ET-009: Big Change with powerful talent solutions and a little TLC
ET-009: Big Change with powerful talent solutions and a little TLC
by Wayne Brown on August 23, 2022
by Wayne Brown on August 23, 2022
Episode notes: A conversation with Benny Ausmus
When it comes to selecting the right Talent for your organization you want a system, methodology, and process you can rely on. Similarly, as a Talent, you hope that those same components are fair and accurate to avoid the wrong fit.
For Talents, the days of taking the first job that is offered for fear of missing out altogether are hopefully behind us. Therefore, companies really need to be reinvigorating their approach to ensure they attract the right skills into the company for continued growth.
It was pleasing to have this recent conversation with Mr. Benny Ausmus, the founder of the Big Change Group, and to learn about the breakthrough technology they are using to support companies in this regard.
Benny is a wealth of knowledge on the subject and has a proven track record for implementing successful Talent Recruitment strategies.
To leverage a quote from Leonardo Da Vinci and as referred to in Benny’s book
“Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.”
Today’s Guest: MR. BENNY AUSMUS
In today’s episode, our guest is Mr. Benny Ausmus, an Organizational Development Coach and author of a book called The Transformational Leadership Compass, or TLC for short.
Benny is also the founder of the Big Change Group, a company that partners with visionary leaders to develop organizations of the future.
For over a decade, he has broken the mold of executive coaching and management consulting. Refusing to limit his methods to a one-size-fits-all formula, he approaches each new project by merging hard data with strategic development initiatives and tailoring bespoke transformation programs for companies, teams, and individuals using his dynamic TLC coaching system.
Benny works seamlessly with each leader’s individual strengths, challenges, and style to design, iterate, and execute powerful programs for improvement, growth, and exceptional ROI.
In the #1 Amazon best-selling book The Transformational Leadership Compass, he lays out this dynamic system of transformation to help leaders create the big changes required to adapt, thrive, and shape the future.
Benny Ausmus’s book – The Transformational Leadership Compass:
As a coach, I obsess about understanding the multitude of theories out there – whether they are related to psychology, neuroscience, leadership, or people in any way shape, or form. And being the host of this podcast gives me a great means to constantly expand my exposure and my knowledge.
In this instance, I was fascinated to read Benny’s book and explore his TLC model. It pulls together a number of the theories I’ve studied and a whole heap of others. Here’s what Benny had to say about the book during our conversation.
“I think the most succinct way I can explain it is it’s a mental operating system. It’s a compass that… Another feedback from the book is leaders were able to very quickly grasp how the model fits together, install it into their own thinking, and think through a whole variety of perspectives and considerations. That are balanced and that move the direction towards their vision or bigger goal.
So, what I’ve done is to synthesize a lot of best practice and good practice and brought it together and in something that it’s easy to remember and apply in the moment. So it’s a model that helps improve a leader’s ability to think in systems, through a taxonomy and a series of definitions that..”
They can… They already understand and they can bring together. So that’s a real intent to the model and you’re a hundred percent right on that. It’s difficult to walk through the whole thing without visuals. So, I’ll just gift the book…”
♦ The Transformational Leadership Compass: A Dynamic Coaching System for Creating Big Change
What You’ll Learn – an extract from Benny’s company website
A new way for Talent Assessment, Selection and Development. Benny Ausmus and the Big Change Group have partnered with a non-profit organization called Lectica to bring companies a breath of fresh air in this field. Their assessment platform moves away from the traditional approach and promises to revolutionize the way hiring is conducted.
Additionally, the Transformational Leadership Compass model is a tool that can be used to support the development Leadership capabilities.
Final words of wisdom from Benny:
“The world is getting more complex. Business is not getting simpler. It is getting more and more chaotic and complex as time goes on. We need to be well prepared to foster the thinking and nurture the talent that can respond and develop into people that can respond to the problems, and the opportunities of the future.
So, I really want to talk to people that are forward-thinking. They are into the idea of the future of work, but also keen to fix the future’s problems now because that’s the thinking that’s required. It requires us to take some action now. So that’s what I’ll leave you on. Fix it now. Fix later now!”
0:01:34.6 WB: And so I welcome you all to get ready for a 30 minute conversation between Benny Ausmus and I, as we discuss big change with powerful talent solutions and a little TLC.
0:01:50.9 Speaker 2: Welcome to the ET project, a podcast for those executive talents, determined to release their true potential and create an impact. Join our veteran coach and mentor Wayne Brown as we unpack an exciting future together.
0:02:05.1 WB: Alright, so welcome Benny Ausmus from the land down under, and I’m sitting in Melbourne at the moment. So, welcome to the ET project and today’s show. Great to have you on board. Thank you very much for sparing the time. Look forward to the conversation.
0:02:25.6 Benny Ausmus: Wayne. Thanks for having me, great to be here.
0:02:29.8 WB: I will like to kick off with asking if you have any fun facts that you share with your audience typically.
0:02:37.5 BA: Fun facts. Huh? I have a few fun facts.
0:02:43.9 WB: Okay.
0:02:45.7 BA: Let’s start with a little bit around what predicts someone’s performance in a role. We’ll keep it topical.
0:02:53.2 WB: Okay.
0:02:53.2 BA: And when we say facts, look, let’s define fact by the best science we have available. So these fun facts are based on a meta analysis of a hundred years of studies into predictive power of assessments and other criteria used in recruitment and selection.
0:03:15.8 WB: Okay.
0:03:16.3 BA: Let’s jump right in. So here’s some fun facts. People’s years of job experience predicts less than 3% of role performance variants.
0:03:29.4 WB: So I’m just digesting that. So what does that mean in terms of an individual during their career?
0:03:37.4 BA: Well, I’m not sure, but here’s what we know when we look at someone’s success within a role and how they perform within that role. And we look at what predicts that ahead of time. If we’re looking at all of these different factors, how long they’ve been in a role before predicts less than 3%. So it’s a very poor predictor of how they’re gonna go in a future role.
0:03:58.1 WB: Right.
0:04:00.0 BA: Now we could make some inferences about that, which wouldn’t be facts. There would be educated guesses.
0:04:06.4 WB: Yes.
0:04:06.4 BA: But we can branch off into that territory if you like. It could be due to this phenomenon of not having a new year of learning every year, having one year of learning and then the same here year-on-year.
0:04:22.0 WB: That’s Right.
0:04:23.8 BA: It could be due to learning and development ability and somebody’s ability to continue to learn and grow. But what we know and we know this far from Schmidt O and Shafer’s work in 2016, but when we’re trying to decide who should be picked for a role, how long they’ve done the role in the past, the job experience and years only tells us about 3% of the predictive power.
0:04:52.2 WB: That’s very interesting for this…
0:04:52.4 BA: Another…
0:04:53.7 WB: That’s gonna open the door for us in our conversations, we delve into the tools and platforms and way that you are running an organization, for sure. I’m interested to dig a little bit deeper on that.
0:05:07.2 BA: Yeah. I was just gonna add another, fact onto that. And again this is from a meta-analysis, which are always in question and the literature is always being, reviewed. This is just the best set of facts we have at the moment.
0:05:22.0 WB: Right.
0:05:23.0 BA: And I’m lucky enough to work with brilliant scientists who will always look for the truth. That’s what a good scientist does be prepared to revise what is taken for granted, as we learn and grow, but the best predictor we’ve got as to whether someone will work out and be effective and perform in a role is general mental ability, their ability to think and to reason. That predicts up to 42% of role performance variants. So fun facts, Wayne that’s a… It’s a…
0:05:57.6 WB: Very nice.
0:05:58.5 BA: Good a place as any to kick off.
0:06:00.9 WB: Very nice… Very, very nice start, thank you Benny. Another question is, anything exciting you out there in the world at the moment?
0:06:10.3 BA: Absolutely, what I’m most excited about is working with research institutes that have finally got technology to a point where we’re able to open up opportunities for role application at scale, we’re able to look at people’s real world decision making and reasoning ability. On mass we can give everybody a fair go to try out and to help them find roles that match and meet them where they’re up to. Whereas historically, we could only do this for very, very few people at a very, very high cost. I’m super excited because what we can do now is embrace true equal opportunity in terms of who gets picked, who we consider for different roles, what appropriate roles are to help people grow and that fuels our mission of changing the way that people work together and organizations are built.
0:07:10.9 WB: Sure.
0:07:11.5 BA: This is a major breakthrough. And I’m super excited about this ’cause that it will quite literally change the world.
0:07:16.9 WB: The big vision. You mentioned the ability to look at scale. Can you explain that a little bit deeper? What do you mean by that?
0:07:28.9 BA: Yeah, so we’re very much in the realm of recruitment and selection and changing the way that that’s done, because we believe it’s fundamentally flawed. It’s full of bias. It’s at the best of times, guess work and network. So for many years to accurately measure and assess how well somebody makes decisions, faces real world problems, reasons, and passes judgment, we’d have to have a person writing a long formal assessment demonstrating their ability to think, and then we would need several very well trained analysts to go through that information, map it to a well-validated scale. And the whole thing was very expensive, very time consuming, and reserved only for right at the end of the decision making process.
0:08:20.6 WB: Yes.
0:08:20.9 BA: What we can do now is automate that process through a scoring system that allows us to assess as many people as we want and help guide them into roles that they’re gonna thrive in. We can make an enormous difference to the way we structure teams and organizations and beyond.
0:08:41.4 WB: Excellent. We’ll probably get into this a little bit deeper, so I’ll come back and probe a little bit more [chuckle] as we go forward, if that’s okay. But perhaps the last question, before we move into looking at your organization and getting into those topics, you have a quite diverse background, a very interesting background. I’m wondering, is there anything particular over the span of your career that sort of stands out that would be of interest do you think for our listeners who are primarily the executive talents that you are involved with? You’d like to share?
0:09:16.6 BA: Yeah, well, look, I’ve spent 14 years or so working in leadership and organizational development with companies of all shapes and sizes and helping them design and work through transformation process. So a whole of business transformation, and in doing so, I… I’m not an academic. I’m a practitioner. I would take the best practices we could, bring them together, teach, educate, and facilitate the process, so in doing that, I decided to codify it into a book that I wrote, The Transformational Leadership Compass. That was a mechanism to be able to codify my knowledge and then have more serious conversations with scientists and academics and researchers in this field. And where we’re up to now is working through ways to optimize who we choose, how we build structures to enable transformation and big change to occur. So career highlights, we’re running transformational change programs for companies like Chobani Yogurt. But also publishing something that allowed me to share that with clients and executives that are facing challenges and big changes, and giving them a resource they could draw upon that we can now measure and codify with the scientific instruments. So I’m happy to make that available to anyone that reaches out to you for this. We’ll just send you a copy. It’ll be good to share that more broadly with your executive network.
0:10:52.5 WB: That’ll be fantastic, thank you. Thank you for that. Well, given that you’ve already introduced the book, let’s just probe a little bit deeper on the book itself for the moment. So and the book title again is The Transformational Leadership Compass, the subtitle, A Coaching System For Creating Big Change. Now I understand you’re a coach yourself?
0:11:13.9 BA: Indeed. Yeah, look I’ve been coaching for 12, 13 years now in various forms. I began working with sales teams when I was coaching and helping teams in a storming and forming phase to get to the point of high performance. So I was a high performance coach for quite some time, then through some great mentors, I started learning about leadership and old coaching, helping organizations define their value systems and constructs, helping leaders improve their communication style and engage hearts and minds of people along in the journey, and really got my 10,000 hours practicing and working through problems with leaders who are often far more senior than me.
0:12:03.7 WB: Yeah.
0:12:04.8 BA: But at the heart of this practice is learning how to ask the right question at the right time to clarify the right pattern and strategy. So in building that I became very interested in developmental coaching and what actual adult development means on an individual level for the leader, but also in terms of an organizational living learning system. And that’s really been my, I guess my practice for the last five years or so it has been going quite deep into developmental coaching and how that can affect systemic change through individual leaders.
0:12:41.4 WB: Okay, great. Would you like to introduce the book itself?
0:12:45.6 BA: Yeah. Look, I think the most succinct way I can explain it is it’s a mental operating system. It’s a compass that… Another feedback from the book is leaders were able to very quickly grasp how the model fits together, install it into their own thinking, and think through a whole variety of perspectives and considerations. That are balanced and that move the direction towards their vision or bigger goal. So what I’ve done is to synthesize a lot of best practice and good practice and brought it together and in something that it’s easy to remember and apply in the moment. So it’s a model that helps improve a leader’s ability to think in systems, through a taxonomy and a series of definitions that…
0:13:36.8 WB: Yes.
0:13:37.2 BA: They can… They already understand and they can bring together. So that’s a real intent to the model and you’re a hundred percent right on that. It’s difficult to walk through the whole thing without visuals. So, I’ll just gift the book…
0:13:51.1 BA: To anyone that wants it. I’m happy to do that. [laughter]
0:13:54.1 WB: Excellent. Thank you. Yeah, look, I would say I would throw in there, that it’s also very useful for coaches. I’m a coach myself and also I grew up with Ken Wilber and his integral model, et cetera. And, you use that as part of your landscape for the compass dissecting. So it resonated very strongly with me as well. And I can imagine lots of coaches would feel the same way.
0:14:21.3 BA: Yeah, I was just gonna add a hundred percent for coaches. It… Great coaching is as we were discussing before, it’s the right question at the right time to elicit the right clarity and understanding. And one thing this book off is a very well balanced set of questions that can allow you to think in terms of what’s missing from the conversation or the consideration and prompt those questions with a client in leadership development. So hats off to Ken as well. He was one of the many inspirations for this model and he is duly referenced there, but I really do like the idea of coaches taking this, running with it and integrating it into their own practice in their own way, I yeah. Wholeheartedly support that.
0:15:15.9 WB: Let’s transition a little bit here and talk about the big change group, your organization. And some of the things that you’re doing the group itself is about talent recruitment and development. So as you indicated a little bit earlier you’re working on some projects at the moment that have the potential to really reshape the industry as a whole. Right. So would you like to expand on that a little bit further, or?
0:15:46.7 BA: Yeah, this is really exciting for how we approach the whole field of human resources. And although I do not like the term human capital, it’s quite often what’s used to explain the capabilities, capacities and currency of people’s skill within the workforce. So essentially if we wanna reshape and optimize any system, we have to optimize the system of measurement. So what we’re really working day in day out on at the moment is revolutionising the way that we approach assessment for selection, for recruitment, for development, for restructuring, and working with our partners at lectica.org, who are an amazing not for profit out of Massachusetts with a very impressive academic lineage and really at the leading edge of assessment technology. We’re working with them to bring this team to disrupt and reform recruitment practices, to rebuild and quantify and measure developmental coaching programs, to help companies that are restructuring and rebuilding, get the levels and layers and complexity of the challenges match to the role with the right people.
0:16:55.2 BA: And we’re taking a very pragmatic and empirical approach to this by working with some of the world’s best and brightest. So that’s what’s got us working around the clock at the moment, Wayne and it’s… I haven’t seen anything like this in my whole career or anything that comes close to what we are now able to do with assessing real world ability and then building that with people based on where they’re at and what they can learn next. It is a hundred percent a groundbreaking change that we’re gonna see in the industry.
0:17:54.1 WB: Excellent. I had a look at your website and you also have a new video on YouTube, which is… Does a very good job of explaining, I guess, the overall process of what big change group is all about and what you’re doing here. So we’ll link in our show notes to both the site and the YouTube video, but I’d recommend if you wanna get a bit more clarity around what we’re talking about today, to have a look at the video, it’s very nicely edited and presents the picture very nicely. If you don’t mind, I’d like to go a bit deeper now on the talent solution approach itself and, the LECTICA platform, I’m sure you’re leveraging a lot of the benefits from that.
0:18:43.0 BA: Yeah, it’s 100% new in terms of what the industry’s used to but the Lectica system is not. I mean, it comes out of a 100 year old lineage it goes back to John Peter J and Lawrence Kohlberg, and the cast of developmental theorists have led to this. So…
0:19:07.9 WB: Right.
0:19:09.1 BA: People often look at this and go, “Wow. That’s a new shiny thing.” And it’s like, well, there is a very, very deep and well respected lineage with this. Why it seems so new in the market is because now we’re able to assess this at scale. And that is a real breakthrough. Look, essentially where we are working with assessments that allow us to determine the sophistication of someone’s real world ability, mental ability and skill and the development of those skills in the most optimal way.
0:19:48.5 WB: Right.
0:19:50.9 BA: So to be able to do that, we’re not using multiple choice. Everyone else is using multiple choice. We’re not using surveys or item banks. There are not right and wrong answers. It is not about memorisation or knowing what to say or social desirability indexes. We are assessing long-form written responses to real world dilemmas with no right answer. And what we’re looking at is how well the person thinks, reasons, and decides when faced with real world problems. And that’s the distinction here. That’s what we wanna know. Can somebody meet the complexity demands of the role? Can someone stay engaged and learn in that role and can someone progress in their career at a level that meets them where they’re at? So this is very different to everything else that’s out there. And that’s part of our challenge why we need to bring this to a market that has typically been bombarded by multiple choice and personality inventories, and a range of psychometrics that’s just pale in comparison to what we’re doing with this technology.
0:21:02.3 WB: Right. And if my very limited understanding of the platform was correct, as you mentioned it gives you the ability to assess, to select and then develop. And I think the development part for me was quite interesting, that you’re able to gauge at this early stage about the development needs of those people.
0:21:27.8 BA: Yeah. Well, so this idea of zones of proximal development, which came from Vygotsky, and we all know the comfort zone, challenge zone, chaos zone, math, as coaches where we use this. We’re able to really see what are the current skills being demonstrated by somebody in this assessment. And what’s outside of those skills, what is… What are we best place to work on next? And creating a robust plan that meets people where they’re at and helps them learn the way their brains are designed to learn for the next advancement of their skill.
0:22:07.7 WB: Right.
0:22:08.2 BA: I think too many L&D programs, too many coaching programs are using guesswork or one-size-fits-all to suggest what somebody should work on. And that there’s problems with that. People either are overwhelmed or bored a lot of the time. So when we talk about really the sweet spot or the proximal development zone, having a metric and having a way of being able to determine that helps us design curriculums and coaching interventions with really well-informed accuracy, not to mention we can measure their progress, which is a holy grail for coaches a lot of the time that are… We are asked to really show the numbers behind it. And it’s very hard to attribute whole of business outcomes with a whole bunch of complexity behind it, did the coach make this happen? Well, it’s still hard measuring complexity, but at least we have a measure of progress that we can tie to how we’re developing people. And that’s pretty powerful to be able to show that and to be able to monitor and guide progress along that journey.
0:23:22.2 WB: Absolutely. And I can imagine the HR professionals and leaders as well would be delighted to have some sort of means of measuring, as you say, as well, taking a lot of the guesswork out is often the biggest challenge.
0:23:38.9 BA: Yeah. Well there… There’s that, and then there’s also crappy measurement as well, which can be even more difficult to contend with. So without going into an analysis of what’s great and what’s not measuring what it claims to measure, I could just put forward this question, is the… Are the instruments you are using in HR, and people development, do they actually measure what they claim to measure and that… That’s worth diving into on an individual organizational level. It’s like, okay, okay, does that stack up? Because if that’s gonna inform some of the most important decisions you’ve got around who to put in charge of making other decisions, what… Where to focus on when you’re helping someone grow, who’s in a position of power or even a frontline position or a role, who gets the job. These are major, major decisions. And we really need to use the best metrics measures and science and the best nurturing and taking care of the individual through the process as well. So I’m really spending a ton of time bringing this to the market in a way that attempts to educate and to share these best practices. Because I care deeply about how it’s used.
0:24:58.2 WB: Let’s hope you have some success with this. When I listen to what we’re talking about, I’m mindful of the fact that most of our listeners are the people that you are talking about doing the assessment, with, [chuckle] right. And I’m wondering, what’s the message here for them around what you’re doing and what the platform brings. Could you share anything on that?
0:25:23.3 BA: Well, your audience are executive leaders in business. So I guess the core message here is leaders make decisions. That’s what we will be judged on, that’s what we need to put forward as our case, as our judgment call to the world, and our ability to make decisions, there is… Behind that, there is a process of thinking reasoning considering aligning and coordinating perspectives, being able to hone that sword to be able to make an executive decision, the best possible decision with… In the midst of chaos and complexity in the world we’re in. So here’s the message, we’re able to determine, first of all, how complex a decision maker you are. We’re able to determine what skills you are exhibiting and showing virtuosity around in your decision making. And we’re able to put forward very accurate recommendations on what skills in decision making you can build to improve your ability to think, reason and decide, which is ultimately your most important competency or set of competencies as a leader.
0:26:48.0 BA: We can actually take a lot of the guesswork out of that and put together a development plan that’s designed to advance your decision making power, to advance your ability to make those calls and to improve the leadership ability. So the message is, look. If you are a leader that is of a growth mindset and always improving and looking to constantly get to the next level. We… You should consider looking at this technology for your own development and certainly for your organization’s development.
0:27:25.5 WB: So people can approach you from an individual perspective as well, not only through the organization?
0:27:32.1 BA: Yeah. Yeah.
0:27:32.9 WB: Okay, great. So I’m conscious of the time and we’ll segue in a moment to any key takeaways, but is there anything additional related to the book or related to your organization that you would like to mention before we move away from this topic?
0:27:53.8 BA: I think I would just restate the point. Leaders make decisions. The most important decisions we make are the decision to allow others to make decisions and the consequences that stream from that thinking create the success or the mess around us. So let’s get serious about this and let’s really dig into what are the gaps in our organizational decision making process? What are the gaps in our talent? Who do we need in what role to be able to do this effectively, to thrive as a living system? We can measure that and we could advise on that in a very pragmatic way. So if that is of interest, we should talk.
0:28:37.2 WB: Absolutely, excellent.
0:28:37.7 BA: There you go, that’s my thinking. How did I… I hope you heard good.
0:28:41.1 WB: It sounded good. We’ll see if there’s any takers, but look, I think the work you’re doing sounds incredible. Is there another book coming out of Benny or is there any future plans to digress with the area you’re focused on at the moment?
0:29:01.8 BA: We will be putting together a… I hope a white paper on the power of this methodology, not just for prediction of role performance variants, but also inclusivity and equal opportunity and fairness. So I’m really lucky to work with some incredibly bright researchers and scientists at Lectica. So I hope the next thing that we put out or Lectica puts out will address this massive issue that, again, lacks any clarity of measurement. In terms of writing another book on leadership, the next one I do, gosh, I don’t… I’m scared of putting a date on it Wayne ’cause I did that last time.
0:29:51.3 BA: And it worked, but gosh. I think it’ll certainly be something I co-author with colleagues next time around. So I could even put the call out that if there are researchers in the space of leadership development that do wanna talk about publications, co-authoring, that kind of thing. I’m also open to those conversations.
0:30:12.6 WB: Alright. And that’s a beautiful lead in to where will people connect with you? What links would we show in the notes?
0:30:21.3 BA: Yes. Thank you. And hey, thanks for the opportunity to promote this as well. We’re always out there working to share this in the world. So I appreciate that. You can reach me on LinkedIn, Benny Ausmus. We will put the link down there. So I’m really happy to connect on LinkedIn, bigchange.group is the a website and you can find us there as well. And yeah, that’s the best way to connect or you can hit me up on LinkedIn and we can arrange a meeting if you are… If you wanna talk, I’m very happy to do that.
0:31:00.9 WB: Alright, we’ll put it into the show notes and let people get some access. So final question, perhaps any other key takeaways?
0:31:11.0 BA: Yep. The world is getting more complex. Business is not getting simpler. It is getting more and more chaotic and complex as time goes on. We need to be well prepared to foster the thinking and nurture the talent that can respond and develop into people that can respond to the problems, the opportunities of the future. So I really wanna talk to people that are forward thinking. They are into the idea of future of work, but also keen to fix the future’s problems now because that’s the thinking that’s required. It requires us to take some action now. So that’s what I’ll leave you on. Fix it now. Fix later now, Wayne.
0:32:01.7 WB: Benny, thank you very much for our conversation today. It’s been very enlightening. I really look forward to following the progress that you and Lectica are making. Like you say it’s a new world out there with some of the things that you are working on. And I really look forward to observing how that pans out. So all the best.
0:32:28.4 BA: Wonderful. Thank you so much, Wayne. Appreciate your time and you, mate.
0:32:33.2 Speaker 2: Thank you for joining us on the ET Project, a show for executive talent development until next time, check out our site for free videos, eBooks webinars, and blogs at coaching4companies.com.