that all the, the lessons and basically you go from identifying a bunch of lists of lessons, which is not really that helpful to changing behavior.
Yeah. Which is very helpful. Absolutely. And that's how we connect back to the, to the better performance next time. I mean, I was in an awesome, you know, I think another word for it's retrospective, whatever we want to call it. Yeah. When I was at Google led by an engineering director and he structured it a little bit differently where he had, you kind of go around the.
circle three times with a group. You say first, you know, what went well, what could have gone better, which is where people do all the finger pointing. But the third one, the most important in this format was what will I personally do differently next time? And that was like the big unlock. moment because people got all their, you know, what they thought the other person did wrong in round two, but round three is where we saw the real change and the accountability show up.
And I think both in your example of that, you know, really diving into the story and then committing to action. When we have accountability, we have a sense of ownership and now we drive higher performance because we're able to take action on what we want to do next time. And that's why we have to, like you said, really understand the details, not gloss over it.
So we don't approach them to have the exact same problems happen again. But I think something that we can often forget is that personal accountability, which ends up helping everyone feel safe and comfortable to be accountable. And then it really shortcuts the planning process for the next time, because you've already signed up for and committed to resolving many of the issues that would keep slowing you down.
So that's where it really becomes a big time saver. So such a good point. I talk about these four horsemen of the work culture apocalypse and one of them Is the blame game and it's, it's so, it's probably one of the most important ones. If you've got that going on in your company, you've got a real problem because then all the problems are not surfaced.
Right. Then everyone's not taking, taking responsibility. Like you said. Yeah. That's such a key point. Yeah. And managers and leaders, you know, you set the tone so much by modeling, taking responsibility and by saying, Hey, let me start. Like, I realized I wasn't that clear with setting expectations or that I asked for.
A, you know, timeline that many folks said wasn't realistic. And I pushed for it anyway, and we didn't make it. And like, you know, the amount of which you can take personal responsibility, this is going to open the door for others to feel safe. If you open the door and say, Hey, everyone, you know, what went wrong here?
Tell me, you know, as you like, listen from, you know, afar, you're going to get surface level answers, right? You set the vulnerability threshold. So it's really important. Yeah. You've got to show mistakes are okay. Like that's the thing, right? Because otherwise you just, you will kill, you will stop learning in its tracks if you don't, if you don't make that okay.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Well, as we start to kind of wind down, I'd love to hear a little bit more about, you know, something that you're working on that you're excited to share with our audience. Yeah. So I think it's to me, this ability to innovate, it's going to be the most important. So I'm playing around with kind of the formulation of this, but it's sort of this idea of like a whole brain leader and how that may not be possible.
Like, I don't think anybody is capable of like being like really good, logically, analytically, really strong intellectually, or like. Creatively and like having that all in one brain, right? So the beauty of people were diverse and have these different strengths. I think what I'm most passionate about is seeing that at an organizational level.
What does whole brain leadership for an organization look like? So you look around your team and see like, what are people's strengths? And how do we leverage those to make the whole team, the whole system better? And so, yeah, that's a big part of it. I'm so excited about this idea of the story thinking, essentially the ability to think and story being a key to unlock that innovation thing.
I think the work you do on systems and process and all that is so important for that logical analytical side. And, you know, there's just so much you can do to get better and in all these different aspects that make the whole so much better. Yeah. I love that. And you know, to remind business owners out there that you don't have to and aren't really supposed to do all the things, you know, like, like what you say with bringing in, you know, folks that have really different strengths, really different ways of thinking, this is how you're going to innovate.
As we've talked about how you're going to scale faster and you know, why. diverse teams perform better is because we want to be kind of challenging our thinking. We don't want to be solving problems the same way forever. And so I think a lot of times, you know, maybe a business owner, you were the visionary, you had the ideas and you have this big picture, but you don't necessarily have the skills to translate it to how we're going to get there.
Or maybe you're feeling a little bit stuck on the managing people's side. We'll get support, right? That's why we would do what we do is because, you know, we understand. Stand that you're not supposed to do all the things. And when you find that support, that's how you're gonna be on that like, you know, acceleration rocket ship or whatever to get to where you wanna get.
Mm-hmm. And exactly. To not blame yourself and say like, you know, I need to do all of it. And that's actually a way to sort of stifle growth, you know, even if you wanna do all the things. Yeah. Yeah. Tell yourself a different story. You know, limiting beliefs can hold you back. I mean, I've done this myself, you know, it's like a, it's an ego thing.
It's a pride thing. You're like, I'll figure it out. But man, if I had learned earlier to just find people who are better than me at certain things, my business would have grown a lot quicker. Yeah. Totally. Well, before we wrap, you mentioned the four horsemen, you said blame and I was like, wait, people are going to want to hear what are the four horsemen of a team.
I shouldn't have said that because now I'm going to leave one of them out. Yeah. So the blame game, I'm going to have to give you a link because I don't want to butcher this. I've got an article and I'll send that to you. You can put it in the show notes. So anybody, yeah. Stay tuned. Look at the show notes.
Well, and also for the show notes, where can people get ahold of you if they want to? Yeah. So LinkedIn is the best place you can check out the link there. And yeah, I'm very, I love like And the best way to learn and the best way to build ideas is to do it in public and with others. So come join the conversation.
Yes. And highly recommend. Andrew's got great content. You put content out every day. So to definitely connect with him or follow him on LinkedIn. Anything you want to leave our listeners with before we wrap? Yeah. So I didn't mention as well that there's one other, we've got a course that people should check out that's free.
An email course. Yeah. Thanks for reminding me on that. So we're flipping the script on leadership. And so go to curiouslinelearning. com forward slash flip, and you'll check it out there. It's five days, five emails, and that's a really good way to kind of get into this like adaptive intelligence side of the brain.
But yeah, I mean, I would just say, you know, we go through cycles all the time. We have, you know, we go from stable, certain environments, just unstable, uncertain environments, often within the same day. And so we have to have systems and processes in place to have scaffolding. But if we're also not training our brain, which is it's infinitely capable of doing, we're not training our brain to come up with new ideas and constantly testing those ideas.
We're leaving so much potential on the table. So I would just encourage people to answer the question, you know, what's your story? Love that. Well, thank you so much for being here today. Really enjoyed our conversation and yes, everyone check out the show notes. I'll have all the links in there to find out more.
Amazing. Thank you, Lia.
That's all I have for today. Thank you so much for tuning in to the Managing Made Simple podcast, where my goal is to demystify the job of people management so that together we can make the workplace somewhere everyone can thrive. I always love to hear from you, so please reach out at Liagarvin.com or message me on LinkedIn. See you next time.