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

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.

Wednesday Feb 14, 2024

In the latest of our Influencers episodes, Chris and Gareth discuss one of the most influential people of our time, Elon Musk.  A hugely successful serial entrepreneur who has shifted the whole world’s view on many of the most prescient issues.  From normalising the adoption of electric cars, to greatly reducing the cost of space travel by orders of magnitude, he is such an infamous public figure, that not only was the inspiration for the character of Tony Stark in Disney’s Marvel series, but he appeared alongside him in a cameo role in Iron Man 2. 
Not one to shy away from controversy, he famously smoked cannabis live on the Joe Rogan Podcast and has used his own x platform as a mouthpiece to voice his often-provocative views. He has his loyal supporters and his detractors who decry his often caviller approaches.
Is there anything we can learn from this?  Can we distill the brilliance from the chaotic? Or is Elon Musk successful because of his flaws?
Chris and Gareth take time to understand the journey he’s been on and try to make sense of the man and the legend. Drawing conclusions and assessments about management styles and the power of clear if not audacious goals.  Exploring the difference between having a business strategy and simply being driven by a need to change the world.
   

Thursday Feb 08, 2024

In this thought-provoking episode of the innovative business podcast, Battling with Business, former Royal Marines Officer, Gareth Tennant, and Product Manager, Chris Kitchener, stimulate a rich discussion about the critical aspect of measuring success. The episode starts by exploring the triad of effect, performance, and activity, highlighting their integral role in testing business or military assumptions.The conversation takes an intriguing turn towards scientific principles such as the Heisenberg principle and Schrodinger's cat, as the hosts elucidate their relevance in modern business systems. An analysis based on nation-building in Afghanistan provides listeners with an in-depth look at the challenges faced in gauging the efficacy of projects subject to fluctuating systemic changes.Tennant and Kitchener draw apt parallels in a business context, illustrating the powerful sway of project governance meetings on team behavior and project reporting. This enlightening episode of Battling with Business provides valuable insights into the complicated process of measuring success, and underscores its significance in strategic decision-making in both military and business landscapes.Focused on the complex world of measuring performance and effect, the hosts unravel how hidden assumptions shape interpretations of performance. They discuss the critical distinction between measuring internal performance and evaluating its impact on external aspects like customer perception or market reputation. Ultimately, asserting the importance of assessing the right things, this episode encourages listeners to re-evaluate their understanding of measuring success.

Thursday Feb 01, 2024

The British Army requires the highest standards of leadership. It is a core function of the institution and a fundamental component of fighting power. Their leadership philosophy is values-based, motivated not by self-interest but in the service of others.
To find out more Gareth and Chris head to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst to explore the question, how do you learn to lead? Joined by the head of the Centre for Army Leadership, Lt Col Dean Canham OBE, they discuss how the British Army approaches developing leadership skills in its personnel. Sandhurst is a world-renowned officer training academy, but the Army recognises the importance of leadership across its workforce.
The Centre for Army Leadership exists to champion leadership excellence and to optimise the Army’s human 'edge' that underpins operational success. They support the development of exceptional leaders not just for the British Army, but for the whole nation.
 
  

Thursday Jan 25, 2024

After an intriguing question posed by Chris's son, Gareth and Chris decide to explore the concept of dilemmas.  Throughout the episode, they seek to answer questions such as; What is a dilemma and can they be positive?  What's the difference between a dilemma and an integrity test? Should you work at weekends? And when is it acceptable to break the rules?
Finally, they explore trolly problems and we find out if Gareth would cut up a perfectly healthy person to harvest their organs.

Thursday Jan 18, 2024

In the second part of this Influencers, we look at why Charles De Gaulle was ultimately successful in his battle to become the leader of free France over his rival Henri Giraud', his 'difficult' relationship with other Allied leaders, and his post-war influence on France, Europe, and the world.
 

Thursday Jan 11, 2024

In the first Influencers episode of the year, Chris and Gareth discuss Charles De Gaul and his amazing journey from private soldier and war hero to becoming the head of the 5th French Republic.  On the way, they discuss the impact of his time in captivity as a German prisoner of war and the role his resolute devotion to France had on his success.  How did a relatively obscure Army Officer become the Aliies' choice to be the leader of free France? And more importantly is there anything we can learn from this?

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