Graham Miller, How Human Leadership Builds Organisational Resilience – InnovaBuzz 429

Graham Miller

Graham Miller, Humans Being at Work

In this episode, I’m really excited to have as my guest, Graham Miller, business resilience consultant, facilitator, and author. Graham has spent over 20 years in the Royal Australian Navy’s Fleet Air Arm in aviation and management roles before working in organisational development positions in the public sector. For the past 12 years, he has consulted to organisations large and small, in the areas of organisational resilience and organisational development. He is the co-founder and co-director of Brisbane-based management consultancy Humans Being At Work which encourages people to bring their authentic selves to work, and helps organisations tap into the collective wisdom that resides within, to build organisational resilience.

Graham has always been fascinated with how people work in organisations. The merging of his aviation background with his consulting experience provides a unique perspective on organisational development. In 2020, Graham published his book, The Human Factor, which outlines how organisations can adapt and adopt management principles developed in the aviation industry over the past 40 years to boost organisational performance, reduce error and get the best from their people to improve organisational resilience.

In our discussion, Graham talked to me about:

  • Human leadership and allowing for human factors – fallibility
  • The importance of robust systems and how that allows more human connection
  • Building psychologically safe environments for innovation

Dr. Cathryn Lloyd in episode 259 introduced us to Graham. 

Listen to the podcast to find out more.

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Human fallibility is a critical principle of Human Factors Thinking. Graham Miller on #InnovaBuzz podcast Share on X

Show Notes from this episode with Graham Miller of Humans Being At Work

Key points and takeaways from this episode include:

  • Human beings are not human resources. They are people.
  • We can get a lot of pleasure in what we are doing when we bring our authentic selves to work.
  • Allow your humanity to shine through. There is power in being your authentic self. 
  • Culture does take a long time to change, but the climate can change in an instant.
  • The power of being human creates an instant impact in the workplace.
  • It’s important to give people freedom whilst having them follow a process. 
  • As a leader, you’ve got to deal with many unexpected things, but you also have to deal with many things that are predictable.
  • Procedures, processes, and orders lend themselves to being efficient that then provides some space for creative thinking.
  • It’s important to have procedures in place that allow for creativity to blossom.
  • Procedures create a space for creativity and innovation.
  • An effective response to a disaster or crisis relies heavily on the relationships you’ve built with people.
  • We all have our own interpretation of different words, and any misinterpretation of those words, whether written or spoken can be catastrophic.
  • All of us have different definitions of what effective and good leadership looks like. 
  • The problem with communication is the illusion that it is being achieved.
  • Human fallibility is a critical principle of Human Factors Thinking. 
  • Errors are inevitable and can be managed. You can contain, avoid, and mitigate errors by having certain systems and procedures in place when they occur.
  • Errorism is the propensity for humans to make errors. 
  • Errors are like marbles in a bowl. If you want to contain the errors, then make the size of the bowl bigger rather than lamenting on the fact that the marbles are falling out of the bowl. 
  • Errors are going to happen but they can be addressed, contained, and avoided. 
  • Part of Human Factors Thinking is to make the best use of available resources. 
  • It’s important to create an environment where people feel comfortable enough to speak up if they foresee an error situation.
  • Recognise that you are fallible like everyone else, and as a leader, it’s your obligation to create a psychologically safe workplace.
  • Share the load with your people. Be transparent in communicating with them and engage them in your decision-making. 
  • Creating a culture is systematising the human element of the organisation.
  • Bring your humanity to work. Beautiful things happen when you are being real to yourself and your colleagues.
  • Be comfortable with disagreement because that is where innovation can really prosper. 
  • Create a dialectic approach to decision-making. Crash ideas together not to overpower the other but to create a creative spark out of that fusion of difference.
  • You have to pre-commit to the possibility of being wrong. 
  • Approach decision-making like climbing a wall rather than a cage fight. 
  • Ideas get better through challenge and critique. If you want to innovate, you have to create a psychologically safe workplace where people can throw ideas out without fear or favour and approach it with a mindset of being pre-committed to the possibility of being wrong.
  • An innocent and ignorant observer can unknowingly open up a whole new way of thinking for a group of experts. 
Ideas get better through challenge and critic. Graham Miller on #InnovaBuzz podcast Share on X

The Buzz – Our Innovation Round

Here are Graham’s answers to the questions of our innovation round. Listen to the conversation to get the full scoop.

  1. #1 thing to be more innovative – Pre-commit to the possibility of being wrong. Recognise that you don’t know everything. The secret to innovation is to engage in diversity. Have a bunch of people with different ideas. 
  2. Best thing for new ideas – Writing a book – The Human Factor. Leaders need to re-examine their mindset around what good leadership means and how you can make use of all available resources. Create a psychologically safe workplace that encourages even the lowest paid people in the organisation to come up with ideas or to speak up whenever they foresee a problem. 
  3. Favourite tool for innovation – Facilitation. Using powerful questions of what, how, and why with genuine curiosity. 
  4. Keep project/client on track – Be completely open and transparent. Define what the track is and have regular discussions with them around those.
  5. Differentiate – You are unique just like everyone else. Just be you and open up the floor to all people so that they can be them and bring their own uniqueness to the table. Being innovative is tapping into the unique creativity that you and your people have because no else has got it. No one else can take what you’ve got and apply it in exactly the same way that you do. 

To Be a Leader

Embrace your humanness and your uniqueness, then go forth to give and live.

Reach Out

You can reach out and thank Graham through their website.

Suggested Guest

Graham suggested we have a conversation with Values Consultant, Stephen Berkeley. So Stephen, keep an eye on your inbox for an invitation from us to the InnovaBuzz Podcast, courtesy of Graham Miller.



Cool Things About Graham

  • He occasionally takes his motorbike for a ride through the mountains of Southeast Queensland. 
  • He also volunteers with a local organisation helping people who feel socially isolated.
  • He has a Grad Dip in Human resources, and a Masters in Human Resources and Organisational Development. 
Be comfortable with disagreement because that is where innovation can really prosper. Graham Miller on #InnovaBuzz podcast Share on X

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Jürgen Strauss

Dr. Jürgen Strauss is The World's Best Human-Centred Podcasting Coach and the only Podcast Innovator with the signature bright yellow headphones, who masterfully crafts human connection for high-impact achievers in a vibrant community. You can find Jürgen on LinkedIn, The InnovaBuzz Podcast, The Flywheel Nation Community as well as on Innovabiz' InstagramTwitter, Facebook pages and his personal Photography website.  

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