NxJumpers + Family & Friends,
Our intent with this “Co-CEO Update” was to give you a sampling of what crosses our desk/ our calendars, every 2 months. Our desk and our calendars look like bombs went off. We haven’t been able to get to this newsletter until now. So here goes but with what’s happened at Next Jump, through our eyes, over the last 3 months…
20th Century vs 21st Century – #1 asset changed from machine to people. Talent is the top predictor of future success. Organizations with the ability to attract, retain and develop talent, are the ones that will win. In short…
Strength of TEAM –> Size of MISSION
- CONTEXT – Why does it matter? The design of an organization from the 20th Century to 21st Century [culture & setup of environment]
- BETA CLIENTS – 1st of three large enterprises to redesign for the 21st Century [Navy, Air Force, Fidelity]
- PENTAGON TASK FORCE – helping the Secretary and the Chief of the Air Force [NxJ Co-CEOs part of 7 person “Red Team”]
- ONSITE VISIT w/ AIR FORCE – 2 day visit to San Antonio TX [7 NxJumpers]
- ONSITE VISIT w/ NAVY – 2 day visit to Millington TN [8 NxJumpers]
- TEACHING OTHERS: DoD + GCHQ – NxJ Leadership Academy for the Military and UK’s CIA [~100 attendees & VIP observers]
- TEACHING OTHERS: MCWAR – NxJ Leadership Academy for Marine Corps War College [30 attendees]
- TEACHING OTHERS: DDO Harvard Conference – Tom and Greg as keynote speakers at annual DDO conference
- HIRING in the 21st Century – “interviews no longer work”
- RECOGNITION on Culture – UK NxJ wins best culture award
- DATA on RETENTION: Tenureship at Top10 Tech vs Next Jump – the punchline: in order to attract and retain talent, one has to learn to develop talent first
- COACHING TIPs – Children Learning Center = Adult Learning Center [understanding problems and solutions]
CONTEXT – Why does it matter? The design of an organization from the 20th Century to 21st Century
[culture & setup of environment]
Almost every organization is still designed for success in the 20th century. We’ve had the fortune of helping and seeing inside thousands of organizations, from every industry, as they approached us for help through our culture tours, leadership academies and 1-on-1 meetings. The most common phrase we hear: “What used to work, doesn’t work anymore.” David Rose who runs the largest angel investor network in New York City said it best:
I met David Rose many years ago, we shared a passion in mentoring, then served on the selection committee for NYC’s largest mentorship program: Venture Fellows. In this 18 min talk on Innovations in Capital Formation (David Rose), he shares some great market data on how the world is changing as it moves into the 21st Century.
OUR PREDICTION: year 2020 is when all “hell will break loose”. Without upgrading for the 21st century, bankruptcy, closures…the head of strategy at the CIA said: “The greatest challenge we are facing as a business, frankly, is that our business environment is changing much more rapidly than our ability to adapt. In nature, this sort of thing leads to extinction.”
BIOLOGY explains why we are where we are today:
Education and Work are closely linked. In fact public schools were created to train people for work. However the innovation occurs at the tip of the spear [Work], and the type of talent needed at work, is then translated and trained through education. In 1750, King Frederick the Great from Prussia, to build loyal SUBJECTS to the king, created public schools with two driving principles: Isolation & Fear. Then in 1920 (note: 20% into the 20th century), public school was upgraded with two new principles: Compliance and Uniformity, in order to train the best assembly line workers [FOLLOWERS]. We predict in 2020, education will once again upgrade for the needs of the 21st century information age. However, this time, work doesn’t need followers [AI is taking over any repetitive task that doesn’t need “thinking”], it needs LEADERS.
The early signals of what is required for any organization to succeed in the 21st Century: (1) Decision Making + (2) Rate of Learning. The better they are in making the right decisions/ the right judgment calls + the better they are in learning, the sum of these individuals (TEAM) allows an organization to attack bigger and bigger MISSIONS.
Strength of TEAM –> Size of MISSION
BETA CLIENTS – 1st of three large enterprises to redesign for the 21st Century
[Navy, Air Force, Fidelity]
We have started with 3 BETA clients (read: the first large enterprise-wide effort from Next Jump): Navy (600K+ employees), Air Force (600K+ employees) and Fidelity (40K+ employees). Our goal is to help make material change within 6-9 months. These organizations are too big, to move too slow. Our waitlist for Large Enterprises is growing by the day. As we move out of BETA, our team in parallel has been building relationships to train an army of consulting firms, on how to design and build programs into everyday activities. NxJ would provide the 21st Century HR software.
We have gobs of research coming our way combined with “in practice” mistakes, lessons and insights. A key insight we are adopting from evolutionary biology:
Lesson from evolutionary biology that the most successful adaptive changes in nature are conservative in which 98% of the DNA tends to be preserved and there’s a change in the remaining 2%, which gives the species new capacities that allows it to survive and thrive.
Finding that right 2% within the Navy, Air Force and Fidelity…that is the work we are doing and moving fast. Proof will be in the adoption. We are doing onsite visits, coaching leaders at every level and going as far as exploring externships of 2 NxJumpers (TP: training partners) to work onsite at our BETA clients. [picture NxJumpers spending a few months with the Navy SEALs, top AF bases, etc]
PENTAGON TASK FORCE – helping the Secretary and the Chief of the Air Force
[NxJ Co-CEOs part of 7 person “Red Team”]
The Secretary of the Air Force (Dr. Heather Wilson) along with General David Goldfein (AF Chief of Staff) assembled a “Red Team” of 7 individuals as the last stage of a year-long initiative to observe, interview, research and recommend ways to revitalize the AF Squadrons (~200 avg size, the team building block of the AF). The Red Team was the last checkpoint before presenting to the heads of the AF. We spent 2 days in the last week of November, holed up in the Pentagon in intense discussions. By day 2, Meghan and I were leading the implementation/execution strategies to help leverage all our learned techniques gathered from both within the NxJ Lab and also from thousands of other orgs we’ve helped over the last decade.
ON-SITE VISIT w/ AIR FORCE – 2 day visit to San Antonio TX
[7 NxJumpers w/ Air Force HR (AFPC) + Education (AETC)]
Mid-November, a team of 7 NxJumpers spent two days immersed in the details of how the Air Force hires, trains, promotes, recognizes, develops talent. Each of the two-star generals that run the AFPC (AF Personnel Center) and AETC (Air Education & Training Command) had attended NxJ’s 3-day Leadership Academy only a few weeks ago. They hosted our team and helped us observe, probe and better understand how we can help bring the AF to the needs of the 21st Century.
ON-SITE VISIT w/ NAVY – 2 day visit to Millington TN
[8 NxJumpers w/ Navy Personnel Center]
Mid-October, a team of 8 NxJumpers spent two days immersed in the details of how the Navy operates, similar to the AF. The similarities and the differences between the two organizations (Navy vs Air Force), especially when contrasted with different industries: Finance, Technology, etc. are helping us see patterns and connections faster.
TEACHING OTHERS: DoD + GCHQ – NxJ Leadership Academy for the Military and UK’s CIA
[~100 attendees & VIP observers]
Nov 1-3 were crazy days at Next Jump at a global level. We hosted close to 100 attendees + VIP observer guests to our 3-day Leadership Academy. The NYC and Boston offices hosted leaders from all services of the U.S. Military (DoD). The UK office hosted leaders from GCHQ (UK’s equivalent of the CIA).
At the end of the 3 days, the attendees and VIP observers share with all NxJumpers their takeaways…they had the room in laughter and tears for nearly an hour:
Highlights of Academy Reflections (NY office) [12 min video]
A new addition to the Leadership Academy was a team exercise workshop. The most stressful part of it is to “kick ass” while being judged by NxJumpers and guests hovering over them. Through this stress, a true score of “WHO YOU ARE” came out for every individual. Within a few hours, they were given 1-page reports of their individual anonymous feedback, score and detail. This was followed by a “Receiving Feedback” coaching exercise with senior NxJ leaders. The more senior the individual, they were most surprised and often most resistant to the feedback. As evidenced by research:
We know people are not speaking up in organizations. Not sharing their real views and perspectives. Particularly to those higher-up in the organizational hierarchy. Yet we know that upward information flow is critical for organizational health, and diverse, multiple points of views are essential for effective organizational decision making (well supported by research).
Many of the star’d generals initial reaction was: “This isn’t mine, must have been mixed with someone else’s report”. It required going back home, showing the exercise to others (including spouses) before recognizing how little “Truth” they often see/ hear. In every organization, we have heard “Junior people do not feel safe to bring up xyz…”. The Navy’s senior most enlisted MCPON Steve Giordano also noted: “There are people who have courage in the virtual environment. We have to be ok with it.” The Feedback App is the technology that helps “Giving Feedback”.
* Our next 3-Day Leadership Academy is for EDUCATION end of January 2018
Attendees include leaders from: Parsons, Kipp, Harvard, Duke, TNAA, Avenues, PS119, Suchi, Zeta Charter, Montana State, Struthers City, Nurtury, Jayati, Emmanual College and more
We also have a long waitlist in the case of cancellations. If you have anyone that you think might be appropriate to attend or be a VIP Observer, please let us know: Wed-Fri: Jan 31 to Feb 2. They have to cover Travel, NxJ covers all else (all meals, sleep/exercise classes, etc).
TEACHING OTHERS: MCWAR – NxJ Leadership Academy for Marine Corps War College
Next Jump has been included as the final stop of a week-long industry tour done annually by MCWAR. An amazing group to teach and we were told that Next Jump was the clear favorite and highlight of their tour.
“We will have 30 Students, made up of 4 Army, 4 Air Force, 4 interagency, 3 International fellows, 1 Coast Guard, 1 Navy and the remainder will be Marines. all will be in the Grade of Colonel or Lieutenant Colonel or GS15. In addition we will have about 5 of the instructors. The international fellows we are expecting a South Korean Marine, A French officer and an Indian Officer.
Just so you have context we will also be visiting J Walter Thompson, Goldman Sachs, The United Nations Peace Keeping Operations folks, and the FBI CT Task Force.”
TEACHING OTHERS: DDO Harvard Conference
Tom and Greg as keynote speakers at annual DDO conference
Tom and Greg were a hit and well received at the annual Harvard DDO: deliberately developmental organization conference. Many of the attendees had attended a NxJ Leadership Academy and had adopted several of our practices. References to TPs (training partners), SWs (situational workshop coaching) and much more were heard throughout the conference.
HIRING in the 21st Century – “interviews no longer work”
[October Super Saturday, 1 of 2 Recruiting Events at Next Jump]
Approximately 50 of the brightest and most humble engineers and business candidates interviewed as the final step of becoming a NxJumper. A few thousand applicants are narrowed into this list of the top 50, creating only two entry points into Next Jump: October and March Super Saturdays.
The lessons we have learned in HIRING:
Stage 1: Competence + Humility – screening for stunningly brilliant and driven individuals + those that also have humility, led to “strength of team”. Competence was the trait that led to action, led to getting things done. However, humility was the trait that led to learning and growth, understanding mistakes and being open minded to the ideas of others.
Stage 2: Collaboration + Coachability – this October was our first Super Saturday where we removed most interviews and replaced them with exercises to test an individual’s ability to work in teams and then receive feedback and try again (same day) and demonstrate improvement. We found in the data, almost every interview question can be memorized and prepared in advance. The information age has shown us that within hours and days, every question we ask is published with answers on the internet.
RECOGNITION on Culture – UK NxJ wins best culture award
Our UK team attended a ceremony where we were short listed in several categories and took home the Best Culture Award for businesses under 250 employees.
DATA on RETENTION: Tenureship at Top10 Tech vs Next Jump
[the punchline: in order to attract and retain talent, one has to learn to develop talent first]
Turnover is high in tech. Engineers have been some of the most sought after in almost every industry, akin to professional sports athletes. Most tech companies have used a combination of cash, equity and perks to attract and retain talent. As seen in the tables below, NxJ tenureship is 3-4x the industry average. As we move up in leadership levels (level 1 = newest, level 5 = most senior), the results are even greater. We found years ago, the key to hiring and retaining talent is to DEVELOP talent well. When organizations build developmental cultures, where the “rate of learning” increases over time, the #1 asset in the 21st century: People, gravitates towards the cultures/ the enterprises that increase and “appreciate the value” of the asset fastest and highest.
COACHING TIPs – Children Learning Center = Adult Learning Center
[understanding problems and solutions]
Meghan and I spend our time coaching 3 different types of people: children, NxJ employees, Air Force [other external] leaders. Although they may seem different, they are the same. The same patterns show up in all 3 audiences, both in challenges (how things fail?) as well as solutions (designing the environment, implementing “brilliant in the basics” w/ consistent rituals). The biggest mistakes are often to solve the SYMPTOMS vs getting to the ROOT CAUSES. This is the only way to permanently upgrade human beings.
Two ways our brain is wired: (1) To do the right thing + (2) To protect ourselves. These two things are often at odds with each other. The latter ends up winning, removing our ability to “think” and our primitive brain (fight or flight) quickly takes over. To make matters worse, we build “bad brain habits” that we believe protect us. Harvard’s research team called it: Doing the 2nd Job of trying to look good. Meghan called it: LHF – lying/hiding/faking.
This diagram below, best depicts what happens as things go wrong. Entering the “Dark swamp of despair” is where everything goes wrong.
In the above diagram, the red line represents ~half the swamp, where we get yanked out (someone intervenes, we more often convince someone to intervene). The half we don’t see, is the demon in our heads. In any horror movie, the demon we don’t see is far scarier…until we see the actual demon and often say: “oh, isn’t as scary as I thought”. For all you Star Wars fans, in Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker had to face his greatest fear, Darth Vader. Master Yoda sends Luke into the cave to face his fear. Luke sees Darth Vader and cuts off his head. He then pulls off Darth Vader’s mask and sees his own face. The demon, his fear, is himself.
Our good friend Brene Brown says: “The purpose is not to construct a home and live there [in the swamp]. It’s to put on some galoshes and walk through, and find your way around [spend time in it].”
We have found, how we deal with the SWAMP is the ROOT CAUSE to most human challenges. Both Child/Student/Mentee/Junior Leader + Adult/Teacher/Coach/Senior Leader have to:
PROBLEM – (1) “Dial Down” rewarding the wrong behavior
SOLUTION – (2) “Dial Up” time to process and get to the right behavior
Said another way (from the POV of who you are, we’ve often been on both sides):
Children/ Student/ Mentee/ Junior Leader:
- Avoidance Response – dial down rewarding avoidance responses. For instance, when a child tantrums and gets their way, it builds a “bad brain habit”. As kids and adults grow older, we see increasingly clever and more mischievous ways to LHF.
- Appropriate Response – dial up the time (identify the environments and space for patience) so that they can learn to self regulate.
Adult/ Teacher/ Coach/ Senior Leader:
- Intervene Too Early – dial down jumping in, ending the time in the swamp too soon.
- Space to Fail – identify and create spaces for experiments (experiments by definition fail 90%+). Allow people to make “Investments in Loss” (smart self-drive acts in something difficult).
As we head into 2018, we hope our experiences in 2017 make each and every one of us stronger and more resilient in our ability to deal with life’s swamps. And in turn, learn the skills to navigate our way out and ultimately to success.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
CK & MM