Category Archives: facilitation

The Pace of Interactions

A long time ago, I worked in a law firm. BTW, that was before the fax machine was introduced into the office as a standard piece of equipment. When I look back on how we worked back then, one thing  was very, very different. That was the pace of interactions.

The pace back then was much slower. Interactions with persons and entities outside the firm was largely by mail (now called snail mail) and meetings. Inside the firm, we wrote memos and had meetings.

There was a luxury to this. One could take one’s time in making decisions. Indeed, slowing down the pace of decision making was at least part of the value added we gave to our clients.

Now consider whatJeff Immelt says about GE in an interview he gave to McKinsey

My notion is we’re in a permanently complex world. And this historical organization chart with lots of processes is a thing of the past. We’ve basically unplugged anything that was annual. The notion is that, in the digital age, sitting down once a year to do anything is weird, it’s just bizarre. So whether it’s doing business reviews or strategic planning, it’s in a much more continuous way. We still give a lot of feedback. We still do a lot of analysis of how you’re performing. But we make it much more contemporary and much more 360-degree. So somebody can get interactions with their boss on a monthly basis or a quarterly basis. And the data you get is being collected by your peers, the people who work for you, in a much more accurate and fluid way.

The key words are “more accurate and more fluid”. In other words, things have sped up and the stress is on improving the efficiency of communication in this more complex and changing environment.

These are important factors to consider if you wish to develop strategic competence.

Tony Robbins and Leverage

Why is it that delegating responsibilities tends not to work very well? Why managing employees is a bit like herding cats? Indeed, why is it that managing ourselves sometimes has the same feeling?

The problem, according to Tony Robbins, is in the idea of delegation itself.

When you delegate a task to employees, you tell them what you want and when you want it by. You check in with them once, on the due date, and if it’s not finished or done properly, you become frustrated with both them and yourself. With delegation, “you’re always going to be disappointed,” Robbins said.

In other words, a “command and control” system will always have to spend heavily on the “control” part in order to get any results at all.

Is there another way? There is. If a person is engaged in what he or she does, he will tend to do it better. Engagement arises when we act upon our own interests -. when we see how what we do will benefit us. According to Robbins, building engagement is a matter of aligning the interests of the manger and the staff member

With leverage, you inspire employees to do something rather than order them to. “When I leverage something, I help people understand exactly what I want and why I want it, and then I let them come up with many ways to get it done,” he said. “I check with them multiple times before it’s due to make sure they’re supported.” This way he’s not surprised about how a particular task or project turned out.

In other words, leveraged employees need support rather than controls.

How good are you at building leverage in your relationships?

good question. Tony Robbins answers it this way

Robbins said that he wouldn’t have gone from nothing to the head of a coaching empire “if I was doing it all myself or if I was delegating. There’s no way in hell that would happen. But I know how to leverage effectively.”

Strategy as Listening

I just came from a meeting that went very well. It went very well because I didn’t have to say anything. The other people at the meeting were already prepared to go ahead and do what needed to be done next. They agreed to the scope of work as well as the time schedule.

So you might ask, why was I there? Because I brought them together. To get a better understanding of this, you might check out Tim Sanders talking about Elmer Letterman. Elmer had a pretty cool strategy for selling insurance. Enjoy!

We need More Positive Deviance!

Positive deviance is a term used by folks who do “knowledge management”. The idea is to identify groups or individuals who do things better than the others and get them to share why they are better.

This sounds easier than it is in reality. The reason has to do with the idea of “doing things better”. We mean doing things that have a better result for the group. Most of us don’t have the luxury of thinking about that very often. Instead, we get bogged down with simply completing our “to do” lists.

But that does not mean positive deviance is just a daydream or fantasy. As sharing and tracking data gets easier and more ubiquitous, we will begin to see more system orientation. That, my friends, will be very welcome and fun!

Are you a Facilitator?

Facilitation is not a traditional career path. But there is an international association that promotes this.  And at least one consultant on knowledge management thinks that knowledge management teams should be trained in facilitation in general, and specifically in facilitation with respect to KM.

So what does facilitation look like? Here is a nice video that gives a glimpse.

Notice the combination of design and communication? We are starting to think more about how communication design works. It is part of a larger strategic focus.