Sunday, 16 February 2014

Making Connections

Having been ticked off by a Twitter connection for writing blogs that are too long, here is a slightly shorter one...

Last week I attended Impact Executives’ event to launch their latest change survey findings.  The contributors to the survey are business leaders from around the globe - CEOs, CFOs, COOs and CHROs (55% of respondents are on main boards).  I have followed this survey for a few years and enjoy considering the trends and themes that are emerging.  For the third year running the top three “biggest challenges” are ”lack of visibility of future demand”, “margin pressure” and “not having the right staff/skills”.  Over a three year period these findings do not surprise me - if you are poor at anticipating or understanding future demand, it follows that three years further on you are highly likely still to be struggling with having the right staff and skills, as you don’t understand the world in which you operate.  It takes time and structured thinking to predict, plan and build, so that you are best placed to cope as and when you need to.

Earlier in the year I was invited by certain members of the MOD (the UK’s Ministry of Defence) to attend a future-thinking scenario-creation session - they were keen to contemplate what the world might be like in thirty years’ time and brought together a group of us, from a variety of backgrounds and outlooks, to share our thoughts.  We were asked to describe scenarios that we believe will be probable or even just possible.  I know from my work as a governor for a leading NHS foundation trust that there are many anticipated changes within the health sector - the prevalence of certain diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes, will continue to increase, with a potentially devastating impact on society; bacterial resistance antibiotics is also likely to grow with resultant problems.  However, there will also be major developments that will enhance healthcare - apps are already available that enable us to monitor our health using everyday technology, without having to physically visit a specialist; surgery increasingly will be undertaken by minute robots that will be remote controlled instead of relying on human surgeons being physically in the room (with their large clumsy hands) making major incisions (less intrusive surgery is definitely a good thing, especially if antibiotics are becoming less effective).  We will have wearable robotics that will make movement or other functions more effective.  Much of our medical care will increasingly be dependent on data - the functions that currently happens in a GP or doctor’s surgery will be done via technology (measuring heart function, blood chemistry, etc…) this data will be overlaid with personal information such as family genetic history, the impact of living in a particular area (for example pollution levels, or the prevalence of certain diseases) or your lifestyle.  This information will help faster prediction (and potentially the prevention) of health issues.

Just as in Medicine, the world of work is being impacted by technology and the pace of this is set to increase. It is no wonder that the Impact Executives’ survey reported that 87% of respondents envisaged more and faster change than ever (a similar level to the responses to this question in both 2012 and 2013, hence a growing trend).  Increased use of technology is providing loads more data.  HR’s role is to enable organisations and the people within them to perform at optimum levels.  As a result HR professionals need to become comfortable with data and how to use it, to inform and support business decisions.  We need to change, to move on from the production of backward looking observations, such as on staff turnover or how many people attended training courses, to forward-thinking extrapolations from the evidence available.  The trick with data is being able to understand what it is telling you.  Nobody said this is easy.  Neuroscience can prove that human brains are not programmed for long-term thinking and hence our approach to natural evolutionary timescales is out of sync with how we need to appreciate the world going forward.  

Fortunately, technology itself can help, turning us into a global neural network (where the power of many is greater than one man working by himself - Adam Smith would have loved it, a clear progression from his thesis in “The Wealth of Nations”).  Technology enabled connectivity is resulting in collaboration, learning, creativity and shared problem solving at a swifter pace than ever before.  Despite the recent hacking scare from Kickstarter, crowd-sourcing solutions are producing results, with the production of goods that fit people’s needs at a faster rate than would perhaps have happened a world of silo-ed businesses - for example the ways in which mobile phones are being charged in Africa might not have been envisaged within an isolated research and development department located in Scandinavia or the USA.  We need to solve problems through understanding, instead of squandering resources and working in secret through fear of competitors.  If we are smart there is more than enough work for all.  The cost of innovation, participation and learning is dropping and hence the world is becoming more equal and also more conscious through connections.  This is immensely powerful and will change the drivers of economies and the way we work.  HR should be at the forefront of this, as growth revolves around people and how they contribute and work together.  It’s not too late to get on the bus, but to do so HR itself needs to be part of the action, not simply observing and monitoring for others. 

The Bayswater Omnibus (1895) by George William Joy
How connected is your HR department and your approach towards business? 

This is a photograph of what our global Internet connection looks like from a distance. In her TEDtalk We are all cyborgs nowAmber Case states that this connection looks organic. Indeed this organic connection, she argues, helps us develop our ‘humanness’.

The Rolling Stones - Connection

Friday, 14 February 2014

High Stakes

I wrote the below piece for Alison Chisnell's much lauded Advent Blog series - the theme for the 2013 series was "Stakes and Stories"

Day 20: High Stakes

Welcome to day 20 of the Advent blogs, and today’s post is something of an extravaganza! Written by Kate Griffiths-Lambeth (@KateGL) who regularly shares her excellently researched views over on her own blog, this post is definitely something special. So, take your time, sit back and enjoy the story…

Artwork for today (and every day!) is by the brilliant Simon Heath and today he has excelled all expectations with his wonderful illustrations throughout this wonderful post.


Once upon a time, in a cave high above a valley, there lived a savage frost giant – he was set in his ways and his wrath, when challenged, was terrifying.  The villagers living on the edge of his mountain were in a constant fear of displeasing him and, as a result, they were timid and browbeaten.  When he made demands they were careful to tell him what he expected to hear, even when the answers were false.  The other giants who lived nearby were also wary of him; most of the time they kept their distance.  However, occasionally they would come together to challenge each other in competitions to see who could hurl huge cannon balls the furthest.

For many years the frost giant had relied on the elderly village blacksmith to make the cannon balls.  As his cave was at the top of a cliff, the giant would haul the old man up to him, in a basket, to give him his orders.  When the blacksmith passed away the villagers were alarmed, as he had left no heirs and there was nobody with the knowledge and skills to take on his business.  In haste an advertisement was placed in the national press, to secure a new incumbent, before the giant decided that it was time for his next tournament and found the blacksmith gone.

A few days later a traveller arrived at the village and asked to be considered for the role.  At first the inhabitants were reluctant, as the applicant was a woman.  Many suspected that she lacked the strength required to wield metal and cast the cannon balls, whilst others feared that the frost giant would be displeased by such an unorthodox appointment.  However, as no other candidates responded (probably out of fear of the giant), the community agreed to give her a go.

The very next day, the frost giant bellowed that he was bored and demanded that the other giants be summoned for a challenge.  He shouted for the blacksmith to come and take his order and threw down the basket on its rope.  The poor blacksmith had not yet even lit the forge fire; she had nothing to prove her skills.  The villagers were nervous, in case her claims of proficiency were false.  They did not wish to be associated with her for fear that she enraged the giant.  However, as they had no alternative, they pushed the poor girl into the basket and watched as she was hauled up to the cave above.  When the ice-clad ogre saw the young woman he gave out a great roar, but she did not quail.  She simply asked what he needed and promised to deliver his request.  The giant snarled – what use could a feeble female be in a role designed for men?  However, his desire for new cannon balls was such that he did not ban her from smithing, although he openly sneered that he doubted her ability to accomplish anything more sophisticated than producing cinders.

On being lowered down to the village, the blacksmith ignited the fire, melted iron ore with charcoal and lime and cast the mixture directly into moulds at the blast furnace’s base.  When these solid orbs had cooled, she loaded them, one at a time, into the basket and the giant hauled them up to his lair.  No thanks nor acknowledgement was given but the following morning the giant’s companions arrived and the competition commenced.  Without considering the impact of their acts, the giants hurled the huge balls across the valley. They smashed their way through hedges and over fields.  A goat was killed, a barn destroyed, crops flattened and the villagers hid in their homes, waiting for the onslaught to finish.  The blacksmith watched the devastation, heard the children’s cries and pondered why these people allowed themselves to live in fear and persecution.

Almost as soon as the contest started it was over, the giant’s boisterous friends left and life in the region slipped back into its ever deepening grooves, but the unmentioned fear of the next session remained hung over the people like a fog. 

The blacksmith soon earned her place in the community, her skills at shaping metal and shoeing horses were impressive, people respected her and her open helpful manner earned her friends. There were particular group of fourteen individuals with whom she forged close bonds:

  1. a jovial bear-hug of a man, who carried with him (and added to) a richly illustrated book of wisdom;
  2. an energetic, observant fellow with a bicycle who was often followed by a black dog;
  3. a warm and welcoming mother of twins, who always supported those who asked for help and who was good at running and running things;
  4. an intelligent witness, with eyes deep as Orcadian pools, who knew his own mind and was a good judge of others; he kept in his pocket some pebbles, collected on the beach with his sons – worn smooth by the changing tides;
  5. An eloquent knowledge-sharer, with fiery passion and a taste for ale, who had great tales to tell, especially those that allowed him to wave his red flag with gusto;
  6. A frog charmer, book-worm and dreamer, from North of the Border, with a lilt to her voice and a warmth to her heart that endeared her to those who knew her (even those she didn’t feed);
  7. a wise raven-like academic, who had roosted in the orient for a while and who nurtured the young beneath the wings of a dark cloak tied with red tape;
  8. a mercurial jester, clever and quick, who provided accurate and at times outspoken observations on the world, hugely loving but, driven by a desire to be liked, used his jangling pig’s bladder at times more often than some found comfortable;
  9. an ancient soul, with the eyes of an angel and a fresh flower in her hair, who shared the wonders and love of her world with all;
  10. an engaging but independent bard, travelling his own path, with a guitar to strum slung over his shoulder, a story to tell and a song for most occasions;
  11. A man from the North, with a compassion in his soul that made his eyes sparkle and quick humour and supportive honesty in his words that made those around him shine and glow with confidence;
  12. An artistic confectioner, who made smooth, strong and silky chocolate from beans plucked with passion from the Spice Isles, and who could charm the bees from the trees and get them to offer up their honey;
  13. A calm observer with a beating heart and a heart for the beat, always gentlemanly and often surprising; a capable gardener who shared his produce, squash and alliums as the season offered, as well as his thoughts, as gifts; and
  14.  A young girl, the daughter of cheese makers, with hair like spun gold and a ready smile, who skipped and danced with joy at all she saw around her.

The more time the blacksmith spent in the community, getting to know the people around her, the greater she wished to make their world a better place.  At first she did it by making useful pots and tools, she progressed to ornaments, such as pergolas and decorative well-tops, adding charm to their gardens, and then she made useful communal artefacts, like wrought iron benches for the villagers to rest upon.   However, she knew that these were only superficial improvements.  If she was to effect lasting change she needed to tackle the root of the threat that hung over the people, filling their souls with dread.

It was December and holly, ivy and mistletoe festooned the doors of the houses, candles shone in the windows and mulled wine bubbled on stoves to be offered to any who stopped for a chat.  One evening, the blacksmith sat by her fire, contemplating what gift she could give to her friends.  Little figurines would be easy, but she wanted something more memorable/impactful.  The flames on the log burning in the hearth flared into life, just as the mulled wine started to boil, and that was sufficient to spark her imagination, she realised what she had to do.

As it was still early evening, she slipped out of her house and paid a visit to each of her close friends.  She chatted briefly, but was careful to leave with an object secreted in her pocket: a yet to be illustrated page torn from a book; the hair of a dark dog, a worn lace discarded from a running shoe; a pebble; a small piece of red cloth; some crumbs of tattie scone; a strip of no-longer-needed red tape; a jovial but slightly battered bell; a few flower petals; a broken guitar string; an eyelash; a piece of chocolate; an onion; and a small morsel of golden cheese.

On Christmas Eve each household fetched in its Yule Log, carrying it with ceremonial pride and christening it with wine or cider before setting it ablaze.  The blacksmith was no different, only she had taken care not to trim all the branches off her piece of ash, one stout bough remained, like a long, raised arm reaching out from the trunk.  She lit the log at the end near the branch, using beeswax to encourage the wood to light.

That night, when all had gone to sleep, the blacksmith remained awake.  Earlier in the week she had dried oak logs in a kiln, to make “white coal” that would provide the extra heat required to melt metal.  During the afternoon she had lit her furnace, sealing the exterior with mud to lock in the warmth.  The heat, emanating from its opening, was like a dragon’s breath as she reached towards the entrance to throw in smelted iron and the objects that she had collected from her friends.  Cast iron’s quality is derived from a fusion of iron and carbon melded together when the mixture is molten – the blacksmith needed the objects to provide the metal’s strength but, in addition, she had selected each piece with care, as a symbol of friends and fellowships, to add a little magic.

While the mixture melted to form a glowing liquid and seeped into a bowl at the base of the furnace, the blacksmith took a tray of damp sand and, using a slim wooden wedge as a template, made fourteen, identical, deep indentations.  Taking up the bowl of liquid metal in her tongs, with care she poured the contents into the hollows.  Steam and sparks filled the air, but she remained focused.  Eventually all fourteen shapes were filled with solidifying metal.  It was not long before she could take the tray outside to let the night-time’s chill speed the process.  Once the metal was cool enough, she prized the shapes from their moulds – fourteen shining stakes gleamed in the moonlight.  Along with her hand-hammer, she bundled these into a leather bag that she slung over her shoulder.  Finally, she cracked the metal poker hard against the base of the smouldering ash branch protruding from the Yule log, causing it to snap from the trunk.  This proved an excellent long-handled torch, blazing at its tip.  Using strips of cloth, she was able to bind the cool end to her upper arm so that the flames shed light from above her head, while she retained the ability to use her hands without too much inconvenience.  Thus equipped, she made her way to the cliff leading up to the frost giant’s cave.

Using the hammer, she strove to drive the stakes into clefts in the rock and thus provided herself with handholds and footholds on which to haul and stand.  Slowly and laboriously she climbed her way up the cliff.  It was nearly midnight when she reached the mouth of the cave.  She could hear the giant grunting and snoring, lost in his dreams – he was not disturbed by the gentle glow from the burning ash wood.  It was only when she was standing inside the entrance, had unbound the torch from her arm and was holding it aloft, that she gently called to him and he awoke.

“Who dares disturb me at this hour?”

He bellowed and abruptly rose up from the rags of his sordid bed.  The poor blacksmith was terrified, she had hoped to come and reason with him on behalf of the village, but his face was a frozen mask of rage.  He commenced lumbering towards her, a club from beside his bed grasped in his vast fist.  His fury and menace were almost palpable.  She dreaded him charging at her, knocking her out of the cave mouth to a tumbled death at the foot of the cliff.  In self defence she held the torch in front of her, to try and force him to keep his distance.  Instead of stopping, the giant blundered straight onto the fiery end of the branch.  As the flames touched his frozen skin an extraordinary thing happened, the ice cracked and split, like fine lines in fractured metal, spreading across his torso and then it began to melt. A veritable stream started flowing from the giant’s feet towards the cave’s entrance and poured down, over the line of stakes leading up to his lair.  As the ice melted the giant himself shrank.  He dwindled, while water drained, eventually the blacksmith had a figure the size of a young child huddled in fear on the ground in front of her.

Bending down to him she gently reached out her hand.  Tentatively, the being touched her fingers and then looked up into her face.  His fearful eyes filled her with pity.  She moved closer and held him, in the warmth of her strong arms, as the last melt-water dripped away.

It was nearly dawn when the blacksmith lowered what looked like a small boy in the basket to the ground below and then followed down herself.  She took him back to her home, dried and dressed him and put him to bed.  The villagers were amazed on Christmas afternoon to see their friend accompanied by what could have been her son.  He enjoyed playing marbles with the cheese makers’ daughter and proved excellent at manning the bellows for the blacksmith’s forge.  Looking up towards the giant’s cave, a cascade of sparkling icicles shone and glinted with beauty in the pale sunshine, as they clung to metal spikes.  They hung there until the start of the New Year and the glinting stakes remained thereafter as a testament to the blacksmith’s endeavours.  She knew they would never have been achieved without the help of precious friends, who gave her the courage and the confidence to do the right thing.

I staked my career on a number of things this year – the delivery of an industry leading Leadership Development Programme (which has already made a demonstrable impact); orchestrating an employee engagement survey that took a genuine temperature check and produced world-class scores; agreeing and articulating values; ensuring clarity of understanding of the vision and the establishment of long-term strategic objectives, with a clear linkage between performance and results.  I could not have achieved all of this by myself – I have worked with some of the most amazing people, many of whom I hope will read this post.  I treasure wonderful memories including:

  • Sipping Scotch whilst contemplating Shackleton and leadership with a friend who had the strength and vision to change his own life;
  • Seeing a man I admire raise awareness of mental health within the workplace and the birth of a movement;
  • Being inspired by a lady who called others to action;
  • Sharing ideas with and learning from erudite academics in Cambridge;
  • Celebrating the co-publication of an extraordinary, collaborative book of HR blogs curated by a man I have the honour of calling my friend;
  • Setting the world to rights, as the sun set over the sea, in Cape Town;
  • Being a Dragon assessing employees’ suggestions for a leading NHS Foundation Trust – just one of my roles as a governor; and
  • Sharing precious time with family and friends.

I have cheered people on as they have attained World Records, mourned friends and great leaders who taught me what I should aspire to become and I have made some wonderful acquaintances with creative and inspirational individuals.  Thank you!  You inspired me, enlighten me, encourage and sustain me.  I am humbled by your skills, patience and perseverance.  I can only thank you for being part of my story and, remember, inside most giants there is only a small child…

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Human Nurture

On Thursday a friend of mine collapsed in Oxford Street in London - individuals rallied round, sheltering both him and the others trying to care for him, shielding them from the incessant rain with their umbrellas.  Worried strangers applied first aid and called for medical assistance (he managed to locate and thank them a day later, after tracing them through their tweets about what had happened).  On Friday, on my way home from work, there was a stabbing outside the tube station near my house and a man is now dead.  After the police arrived and cordoned off the crime scene, people clustered in small groups, peering past the security tape to gawp at the blood and the professional forensic investigators.  The perpetrators ran off, after the stabbing, leaving the man to die.  Such contrasting events with different outcomes…and yet both are examples of human group behaviour.

scene outside Stockwell tube on Friday evening
Despite the differences, these are illustrations of people being “tribal” in the way in which they interact with others.  Once one person started assisting my friend others followed suit and Twitter itself, despite being open to all, consists of clusters of individuals who follow and share information with each other, grounded in their shared interests, common traits, values or opinions.  The stabbing was, according to local comments, a result of gang rivalry - people protecting “their turf” and rejecting an outsider whom they saw as dangerous or different.  They wanted to make a statement through their actions - warning others to beware and respect them.  Man’s behaviour arguably has not changed much since the Stone Age.  Intruders pose a threat to potentially scarce or precious resources, or perhaps they own objects that are desirable or could be subversive to established ways of doing things, and hence violence ensues.  
The Tollund Man , Silkeborg Museum , Jutland , Denmark
When I was a child there was a book in the downstairs cloakroom of our house that always fasciated me, because of its amazing photographs and dark, forensic-anthropologically founded, conclusions.  It was called The Bog People (by the marvellously named Professor Glob) and it showed the preserved remains of Iron Age men and women who had suffered violent deaths  - mostly sacrificial.  (As a little girl these pictures were both terrifying and enthralling and I would make what I considered illicit trips to “the smallest room” simply to take a peek at the photos).  Similar archeological discoveries have been found in peat bogs in Ireland.  An even older preserved body, of equal fascination, is that of the Neolithic man Ötzi, who was discovered on the Austrian/Italian border in 1991, preserved in ice for 5,300 years. He too suffered a violent end, probably bleeding to death from an arrow wound in his back.  Man has a long history of murder and conflict.

Ötzi as originally discovered in a melting glacier
- hard to believe he is over 5,000 years old
The events on both Thursday and Friday make me ponder the forces that drive our behaviours, that chestnut of nature vs. nurture.  What compels people to kill each other? Why are others willing to step forward and help a stranger in his or her time of need?  What motivates us to behave as we do?  In the recent events I have mentioned, both groups of behaviours are perhaps rooted in a desire for survival - either personal or for the species.  Doubtless people outside the underground station were wary of stepping forward to assist when their own personal safety could be in danger - there were dangerous men wielding knives.  By the time the gang had run off, time had passed and the on lookers had probably become classic examples of the “diffusion of responsibility” - a sociopsychological phenomenon that tends to occur when there are more than three people present and where, as a result, none of them take action in response to an emergency.  This is sometimes referred to as the bystander effect (individuals decide not to respond because they are aware that others who are also witnesses and hence the responsibility for reacting is assumed to be being acted upon by others).  This group behaviour was notably commented on in the case of the murder of Kitty Genovese in New York in 1964.  Ms Genovese was brutally attacked outside her apartment and called for help after being stabbed in the back.  Neighbours heard the sounds but took little action.  Her attacker ran off, subsequently returned, raped, robbed and fatally stabbed her.  Initially the story had little coverage, but within a fortnight the media had latched onto the incident and emotive headlines and comments such as “Thirty-Eight Who Saw Murder Didn’t Call the Police” hit the press.  Much was said about the impact that living in an urban environment has on people’s behaviour.  Being anonymous can encourage apathy.

Video explaining and illustrating the Bystander Effect

This can be an issue at work, particularly in large organisations where it is easy to blend into the crowd.  I used to be employed by one of the UK’s leading retail banks and, whilst there I undertook research into our best and lest effective branches.  There are many reasons for success - leadership, customer profiles, product appeal within certain communities, staff turnover, branch footfall…to name but a few.  However, one thing that made a noticeable difference to customer satisfaction, absence rates, employee motivation and financial performance was the relationship between employees and those around them.  If the bank branch was located within a close-knit community, where people knew each other and their families, it was noticeable that employees were more reliable and productive - with lower absence and sickness rates and higher customer satisfaction.  The link seemed to be due to being known as being accountable.  If you were away you appreciated the impact that you might be having on your colleagues and their wider lives.  If the community in which you lived heard that you were unwell, people would make it their business to know how ill you were and would ask after you.  If a promise was made to a customer, that commitment was more likely to be kept, because you knew that you would be held responsible and named as the person who failed to meet an obligation or complete a transaction within an agreed timeline, should things not go according to plan.  There is a greater probability that you will apply yourself to the task if you know that people, who know you, are relying on you.  People work best when they feel accountable and know that their individual performance is being relied upon (it is for this reason that in First Aid training these days individuals are encouraged to nominate a particular person to provide required assistance, even if that person is a stranger - “Hey, you, in the purple T-shirt, call an ambulance!”).

There is research that shows that people perform best when they are being observed.  The most famous study to illustrated this effect was undertaken between 1924 and 1932 at the Hawthorne Works (a Western Electricity factory outside Chicago) in collaboration with Harvard - the research was initially to determine whether better lighting would enhance productivity on the factory line, but test results proved that employees’ performance is enhanced when they believe that people are showing an interest in them and what they do.  The findings were so striking that the “Hawthorne Effect” has become the accepted phrase, used to describe the phenomenon of temporary changes in performance resulting from being observed or interacted with, rather than any actual actual changes in routine or the environment.  What was perhaps of even greater importance is that this research heralded the start of studies into employee attitudes and was the forerunner of the now commonly used engagement surveys and employers’ efforts to make the workplace a pleasing environment where people feel motivated and are more productive.

Behavioural science is proving increasingly important in aiding our understanding of how people act both at work and in society.  Just like other parts of our body, the human brain has deeply seated reflex reactions to certain stimuli - for example studies at Newcastle University are demonstrating that merely hanging posters of staring human eyes can be sufficient to deter anti-social behaviour. such as theft; scents such as freshly brewed coffee and baked bread can make potential buyers more favourably inclined towards buying a house.  We respond to our environment and the people around us.  It is well known that anti-social behaviour increases when individuals feel that they are anonymous or not being observed - for example recent studies of a group of 941 on-line gamers in Singapore and China revealed that 70% of them cheat when playing with strangers.  This could have ramifications within the workplace, as we increasingly rely on technology and remote, cross-border working.  Certainly it means that we need to ensure that people feel that they are valued and viewed as individuals. 

The impact of social media is already being felt in the way we communicate - unhappy customers are swift to voice their discontent on Facebook, Reddit and Twitter.  There is nowhere to hide and there is the opportunity to comment in public 24 hours a day.  The employer brand is in the care of a few individuals interacting with others in public.  Those who make things personal and appropriate are the ones who shine.   I enjoyed this interaction with a customer, Marty Lawrenceby an employee called David at the UK retailer Sainsbury’s - an excellent Storify and I have played some daft, but highly enjoyable, games of I-spy with various train operating companies and their passengers (when I was not even seated on a train!).  These personal interactions has enhanced my opinion of the businesses.

Much of success comes down to people using their initiative, standing out from the flock and not being bird-brained.  Admittedly, it is a tenuous link, but I like the below video and wanted to use it:

What an extraordinary bird.

Like the crow, we need to look for ways of solving problems using what there is available. If I ever find myself in a similar situation to my friend or the poor man stabbed outside the tube, I want people around me who see a problem and step towards it with the intention of finding a solution.

As a last word, this lady did not simply watch as a bystander (thanks to Bina for sharing it):