#7 Work Death! From Kaizen to Karoshi with John Clapham


Work Death! From Kaizen to Karoshi with John Clapham

In this episode I talk to John Clapham, a professional coach and Agile consultant who works predominantly with I.T and digital services organisations.

John helps leaders and individuals develop, teams to build great products, and organisations learn to be more effective, productive and enjoyable to work in. He is also a frequent speaker at conferences around the UK.

With the advent of cloud technology and fast paced Agile project delivery methodologies such as Scrum & Kanban, come concepts such as Kaisen.

In Japanese, Kaisen merely gives us the principle of change for the better or an improvement, be that one-off or continuous.

In the world of Agile and lead methodologies it has been adopted as a word for continuous improvement, itself often used merely as a synonym for working at pace.

However, no one can work at pace all the time and it is perhaps perilous to forget that burnout does not lead to improvement but rather a reduction in productivity. Here we might do well to keep another Japanese term, Karoshi, in mind. Translated as ‘overwork death’, Karoshi is a term that refers to occupational sudden mortality.

This is not to suggest that the Japanese are working their population to death, but simply that in learning to work at pace we should ensure we don’t overwork our teams to their death.

In this episode John and I explore this concept with questions such as “how to deliver at pace whilst maintaining a healthy work life balance.”


About John

John Clapham is an independent Agile consultant and professional coach. He helps individuals develop, teams build great products, and organisations learn to be more effective, productive and enjoyable to work in. His broad experience ranges from start-up to enterprise scale, formed in the publishing, telecommunications, commerce, defence and public sector arenas.

John is also often asked to talk at conferences and says “Nothing focuses the mind, or encourages thorough research like presenting ideas in front of hundreds of experts in the field.”

John has a secret passion for DevOps and Continuous Delivery. His forays into coaching, lean and Agile are fuelled by coffee, lego and Bristol’s frequent inclement weather.

Johns’s Links

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#6 Up your game: Using Chaos Engineering to achieve resilience with Russ Miles


Russ Miles

This week I am talking to the CEO of ChaosIQ Russ Miles, cofounder of the open source project ChaosToolkit. Russ is also an international speaker, trainer and author.

Russ has just released his latest book title Learning Chaos Engineering: Discovering and Overcoming System Weaknesses Through Experimentation.

If you’ve ever experienced an issue with a computer system and wondered how it is that people don’t catch these issues, or if you are the owner of a system and have encountered an issue with it and thought: “I wonder why people don’t catch these during testing?” Then this episode is a must listen.

In fact, as you will hear, the tools to overcoming weaknesses and systems don’t just apply to computer systems but actually to any systems, including those that have no computers at all.

So grab a seat, sit back, listen and enjoy! And as you listen, I encourage you to think about how you might apply the techniques that Russ discusses to your own situation, whatever sphere that might be.

Russ’s Links

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#5 – Billy Bragg – The Three Dimensions of Freedom


Billy Bragg – The Three Dimensions of Freedom

Billy Bragg’s music is heavily centred on bringing about change and involving the younger generation in activist causes . He is known to have said:

“I don’t mind being being labelled as a political songwriter. The thing that troubles me is being dismissed as a political songwriter.”

“Phil Collins might write a song about the homeless but if he doesn’t have the action to go with it he’s just exploiting that for a subject.”

Billy bought himself out of the British Army in 1981 for £175, cites his influences as The Clash, Bob Dylan, The Faces, The Small Faces & Simon & Garfunkel.

In 2018 Billy delivered a flagship speech at the Bank of England and he has recently released a new book entitled The Three Dimensions of Freedom.

Episode Transcript

Billy’s Links

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#4 – Wicked Problems – A view from Saïd Business School with Sue Dopson


Wicked Problems – A view from Saïd Business School with Sue Dopson

Sue Dopson is the Rhodes Trust Professor of Organisational Behaviour, Fellow of Green Templeton College and Deputy Dean of Saïd Business School at The University of Oxford.

Her research centres on leadership and transformational change in the public and healthcare sectors. Her work has informed and influenced government bodies such as the department of health and the national institute for health and clinical excellence; N.I.C.E, in their thinking on the areas such as the dissemination of clinical evidence into practice, medical leadership, and the role of the support worker in the NHS.

Sue currently represents the University of Oxford as Non-executive director of the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust.

Before pursuing an academic career, Sue was a personnel manager in the NHS. Professor Dopson is involved in a number of innovative executive development programmes, including the Oxford Advanced Management and Leadership Programme, the Oxford Strategic Leadership Programme, the Oxford Transition to Leadership Programme, and Consulting and Coaching for Change, as well as programmes delivered to clients in the Middle East.

Not only has Sue worked closely with the UK department of Health and N.I.C.E, she has also worked with organisations such as Roche pharmaceuticals, and is involved with the development of courses for the NHS and Royal Mail.

Sue is co-author of a book on Wicked Problems called ‘Making Wicked Problems Governable‘ and ‘The Politics of Management Knowledge in times of Austerity‘ – both of which are currently available.

Sue’s Links

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#3 – How to stay safe in a cyber world – Martin Clements


The risk of cyber attack is on the increase and becoming ever more complicated. So how do you defend against that risk when in fact it’s so complicated that it’s almost impossible for anybody to understand the threat landscape.

In this episode I’ll be talking to Martin Clements. Martin moved to the private sector in 2016 after a long career focused on digital innovation and cyber in government.

Originally trained in Computer and Natural Sciences, he started his career as a coder; writing and selling games in the early personal computer industry.

In recent years Martin held prominent leadership positions building technical capabilities that combine traditional techniques and skills with emerging innovations, especially in the fields of mobile, cyber and data.

He was also a senior information risk owner, managing threats to official I.T systems at a time when cyber was emerging as a strategic threat.

Martin became an experienced executive and non-executive member of the top governance of his sector in the U.K, retiring as Director General for Technology and Transformation at the U.K’s foreign and commonwealth office.

Martin now works with businesses he believes address key capability gaps bringing in the finest emerging technologies together with skilled humans to defend and transform both business and government.

He is senior advisor to the chairman and CEO of Credit Suisse Group, as well as non-executive chairman, director or advisor at a range of businesses in the technology sector.

Along with a group of contemporaries he has set up Wychwood Partners to advise businesses how to safely lead digital transformation.

In this episode Martin and I discuss the threats to businesses from cyber attack, strategies for defending against increasingly sophisticated attacks; attacks which are often so complex as to be beyond the comprehension of people running businesses. (Who after all are more necessarily focused on the more thorny issues of running a business!).

And whether the public cloud is a help or hindrance to those trying to protect digital assets.

Martin’s Links

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#2 – How to launch a business in a world of global corporations – John Williams


In this episode I’ll be talking to John Williams, founder of The Ideas Lab London.

John began his career in creative technology as a developer on pioneering special effects software, including on-site work at Disney Feature Animation at Los Angeles and broadcast automation.

He became Digital Media CTO at a European startup incubator before moving to head up a small media technology consultancy team at Deloitte.

John left to consult independently to broadcasters around the world before finally founding The Ideas Lab and writing his bestselling book, Screw Work Let’s Play.

John has spoken at events around the world from London to Bratislava to LA. He speaks on many topics including the future of work, why your best employee is not a worker but a player, and how to start a business in 30 days.

In this episode I’ll be speaking to John about the seemingly intractable problem of how to get a new business off the ground, and recognised, in a world that is increasingly dominated by international organisations with pockets the size of which mere mortals can hardly contend.

John’s Links

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