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Enterprise Excellence Episode 11: Keivan Zokaei


Welcome to episode 11 of the Enterprise Excellence Podcast. It is such a pleasure to have Dr Keivan Zokaei with me. Keivan is an expert in Business transformation, working within industries ranging from retail and manufacturing through to Financial services. Keivan co-authored the award winning book "Creating a Lean and Green Business System" which outlines the approaches taken by a number of our leading business to develop a culture of continuous improvement focused on achieving holistic outcomes for people, profit and the planet. Keivan is here today to share his recent study and how to support organisations in the field of happiness. He is truly a person who has dedicated his career to creating a better future.


In this episode, Dr Keivan Zokaei describes growing up in warn torn Iran. His initial life forming experience was when, as a 12yr old, his teacher asked him to write an essay on happiness. This was confusing for Keivan at the time, considering the hardships he saw all around him. He found it to be much to his dislike and did not actually submit the assignment. Little did he know that many years later, he found the connection to happiness, and ackowledges what his teacher was hoping for him to learn.

Keivan had an experience with an illegal book at the time that lead him down the path of capitalism and improvement for the greater good. A link with Jim Womack (author of "Lean Thinking") during University developed his interests towards Culture and Enterprise Excellence.

Keivan believes that knowing your 'why' is key to happiness in life. Knowing your own personal why will help you to be happier, which will help others to be more happy, which will create a better world. And knowing your why as a company can be the sole reason that a transformation journey succeeds.

COVID has of course brought many changes to the world. Keivan sees that humans need to be able to adapt to new circumstances. Life is precarious. We have taken the orderly world for granted for too long. He reflects that his new baby will not now of life before COVID. He will grow up, in this moment and learn how to follow his heart with determination in creating a better world.


Keivan’s Profile


·  (Company Website)




07:26 min Know your own why. But do we really talk about the why, which is your own selfish happiness? and there is nothing wrong with being selfish by the way. In fact, it's the healthiest thing we can do. If you're all selfish in a healthy way, we can help each other and we will create a much happier and better world, of course, all together.

13:14 min Organisations who successfully go on the transformation journey, they definitely know their why. That's for sure. And they know their why in a way that relates to each individual that is around there.

17:05 min I might start telling her "make your peace with the word happiness".

17:18 min It comes across a little bit as happy and chirpy, as cheerfulness. It's not about that of course. It's about being grounded and being connected, knowing yourself. In fact, the best exercise the gurus in the field of happiness tell you to do is meditate.

20:42 min The idea that you can marry capitalism with sustainability...the idea that you can fix the world as we have it today is based on capitalism. The idea that we can fix it is very powerful.

21:42 min So you've got a choice here to try to be a force for good and actually everything is eminently fixable, or you can just be a bit miserable about it and try to fight back.

23:53 VIDEO It's the best thing we can possibly ask for, is when people go on their own normative journey and their own experiences in their own way, which is absolutely unique and ingenious. That's the whole point. And they come and explain to you what happened, well that is marvellous.

25:02 min Companies have loads of very good ideas and there is no shortage of good tools and techniques for improvement. In fact, if anything we have way too much. There is no problem there. But how to systematically bring these things together.

25:26 min The 'how' is sometimes missing. In many many cases, it's missing and the reason it's missing is we don't know the 'why' we have got.

26:39 min So they know what are their personal values and timeless values and then they know their core purpose. What's their why. Why are they going on that journey?

27:51 min If a leader is in the place that is looking for genuine transformation, also bear in mind that's a very privileged place to be. Many many leaders don't get to be there. So, if you're privileged enough to be in that space and genuinely think about it...Wow. You're very lucky, and also, I applaud the fact that you've managed to be there.

30:01 min This also shows how much humans have the ability to adapt to the circumstances.

2 Key Takeaways

What a great episode from Keivan on the topic of happiness and the importance of that in the workplace.

The key points I took from this episode were:

1. Start with yourself as a leader.

2. Define your vision and purpose, and let other teams and people put it into their own language.

So the key steps I'd see for that, from a leadership point of view, was really focus on treating yourself well, with sleep, food, exercise, meditation and mindfulness. These key aspects really get us in a great place as a leader, which helps us then lead happiness throughout the organization.

With a vision and mission or just cause and purpose, really the key steps can be to define that as an organization in a way that has a bigger purpose to it. And then take that to the teams and help them define it in their language and then down to the individual. This is a really powerful approach I've seen done in a number of organizations and can really help.

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