I wanted to talk today about change failure and, as you know, I’ve been doing quite a bit of research on change and change failure – mostly to confirm or get a feel for how accurate I am when it comes to what I’ve been seeing over the 15-some-odd years of doing change work and the statistics are pretty scary. Current statistics on organizational change success – 70 percent or more of change initiatives fail and those numbers are apparently increasing. And yet, there’s a greater demand for change and needing to be agile in the face of a very uncertain environment and we’re becoming worse at it. And, I suspect, that your experience in that space is very similar to mine where there’s all these change initiatives and there might be a little bit of focus and then as soon as we’ve done the ceremony, had the training, turned it on, let’s do the next change.
And so people wind up being really tired, which is a common reaction to change initiatives. Particularly, I noticed that in the last five years working in organizations where it’s one thing after another, after another and people are just tired. The second thing is that even when you’re looking at personal change or habit change, the failure rate is 80 to 90 percent. And when I see the research on that, a lot of it is focused on, well maybe you didn’t chunk it small enough, you didn’t do anything with your environment … throw away the cookies. But I think there’s something that has been missed in some of this conversation. The reason that I’ve seen that change fails both in organizations and in just the personal changes we’re trying to make. We have not considered the impact on other people and we have not considered how we need to interact with other people to make that change successful.
So here’s what I mean when I talk about how we haven’t considered the impact on other people. In an organizational sense, I’ve often seen it as, “Okay, well we’re going to do the stakeholder matrix and we’re going to know them as a trainer.” You’re looking at it in terms of: “Who are my audiences? What’s the change that can happen now?” It’s very surface level, but we really haven’t considered both the short term impact because any change is going to slow people down as they learn new processes. They learn new tools and they have to integrate and learn how their interactions with others change. That’s a layer that we don’t normally get into when it comes to organizational change Then on the personal level, when many of us approach change for ourselves, like the new year’s resolution, we’re thinking about the behaviors and the changes we need to make personally without considering how this impacts others.
For instance, I actually had this conversation with my better half last night. I’m thinking about changing up some of the things that we eat. We’ve gotten a little sloppy with our diet and, thing is, if I was going the way I typically go and we have typically gone into things, it’s like, “Okay, well… I’m just going to change my diet and start eating vegetables and all that.” There’s a possibility that, that could get derailed pretty quickly because maybe on a day I want a salad, he wants pizza. I like pizza. How easy is it going to be for him to derail me from the salad to go eat pizza?
The changes that we make for ourselves tend to have a greater impact on others. It’s the same thing when you’re looking at even family and friends or people outside. Again, I’m going to use food as an example. There’s a social component around food and going into food situations where, “No, I can’t eat this, I can’t eat this, I can eat this.”
It’s good to set boundaries, but it does have a social impact. That’s something that often we don’t consider. I know for myself, if, whenever I’ve made changes and those changes happen to stick, part of it is me. I’m healthy. Part of it is me, but some of it is also how I’m interacting with the people in my environment now. Like a lot of humans, I want to belong.
I’m doing it more to make myself a little healthier. I don’t have medical issues, I’m not trying to lose a ton of weight. And I’m fortunate enough to not have food addictions, or that sort of thing. It is still worth considering how your personal changes are going to impact others.
The other thing that often gets lost, and I’m thinking part of it is because it’s really uncomfortable, is how we interact with people needs to change oftentimes with change. I’m going to go again to organizational…the personal on an organizational level. What tends to happen, or at least what I’ve seen in my career, is change comes down from on high and is inflicted on others, especially these process changes. But the people who are leading that change are treating it as “It’s a change you need to make. I don’t really need to do anything.” They may not mean to send that message, but that’s often the message they send – like, “I’m separate and apart from this change. Even though you have to make the change, it doesn’t apply to me.”
There’s modeling that needs to be considered. There’s How does this change what I’m rewarding? How does this change how I interact with people? Do I need to treat people differently?
A really big example of this is that shift to Agile requires an awful lot of changes in relationships between people. And I think that that’s one of the things that gets lost and that’s one of the reasons why a number of Agile implementations go sideways. And then on a personal level, again, there’s interaction changes. I’m not only modeling, “Hey, I’m really trying to do what I say I’m going to do,” but also setting boundaries, setting and maintaining boundaries. I’m asking for help – which is difficult for a lot of us.
I know I am super guilty of this and I am working on this constantly. Asking for help is really, really hard. If you’re not someone who has typically asked for help, that’s a major change in the way you interact with people. That’s one of the reasons why I’m writing the personal change planning book. I think that one of the ways we can really help our cause and make new habits stick is to deeply consider the impact on others and how we need to change how we interact with others. So I hope that helps. The link to the preorder for the personal change planning book I’m working on is below. Please comment or send any feedback or questions on this video or on the blog post.
In this case study for the personal change planning model, I wanted to provide a case study for decision around whether or not to join a particular club or any other time-consuming activity. I would also think of this case study in terms of pursue a certification or pursue a new educational opportunity, one that is going to take some time.
What we’re going do is we’re going to do this using all four quadrants The quadrants are defined as – I, or the impact on myself – It, or the impact on someone else. I think that’s really important when we’re looking at personal change. We – any changes that I need to make in terms of how I interact with another person or other people. It’s – which are the systems and resources that might be impacted or that I might need for the change.
When we do this, we’re looking at two passes. First, to help us with our decision making. One is the short term impact across all four quadrants, which are shown here. The second is the longer term impact across all four quadrants. We’ll talk about that a little bit later. Then, once we decide, yes/no – this is worth pursuing, then we’ll take a look at what we have already available to us, which I think is the step that we often forget when we’re initiating a project or initiating change and what we need.
What I’m showing here is the decision that I made a couple of months ago over whether or not to join Toastmasters. Now, for those who aren’t familiar with Toastmasters, they’re an organization that’s been around for a really long time and they started as a group that helped each other become better public speakers; particularly in the format of giving toasts.
An old tradition is a best man, stands up at a wedding and gives a toast to the bride and groom. It was about perfecting that over the years. Particularly, in the last year, they’ve expanded their mission to become not just an opportunity to practice public speaking, get the support to overcome fears of public speaking, and get better at public speaking. They’re also doing a lot more around leadership and leadership skills and coaching skills and feedback skills. That’s what attracted me. When I approached, I already knew a little bit of about what the organization was. I also had an advantage in that my dad was a member of Toastmasters growing up, so I had a passing familiarity with the group.
The center of the model is the choice that we’re making and this is a yes/no choice. In a later example. I’ll go over choosing between options. The choice is do I join Toastmasters? Yes/No. The second part of the center is the why. Getting very clear on my primary reason for joining it. In this case, my why is to get better at public speaking, particularly extemporaneous public speaking. Now I’ve been in front of the classroom and doing online webinars for 20 plus years. I’ve never taken a public speaking class and I know even watching some of my recorded videos that I’ve developed some really annoying verbal ticks that I’m not real happy with. So it was important to me to go back and really work on my public speaking, particularly the extemporaneous public speaking.
That’s the primary reason. Now there are secondary why to this: networking. I am a solopreneur, so networking is always important. Finding community – that is important, but that is secondary to public speaking. Being very clear as to why I’m doing this will help me decide as opportunities present themselves what is most important and whether to say yes or no to it. Having that why there is going to remain very critical.
I’m going to turn on my laser pointer here. The first pass I take is the short term and really these first two passes only took five minutes each. Then what I do is I sleep on it and then I go back to it. So the first question I ask is what’s the short term impact on me and others and my systems and how I relate to people if I do this?
In the I quadrant, a short term impact is one – attending meetings. Going into new groups is always a little scary. The second thing that’s really important in this instance is to make sure I contribute to each one. Any of these is a give and take, I want to establish solid relationships right off the bat with a new group of people. The second one (actually the third) is they have something called Pathways – that’s the learning tracks within the organization. They did a really nice job (on these learning tracks), that’s one of the things that attracted me to this group. One of the things with the pathway that I need to make sure of is that I’m only doing one at a time and one project at a time. So … not getting too far ahead of myself, which is really, really easy to do.
Excuse me, for the dog. The second thing (fourth thing?) is belief. Going into it with a belief that I am interested – which is infinitely more important than the second part of this – and interesting. Mostly what I’ve found is that what I’m interested in others, I become more interesting. The one thing I don’t want to fall into is the, “Hi, I’m grilling you with questions because I’m too nervous to have an actual conversation with you.” That’s something that I’m working on. Maintaining that belief is really important. Then mindset. It’s really important with this change – actually with any change, but with this change in particular – to remind myself that just because I’m not the most inspirational speaker now I can become one with healthy practice and support. The whole idea behind Toastmasters is being able to support each other as we become inspirational speakers and not necessarily inspirational speakers as in, you know, “I’m going to stand up here and pretend to be Tony Robbins.” That’s not what I mean. Inspirational more in terms of I’ve inspired someone else to improve themselves. I think that’s the best way I can explain that. Those are the short term impacts. There needs to be a change in belief in myself and a change in mindset. Also just remembering not to get ahead of myself.
The change of the impact on others. Keeping in mind the impact on my household. My household consists of myself and Ryan who’s my life partner. Any decision or choice or change that I make that has me leaving the house or needing to make time for things, I need to make sure he’s accommodated. I’m very, very fortunate in that I’ve got an incredibly supportive partner, but on my side I need to make sure that everything’s copacetic. Ideally before I just do stuff. That’s just a value I have. That’s the type of relationship I have. It’s not even a permission thing. It’s more of a respectful, “This is what I’m up to, this is what I’m doing, this is where I’m going. You don’t have any plans for me, do you?” It’s a respectful thing like that.
The change in the impact on the We, which is how I relate to him, is just making sure I’m negotiating time for those meetings. I needed to have it up here because the impact on him is that he’s gonna have to cook for himself Monday night. Other impacts include getting to know the individuals in the community I don’t know. That’s kind of the short term impact. I don’t know what further impact this is going to have yet. I’ll talk about that on the next slide. In terms of we with friends and family, one of the things that has a short term impact is just sharing what I’m doing. Everybody’s really supportive. No one’s said “How dare you go out and learn more about public speaking.” This is not a terribly controversial activity.
Short term, this is a bunch of new people to me. I don’t know them very well. I didn’t go in there knowing anybody. What is important is that I show up, present and interested and polite. Trying to be my best self in each of those interactions. Demonstrating respect. I think that’s incredibly important with anybody, not just people we don’t know very well.
I think it’s almost more important that we demonstrate that respect with our closest friends and family. Then being open to feedback. One of the things with Toastmasters that can be a little challenging is that it really is about feedback and that I’m learning. A lot of people, I’ve noticed, find sometimes that feedback is really painful. Part of the lesson is figuring out how to give feedback and how to receive feedback and how to discern, productive feedback. I know the group that I’m with works very hard to make sure that the feedback they provide is productive and is in the right spirit. I know they want you to improve as much as you want them to improve.
In the Its area, short term, blocking time for the meetings and also commuting to the meetings and finding parking for the meetings. I live right outside of Washington DC. It’s not just the amount of time it takes to get from here to there, it’s also finding parking and it’s also the unpredictability of traffic, so I have to schedule that.
There are also projects. I have to block time for the speech writing and the projects, not just for the meetings. I did my icebreaker (first speech) a few weeks ago. It took me (I was super nervous so I took longer than it probably needed to) but that one took me about eight hours to decide what I was going to talk about and structure the speech, run it against the evaluation criteria, restructure the speech, decide to do another speech, repeat process. I don’t quite anticipate the other speeches to take nearly that long, but I do think eight hours is about the right amount of time. Especially since I seem to like tossing stuff and starting over again. I’ll get over that.
One of the short term things I need to do is figure out what the expectations are from the club, and also national. Each of the clubs have a national component. I also need to learn more about the Pathways process. They just changed their tracks. So it’s a learning experience for everybody. That that’s the important part. That’s the short term impact
The long-term impact. When we go into new activities I found oftentimes that we look at the short term, but we don’t necessarily look at how this is going to impact us long-term or operationally. This is true both for personal change and also for projects and organizational change. In long-term, too, I also think in terms of exit strategy as well as knowing when to call it quits.
I think that’s a good thing to ask about in these long-term quadrants. In the I quadrant, the impact on me, I will have to make a decision. This talks to my exit strategy as to whether or not I continue that commitment past my dues – so the end of 2018. That will give me four months to see how things go.I also need to make a decision in regards to what level of participation in volunteering I’m going to provide to the group. It’s good to make that decision early versus being asked, saying yes, and then realizing you have no time for any of the other stuff that you’re trying to do or you’re tired or I start neglecting my family. Being really mindful and remembering what I’m trying to get out of it.
I think making those decisions early now – you can always change them – but having an idea of why you’re making those decisions and what you’re trying to get out of the experience and what you want the experience to be like as you go through the process. I think is really important. That’s the I quadrant.
Now I’ve got these italics because I really don’t know. I need to see what the long-term impact is on my partner. I also need to see what the impact is on club members. Part of the evaluation is – is the giving and receiving even? Am I getting what I need out of the experience? Am I reciprocating what they’re providing? So far it’s been an even exchange, but that’s something that I need to keep an eye on. I also need to ask club members as well as I start developing relationships long-term. For Ryan, it’s really maintaining the boundaries and communication around the activities.
I should add this here – having him encourage me to get out of the house. It’s a little too easy, especially when I start hitting evening, for me to go, “Oh yeah, well I’ll skip it.” That’s way too easy. Ineed to ask him to continue to encourage me. “Hey, don’t you need to be somewhere Monday night?” That’s good for me. That’s an external accountability too.
Then with the club members, my goal is really to develop positive and mutually fulfilling relationships. They seem like a really nice group of people.
Then, in terms of systems, I do have to understand that there is a minimum operational commitment of time. I know at minimum I’m looking at two hours every two weeks and then for the Pathways or the work that I’m doing with the club. It’s to learn this public speaking. I’m estimating right now about eight hours per project. This is something I’m going to keep an eye on.
And then there are minimum costs that will come out operationally. There is annual dues. I’m involved with a community dinner club and one of the ways that they’re able to maintain that room in this restaurant is that they encourage us to get dinner. I need to make sure I budget for dinner every two weeks.
I’ve done my short term and I’ve done my long term and even though it took me longer to explain, the process took about five minutes. Typically I’ll sleep on it, and then go back to it and then I decide, yes/no, do I want to do the thing? This is a yes/no decision. In this case, the answer was obviously yes. Onto the next round.
Once I have determined that it’s a yes, the next thing that I need to do is think about what I have, what resources I have to work with already, and then what I need to do and what I need.
Again, these resources are in all four quadrants and I’m going to start in the I quadrant again. This really talks to internal resourcing and me and my mindset. The big thing that is really good in terms of what I’ve already got is that I’m not going in there petrified of public speaking, which is good. I have had stage fright and it’s not a lot of fun. The one thing that is really important is that I do not get complacent. One of the reasons why I’m in there is to improve my public speaking, going in there going, “Oh yeah, I’ve done this for 20 years.”That’s not gonna help. I really need to maintain beginner’s mind.
Another thing that does help me is – if you’ve ever read Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements, one of them is fundamentally I do what I say what I’m going to do. I’m true to my word. If I tell them that I’m going to serve as grammarian, which is one of the roles that they have in the meeting, then I can trust because I’ve done this for a long time as a practice that I’ve got a 95 percent chance that I’m going to do what I say what I’m going to do, irregardless, unless I’m really sick and contagious or dying. We can argue about how healthy that is. It’s been a mindset that has really helped me over the years more than it hurt me.
In terms of resources I have from others, people with the roles and skills that can help support me, I have a supportive partner who does encourage me to get out more, which I am eternally grateful for. And my dad was actually a former Toastmasters member. When I was a kid he participated for a few years, so he has a little bit of subject matter expertise. Also, he’s been the one who tells me I mumble too much – usually at the dinner table. He’s a really good person to get feedback from.
Then in terms of We – the resources I have. Ryan,again. I just need to make sure that we maintain our lines of communication. And, thankfully, I’ve been involved in some really fantastic online communities and professional communities and some of the speeches that I’m planning to give as part of my toastmasters projects are very much centered around the professional work I’ve been doing over the years. They’re able to provide feedback on content and have offered to. I do intend on taking advantage of their offer because even though these are Toastmasters projects, I think they’re important and I’d like to be able to provide value to them by being as accurate as I can be.
And then in terms of resources, I’ve got so much material for speeches. I am incredibly fortunate that I’ve spent 20 some odd years doing stuff and so I’ve got a pretty good library of topics. I do have video, I’ve been doing online video for a long time. I’ve been doing my speeches as dress rehearsals by filming them first, much like this. I’ve got all the materials for that. Actually that reminds me – part of what I need to ask is whether or not they’re cool with me filming my next speech.
Money. Thankfully I also have enough money to cover costs right now. I do need to keep an eye on this. I do have a community toastmasters group nearby. I have noticed that a lot of the groups in this area tend to be affiliated with organizations. I don’t know what it’s like nationally right now. The fact that there is a community group nearby where their meeting is pretty easily accessible to me, particularly since I’d have to drive around during rush hour around here, is really awesome.
Finally I’m looking at things I need to be successful. In this case with Toastmasters, I need to really maintain beginner’s mind. I’m going to get in big trouble if I don’t maintain a level of humility about this. I need to improve my public speaking. I need to improve my extemporaneous speaking. I can learn a lot from others who have been practicing and have been actively working on their public speaking. Yes, I’ve done this for a long time, but I also can get better. And I can do so by maintaining beginner’s mind, that’ll do me a world of good.
There’s a belief I need to maintain, mostly about being able to become great public speaker and coach the coaching things new to me. I’ve managed drift for probably too many years by just doing the public speaking and not really working on getting good at it.
Then a mindset of maintaining openness to feedback and realizing that they are looking out for me and want me to improve. Now I know in many environments that’s not always the case, this one it is. If I was going into it new, I know they have free meetings where they invite guests and one of the things that I’ve really looked out for is how supportive are they with each other. It was very important to me that I found a group that was very, very focused on supporting each other. I can trust it that is accurate.
In terms of other people, what I need from my partner is encouragement. I do need to find an accountability partner, a coach, someone in the organization. I’m learning more in terms of what the club members are expecting from me and from each other. It does take time to embed in the community and it takes time to make friends. This is something that I just need to keep an eye on and just ask questions if I don’t understand something and just observe. You can learn a lot by observing the norms in any community.
Then in terms of how I interact with other people. Ryan, I’m going to use for feedback, also encouragement and I just need to ask him for encouragement. The online communities, again, I need to ask and then be open to the response. I’m going to wind up putting myself out there quite a bit over the next year as I go through this particular journey.
These are the resources, like the material resources in the system, resources that I need to put together. One is I just need to sit down and block the schedule. I’ve already done it for the meetings. I have not done it for speeches and I need to determine a cadence for when I intend to do projects. There’s a balance that I need to set. I don’t want to always be going up there speaking. I do want to spend some time in some of the other meeting roles and I’m sure they’d be very tired of hearing from me if every single meeting I went up there and spoke. I do also need to figure out what the formal expectations are. I know some of them, but not all of them.
And make time for that, both learning about it and doing what I need to do to fill those roles. I also need to get a better understanding of the participation structure. I need to get a better understanding of providing feedback and speech writing and what those norms are. After evaluating their materials, it’s pretty apparent to me that they are doing best practices. I just need to get clear on that. Practice it, get good.
This is my case study for joining a group. If you have any questions, comments, feedback about this video, please feel free to leave comments in the video comments or on the blog post where I’m also putting in the transcript for this video. Thank you so much for your time. I hope this helps.
I wanted to share with you why I’m focusing more on the personal, particularly in my practice, but also in the book. I think real change, especially when we’re looking at organizational change, especially if we’re looking at societal change needs to start in ourselves and then the next place it goes is in our interactions with others, the one on one interactions. It’s tough to interact in healthy ways, especially if someone’s angering you. If you’re tired, if you’re hungry, if you’re hangry, which is one of my favorite terms. If you’re overwhelmed, overstressed and a lot of the onus is put on us and I don’t know about you, but it strikes me that there’s a lot on our plate.
I’m going to speak for myself. Sometimes I feel like a failure because I’m not reacting very well to the crazy that’s going on out there. And it strikes me that maybe being angry and depressed is a really, really good reaction (and not unhealthy) to what we’re seeing in our organizations, what we’re seeing in the world and how we’re interacting with each other.
So I focused on personal because I think we’re in an environment that’s incredibly destabilizing and it’s made worse by our foundations being undermined. When I look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – at the bottom of it is physiology, the second level of that is a safety and security. When I was looking at the research, (and I will eventually share all this research with you, maybe just remind me, I’ll have to put it in the back of this video or as a separate. I think we’ll do it as a separate video.) People are not sleeping well. People are burned out and disengaged. Even if they are highly engaged, one out of five people are burned out. We’re not eating well. Even those of us who are trying to eat healthy, there’s a lot of questions about what’s going on with our food and water supply.
Then if you look at safety and security, the Gig economy is growing. There’s a lot more contractors. Layoffs, are a lot more common as businesses try to right-size or whatever it is that a lot of organizations are trying to do. Fundamentally, and in a lot of places people are treated like cogs in a machine and resources. It’s a very, very old model and it’s very dehumanizing and people sense that even if you try to paint a pretty picture around it. With pretty terms around, “we value our people.” That’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. This is what we’re working with. So the way I see it, it behooves us individually to get ourselves right and then make sure that when we interact with others that we’re doing so as best as we can on any given day from a place of respect.
It’s easier to do that if we’re sleeping well, if we’re well nourished, than if we’re not. What I’d like to do is perform an experiment and I’d love your comments. This is more of an observational exercise. Take a look this week at the days where you’ve slept well, things are going well, you’re in a decent mood, and just observe how you interact with others. Especially when someone’s giving you bad news or they’re being aggravating.
Do the same thing on days where you haven’t slept well and things aren’t going your way. You’re running around meeting to meeting to meeting, eating junk food. Maybe someone brought a cake. How are you interacting with others? Where’s your hair trigger? Just for the week. I think if you experienced that and just kind of do observation, you might be surprised by what you find. I think it’s really good baseline too.
That’s why I’m focused very much on personal change planning because I think, too, that if you’re able to experience what successful change looks like on a very personal level and particularly as you look at how that change impacts other people. And how that impacts your interactions with other people. That applies to organizational change management because at the end of the day, an organization is a group of people and each one of those people, is an individual. They are not cogs in the machine. They’re not toys that you mess within your system and hope it works well.
Like most coaches, we’re going to work with the wheel of life.
There’s going to be a couple of key differences though between how you and I are going to work together with this versus other coaches.
First – I wanted to make sure you could see how whatever area you’re focusing on impacts the other areas of your life because it’s going to impact other areas of your life.
What we’re going to do is work together to define how you see the areas of your life. We’ll start with this rough template.
We’re going to wind up ultimately with between five and 10 areas. Then, we’re going to work together to define which area you’re going to focus on for the 12 weeks and also which area we need to keep an eye on to make sure that it at least stays stable. We don’t want that area impacted.
For instance, over the past three months, I’ve been working on putting together this coaching practice, so I’ve been very focused in this work and education area. It was important to me to not impact my relationships negatively. So the area I’m keeping an eye on is relationships.
I’m not working to improve them necessarily. I just don’t want them to get any worse. Thankfully I’ve got really solid relationships with my family and friends. I’m very grateful for that. Work and education has been my area of focus. Relationship is the thing I’m keeping an eye on to make sure that’s not negatively impacted, and then these other areas are going to improve or decrease depending on whatever else is happening. In the health and appearance area, my workout regimen hasn’t been terribly consistent because I’ve been spending more time on work and education.
These things happen. If you’re focusing on one area, other areas are going to be impacted. Hopefully not negatively, but that is a risk. You need to decide what you’re willing to tolerate. We’re going to make sure that all of that is very clear during the course of our engagement.
The other thing that we’re going to be keeping an eye on (and I’m going to click on this progress tab) is any trends because what we don’t want to have happen is, “I’ve been focusing on work to the complete detriment of my health and appearance.” You don’t want to go from a level four to level one, so we want to keep an eye on that.
I think by using a dashboard, it’s going to be easier for both of us to really see what’s going on. We can see trends and whether things are trending up or down. Also, we can see what the current overall changes are in the averages. This is one of the tools that we’ll be working with in the coaching practice. I hope this helps.
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(Transcript – edited to remove some of the verbal tics)
I wanted to talk a little further about this notion of experiential intent.
As I look at this experience and the decision making that went into my trip, you know, I had mentioned before that I did time calculations I could have gone to the airport and flown between DC and Toronto.
There was another component to it as well when I did some decision making and that was …what was the experience I want to have in the process of this trip?
Now, if I were trying to maximize my productivity time or I needed to maximize my productivity time, then the airport and the airline experience … absolutely doable and absolutely possible and a really good option.
You know, I could sit down, I can work on my computer, I know I’ll have Wifi, I know I’ll have cell signal. I know that there’s food around.
Thankfully, for this particular trip, I had a different intent in mind.
One was to relax a little more.
Two was to be able to see more of the country. Right now I’m here in Erie, Pennsylvania. This is a section of the country. I’ve never been to before.
And then the third thing was to change up my inputs a little bit, so instead of staring at a screen or staring at a book, I’m staring at nature and whether there are ideas that I can pull from just sitting here on this lovely beach we’re at right now that is fairly empty because I’m very fortunate enough to be here on a weekday.
So by determining experiential intent, it helps guide decision making during the planning process.
It also helps guide decision making during the actual execution, much like your why.
Brian Moran and Michael Lennington’s main argument is that we need to think in terms of quarters vs annually when it comes to evaluation and goal-setting.
It’s not the argument that is most compelling – any project manager or manager familiar with Agile, Scrum, and Sprints can tell you the power of thinking in small, achievable chunks.
What I find compelling in this book are Brian Moran and Michael Lennington’s choice of definition of accountability and their emphasis on the importance of aligning one’s business/career vision to their personal vision (and NOT the other way around – which is what most of us do), and their steps for creating a plan one can actually use.
Accountability – Moran and Lennington take their definition of accountability straight from Peter Kosterbaum and Peter Block’s Freedom and Accountability at Work: Applying Philosophic Insight to the Real World (Amazon affiliate link). Accountability = ownership. Accountability = personal sovereignty. Accountability, according to this definition, is NOT something someone else does to you or can do for you. Your managers claim to “hold you accountable.” What they are doing is trying to motivate you to do something for them that you may or may not have taken ownership of. This alternate definition forces one to look in the mirror and take responsibility for one’s choices. I don’t know which is scarier.
The importance of aligning your business/career to your LIFE – If you are being externally motivated to do things, how close is the alignment of your job to how you want your life to look. If the business/career goal doesn’t align with your life vision, how inspired are you to work towards the goal? How quickly are you going to give up, or do something else, or find another distraction?
Creating an actionable plan you have a fighting chance of following – As with many of the authors I’ve encountered of late, they insist on vision, focus, measurement, and getting VERY honest with yourself if you are not following the plan you laid out.
The first part of the book is theoretical. The second part of the book is the step-by-step.
In the second part, they divide the practical application into individual and team considerations. For each, they include pitfalls and tips. It’s obvious these two know what they are talking about from their troubleshooting tips.
I’m a firm believer in the adage that your environment and your life reflects you.
Now that I’m independent, the truth of that adage is even more evident.
It’s critical that I have my head screwed on straight.
That I’m congruent in my thoughts, words, and actions – to the best of my ability.
I’m open to any tools that will help.
Michael Zipursky has identified common mindset gaps he’s identified over the course of his consulting practice.
Everything from mistaking planning for action to undervaluing your experience to trying to do too much – he addresses the majority of the most common mistakes. Those mistakes are a result of mindset.
I’ve personally fallen into all the traps.
The book is part of a sales funnel for his consulting business – the next step he wants you to take is joining his Accelerator Coaching Program. I’ve used coaches myself and having that level of accountability is helpful, especially when trying to level-up or doing something new and scary.
The book, however, can stand alone as an introduction to common consulting traps.
I’ve been reading a lot of leadership literature recently. A theme keeps appearing.
Define the values you want to live by. Use them as the foundation for your career and leadership style.
Typically, they will define the values you should follow for you.
And some will focus on how to get others to share those values.
Interestingly, I haven’t been in too many workplaces where values are deeply discussed – beyond “You really ought to have these values.”
I don’t know how many people have deeply thought about the values they hold. There’s not much in our society that encourages this.
If they have thought about values, it’s more because someone has told them they should hold these values vs. questioning why they hold these values and whether the values they are holding (that they may have gotten from elsewhere) still work for them. Again, there is not much encouragement in our society for this level of reflection.
If they are confident in the values they hold, their workplace is not a safe place to discuss these values. Especially if the values they hold contradict either the stated values or the behavioral values.
I’m thinking that helping to cultivate a safe environment for deeply reflecting on, then sharing, personal values is key.
If I’m going to try and create this space for someone else, this looks like questioning, staying curious, and being open to the answer.
Most importantly, not trying to shift someone else’s values to look like mine.
Simon Sinek, David Mead, and Peter Docker give incredibly detailed instructions for facilitating what they call “Why Discovery” and provide instructions for finding a personal “why” and finding a team/organizational “why.”
They talk in detail about potential pitfalls and failure points, particularly when trying to do this yourself (not recommended) or if you are working within an organization that is so dysfunctional that it is hard to have a civil conversation.
They also noted that directly asking for “why” may trigger emotional resistance. Instead, it’s best to come at it sideways – asking more “what” and “how” questions. Asking “why” tends to trigger an emotional, occasionally defensive, response. I’ve seen that in my own practice, so it was nice to have that impression validated.
I’m impressed that they were willing to provide the entire how-to guide for their team workshop, including time codes facilitation tips, exercises, and question pools.
If you haven’t read or purchased Start With Why, I would recommend watching Sinek’s original TED talk, then purchase Find Your Why instead. This book is the result of almost 10 years of practice in this space and provides everything you need for you and your team to determine your “why.”
Let me help you find your why!
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