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    George Talks Business with Ashley Goodall
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    ASBN: Nine Lies about Work, and how to expose the strengths of your team
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    Cheddar: Is Everything You Know About Work Culture a Lie
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    BNN Bloomberg: The truths and lies about what makes a workplace work
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Learn More About Ashley Goodall

Ashley Goodall is a leadership expert, consultant, and author who has spent his career exploring large organizations from the inside. He looks for the lessons from the real world that help people and teams thrive, and that make work a more human place for all of the humans in it.  

Goodall is the co-author, with Marcus Buckingham, of “Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World” (Harvard Business Review Press, 2019), which was selected as the best management book of 2019 by strategy+business and as one of Amazon’s best business and leadership books of 2019. He is also the co-author of two cover stories in the Harvard Business Review: “The Feedback Fallacy” (March/April 2019) — which was Harvard Business Review’s most popular article of 2019 — and “Reinventing Performance Management” (April 2015). Goodall’s work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Forbes, Business Insider, and Inc. Magazine. His latest book is “The Problem with Change: And the Essential Nature of Human Performance” (Little, Brown Spark, May 2024). 

Goodall’s first experiences of teams and leadership were as a student musician and conductor. He was fascinated by the unspoken understanding between people playing together and carried this fascination into the corporate world. He most recently spent six years as a Senior Vice President of HR at Cisco, where he led organizations focused on leadership, on teams, and on research, and which have taken on some of the most challenging questions about work. What is special about the best teams? Why do we follow one leader and not another? How can we measure our experience at work reliably? Of the things that we can measure at work, which matter most? And how can we take what matters most and embed it into our people, practices and systems?

Prior to Cisco, Goodall spent fourteen years at Deloitte as a consultant and as the Chief Learning Officer for Leadership and Professional Development. 

The new approaches Goodall has pioneered address everything from performance management, to feedback, to team engagement technology, to real-time team intelligence, to social network mapping, to strengths-based leadership — and together these challenge much of the conventional wisdom of work today.

Ashley Goodall is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Ashley Goodall was last modified: February 20th, 2024 by Justin Louis

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The Problem With Change: And the Essential Nature of Human Performance

Ever since the publication of Clayton Christensen’s “The Innovator’s Dilemma” in the 1990s, leaders have embraced “disruption” and “change” as essential to business growth and success. In this provocative talk, leadership expert Ashley Goodall argues that what has become a sacred dogma is both wrong and harmful.

Drawing on his experience as an executive at Cisco and Deloitte, as well as on voluminous social science research, Goodall explains why constant disruption makes it so hard for people to do their jobs. A business culture where everything from people to processes to strategic priorities are constantly in flux, he argues, exerts a psychological toll that undermines motivation and productivity.

Goodall reveals how organizations can create the stability that people and companies need to do their best work.  In particular, he will show how leaders should:

  • Be predictable — so that their followers can feel more confident in the future
  • Share secrets — so that employees know they belong to something real
  • Speak real words — so that people have greater certainty about what’s going on
  • Honor ritual — so that employees have greater security
  • Focus most on teams — so that the most important organizational unit becomes the center of belonging, meaning, and innovation.

The Second Circle: A Rethink of the Human Resources Profession

Today’s workplaces are surprisingly hard places to get things done — in all the turmoil created by constant disruption, they offer employees few of the things people need in order to do their best work.  The reason for this, argues leadership expert and author Ashley Goodall in this eye-opening talk, is that we have misunderstood change — we have failed to understand that it is not an unalloyed good we think it is.  And the reason for this, in turn, is that the human resources function has lost its way.

Goodall will explain how the interests of a particular business and the interests of the people working there are not the same thing.  And he will show how the proper concern of HR must be the interests of employees, without which the function has no legitimacy, and a limited ability to create a better and more productive working environment.

Drawing on two decades leading HR organizations at Deloitte and Cisco, he will describe three strategies by which HR can reestablish itself as a full-throated advocate for people at work:

  • By rethinking how it collects and analyzes people data, HR can become the authority on the experience of work on the front lines.
  • By rethinking how it’s structured, HR can become an engaged partner to team leaders up and down the organization.
  • And by rethinking how it selects, trains, and supports leaders, HR can create a scalable path to organizational stability.

Advance Praise for "The Problem With Change"

“In a world that can be obsessed with disruption for its own sake, 'The Problem with Change' is an urgent wake-up call for managers and executives at all levels. In this refreshingly clear-eyed new book, Ashley Goodall argues that excessive and indiscriminate change comes at a steep cost, one that leaders are often unaware of. For change to be beneficial, it must be undertaken thoughtfully, deliberately, and with the employees and their experience front and center.”

Hubert Joly, Former Best Buy CEO, Harvard Business School Senior Lecturer, Author of " The Heart of Business"

“How incredibly refreshing to find a leadership expert who will admit the truth—that change isn't the same as improvement, and that companies need stability, community, and real respect for workers as much if not more so than (yet another) round of ‘disruption.’ Corporate leaders could save a lot of money, time and pain by taking Goodall's advice.”

Rana Foroohar, Global Business Columnist at the Financial Times and Author of "Homecoming"

“Ashley Goodall has achieved something rare and wonderful: he has taken a subject with which we are all deeply familiar — change — and turned it upside down. And in so doing, he has not only revealed “the problem with change,” but also how to find within it all the resiliency and creativity we need to succeed. 'The Problem with Change' is a completely engaging book that causes us to reassess much of what we’ve all mistaken for “truth” and reveals insights and ideas we can never unsee. Given how much change we are all grappling with today, this book could not be more timely. It is a must read for any leader trying to find their bearings in these wildly turbulent times.”

Marcus Buckingham, Bestselling Author and Strengths Researcher

“Do you know that research shows that people undergoing organizational change are more likely to take antidepressants? While change and disruption have become catchwords, they exact an enormous toll on employees and their companies. This smart, well-written book can help leaders resist the temptations toward chaos so currently popular.”

Jeffrey Pfeffer, Professor of Organizational Behavior at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and author of "Dying for a Paycheck"

“Change is neither good, nor bad—and much of it is essential. But that doesn’t make it easy. In his brilliantly thought-provoking 'The Problem with Change,' Ashley Goodall argues persuasively that a big part of the job of leaders is to create stability—to dampen the disruptive nature of change and to allow their teams to perform.”

Stan McChrystal, General, US Army (Ret), CEO, McChrystal Group, and Co-author of "Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World"

“Ashley Goodall's 'The Problem with Change' is a timely exploration of the complexity of organizational transformation. It dispels the myth that change is an unqualified good and tackles the hard truths about the challenges it brings. With an honest and insightful look at the intricacies of change management, Goodall offers a fresh perspective that questions our readiness to disrupt and provides a nuanced discussion on stability in the workplace. As someone deeply invested in the growth and development of leaders and organizations, I believe this book is a crucial read for anyone looking to navigate the often turbulent waters of change.”

Dr. Marshall Goldsmith , Thinkers50 #1 Executive Coach and New York Times bestselling author of "The Earned Life, Triggers, and What Got You Here Won’t Get You There"

Praise for "Nine Lies About Work"

  • Named one of "Our 10 favorite new books for people managers" by SHRM (Society for Human Resource Managers)
  • One of the Financial Times "Business Books of the Month"
  • Named a Bloomberg Businessweek pick
  • Named one of "14 business books everyone will be reading in 2019" by Business Insider
  • Named one of "10 Leadership Books to Watch for in 2019" by the Washington Post
  • Named one of "10 Business Books You Need to Read in 2019" by Inc. magazine
  • Named one of "The 19 New Leadership Books to Read in 2019" by Adam Grant on LinkedIn

"'Nine Lies About Work,' by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall, the year's best management book, challenges the assumptions that underlie contemporary managerial practices, many of which date back to Drucker's day. In doing so, the book offers a glimpse of a new management paradigm that may prove to be better suited to the times."

strategy+business magazine

"'Nine Lies' is utterly readable, often entertaining, and not just polite, but carefully reasoned and argued using some unusual real-world examples and even some from literature."

Human Resource Executive (hrexecutive.com)

"Leads to some free thinking about the way we do our jobs and how we can approach what we do in a different way."

Financial Times

"If a business book teaches me something new--and offers a fresh perspective on leadership--then I know it's a rare find in the category. 'Nine Lies About Work' is just such a book. It's so thought provoking, I contacted the authors to speak with them directly."

Forbes

"…should be on every boss's bookshelf."

Management Today

"A stimulating, no-nonsense, research-based look at things you likely believe that aren't true – and how to apply the new findings."

The Globe and Mail

"The act of work is human. Leading and following and working together is about human interaction and human relationships. The workplace, and the marketplace beyond it, is about emotions and attention and the desire to be seen. It is about trust and, yes, it is about love. I am always grateful to be reminded of that, to see it again clearly, to have it acknowledged. 'Nine Lies About Work' is a great reminder, and a great guide."

800 CEO READ

"Give a copy of this book to everyone in your organization who's leading a team and make it essential reading."

The Hamilton Spectator

"If you're looking for a refreshing read that challenges the conventional wisdom of the business world, this is a book for your shelf."

TD magazine (Association for Talent Development)

"There is much we can learn about managing and leading our schools from its pages."

Inside Higher Ed