About Peter Lanius

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So far Peter Lanius has created 59 blog entries.
23 06, 2016

Managing Superstars

By |2018-02-18T07:06:36+11:00June 23rd, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

I wrote about high performance in sport vs. business in my last post and promised I would follow up on talking about how to manage superstars. Superstars are exceptional performers, a long way down the tail of the power-law curve that shows the distribution of performance across skill set in question (playing football, writing code or selling houses etc.).

Superstars perform many times better than average members of the same profession. This is not always easy to ascertain and may seem unwarranted based on the measures available (e.g. number of acting awards won vs. money earned by movies they appear in). The exact nature of the measure and its suitability in comparing people is not the point, though. The fact is that performance does vary enormously along a power-law curve.

So if you can accept that there are always superstars in each profession and if you can see that their exceptional performance […]

25 05, 2016

Rules Enforcement and Performance

By |2018-02-18T07:07:55+11:00May 25th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

I have touched on high performance in some previous posts, but I want to revisit the topic from a perspective that is very popular in Australia – believing that organisations can learn about achieving high individual or team performance from sport. Given sport here is a national obsession and that so many motivational speakers or leadership events make use of sports analogies or former sports people, it really needs to be looked at what, if anything, is transferable into the business or organisational context.

So how do you know a team is high performing in sport? They are winning games. And how do you win? By scoring goals, tries, points etc. So far, quite simple. But it’s not the whole story. In sport, you can only score if you play by the rules. If, say, a foul precedes a goal, it doesn’t count. This is absolutely crucial, as it makes up for the […]

18 05, 2016

Poor Process by Design

By |2018-02-18T07:17:10+11:00May 18th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

Have you ever wondered why there are so many instances of poorly designed processes? We certainly have. Processes that seem overly complicated, cover too many special cases, exemptions and god knows what in their desire to be all encompassing and be all things to all people. Or processes that are so customer unfriendly that it makes you wonder how they ever saw the light of day. But why?

The first hypothesis might be that the people designing and implementing the processes are all incompetent, but we have never seen evidence for that. It’s more the opposite – they tend to be too competent, which enables them to make things complex and still make it work. If you were indeed incompetent, you couldn’t make the complexity work.

So if we entertain the notion that the people who design our business and government processes are mostly highly competent, why are we so often saddled with processes […]

11 05, 2016

Language, Numbers and Resilience

By |2018-02-18T07:18:22+11:00May 11th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

You may have heard the common myth that spoken words make up only 7% of the communication between two people. Whilst this number has never been substantiated in a credible research paper, the underlying fact is indeed that today we pay way too much attention to words and way too little attention to the other modes of communication – tone of voice and ‘body language’.

This is quite expected for the context we created – our late-stage industrial society is built on language (written documents such as rules, laws, regulations, standards etc.), numbers (measurements) and algorithms. In contrast, previous societies were mainly built on customs, rituals and implicit and explicit social contracts. This means in our society there is an over-emphasis on cognitive processing at the expense of unconscious processing, emotional bonds and social interactions (which maintain customs and rituals). Whilst this has enabled amazing technological progress, it has also come at a […]

30 03, 2016

Too Much

By |2018-02-18T07:19:22+11:00March 30th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

We live in age were for most of us in the first world the main issue is ‘too much’ and not scarcity. Yet we are supremely adapted to deal with scarcity, not abundance, as the latter is a rather unnatural (and usually short-lived) state of affairs. In conditions of scarcity your mind and body respond by shutting down non-essential functions and changing your focus to the single-minded pursuit of what you are lacking – at the most basic level food and water. That’s why we regularly see tales of heroic survival in difficult circumstances, we have been equipped with the right programs to deal effectively with scarcity.

So what about the flipside – abundance? It would appear that evolution saw little need to invest in programs and automatic responses to abundance, it probably just didn’t happen often enough to matter and when it did happen it didn’t last long enough to have an […]

22 03, 2016

Would You Like to be Led by You?

By |2018-02-18T07:20:28+11:00March 22nd, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

This is a question any manager should ask themselves periodically. The reason is quite simple – we have inflated expectations of our leaders yet remain stubbornly blind to our own shortcomings once we are managing and leading people. The fact is, we prefer to look up, not down.

Many leaders we meet vowed to do things differently before they were given the opportunity to lead others. Few have the tenacity and willpower to follow through once they are in the role. Businesses continue to reward work on tasks, not leadership skills and developing people. Whilst some organisations have a Balanced Scorecard or some level of leadership related KPIs, they are often given much less priority than the hard business results and are generally much harder to measure anyway.

In our coaching we have to consistently remind managers and leaders we work with how important the leadership and staff development side of their […]

24 02, 2016

Double-Loop Learning

By |2018-02-18T07:22:41+11:00February 24th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

I would like to expand on my last post which explained why Experts get stuck in single-loop learning (perfecting what they already know) and why they struggle to engage in double-loop learning – questioning their own model of the world. In this post I am going to talk more about double-loop learning and how it can help you to progress your cognitive development and make you more effective as a manager or consultant.


The first caveat when talking about double-loop learning is that whilst you can do it in your head, you can’t do it without doing. Perhaps the best way to describe double-loop learning is as:

Questioning Your Assumptions when – Reflecting on – Observing Yourself – While Doing […]

17 02, 2016

Why Some People Just Need to be Right

By |2018-02-18T07:25:02+11:00February 17th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

We have all come across people who just need to be right. Given that this is not a rare behaviour pattern to encounter, it should be worthwhile asking the question why this happens and what you as, say, the person’s manager, could do about it.

In order to understand what is going on we need to take a little detour into how learning works and how we map our internal reality (our model of the world) onto the external reality (be it ‘objective’ reality or someone else’s subjective reality). Big words, I know, but bear with me.

I have written earlier how reflection is a necessary prerequisite for learning, but in itself a lack of reflection doesn’t go far enough to explain why some people fail to realise that they may be wrong. Reflection happens within the context of your own (constructed) reality, your model of the world. For that reflection to yield […]

10 02, 2016

The Bifurcation of Work

By |2018-02-18T07:26:49+11:00February 10th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

Numerous articles have been written recently about the declining middle class and the difference in the salary trends between the top 20% and everyone else. If you haven’t followed the debate, in essence the top 20% have been doing well whilst wages for everyone else are in decline, especially in real terms (after inflation). Part of the reason is that much of the workforce has been globalised, which depresses wages, especially in sectors that can easily be offshored or outsourced. Yet that’s not the full story. There is clearly a whole raft of jobs that cannot be done remotely, yet have fared equally badly in relation to their status and remuneration.

A number of authors have suggested that this trend is not just the result of globalisation and policy settings favouring the top 20% (although both undoubtedly have contributed a lot). Another factor that has come into the equation, especially in the last […]

27 01, 2016

Making The Right Commercial Decisions

By |2018-02-18T07:28:16+11:00January 27th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments

In my previous two blogs I discussed how information overload leads to a lack of focus and how we need to persist with asking the important questions to enable better decision making. Yet we still have to talk about the decision making itself. Again, we have seen a marked deterioration in the quality and timeliness of commercial decision making in recent years and this can probably be linked back to the issues of information overload and sticking to the easy questions that I discussed in the two prior posts.

I would like to start exploring this with an example from a relatively small business ($20 million revenue in Australia, but part of a global brand). This business has been in turnaround mode for the last year or so, after a prolonged period of stagnation under a previous management team who neglected the brand and sales channel (which was ignored […]

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