Meeting Flavors

Meeting Flavors
Posted by   | September 16th, 2014 | No Comments

This is not about salted caramel, chili chocolate or blackberry cabernet!

How often are you clear on why you are having a meeting? There are three flavors of meetings that you can savor with participants:

  1. Standard – when participants have radically different points of view, conflict about the current state or differing levels of understanding, a standard meeting is held to inform and create clear, common, shared understanding.
  2. Solutioning – this is a meeting where you know the specifics of an issue and need input on options for solving it. The meeting gathers input through discussion about a very clearly stated problem-solving challenge (we recommend extended question sessions for stretching thinking.) Issues are moved into choices between various solution options.
  3. Strategic – this is a meeting where there is consistent understanding of the issue, prioritized options and it’s time to make a decision. This is a potential minefield if the decision making process isn’t pre-defined. The Vroom–Yetton contingency model is a useful tool. We’ll explain this in further detail in next week’s tip.

Meetings are mismanaged because there is a lack of clarity about the flavor, the agenda or the outcomes. To improve your meeting mastery we suggest:

  • Set the context by selecting the appropriate flavor. Tell participants what to expect so they know how to contribute.
  • Outline the agenda and set the pace.
  • Define intended outcomes. Be clear about the meeting purpose and non-purpose. These are the boundaries to operate within and clarity about what success looks like.

Mixing meeting flavors can create confusion. So be clear about the flavor the agenda and the outcomes in order to maximize the limited brain resources of your meeting participants. (According to David Rock, the average number of peak decision making hours people report is 3 – 5 per week!)

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    Cultivating Curiosity

    Cultivating Curiosity
    Posted by   | September 9th, 2014 | No Comments

    When you hear something new, how do you respond? Do you ask WHY or WHY NOT? Brain science reveals that our natural response is usually the negative one.

    According to Wikipedia, curiosity comes from Latin curiosus “careful, diligent, curious,” akin to cura “care.”  It is a quality related to inquisitive thinking such as exploration, investigation, and learning.

    To cultivate your curiosity:

    • Suspend judgment and practice saying, “Hmm, I wonder why that is.” Look for the possibility and wonder WHY rather than NOT.
    • Make the mundane mysterious. Ask questions, lots of them, even when you think you know the answers. You may uncover something you never expected when you stop letting your mind fill in the blanks with assumptions.
    • Stop labeling. Labels make your world smaller, questions expand your world.

    The benefits of increased curiosity:

    • Change the world – Great questions lead to new ideas that change the world. For example, Netflix came from Reed Hastings asking himself why he had to pay $40 in overdue fines after returning Apollo 13 well past its due date.
    • Happiness – in Curious? Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life, Todd Kashdan explains the connection between curiosity and a happy, healthy, and meaningful life. Curious people learn new things and have unfamiliar experiences which increase their dopamine levels. Dopamine is nature’s drug of wellbeing!
    • Super Power if you only relate to life from a single perspective, you are very limited. Curious people learn many points of view which gives the multiple perspectives to view things. This super power enables curious people to see things other people miss.

    Curiosity is essential to learning, innovation and change. Cultivation of curiosity is a lifelong pursuit that we encourage you to practice.

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      Change Leader Checklist

      Change Leader Checklist
      Posted by   | September 2nd, 2014 | No Comments

      Today’s tip is a checklist for leaders when they are faced with change. Hope the checklist helps :-)

      Understand the Change
      Before you concern yourself with the leadership actions needed during change, start with an understanding of the change by answering the following questions:

      • What is the change? This isn’t the action that you are taking, change is the difference between the way things are today and how you intend for them to be in the future.
      • Why does the change matter? Why is the change happening?
      • Who is being impacted, directly or indirectly by the change?
      • How significant is the change to the people being impacted? This is from their point of view not yours. Sometimes it’s easy to assume the change is insignificant because you see if from a different vantage point.
      • When is the change taking place? While one change may seem rather minor when it’s happening in the midst of multiple other changes the impact is compounded. There are limited resources for adopting changes. Be careful how you use up your people’s change capacity.

      Change Leadership Success: once you have a clearer understanding of the change here are some considerations for successfully leading through the change:

      • Uncertainty drains productivity – when your people are uncertain about the future or the change, it significantly impacts productivity. While you may not have all the answers, it’s important to share progress and create some certainty.
      • Data doesn’t have meaning until you make it – too many change messages contain lots of data that gets lost on the recipient. Without context, content is confusing. So take the time to clearly and effectively share the story behind the data and make meaning.
      • Begin with the reader / listener in mind – when you are sharing the change with others, remember who they are and what matters to them. Speak in their language not yours. “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language that goes to his heart” (Nelson Mandela.) The language of the heart is the language of change.
      • Beware of the Curse of Knowledge – once you know something, it’s hard to remember not knowing it. It’s very easy to assume that everyone else knows what you know. So beware when you share that being abstract creates more confusion than clarity. Beware of knowledge imbalances and don’t make assumptions about what others do or do not know.

      Leadership is the magic ingredient for successful change. The best processes, methods and tools cannot overcome a lack of great leadership. So take the time to understand the changes you intend and then use this checklist to improve your change leadership effectiveness.

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        Catch a Smile

        Catch a Smile
        Posted by   | August 26th, 2014 | No Comments

        Do you believe that moods are contagious? Have you ever experienced a person who changed the entire mood of a room?

        We were in an elevator that was packed with people. It was one of those days where it seemed that we stopped at every floor to pick someone up. Then came the man with the bike. He saw the elevator was crowded and pushed his way on. Many people would respond with frustration or silently glare at the inconsiderate biker cramming himself and his machine into such a tiny space. Fortunately a fellow passenger made a comment, “how wonderful that we all took a shower this morning.”  This bit of humor diffused the irritation that hung in the air and immediately brightened the mood of the dozen cramped riders.

        What kind of intangible trail does your mood leave behind?

        Do you sour or brighten a room with your presence?

        Another recent event reinforced how contagious someone else’s mood can be. Last week on my way back from Toronto I was in the airport security line. It was early Saturday morning and most people were half awake, slightly grumpy and in desperate need of their morning caffeine.  A cheery woman was standing at the checkpoint. With a loud voice she told everyone that they could put away their passports, they just needed their boarding pass and a smile. She was so joyful, so upbeat and so positive you couldn’t help but smile. She made my day despite being denied TSA Pre Check because I had SSSS on my boarding pass. Her energy, enthusiasm and positive words completely lifted my flagging spirits. It takes a lot to make passengers smile in a pre-dawn airport security line. But one person made all the difference.

        The next time you are in a bad mood, do the world a favor and put yourself into quarantine. Your negative or positive mood can change the trajectory of your life and the lives of everyone around you.

        Have a bright, beautiful and very blessed day..then pass it on!

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          Change Triage

          Change Triage
          Posted by   | August 19th, 2014 | No Comments

          When change is initiated leaders often forget about their most important asset, people. Organizations are full of people and people that are not considered until after the change is started can make change messy and challenging.

          Messy change requires change triage which uses all the best practices of change management in an emergency toolkit to address critical change challenges.

          Change Triage – a rapid determination of the priority of change management actions based on the severity of stakeholder impact when there is insufficient time and resources to do complete change management.

          Performing Change Triage:

          • Assess – what hurts? What is the change impact? What are the immediate impacts, potential impacts and what is creating the greatest amount of pain? Who is being impacted?
          • Prioritize – what is the most critical injury? based upon your assessment, prioritize which stakeholders need the greatest amount of care and which actions will most efficiently and effectively assist with their change transition.
          • Act – take care of the wounded. Change triage is performed when there is limited time and resources. In order to get the greatest benefit it’s critical to take action. Telling people about the change (communication) is usually not the best first action. A careful assessment and prioritization often uncovers an initial step that will steer the change in a more successful direction.

          Although it’s always ideal to include change management as soon as change is considered, the reality is that there are times that doesn’t happen. Rather than filing a missing persons report, perform change triage and assess, prioritize and action on the change issues.

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            Change Management Made Simple

            Change Management Made Simple
            Posted by   | August 12th, 2014 | No Comments

            Change Management Made Simple

            Although change management is often recognized as critical, it’s often reduced to training and communication. While these are both valuable in the context of doing change management, they miss the mark.

            There are four questions you must answer before you can determine the appropriate actions required to achieve the objectives of a specific change.

            1. START – where are you? If you think of change as a journey, this is your starting position. It’s sometimes referred to as the “current state.” A personal change example is weight loss. The starting measure would be your current weight. In a business change it’s usually not so simple. We’ve found many leaders of change who are unclear about their starting position. This makes it difficult to create a strategy to get where they want to go.
            2. FINISH – where are you going? This question explains the definition of success. How far along the adoption curve do you have to be to declare victory? Not all change is created equal. There are some changes that don’t require commitment, compliance is sufficient. So if you don’t make this explicit you could be overinvesting or underinvesting in the change management you really require.
            3. COMMITMENT – is there clarity and commitment to the change? It’s simple to ask and critical to understand in the context of creating a change strategy.
            4. GAP – the change equation to figure out the GAP:
              Definition of success – (where you are + clarity and commitment) = the GAP


            change_management 3


            Once you’ve answered these questions, then you can tackle the big one, “HOW do you close the GAP?” There are many actions that can be used to close the gap. Structure, process, coaching, leadership alignment, reinforcement, resistance management, training and communications are all part of the toolbox of change management practitioners. The summary of the actions you take to close the GAP creates the change strategy.

            The applied art and science of change management helps leaders create powerful change more rapidly and effectively. Take the time to answer the four critical questions and you will create a change strategy that is scaled to meet the challenge of the change you want to accomplish.

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              Eradicating Monkeys

              Eradicating Monkeys
              Posted by   | August 5th, 2014 | No Comments

              How often do you allow other people to put their “monkeys on your back?”

              Monkey on Your Back = a phenomenon described by the late William Oncken, Jr., and Donald L. Wass in the 1974 HBR classic, “Management Time: Who’s Got the Monkey?” They tell the engaging story of an overburdened manager who has unwittingly taken on all of his subordinates’ problems. If, for example, an employee has a problem and the manager says, “Let me think about that and get back to you,” the monkey has just leaped from the subordinate’s back to the manager’s.

              Whether it’s a problem searching for a solution, an action that needs to be taken or a decision that must be made, someone else’s monkey only becomes your monkey when you agree to accept it.

              Before you accept someone else’s monkey, ask yourself:

              • WHY – is this your problem?
              • WHAT – are you going to do about it and what will you be preventing that person from learning if you solve the problem, make the decision or take action on their behalf?
              • HOW – does this fit into your priorities and plans?

              In today’s jam packed busy world, be wary of playing monkey tamer. We suggest deploying a monkey eradication strategy that empowers others to deal with their own monkeys.

              Learning to shift a monkey back to its proper owner can be challenging but it’s how you prevent other people’s monkeys from jumping on your back!

              Ask yourself “why, what and how” before you accept someone else’s monkey.

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                Collaboration Crash Course

                Collaboration Crash Course
                Posted by   | July 29th, 2014 | No Comments

                It seems like every organization we work with is touting their commitment to a more collaborative workplace. The problem is that we can’t find a consistent definition of collaboration among the leaders who say they want more of it. Collaboration sounds great, but what is it and how do you make it happen?

                Collaboration is about working with others to do, create or accomplish something.

                Being collaborative has an underlying assumption that the sum of the individuals is greater than the individuals on their own. Creative thinking, innovation and ideas are just a few of the essential elements that are implied in collaboration.

                First of all, collaboration is not guaranteed by having open work environments. Collaboration is about working together and sharing ideas. Collaboration happens when there is space in your calendar and your mind not just space around you. When you don’t have time to think or your brain is crowded with facts and figures, collaboration won’t happen.

                Secondly, since collaboration is about sharing, it’s critical that the culture supports and rewards teams’ not just individuals. We recently heard about a sales compensation system where everyone in an office received a percentage of the commissions earned by the entire team. That meant that more senior sales reps benefitted from spending time with new sales reps because they knew that they would get a portion of that person’s commissions. They’ve since moved to an individual reward system. We believe that this will erode the collaboration over time since the reward system no longer values the team contribution.

                You collaborate every time you work with someone else to get something done. The question you need to answer is, “how well do you collaborate?”

                  • Know Your Technology – are you a master of your tools? Just having Lync or Yammer does not guarantee collaboration. In fact, if it’s used poorly this can become a distraction. How many times have you been on a call that wasted ten minutes trying to make a web sharing tool work and there was no document being shared? Use the right tool for the right task.
                  • Create Collaboration Processes – sharing information is part of collaboration. How you do that matters. Will the information be open and available to everyone or a limited group of people? How do things get circulated? The more intentional you are about how you collaborate, the more effective your collaboration will be.
                  • Get Random – creativity is stimulated by accidental meetings, weird ideas and other inputs that are not in the normal stream. Make time to add something different to your life. It can be a new idea source or even a meeting with someone outside your typical meeting schedule.

                We passionately believe that collaboration is critical in today’s working environment. You cannot grow to new levels of success without collaboration. So make time for collaboration, use technology wisely, be intentional about how you collaborate and get random.

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                  Creating Followership

                  Creating Followership
                  Posted by   | July 22nd, 2014 | No Comments

                  A search of Amazon shows over 100,000 books available on the subject of leadership. While followership isn’t as popular (only 289 results on the topic) it’s the leading indicator of whether or not real leadership is happening.

                  If you don’t have followers are you really a leader?  As a leader it is your responsibility to create conditions to increase the commitment of your followers.

                  Here are three ways that you, as a leader, can create these conditions:

                  • Take time - to understand and help your followers apply their strengths. Research shows that strengths based leadership significantly increases engagement which leads to greater follower commitment.
                  • Create connections - through community. Provide intentional opportunities for your team to develop connections in the workplace. The world of social media has demonstrated that a chorus of many voices often drowns out a single voice. Building strong communities within your followers provides a platform to lead from.
                  • Be a leader - that others want to follow. Model integrity, authenticity and competence to inspire followers to respect and trust in you.

                  The opposite of followership is desertion. Studies show that one of the most frequently cited reasons for leaving a job is a problem with the employee’s manager. This is clear evidence of failed leadership and a result of not providing conditions to increase the commitment of your followers.

                  Build on strengths, create communities and model the critical leadership behaviors needed to enhance your leadership through followership.

                  Focus on honing your leadership skills so that when you look behind you people will be following you. This is the measure of a true leader.

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                    Driving Success

                    Driving Success
                    Posted by   | July 15th, 2014 | No Comments

                    We were recently having a conversation with a high-tech CEO who mentioned that he was teaching his son to drive. He repeated the three instructions he gave Tyler in order to be a successful driver:

                    1. Know the rules of the road and obey them.
                    2. Maintain a safe distance (at least two car lengths from the car in front of you.)
                    3. Have a 360 perspective – always know what’s going on around you.

                    These brilliant instructions apply to success in life as well as driving. Here’s how:

                    1. You must know the rules. Whether you are beginning work with a new organization, starting a project or interacting with a new group, there are rules of engagement, also known as culture. The sooner you learn what the rules are the more successful you will be in getting your desired results.
                    2. Maintain a safe distance is an excellent instruction to apply in the context of scheduling and commitments. Calendars get too crowded with meetings. People attempt to pack too much into a day and it collapses around them. We live in a perpetual state of stress because we do not put a safe distance between various parts of our lives. Determine what a safe distance is for you, maintain it and you will be more successful managing your calendar and keeping your commitments.
                    3. Have a 360o perspective is an instruction worthy of repetition. In the chapter, Return on Luck from the book Great by Choice, Jim Collins disproved the theory of luck. He showed that companies which appeared luckier were simply prepared to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves. If you aren’t paying attention to what’s going on around you then you may miss out. Get luckier by maintaining a 360o perspective.

                    To achieve driving success and life success, remember that you must know the rules, maintain a safe distance and have a 360o perspective.

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