Nine Lies about Work – 8 question team engagement assessment

8 questions to assess engagement of your teamIn his most recent book, Nine Lies about Work, Marcus Buckingham shares what he has learned from the most effective teams and organizations.  As part of this research he interviewed team members that were the most highly engaged and productive as well as the least engaged and less productive.  From those interviews, he identified the key differences between the groups,  Those differences produced a list of engagement survey statements to identify the most engaged and likely most productive team members in the organization:

1. I am really enthusiastic about the mission of my company.
2. At work, I clearly understand what is expected of me.  
3. In my team, I am surrounded by people who share my values. 
4. I have the chance to use my strengths every day at work.
5. My teammates have my back. 
6. I know I will be recognized for excellent work. 
7. I have great confidence in my company’s future.
8. In my work, I am always challenged to grow. 

I recommend that you take these 8 questions and conduct a survey of everyone in your organization to see how you are doing.  I am a big fan of scoring from 1 to 5 on questions like these.  To further help you interpret the results, Buckingham and his co-author Goodall broke these questions down by a few categories and subcategories:

Best of WE
– Team
– Company 
Best of ME
– Strongest Indicators of Engagement

Here is how they break out by category:

BEST OF WE

1. I am really enthusiastic about the mission of my company.  (Company)
3. In my team, I am surrounded by people who share my values. (Team)
5. My teammates have my back. (Team)
7. I have great confidence in my company’s future. (Company)

These deal with the elements of a person’s experience created in their back-and-forth interactions with others on the team—the communal experience of work, if you will. 

BEST OF ME

2. At work, I clearly understand what is expected of me. (Strong indicator of engagement)
4. I have the chance to use my strengths every day at work. (Strong indicator of engagement)
6. I know I will be recognized for excellent work. (Team)
8. In my work, I am always challenged to grow. (Team)

This Best of Me group deals instead with the individual experience of work. What is unique about me? What is valuable about me? Do I feel challenged to grow? This research lines up well with neuroscience research regarding the proper balance all human beings seek regarding group versus individual identity highlighted by the picture below.
I believe this picture illustrates beautifully the desire to be unique but also the need of belonging to a tribe and how this seemingly counterintuitive balance works.  We see this played out in many areas such as punk or EMO in music, sports, politics, and more recently tattoos.

Once you conduct the survey, feel free to reach out to talk about the results. I may have some exercises I can recommend to help you increase the engagement level.

Be Exceptional!

Bill  – Multi-certified Growth Coach
(bill@catalystgrowthadvisors.comwww.catalystgrowthadvisors.com)

MA COMPANIES ONLY – Ask me how your state may help pay for my leadership coaching services.  For MA companies, click here to see if you qualify for 50% (or more) off my fees and this workshop.

6 ways to help your team learn better

Learn better by focusing on process, not outcomes – Latest research

Growth is a word bandied about quite a bit these days.  However, I believe that not enough is shared about how to grow or how to help others grow. While no one would argue that growth is important, I find it rare that people know how to affect growth or recognize when progress is being made.  This post gives you an idea or two on how to take action in this area and recommends a book with lots of simple, practical and actionable tips. 

(Excerpt from the book – Learn Better – on how to study and learn better)

Some years ago, researcher Louis Deslauriers and some colleagues decided to roll out a simple intervention in an introductory college science class. If a student did poorly on the first exam, Deslauriers or one of his colleagues would meet with the student for around 20 minutes and provide some research-backed advice. We’ve already covered a lot of what the researchers told the students (regarding meaning reflecting, targeting, self-quizzing and verbally or textually summarizing) and they underscored the importance of mental doing. “Do not simply reread,” Deslauriers would explain. “Attempt to ‘do’ each learning goal by generating your own explanations.” As part of the meeting with each student, Deslauriers also talked about developing plans and goals, advising people to learn “in a targeted manner, to improve your ability with a specific learning goal.” Finally, Deslauriers would tell students to take various approaches to engaging an idea, to make sure that they could explain a concept in various ways. The effect of the advice was impressive. Most students saw their outcomes skyrocket, with tests scores jumping by more than 20 percentage points, or about two grade levels. What’s more, the students in Deslauriers’s class didn’t study any longer. The new approaches didn’t take any additional time. The students simply studied better.

In Learn Better, the author shares the research relating to six areas that help us to improve learning.  

  1. VALUE
  2. TARGET
  3. DEVELOP
  4. EXTEND
  5. RELATE
  6. RETHINK

Important: It is not step by step process as some areas may be used at times and not at others. However, I believe that Value is key at the outset to help provide learning motivation.

A deeper understanding of each area provided below:

Value – When learning anything, the process will be more effective if we can find meaning.  We improve our ability and likelihood of learning when we relate it to something valuable to us. 

An important aspect of learning for an individual is to ascertain meaning first. That is, if you want to help someone learn something faster and more deeply help them to find meaning in the topic for themselves as part of the process.  For instance, if you are showing someone how building a better business is about simplifying and create a systematic process based around four key decisions, ask them what building a healthy and thriving business that operates day to day without need for them to intervene means to them, or how they came to want to create their business.

Also, most importantly, have, use in hiring, growth and all aspects of your team experience, a Core Purpose – why your company exists, what impact it has on people.  Of all six areas in this book, I believe that this one is the most important and impactful to better learning and better productivity and fulfillment.

Key words – Find meaning

Target – Another key is to target learning to a narrower field such as learning how to run a marathon by focusing on how to master hills or when hitting a baseball to focus on seeing the seams or hitting a tennis ball by trying to read the writing on the ball as it approaches.  Or, instead of saying you want to lose twenty pounds, you decide to eat 1800 calories per day and walk 30 minutes each day.

It is important to set specific goals and develop plans to improve learning.

Key word – Narrowing

Develop –   In order to have the learning stick and improve it helps to focus practice on key areas.  Employing the concept of deliberate practice put forth by Anders Ericsson in his book Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise.

Key words – deliberate practice

Extend – look beyond basics and build upon what we already know.  It is key to have some level of knowledge first and to then find ways to build on that foundation. First learn to crawl, then to walk, then to run.

Key words – Prior knowledge 

Relate – Find how it all fits together.  We have to step back and see the bigger picture.  How what we are learning fits into a larger context.

For instance, when learning about People in ScalingUp, one should remember that it is one important piece in creating a healthy and thriving organization focused around four key decisions.

Key words – Bigger picture

Rethink – Practice more often the things you forget but also revisit everything over time.  It will be easier to recall.later.

For anyone who wants to learn anything, the takeaway is clear: Anything we can do to distribute our learning over time pays off, and people should space out the development of a skill. If you’re practicing the violin, don’t just rehearse a melody for a few hours; return to the melody periodically so that it stays burned in your memory.

Key words – Space out learning, reflect to learn

Overall, it is important to learn the effective process of learning.  We can do this by first ensuring that the topic has personal meaning to the learner (VALUE), that we thoughtfully narrow the focus of the topic (TARGET), focus our practice to key areas (DEVELOP), first gain fundamental knowledge before we then move to more sophisticated areas of the topic (EXTEND), take a step back once in a while to see how what we are learning relates to the bigger picture or context (RELATE) and lastly to space out our learning and reflect so we increase the chances of longer term recall. (RETHINK)

Other helpful words/concepts/techniques:

  • Self-Quizzing
  • Revisit concepts over time. Those you miss should be revisited more often.  Reflect to learn.
  • Summarize in your own words
  • Provide relevant feedback and encouragement
  • Group studying is helpful due to social aspect as well as teaching others.

Final thoughts (excerpt from the book)

Set expectations. There’s no getting around it: Learning is hard. Gaining expertise requires struggle. For parent, teachers, and managers, this means that learners need support and encouragement, and so you should offer lots of praise and social encouragement to the people learning something. Be sure, however, to focus on process, not outcomes, so people remain motivated. More specifically, stop using the word “smart.” People who are told they are “smart” often become complacent, performing under their ability, according to work by Carol Dweck. So praise methods, not performance: “Great job working so hard.” “This is going to be hard.” “Keep it up.” 

One thing to try – Next time you are sharing something new with a group, try the following:

  1. Give a high level view of the outcome of the share
  2. Ask each person to write down what it would mean to them if they were to achieve this outcome.
  3. Have each person read this out loud, or just a handful or so if the audience is over 10 or so.
  4. Ask, and allow others to ask, clarifying questions.
  5. Start the share from the beginning.

This should increase the engagement level of the audience as you have allowed them to think about and articulate out loud what they would get out of this information before you have started.  It can also increase the likelihood of action when you are finished among other benefits.

This was one of the better books I have read about how to create a more effective learning culture.  I recommend it highly.

Finally, as a related aside, in all the years of study I have done on learning, one thing comes up over and over again as the best way to learn something – teach it to someone else.  

Be Exceptional!

Bill  – Certified Premium Scaling Up/Gravitas Impact Coach
(bill@catalystgrowthadvisors.comwww.catalystgrowthadvisors.com)

For MA companies ONLY, as an approved Training and Development provider, Catalyst Growth Advisors can offer you 50% off program fees.  Click here to see if you qualify.

One Answer (Really Two) To Finding Great New Team Members (example provided)

“Our biggest challenge in the business is finding and hiring qualified candidates” – CEO

I often ask leaders what their biggest barrier to growth is.  The most frequent response by far these days is how hard it is to find qualified candidates to help with growth of the business.  Being the contrarian that I am, I ask them a few questions:

  1. Since highly engaged team members are 2+ times more productive than everyone else, how productive and engaged are your existing team members?   
  2. What are you and your leadership team doing to grow the existing set of folks you already have? 

I mostly hear silence or faint-hearted answers. I believe that we often tend to try to solve problems with “new” versus working with what we already have which can be an ineffective and expensive default.

How can we develop from within?

One key action is to examine your existing cultural system. 

  1. Are you fostering a team environment?
    • Are you hiring people who believe what you believe? That is, do you have a core purpose for the business and leverage it in the hiring process?
    • Do you share most, if not all, the same core values? How do you interview with these in mind?  Do you reinforce them daily?
    • Have you provided a clear and compelling North Star/BHAG/Just Cause to focus the entirety of the organization?

Here is a short video (5 mins)from ADP Research going into a bit more detail on how the felling of “team” boosts employee engagement.

While figuring our these “soft” things seems like a waste of time, the effort can have tremendous bottom and top line results to the business.  Like Ron Lovett, founder of Source Security & Investigations, you may find that you have more than enough untapped resources hiding in plain sight.  He describes his journey in a great book called Outrageous Empowerment and this video (12 mins.) provides an example of trusting an existing employee that results in much higher levels of engagement.

If there is no other option but to look outside the company to help with growth, it is advantageous to make sure you craft a compelling story to attract the right people (and repel the wrong people).  Below is a real-life example.

Client Example to Find New Team Members

One of the best ways to increase engagement levels is to hire the right people in the first place.  Incorporating the essence of the three main questions above, you can market for the right folks from the outset.  Here is an example of a client of mine (Chiropractic Practice owner) that modified an employee want ad with tremendous results.

First ad

Here is the first ad that was out for about 10 months.  (D.C. = Doctor of Chiropractic (medicine))

A Waiting List Practice in Natick, MA (Metrowest Boston) is looking for an ambitious D.C. with the right skill set to join our multi-D.C. growing practice.    Applicant must be certified in Active Release Techniques®.  Proficiency in motion palpation and manipulation is desired.  This is an excellent opportunity for the right D.C. to join a leading-edge, health and wellness-focused practice.  We will train you for success! If you would like the opportunity to join XXXXXXXXXXX, please send your resume with a cover letter expressing your interest to: XXXXXXX
====================
Results – 1 response in about 10 months. The candidate was ruled out over the phone.
=====================n
He was clearly frustrated as he thought this was a compelling ad to attract the best possible candidates.  He rationalized that the reason he was not getting excellent candidates in was the fact that MA was a more challenging state for new chiropractors to start a practice and kept running the ad with poor results.  His frustration increased as we determined through our work together that, more than any other action he could take, this one hire could make a huge impact to his business that he wants to triple in size in the next few years.. 

My client and I then talked more deeply about what a great candidate would look like, (e.g., what minimum skills would they need, what would make them a good fit with the staff and patients and, once up to speed, what expectations should each party have assuming a successful and achievable outcome?).  After this conversation, we crafted the following ad.  Please note that both ads were placed on the same job boards.

Second ad

We are a successful practice in Natick, MA (Metrowest Boston) which operates with integrity and passion to help active people get out of pain, perform better and live healthy lives.  We are looking for an associate chiropractor that is certified in Active Release Techniques®, and proficient in Motion Palpation, and is interested in earning $200 – 300K (yearly) helping 35-55 patients daily to help us expand our practice.  Interested doctors are invited to send a resume with cover letter to: XXXXXXXXX
=======================
Results – 4 responses in the 1st week! 

One candidate was hired shortly thereafter and started a few months ago.  He has since received additional responses from interested chiropractic students who have not graduated yet as well as an increasing amount of other options.  This creates a “bench” to help him expand when ready.

========================

By taking ~30 minutes to think deeply about the vital few aspects of the role from the company’s and the candidate’s perspective, we were able to describe exactly what a great candidate would find most attractive. The time saved in screening and interviewing mediocre candidates was far greater than the 30 minutes (10 months versus 10 days) taken up front to think not only what you want but what the right candidate would value.

Summary

Resist the knee jerk temptation to look outside the company when hiring.  If, after due consideration of all internal options, you come to the conclusion that bringing on an outsider to the company is the best course of action, focus on the vital few areas you want to highlight that are best for the company and the incoming team member to attract the best possible candidate pool. 

Weak companies hire the right experience to do the job. Strong companies hire the right person to join their team. – Simon Sinek

Homework (Two options)

  1. For a role where there is no one in your organization who has the minimum skills and abilities to fill the role similar to my client above, pick one upcoming key hire and apply this process (assuming you have answers to the three main questions above).  Then craft a compelling ad to attract those with the right mindset and minimum skill level.
  2. For those looking to find some “diamonds in the rough” internally, read this book (Nine Lies about Work) to help you on the road to creating a team-fostering environment.


These are key elements in the growth framework I help my clients craft and implement over time.   Please see graphical representation below:

Please feel free to contact me if you want to talk through the process in more detail.

Be Exceptional!

Bill  – Certified Growth Coach
(bill@catalystgrowthadvisors.comwww.catalystgrowthadvisors.com)
MA COMPANIES ONLY – Ask me how your state may help pay for my leadership coaching services.  For MA companies, click here to see if you qualify for 50% (or more) off my fees.

Decisions, Decisions series – 6 of 7 – WRAP – Prepare to be Worng (:~))

In the first of the series, I shared my two favorite decision-making frameworks, Cynefin for deciding what type of decision you are making and WRAP to walk through a process to make an optimal decision.  This is the sixth in the series and fourth on WRAP – Prepare to be Wrong.

It is inevitable.  We are going to be wrong. Especially if we are looking to scale our companies or grow ourselves.  You have to try new things, push the envelope, stretch outside of your comfort zone which leads to messing up now and again.  Here are some great ideas from the Heath brothers about preparing to be wrong from their book Decisive.

The mission: To avoid being overconfident about the way our decisions will unfold and, instead, taking the opportunity to plan for both good and bad potential scenarios.

Core Ideas: The most important tools to keep in mind

  • Bookend the future.
  • Run a pre-mortem and pre-parade.
  • Use a safety factor.
  • Create a “realistic job preview.”
  • Set a tripwire.
  • Use “pattern-matching” tripwires.

Here are a few examples from the list above.

Run a pre-mortem and pre-parade. Run a pre-mortem for your decision: It’s a year from now and the decision was a disaster. Why did it fail? (Note that if you’re doing the pre-mortem with colleagues, don’t share answers until everyone has brainstormed on their own.) Then, later, run a pre-parade: It’s a year from now and our decision is a huge success. How did we do it? Make sure to consider these negative and positive bookends separately—that will help you surface more of the relevant issues on each pole.

Set a tripwire. Imagine that your organization is someday used as an example of the “frog who doesn’t jump out of the pot of boiling water” cliché. You got stuck in a slowly changing environment that eventually killed you. If that were true, why would it be? What industry forces do you need to keep an eye on? Can you encourage your team to set the right tripwires?

Use a safety factor. People tend to be overconfident. They think their plans will go more smoothly—and unfold more quickly—than usually happens. Probe to see if they can prepare to be wrong by giving themselves a buffer. Can they build in some extra slack in the schedule? Can they keep some powder dry in their budget in case things go wrong?

Enjoy this great video (7 mins) from Daniel Kahneman illustrating the Planning Fallacy (and pre-mortem) which shows how we can be overconfident even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

You can’t go wrong by spending a few hours thinking about how to make your business better. Join me on May 21st in Boston for my Taking the guesswork out of Growth 4-hour workshop.  Click here to register.

Be Exceptional!

Bill  – Certified Growth Coach
(bill@catalystgrowthadvisors.comwww.catalystgrowthadvisors.com)
MA COMPANIES ONLY – Ask me how your state may help pay for my leadership coaching services.  For MA companies, click here to see if you qualify for 50% (or more) off my workshop and annual fees.

Decisions, Decisions Series (5 of 7) WRAP framework – Attain Some Distance

In the first of the series, I shared my two favorite decision-making frameworks, Cynefin for deciding what type of decision you are making and WRAP to walk through a process to make an optimal decision.  This is the fifth in the series and third on WRAP – Attain Some Distance.  There will be two more to close out the series over the coming weeks.

Attain Some Distance

It is said that ideas are like children, none are so wonderful as our own. Emotional attachment is inevitable in the creation process.  For instance, if you write for a living, you are taught to put a first draft down on paper and then put it away for a while. This allows you to look at what you wrote with fresh eyes putting the emotional attachment far enough in the past. This typically helps to improve the end product.  The same can be said about decision making.  It is often important to put some time between you and the final decision to let the initial emotions fade away. 

In their book, Decisive, the Heath brothers provide us with some tips and tricks to find ways to do this in order to optimize our key decisions.

The mission: To resist the disrupting influence of short-term emotion and ensure that you make a decision based on your core priorities

Core Ideas: The most important tools to keep in mind

  • If you’re agonizing, gather more options or information.
  • Try 10/10/10.
  • Fight the “status quo bias” (mere exposure + loss aversion).
  • Shift perspectives to gain distance.
  • Identify and enshrine your core priorities.
  • Go on the offensive against lesser priorities.

Here is a little more detail on my favorites.  Please download the workbook for more information.

Try 10/10/10. Attain some distance by talking through a 10/10/10 analysis with a friend. This will force you to label the short-term and long- term implications of your decisions, with the benefit of an outsider’s perspective on your decision. (Also, it can often be clarifying just to hear how your logic sounds when it comes out of your mouth …).

10/10/10 is the process of thinking through how you might feel about this decision in 10 days, 10 months and 10 years.  What impact might it have over those timeframes?

Identify and enshrine your core priorities. Karen Douglas, a business consultant who owns her own firm, found herself with an overly packed calendar so she adopted a rule to assess new opportunities: “If it’s not a ‘Hell yes!”, it’s a ‘No.’” Is there a rule that would remind you of your priorities? (A person who moved to a new town without a good social network might adopt the exact opposite rule: “If it’s not a ‘Hell no!’, it’s a ‘Yes.’”)

Do you have Core Values and Priorities?  Do you use them every day to help make decisions?  Are your Priorities SMART?  (I like to add an additional A re: Authority – Do you have the authority to carry out this priority?)

Identify and enshrine your core priorities. Do a forensics analysis of your calendar. What would the outside investigator conclude about your core priorities? If you don’t think you’d be satisfied with the forensic analysis, ask yourself: Which activities can I stop doing to free up more time for what’s important?

These last two are ones I often use with clients especially when it comes to Core Purpose and BHAG discussions for the first of the two.  Reviewing your calendaring can be a sobering event.  There are those that think you can tell what is truly important to a person by analyzing his/her calendar and credit card statements.  Actions speak louder that words.  Below is an exchange between father and son that illustrates this beautifully.

SON: “Daddy, may I ask you a question?”
DAD: “Yeah sure, what is it?”
SON: “Daddy, how much do you make an hour?”
DAD: “That’s really none of your business. Why do you ask?”
SON: “I just want to know. Please tell me, how much do you make an hour?”
DAD: “If you must know, I make $100 an hour.”
SON: “Oh. (With his head down).
SON: “Daddy, can I please borrow $50?”
DAD: “REALLY?! If you’re asking to borrow money for some silly toy or game, you can just march yourself straight to your room to think about why you’re being so selfish. I work hard everyday to provide for this family, and this is the thanks I get?”


The little boy went quietly to his room and shut the door. So, the dad went to his son’s door and opened it.

DAD: “Are you asleep, son?”
SON: “No daddy, I’m awake”.
DAD: “I’ve been thinking, and maybe I was too hard on you earlier. It’s been a long day and I took out my aggravation on you. Here’s the $50 you asked for.” The little boy sat straight up, smiling.
SON: “Oh, thank you daddy!” Son pulls crumbled bills from pillow
DAD: “Why do you want more money if you already have some?”
SON: “Because I didn’t have enough, but now I do. Daddy, I have $100 now. Can I buy an hour of your time? Please come home early tomorrow. I would like to have dinner with you.”

This could have been a story about a team member or a treasured business partner or any number of people whose relationship you value but have prioritized, many times unwittingly through inaction, as less important. It also could have been a task or initiative you are not getting to because the minutia of the day or the minute becomes the priority instead.

Decisions we make have, minimally, one other side.  By choosing to do something, we are also choosing to not do other things by default. By attaining some distance, we can better understand the ripples – short term and long term – of this decision.

Next post is the final in the WRAP framework – Prepare to be Wrong.  This should be fun as we all LOVE being wrong.

Be Exceptional!

Bill  – Certified Growth Coach
(bill@catalystgrowthadvisors.comwww.catalystgrowthadvisors.com)

MA COMPANIES ONLY – Ask me how your state may help pay for my leadership coaching services.  For MA companies, click here to see if you qualify for 50% (or more) off my fees.

Decisions, Decisions series (4 of 7) – WRAP – Reality test assumptions

In the first of the series, I shared my two favorite decision-making frameworks, Cynefin for deciding what type of decision you are making and WRAP to walk through a process to make an optimal decision.  This is the fourth in the series and second on WRAP – Reality Test your Assumptions.

To reality test our assumptions, we must assess our options.  One key impediment to seeing clearly is what neuroscience calls confirmation bias.  This bias leads us to collect skewed, self-serving information. To combat this bias, we can ask disconfirming questions (e.g., What problems does our product/service have? or, What holes do we have in our strategy? or What is our biggest barrier to success?). We can spark constructive disagreement and, whenever appropriate, we should “ooch” – conduct small experiments to teach us more. Why predict when you can know?

To support the concepts around a reality test, the following content is from the book, Decisive.

REALITY-TEST YOUR ASSUMPTIONS

expectations-vs-reality-10

The mission: To fight the confirmation bias and ensure that, when you are assessing your options, you are gathering information that you can trust.

Core Ideas: The most important tools to keep in mind

  • Fight the confirmation bias.
  • Spark constructive disagreement.
  • Ask disconfirming questions.
  • Consider the opposite.
  • Make a deliberate mistake.
  • Zoom out: Respect the base rates.
  • Zoom in: Take a close-up.
  • Ooch.

Here are three of the aforementioned in a little more detail.

Ask disconfirming questions. When you ask for advice on your decisions, don’t just ask people “What do you think?” or “Do you like my idea?” Ask disconfirming questions: “What’s the biggest obstacle you see to what I’m trying to do?” “If I failed, why do you think it would be?”. The key is to try to prove the decision wrong. If you are unable to, you may be onto something and you avoid confirmation bias where we see what we want to see and disregard the rest.

Spark constructive disagreement. Can you find someone you trust who will disagree with you? In her study of Silicon Valley firms, Kathy Eisenhardt found that the CEOs who made the quickest, most effective strategic decisions had a senior counselor. The counselor was usually someone who knew the industry well but didn’t have a personal agenda, which meant they could provide unvarnished, trustworthy guidance.

Ooch. Can you get yourself to “ooch” by lowering the barriers? Imagine that you could take a half-day to do something to assess one of your options. (Not talk about it, not think about it, not agonize about it – do something about it.) What could you do? If you had $100 to spend to aid your assessment, how would you spend it?  This lines up with Jim Collins’ approach of shooting bullets first and then cannonballs.  Another example is to offer your time for free to a company that you think you want to work for.

The key is to fight over confidence or hubris when making critical decisions.  We are human and are all susceptible to cognitive biases such as confirmation bias, availability bias, status quo bias among many others.  Research proves that even if you are aware of these biases you still commit them!  This is because the brain is always looking for shortcuts to save energy and it does so without our conscious awareness.

Do a reality check every now and again will help you to build the muscles to avoid or mitigate making poorly thought out decisions.

Next up, Attain some distance…

Be Exceptional!

Bill  – Certified Growth Coach
(bill@catalystgrowthadvisors.comwww.catalystgrowthadvisors.com)
MA COMPANIES ONLY – Ask me how your state may help pay for my leadership coaching services.  For MA companies, click here to see if you qualify for 50% (or more) off my fees.

Decisions, Decisions Series (3 of 7) – WRAP Framework – Widen Your Options

widen (funny)

So far, we have looked at two phases of decision-making illustrated by two decision-making frameworks:

  1. Cynefin framework – Use to decide the type of decision; Simple, Complicated, Complex, Chaotic
  2. WRAP – Use to optimize the decision process.
    • Widen your options
    • Reality test your assumptions
    • Attain distance BEFORE deciding
    • Prepare to be wrong

This post is the second related to the WRAP framework – “W” – Widen Your Options.  Here are the Mission and Core Ideas that were taken from the Decisive workbook from the Heath brothers.

Mission: To break out of a narrow frame and expand the set of options you consider

Core Ideas: The most important tools to keep in mind

  • Expand your options.
  • Consider the opportunity cost.
  • Run the “vanishing options test.”
  • Multitrack – think AND not OR.
  • Toggle between the promotion and prevention mindsets.
  • Find someone who has solved your problem.
  • Try “laddering.”

Below, I offer a bit more depth on a three of these.

widen your optionsThe Heath Brothers share a number of approaches to widen your options, here are a few you can try:

  1. If you are not sure if you have considered all the viable options, you can run the “Vanishing Options” test. That is, assume the option you are currently considering suddenly is no longer viable, ask yourself what you would do instead.  The optimal way to do this with your team is to have each of them write one to two alternatives down and then share individually.  I like to have folks put each idea on a stickie, stick them to a surface, group them by category, name the category and then discuss each grouping.
  2. Find someone else who has solved your problem.  In most cases, someone with the circle of contacts you and your team have access to have run into this problem before.  Also, there may be an analogous problem you have already solved in the past that you can apply here. I recommend the same brainstorming process as above.  You may be surprised what you finally come up with.
  3. Lastly, consider the opportunity cost. People don’t naturally consider their opportunity costs. Ask them, “What’s the next best use of the resources you’re talking about spending?” Force them to push their spotlights around by asking about different domains: For instance, if they’re waffling about whether to spend time and resources on a specific project, ask what other ways they could spend the time and/or money if this upcoming project was not an option.  Once you have come up with a few alternatives, you can determine which of these options is best.

These are just a few ways to widen your options.  As humans our ideas are like children – none are so wonderful as our own.  That means that we can get irrationally attached to our own ideas that can blind us from considering other options. Confirmation bias is an ever-present danger – we all do it. Sometimes we argue, unwittingly, to defend our ideas versus making sure we explore all viable options to reach our team goals.

Using the WRAP framework is a way to increase your chances of making an optimal decision.  Reality check your options coming next in the series.

Here is a great decision!  Set up a 15-minute conversation to talk about how you can implement a proven system to take the guesswork out of growth (Click here to see a sample one page strategic plan).

Be Exceptional!

Bill  – Certified Premium Scaling Up/Gravitas Impact Coach
(bill@catalystgrowthadvisors.comwww.catalystgrowthadvisors.com)

For MA companies ONLY, as an approved Training and Development provider, Catalyst Growth Advisors can offer you 50% off program fees.  Click here to see if you qualify.

What is the WRAP decision framework (Decision series – 2 of 7)

Now that we have reviewed the Cynefin framework to help us think about what kind of decision we are making to help set proper expectations as to the risks and the steps, please find below a summary of each step in the WRAP decision framework taken from Decisive authored by Dan and Chip Heath to help us with the process of making the decision.

charts-hate-decisions-wait

WIDEN YOUR OPTIONS

Mission: To break out of a narrow frame and expand the set of options you consider

Core Ideas: The most important tools to keep in mind

  • Expand your options.
  • Consider the opportunity cost.
  • Run the “vanishing options test.”
  • Multitrack – think AND not OR.
  • Toggle between the promotion and prevention mindsets.
  • Find someone who has solved your problem.
  • Try “laddering.”

widen your options

REALITY-TEST YOUR ASSUMPTIONS

The mission: To fight the confirmation bias and ensure that, when you are assessing your options, you are gathering information that you can trust.

Core Ideas: The most important tools to keep in mind

  • Fight the confirmation bias.
  • Spark constructive disagreement.
  • Ask disconfirming questions.
  • Consider the opposite.
  • Make a deliberate mistake.
  • Zoom out: Respect the base rates.
  • Zoom in: Take a close-up.
  • Ooch: a combination of “scoot” and “inch”. Apparently, it’s a thing.

ATTAIN SOME DISTANCE BEFORE DECIDING

The mission: To resist the disrupting influence of short-term emotion and ensure that you make a decision based on your core priorities

Core Ideas: The most important tools to keep in mind

  • If you’re agonizing, gather more options or information.
  • Try 10/10/10.
  • Fight the “status quo bias” (mere exposure + loss aversion).
  • Shift perspectives to gain distance.
  • Identify and enshrine your core priorities.
  • Go on the offensive against lesser priorities.

PREPARE TO BE WRONG

The mission: To avoid being overconfident about the way our decisions will unfold and, instead, taking the opportunity to plan for both good and bad potential scenarios.

Core Ideas: The most important tools to keep in mind

  • Bookend the future.
  • Run a premortem and preparade.
  • Use a safety factor.
  • Create a “realistic job preview.”
  • Set a tripwire.
  • Use “pattern-matching” tripwires.

Next week, I will start with the first of four posts to go into more depth into some of the tools mentioned, provide some examples and suggestions on how to use each part of the WRAP decision framework.  I will start with Widen Your Options.

Set up a 15-minute conversation to talk about how you can implement a proven system to take the guesswork out of growth (Click here to see a sample one page strategic plan).

Be Exceptional!

Bill  – Certified Premium Scaling Up/Gravitas Impact Coach
(bill@catalystgrowthadvisors.comwww.catalystgrowthadvisors.com)

For MA companies ONLY, as an approved Training and Development provider, Catalyst Growth Advisors can offer you 50% off program fees.  Click here to see if you qualify.

“Decisions, Decisions” Series – 2 Decision Frameworks (1 of 7)

decisionLeaders have to make a lot of decisions (sometimes too many). Over the next couple of months, I am going to share my two favorite decision-making frameworks – Cynefin (pronounced “kin-ev-in”) from Dave Snowden and WRAP from the Heath Brothers (not the candy guys).

What I have come to believe is that there are three main parts to decision making:

  1. What kind of decision situation are we in? – Simple, Complicated, Complex or Chaotic? (Cynefin)
  2. How do we make the best possible decision considering all of the available information? (WRAP)
  3. How do we know when a decision is complete?

Here is a picture of the Cynefin Framework (Part 1 of 3) which I will talk about in this post:

cynefin-model

Snowden argues that many leaders forget the first step of decision making which is to first figure out what kind of decision you are making.

Let’s start with Simple (lower right, sometimes referred to as Obvious) – This means that there are rules in place, the situation is stable, and the relationship between cause and effect is clear: if you do X, expect Y.

The advice (per the above picture) in such a situation is to establish the facts (“sense”), categorize the facts, then respond by following the rule or applying best practice. Loan-payment processing is a typical example. An employee identifies the problem (for example, a borrower has paid less than required), categorizes it (reviews the loan documents), and responds (follows the terms of the loan).

Next is Complicated. It is similar to Simple except that the relationship between cause and effect is less cut and dried. Knowledge, experience or process may not be found in your company or group.  You must Sense, Analyze and then Respond.   That is, you have to do some investigation and pursue inquiry before you move ahead.

For example, recently, one of my clients decided they needed to decide to move or not as they were running out of space and their lease term was ending (Sense).  It was important for them to be fair to all while maintaining their culture and employee experience to the best of their ability.  I recommended that they look to other companies in their area that had grown and moved who could share their experience and process as a way to help them feel more confident in the decision and the entire moving process and consider multiple options based upon some key criteria (Analyze).  They decided to move as it was the best available option for their longer-term needs (Respond).

The third is Complex – cause and effect can only be deduced in retrospect, and there are no right answers at the outset. This is often the most difficult to navigate and execute as you must Probe, Sense and then Respond.  Being open-minded, asking probing questions and curiosity will serve you well.

The key here is to create a series of “safe to fail” experiments where the results can guide you to the best possible answer (Probe).  I believe that a good example here is making a pricing decision. There are many factors involved. The two most difficult are to determine the true value your customers perceive in your solution and determining if your competitors have done a good job in pricing alternative offerings (usually they have not).  Typically, your best next step is to speak to customers to determine how they value your offering and then conduct a series of experiments to see how your customers react to the price changes (Probe).  The next step is to review the resultant information (Sense) and then make the best determination as to if or how much to modify your price (Respond).

Lastly, is Chaotic – most businesses, thankfully, do not have to deal with this situation.  The key here is to make a decision (Act) quickly that you think best suits the situation (Sense) and then make changes based on the result(s) (Respond).

The best and most popular example I know of to illustrate how important going through this process comes from the Kennedy administration early in his US Presidency.  When comparing the different decision processes he went through on the Bay of Pigs versus the Cuban Missile Crisis, one can see a startling change in the process he used to make a crucial decision. Here is a great summary article that goes into some detail on the differences.

Whether you use Snowden’s framework or some other process, I believe it is important to take the time to think about the type of decision you are making BEFORE you begin the process to make the best possible decision.

Please click here to for a video recorded by Dave Snowden about the Cynefin framework.

Next time, I will review the WRAP framework and begin to go into each of the four steps – one at a time.

  1. Widen your options
  2. Reality test your assumptions
  3. Attain some distance before deciding
  4. Prepare to be wrong

The last part of the three will be an updated version of an old post about Decision Making. This will be coming later in the year as Part 7.

Here is a great decision! Set up a 15-minute conversation to talk about how you can implement a proven system to take the guesswork out of growth (Click here to see a sample one page strategic plan).

Be Exceptional!

Bill  – Certified Premium Scaling Up/Gravitas Impact Coach
(bill@catalystgrowthadvisors.comwww.catalystgrowthadvisors.com)

For MA companies ONLY, as an approved Training and Development provider, Catalyst Growth Advisors can offer you 50% off program fees.  Click here to see if you qualify.

How to dramatically increase employee engagement with one question

enagagement (funny)

For those who have team members reporting to them, ask yourself this simple question every day.

What can I do today to make the employee experience better than it was yesterday?

Make a plaque, create a screensaver with this question, or just put a stickie where you can see it.  Find a way to keep this top of mind every day.  When your team knows that you sincerely care about them, are thinking of them and how to improve their day, their lives, their jobs, you should see a marked improvement in productivity, creativity, and engagement.  Plus it feels great to help others!


Here is a Forbes article (3 min read) for those of you, like me, who appreciate a few suggestions on how to help improve the employee experience.

Enjoy!
Set up a 15-minute conversation to talk about how you can implement a proven system to take the guesswork out of growth (Click here to see a sample one page strategic plan).

Be Exceptional!

Bill  – Certified Premium Scaling Up/Gravitas Impact Coach
(bill@catalystgrowthadvisors.comwww.catalystgrowthadvisors.com)

For MA companies ONLY, as an approved Training and Development provider, Catalyst Growth Advisors can offer you 50% off program fees.  Click here to see if you qualify.