Battling with Business

In this podcast, Gareth Tennant, a former Royal Marines Officer, and Chris Kitchener, a veteran of the software development world, explore ideas and concepts around teams and teamwork, leaders and leadership, and all things in between. It’s a discussion between a former military commander and a business manager, comparing and contrasting their experiences as they attempt to work out what makes teams, leaders, and businesses tick.

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Episodes

Thursday Apr 18, 2024

In this week's installment of 'Battling with Business,' Chris and Gareth embark on a journey through the labyrinth of strategic planning in the first of two episodes all about Strategy right. They kick off by dissecting the fundamental disparity between strategy and tactics, laying the groundwork for understanding the strategic landscape.
Diving deeper, they highlight a pivotal aspect often overlooked: the intrinsic relationship between strategy and uncertainty. Emphasising that a strategic plan transcends a mere roadmap, they illuminate the necessity of embracing uncertainty as a cornerstone of effective strategising.
The duo advocates for a dynamic approach, stressing the importance of continual evaluation and feedback loops. They underscore the agility required to pivot strategies in response to emerging insights, underscoring the adage that no plan survives first contact with reality.
Moreover, Chris and Gareth underscore the imperative of organisational alignment, echoing earlier discussions on 'mission command.' They elucidate how effective communication and shared understanding of strategic objectives permeate throughout the organisational hierarchy, fostering a cohesive and responsive environment.
In essence, 'Getting Strategy Right' is a masterclass in navigating the intricate terrain of strategic planning, offering invaluable insights to listeners seeking to chart their course amidst the tumultuous seas of business.
 

Thursday Apr 11, 2024

In the latest episode of "Battling with Business," hosts Chris and Gareth delve into the captivating world of Taylor Swift, dissecting her immense influence and the multifaceted power she commands across various spheres.
Taylor Swift, a global icon, serves as a case study for understanding contemporary leadership, followership, management, and culture. The hosts navigate through the layers of Swift's influence, from her economic impact to her social, political, and financial sway. They explore how Swift leverages her brand and harnesses the loyalty of her fan base to amplify her voice and effect change.
A central question emerges: Does Taylor Swift represent a paradigmatic shift in power dynamics, signaling the ascendancy of social influencers and celebrities over traditional institutions? Chris and Gareth engage in a thought-provoking discussion, pondering the implications of Swift's influence on the broader landscape of business and society.
Listeners are treated to an insightful exploration of the mechanisms behind Swift's power and the broader implications for contemporary business and culture. As the episode unfolds, it becomes evident that understanding figures like Taylor Swift is essential for navigating the evolving terrain of influence and power in the digital age.
Moreover, the hosts ponder whether Swift's ascent to power signifies a broader societal shift. They explore the evolving dynamics wherein traditional institutions cede ground to influential figures like Swift, who leverage their platform to shape narratives and drive change. This prompts reflection on the increasing dominance of social influencers and celebrities in steering societal discourse and consumer behavior.
Through their insightful discussion, Chris and Gareth unpack the lessons that business leaders can glean from Taylor Swift's journey. From her strategic branding to her adept management of fan engagement, Swift serves as a compelling case study in effective leadership, followership, management, and culture.
In essence, the episode offers a compelling exploration of Taylor Swift's influence, prompting listeners to consider the evolving landscape of power dynamics in the modern era, where the sway of traditional institutions is being challenged by the rise of influential individuals and social icons.

Thursday Apr 04, 2024

In episode 64 of "Battling with Business," hosts Chris and Gareth dive into the exhilarating world of fast jets with special guest Paul Tremelling, a former Royal Navy Harrier and F18A Super Hornet Pilot and author of the acclaimed book 'How to be a Fighter Pilot.' The conversation delves deep into the intricate balance between leadership, risk management, and mission success within the high-stakes realm of fast jet operations. In Pauls's case, made harder still by the fact that the runway is tiny and bobbing about in the middle of the ocean. 
Drawing from his extensive experience, Paul sheds light on the unique leadership challenges inherent in fast jet missions, where maintaining optimal safety standards is paramount while simultaneously pushing the boundaries to achieve strategic objectives in dynamic and high-risk environments.
A central theme of the discussion is the apparent dichotomy between the meticulous checklist culture of flying, which emphasizes caution and precision, and the perceived need for pilots to embody a 'maverick' spirit, daring to 'push the envelope' to accomplish mission goals. Through insightful anecdotes and analysis, the hosts along with Paul explore how effective leadership navigates this delicate balance, fostering a culture that encourages innovation and calculated risk-taking while prioritising safety above all else (although not always the safety of the pilot!)
Moreover, the conversation delves into the nuanced distinction between arrogance and confidence in fast jet operations, highlighting how the fighter pilot community holds its members accountable through honesty, rigorous postmortems, and an unwavering commitment to excellence. Paul shares valuable insights into the importance of fostering a culture of continuous learning and improvement, where pilots challenge each other to grow and evolve, ultimately enhancing the collective effectiveness of the team.
Overall, this episode offers listeners a captivating glimpse into the world of fast jet operations, illuminating the leadership principles and risk management strategies that drive success in one of the most demanding and exhilarating arenas of modern warfare.    

Wednesday Mar 27, 2024

Whilst Chris was away on a business trip, Gareth sits down with Tom Mallens, a seasoned Sales Training Director at Sandler, a global Sales and management training company, to delve into the intricacies of sales, training, and organisational success. The conversation begins with an exploration of the fundamental role that sales play within any organisation, emphasising its critical function in revenue generation and business growth.
Tom shares insights gleaned from years of experience in sales training, highlighting the immense value that well-executed training programs can bring to sales teams and the broader organisation. He emphasises the importance of continuous learning and development in honing sales skills and adapting to an ever-evolving marketplace. A key theme of the discussion revolves around measuring success in sales training initiatives and broader business. Tom and Gareth explore various metrics and KPIs that can effectively gauge the impact of training efforts, stressing the need for a holistic approach that goes beyond mere sales numbers to encompass factors like customer satisfaction and long-term relationship building.
Beyond sales-specific topics, Tom and Gareth touch upon the broader organisational dynamics, emphasising the need to break down silos and foster collaboration across departments. They discuss how a culture of openness and cross-functional communication can lead to greater efficiency, innovation, and ultimately, business success.
Throughout the podcast, Tom shares practical tips and strategies not only relevant to sales professionals but applicable to individuals in all functions within organisations. Whether it's the importance of active listening, effective communication, or the art of negotiation, the insights offered in this episode resonate across diverse roles and industries.
Listeners will come away with a wealth of actionable advice and inspiration to elevate their performance and contribute to their organization's growth and success, regardless of their specific role or function.

Thursday Mar 21, 2024

In this latest episode, Chris and Gareth build on their recent exploration of the book 5 Dysfunctions of a team and delve into the world of management books more generally. They navigate the dual nature of these books, highlighting their invaluable insights while cautioning against the trap of blind adherence. Chris and Gareth astutely observe how some individuals treat these books as infallible gospel, expecting instant transformation for themselves and their teams.
The conversation unfolds to emphasise the importance of embracing diverse perspectives and engaging with a variety of management literature. Gareth draws parallels to military training, where soldiers learn principles that require real-world practice and adaptation for mastery. This analogy underscores the idea that management principles are not one-size-fits-all solutions but tools to be honed through experience and context.
In the latter part of the episode, they explore the inherent power of storytelling in conveying management lessons effectively. They advocate for critical thinking as essential for navigating the vast landscape of management literature, encouraging listeners to strike a balance between experimentation and discernment when implementing new ideas in light of evolving information.
Overall, the episode serves as a compelling exploration of the nuanced relationship between management books, practical application, and the pursuit of continuous improvement in leadership and team dynamics.

Thursday Mar 14, 2024

In this insightful podcast episode, Chris and Gareth embark on a journey through the seminal work "On War" by Carl von Clausewitz. Gareth, having delved deep into the book, guides Chris and listeners through its profound insights and enduring relevance.
The episode commences with Gareth shedding light on the origins of the book and delving into Clausewitz's life, providing valuable context for understanding the author's perspective. As they delve into the discussion, they highlight the often-overlooked aspect that many people discuss Clausewitz without having read his primary text, revealing a gap in understanding and building on myths, misconceptions, and other historians' interpretations.
A focal point of the discussion is the concept of the "Centre of Gravity," introduced by Gareth. Is this concept central to Clausewitz's theories? This sparks a fascinating dialogue on strategic thinking and military doctrine, transcending its military origins to find application in various fields including business, leadership, and strategy.
In the latter part of the episode, Gareth introduces each of the eight books comprising "On War." Through insightful analysis, he extracts key takeaways and emphasizes their enduring relevance in contemporary conflicts and broader contexts such as business and leadership. Each book serves as a wellspring of wisdom, offering valuable lessons applicable to navigating the complexities of modern-day challenges.
As Chris and Gareth unravel the layers of Clausewitz's masterpiece, listeners are treated to a profound exploration of strategy, leadership, and the essence of conflict, underscoring the timeless wisdom encapsulated within "On War" and its significance in shaping our understanding of human endeavors.

Monday Mar 11, 2024

This Bonus Episode is a speech Gareth recently gave at the wonderful tech conference, Technolog, Behaviour, Data (TBD).  The theme of this year's conference was 'Facias' and so Gareth decided to talk about hiding behind the faceless sacity of social media.  The speech was called 'Why I'm a Cynical Optimist.'
 
 

Wednesday Mar 06, 2024

In this week's episode, Chris discusses a book that he has just re-read (for the fifth time!) in preparation for his team off-site meeting.  The book is   The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. This is one of those management books that should be on all aspiring leaders' and managers' bookshelves.  Chris explains the concept of this parable-style book in which a dysfunctional executive team is taken on a journey to redemption by a new CEO brought in to fix the organisation.
Chris and Gareth explore the concepts and lessons from the book and discuss their own experiences and insights as they go. Gareth, as usual, uses his military experience from the Royal Marines to find explore the similarities and contrasts between the civilian and military approaches to building teams, executing strategy, and driving change.           

Wednesday Feb 28, 2024

In the second part of our discussion with Waitman Wade Beorn, a veteran of the first squadron of the 10th United States Cavalry Regiment, we learn more about his time as an M1 Abrahams commander and we reflect further on the skills required to successfully lead small teams. 
We explore with Waitman how he and the other members of the team adjusted to each other's personalities as well as addressing the critically important lesson of not eating Peaches in a tank! We then look at the challenges and opportunities around developing team members and how the military doesn’t have the luxury of firing people. 
We also question whether leadership really is rocket science or simply a set of simple ideas that need to be consistently executed day after day along with the pros and cons of the real-time feedback loop you get within small teams. And finally, we consider whether officers really do eat last and why that might be?

Wednesday Feb 21, 2024

In this week’s episode we welcome back Waitman Wade Beorn, this time not wearing a historian’s hat, but instead a very natty stetson reflecting his time as a US Army Cavalry officer, commanding an M1 Abraham main battle tank. We explore with him the complexities of commanding a small team whilst also having to manage a much broader and fast-paced battle space outside of his small metal box with tracks.
We also investigate the challenges that an officer fresh from training faces, when stepping into his tank with his new team for the first time. We also discuss what makes a small team truly effective, and how Waitman adjusted and developed his leadership style in this confined world.
As always, we delve into the surprising and unsurprising cross-over between the civilian and military world and explore how commanding a tank crew isn’t a different as one might imagine from leading teams in any kind of business.

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