Lead like Sir David Attenborough with Go and See Walks

David Attenborough and a bird

“There was that one moment I was absolutely sure that what I was seeing was global warming. And that was a dead coral reef, bleached white because of the rising temperature.”
This is an extract from Sir David Attenborough talking to Science Friday about his new book and Netflix documentary, A Life on Our Planet: My Witness Statement and Vision for the Future. You can read the full transcript here.  
Why do we highlight this example to you? Because Sir David Attenborough was leading by example. He went to see the problem for himself so he could better understand global warming, and the impact on our planet. Ultimately putting himself in a better position to support efforts to resolve the problem.  

“It’s on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way”

– Claude Monet (French Painter)

Seek first to understand with a 'Go & See' walk

Seek first to understand’ is the fifth habit outlined by Stephen R Covey in his book, ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ – it is the principle of gaining an in-depth knowledge of something before taking any action. As demonstrated by Sir David, one of the ways a leader can gain knowledge of a process or particular problem is by going to observe it. 

By observing what is really happening where the work takes place, on the frontline, you can identify opportunities for improvement, and place yourself in a better position to support your teams’ continuous improvement efforts. We call this Leadership observation of work in action ‘Go & See’ walks.  

Watch our video below for an explanation of how these work.

Client stories - Go & See Walks

In the audio below, I share with you one of my favourite real-life stories of a leader doing a Go & See walk. 

In this story, a housing Director didn’t understand why it took two members of her team to visit a vacant property, until she went and observed the process in action…

If you have any stories you would like to share, please email hello@ad-esse.com or reply to this email to set up a chat.  

14 Questions for your Go & See Walks

Take a look at the infographic below for examples of questions to ask when conducting your Go & See walks.

Go and see walk infographic by Ad Esse Consulting

Continuous Improvement Comic:

The Go & See Walk

The Go and See Walk comic by Ad Esse Consulting

The work with managers has been very successful, as it has really challenged them into thinking about how what they do day-to-day supports their staff and continuous improvement.

– Kam Basra, Head of Transformation at Citizen

Lead change like Sir David Attenborough by observing processes from the frontline, where the work is done. The power of observation through Go & See walks is invaluable for identifying opportunities for continuous improvement and creating more customer value.

For a Go & See walk to be effective you must be respectful of the people involved, ask the right questions, and not jump into problem solving too quickly.

To learn more, or if you would like support to complete Go & See walks in your organisation, email hello@ad-esse.com.