Monday, March 31, 2008

Improving Your Performance Through Qualitative Feedback

How can you systematically improve your performance?  Create your own feedback system.  The key is to focus on the quality of your work and the quality of your thinking.  Another key is to use qualitative feedback over quantitative feedback.  In Overachievement: The New Model for Exceptional Performance, John Eliot, Ph.D., writes about how to use qualitative feedback to improve your performance.

Shift from Quantitative to Qualitative
Eliot writes that you should shift to qualitative feedback:

It is difficult to find a mathematical description of attitude.  While we have a sense of what it means to be passionate or fully committed, how do you score an emotion?  To gauge the process of a performance requires qualitative evaluation, not a quantitative one.

Identify What You Want to Improve
Eliot writes that you need to decide what you want to improve:

Decide what factors you want to keep an eye on over time -- commitment, the Trusting Mindset, playing in the present, for example -- and then design your own log or feedback system.

Use Images and Words
Eliot suggests using the language of the mind, images and words, over numbers:

Ideally, you want to build an evaluation strategy that helps you interview yourself about the quality of your work and the quality of your thinking.  As you get comfortable with evaluating effectively, move from digital information to to analyze, from stat sheets to language.  After all, the operating data of the mind is comprised not of numbers but of images and words.

Instead of putting numbers on aspects of your performance, use words and images to describe each factor before and during performance.  If, for example, you are evaluating the level of your commitment to a project or job, don't count the hours you've put in.  That's quantitative thinking.  Analyze where you put your eyes, how sustained your vision and enthusiasm were, how well you kept track of the real reason you were performing and what obstacles or setbacks affected your effort, and how.

Journal Your Results
Eliot suggests writing your results down:

Set up your journal according to a given day or specific performances, breaking down each in as much detail as you can.  In baseball, I like hitters to break ti down according to each pitch -- what was their confidence, did they correctly make note of the situation, did they see the ball well and trust their hands, and so on. 

Separate Evaluation from Performance
Eliot writes that you should factor your evaluation from your performance:

Most important, since it's crucial to separate evaluation from performance and to keep yourself from being an assessment junkie, pre set a time block or day, at regular intervals, when you will look back at your performance -- every Friday after lunch for two hours, for example.  If you are working on different projects, you should be interviewing yourself on how you think you did on each.

Use Your Log for Insights
Eliot writes about how to use your log to find what improves your performance and what bogs you down:

At the end of the quarter, you can compile your periodic evaluation.  Look for patterns.  You might see stretches where you put in a lot of time, but your evaluation continually said, "My mind wanders to how the marketing department will perceive this new product."  Your boss might have been impressed with your late nights at the office, but you noted, "I was just grinding away, banging my head into the wall over and over."  When you described yourself as "focused" or "on fire," what was it about those days or projects that caused that feeling.  The log should tell you. 

Working Feedback Over Scores
Eliot writes that your feedback is part of a continuous improvement process:

Notice that you are not just filling in a chart or checking boxes on the typical self-improvement questionnaire.  A qualitative valuation is not another thing on your to-do list.  You don't want to find yourself saying, "I must be performing well because I checked all the boxes on my evaluation sheet."  An effective assessment provides working feedback rather than scores.  It is really part of the work execution process, server as a starting point for how you set up your mind for the next performance.

Key Take Aways
Here's my key take aways:

  • Use qualitative feedback to evaluate the quality of your work and your mind.   As simple as this sounds, I think it's an important and healthy shift.  It's all too easy to throw hours at a problem.  That's not the same as being fully engaged and performing your best.  Your qualitative feedback will tell you where you mind really was, your level of effort, your passion, ... etc.
  • Identify key areas of your performance that you want to improve.  Work backwards from a state of your peak performance.  When you are performing your best, what are you thinking? what is your energy level like? what is your confidence? ... etc.
  • Break your feedback down.  Break it up into specific, discreet parts of your performance.   This will help you get precision during specific activities.  This will help you see patterns.
  • Use words and images.  Words and images have a deeper meaning for your mind.  Use them to get precision in areas that you want to improve.
  • Keep a journal.  Writing down your results will give you a way to see your personal success patterns and areas that you need to improve.
  • Schedule your reflection time.  Don't continuously second-guess yourself during your performance.  Instead, give your all during your performance, and when you have your evaluation, then you can assess how you did.
  • Use your feedback to improve your next performance.  Your feedback is your tool for iterative and incremental improvement.  Your last results are input into your next performance.

My Related Posts

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Real and Durable Confidence

Where does real and durable self-confidence come from?  Lasting confidence doesn't come from your track record.  It doesn't come from outside factors.  Real and durable confidence comes from the inside out.  In Overachievement: The New Science of Working Less to Accomplish More, John Eliot, Ph.D. writes about real confidence.

First Comes Confidence Then Comes Success
Eliot writes:

You make a big sale, close a deal, or hit one out of the park, and you feel great.  But that delight is not to be confused with real and durable confidence.  But that delight is not to be confused with real and durable confidence.  First comes confidence, then success.  Otherwise, there would be no billionaires or candidates for the White House.  In fact, people who base their confidence on past or even current successes often lose their sense of dedication and commitment.  It all seems so easy, so why keep working hard?  Worse still, by basing confidence on your track record, you open yourself up to a nasty fall.  When you run into a series of setbacks or outright failures, you are less likely to be able to pick yourself up and fight back. 

Don't Depend on the Approval of Others
Eliot writes:

Bouncing back is even harder if your confidence comes from outside factors: depending on the approval of your spouse or college classmates, on the bottom line of your business, on your coach or the critics, on the opinions of analysts reviewing your stock at Merrill Lynch or in The Wall Street Journal.  This is what psychologists call "dependent confidence."  We see this a lot among athletes who are extremely confident under a coach who thinks they're a real 'go-to" player.  But when they graduate from high school or college or move to the next level and run into a coach who may not be as impressed, their confidence -- and their ability to perform at high levels -- evaporates.

Confident Thinking
Eliot writes:

Soon after Arnold Schwarzenegger arrived in the United States in 1968, he made a prediction.  He would become a movie star, make millions, marry a glamorous woman, and wield political power.  The young Schwarzenegger's past stacked up quite heavily against such dreams:  He was an Austrian body builder short on money ... and on English.  But he didn't rely on feedback from others to decide how he would approach his future.  Whatever you think of Arnold's acting or his politics, it is hard to deny his brilliance as a confident thinker.

Key Take Aways
Here's my key take aways:

  • Confidence comes before success.
  • Don't base your confidence on external factors.
  • Confidence is a mindset.

My Related Posts

Monday, March 24, 2008

Don't Wait for Inspiration

Do you wait for inspiration before taking action? Don't. Imagine if athletes only practiced when they were inspired. Inspiration is a gift, but not something you count on every day. Put your focus on mastering your craft and let inspiration happen. When it does, you'll be ready for it. In The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, Steven Pressfield writes about how professionals don't wait for inspiration.

Concentrate on Technique
Pressfield writes about focusing on your technique over waiting for inspiration:

A pro views her work as craft, not art. Not because she believes are is devoid of a mystical dimension. On the contrary. She understands that all creative endeavor is holy, but she doesn't dwell on it. she knows if she thinks about that too much, it will paralyze her. So she concentrates on technique. The professional masters how, and leaves what and why to the gods. Like Somerset Maugham she doesn't wait for inspiration, she acts in the anticipation of its apparition. The professional is acutely aware of the intangibles that go into inspiration. Out of respect for them, she lets them work. She grants them their sphere while she concentrates on hers.

The sign of the amateur is over-glorification of and preoccupation with the mystery.

The professional shuts up. She doesn't talk about it. She does her work.

Key Take Aways
Here's my key take aways:

  • Don't wait for inspiration. Inspiration isn't something you should count on, but you should be able to leverage it when it happens. The key is to create more opportunities for your inspiration to be unleashed.
  • Focus on mastering your craft. The key here is to focus on what you control. You have control over your techniques and routines. By improving your techniques and routines, you set yourself up for success. When you have your moments of inspiration, your skill and routines will serve you well.

My Related Posts

Monday, March 17, 2008

Getting Out of a Slump

How do you get out of a slump?  A common cause of getting in a slump is low confidence.  Getting out of the slump involves stop focusing on what can go wrong, focus on what to do right, and take action.   In Overachievement: The New Model for Exceptional Performance, John Eliot, Ph.D., writes about getting out of a slump.

The Real Problem is Low Confidence
According to Eliot, low-confidence is a common cause of slumps: 

Clients come to me with all sorts of problems.  They're in a "slump," they're choking under pressure, they're not performing as well as they ought to or want to.  Often, their real problem is low-confidence.  Long before they make an important sales call or meet with their boss or the board, they begin thinking about what might go astray, and end up doubting their ability.  They actually are rehearsing potential disasters rather than programming their heads for success and developing confident solutions to roadblocks.

Focus on the Steps and Why They're Good Ones
Eliot writes that you need to change your focus:

I'm often amazed at how quickly people forget what got them where they are in the first place.  The person who is frozen with anxiety over meeting with the board to discuss the financial condition of the company has managed to ignore the simplest fact of the situation: He's being called in to solve a problem, to help move the company forward, to give knowledge or defend viable strategic moves.  Instead of thinking about how he might screw up, he ought to be focusing on the steps he's going to take and why they're good ones.

Action is the Fundamental Aspect of Confidence
According to Eliot, action is a cornerstone of confidence:

Lynn Katen already knew more about regulations around the country than anyone else at the bank.  Once she started acting on that fact, her confidence grew, and so did the bank's confidence in her.  This underscores what I think is a fundamental aspect of confidence: Action.

Key Take Aways
Here's my key take aways:

  • Low-confidence is a common cause of slumps.
  • Action helps restore confidence.
  • Focus on the right steps over focusing on what can go wrong.

My Related Posts

Monday, March 10, 2008

Designing Organizational Architecture

How do you design an effective organization?  How do you equip your group to achieve its goals?  What are the key components of an organization that will help you be successful.  In The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels, Michael Watkins writes about how to design an effective organizational architecture and help you avoid dysfunctional arrangements.

Five Elements of Organizational Architecture
Watkins identifies the five elements of organizational architecture:

  • Strategy:  the core approach the organization will use to accomplish its goals.
  • Structure:  How people are situated in units and how their work is coordinated.
  • Systems: The process used to add value.
  • Skills: The capabilities of the various groups of people in the organization.
  • Culture: The values, norms and assumptions that shape behavior.

Identifying Misalignments
Watkins identifies three common misalignments:

  • Skills and strategy misalignments.
  • Systems and strategy misalignments.
  • Structure and systems misalignments.

Avoiding Some Common Traps
Watkins identifies some common traps you should avoid:

  • Trying to restructure your way out of deeper problems.
  • Creating structures that are too complex.
  • Automating problem processes.
  • Making changes for change's sake.
  • Overestimating your group's capacity to absorb strategic shifts.

Getting Started
Watkins provides a proven roadmap for getting started:

  • Start with strategy.
  • Look at supporting structure, systems, and skills.
  • Decide how and when you will introduce the new strategy.
  • Re-shape structure, systems, and skills simultaneously.
  • Close the loop.

Key Take Aways
Here's my key take aways:

  • Build a durable, evolvable frame for the organization.
  • Nail the five elements of organizational architecture: strategy, structure, systems, skills, and culture.
  • Identify misalignments.
  • Know the common traps.
  • Use the roadmap to get started and as a baseline for an effective organizational architecture.

My Related Posts

Crafting Strategy

A strategy defines what your organization will do and what it won't do.  How do you craft an effective business strategy?  How do you verify that your strategy will be effective?  In The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels, Michael Watkins writes about crafting strategy and evaluating strategy.

Customers, Capital, Capabilities, and Commitments
The core of your strategy is your customers, capital, capabilities and commitments.  Watkins identifies the fundamental questions:

  • Customers.  Which set of existing customers will we continue to serve?  Which markets are we going to exit?  What new markets are we going to enter, and when are we going to do it?
  • Capital.  Of the businesses we will remain in, which will we invest in and which will we draw cash from?  What additional capital is likely to be required and when?  where will it come from?
  • Capabilities.  What are we good at and not good at?  What existing organizational capabilities (for example, a strong new-product development organization) can we leverage?  Which do we need to build up?  Which do we need to create or acquire?
  • Commitments.  What critical resource commitment decisions do we need to make?  When? What difficult-to-reverse past commitments do we have to live with or try to unwind?

Assessing coherence
Watkins writes:

"Does a logic underlie the market segment choices, products, technologies, plans, and goals that compose the strategy?  Assessing whether the elements of a strategy fit together calls for looking at the logic behind it to ensure that it makes sense overall.  Have the people who developed the strategy thought through all ramifications and practical aspects of implementing it?"

Assessing Adequacy
Watkins identifies three ways to assess adequacy:

  • Ask some probing questions.  Dos your bosss believe the strategy will provide enough return on the effort your group will expend to implement it?  Are there plans in place to secure, develop, and preserve resources with which to carry out the strategy?  Are profit and other targets high enough to keep the group on the right track?  Is enough money earmarked for capital investment?  For research?
  • Use the SWOT method.  Analyze the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats associated with the strategy.
  • Probe the history of the strategy's creation.  Find out who drove the strategy development process.  Did they rush the process?  Drag it out?  If the former, they might not have thought through all the ramifications.  If the latter, it might represent a lowest-common-denominator compromise that emerged from a political battle.  Any mistakes during the development process could compromise the strategy's adequacy.

Assessing Implementation
Watkins identifies ways to assess implementation:

  • Are the performance metrics specified in the strategy used to make day-to-day decisions?
    Are the performance aspects that management actually uses consistent with the strategy's emphasis?  What goals does the organization seem to be pursuing?
  • If the strategy requires teamwork and cross-functional integration, are people acting as teams and collaborating across functions?
  • If the strategy requires new eomployee skills, is a training-and-development infrastructure in place to develop those skills?

Key Take Aways
Here's my key take aways:

  • Clarify your strategy to identify what you will and will not do.
  • Craft strategy by addressing the fundamental questions around customers, capital, capabilities, and commitments.
  • Assess strategy by looking at its coherence, adequacy, and implementation.
  • Use the right questions to evaluate your strategy more effectively.
  • Use the SWOT method for assessing adequacy.

My Related Posts

Consult-and-Decide and Build-Consensus for Making Decisions

How do you make more effective decisions?  As a leader, how do you know whether to build consensus or to simply make the decision based on input?  In The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels, Michael Watkins writes about effective decision making using consult-and-decide and build-consensus techniques.

Watkins writes:

"When a leader solicits information and advice from direct reports -- individually, or as a group, or both -- but reserves the right to make the final call, he or she is using a consult-and-decide approach.  In effect, he or she separates the 'information gathering and analysis' process from the 'evaluating and reaching closure' process, harnessing the group for one but not the other."

Watkins writes:

"In the build-consensus process, the leader both seeks information and analysis and seeks buy-in from the group for any decision.  The goal is not full consensus but sufficient consensus.  This means that a critical mass of the group believes that the decision to be the right one and, critically, that the rest agree that they can live with and support implementation of the decision."

When to Choose One Over the Other
Watkins writes:

"When should you choose one process over the other?  The answer is emphatically not 'If I am under time pressure, I will use consult-and-decide.'  Why?  Because although it may be true that you reach a decision quicker by the consult-and-decide route, you won't necessarily reach the desired outcome faster.  In fact, you may end up consuming a lot of time trying to sell the decision after the fact, or finding out that people are not energetically implementing it and having to pressure them.  Those who suffer from the action imperative are most at risk of this; they want to 'reach closure' by making the call, but may jeopardize their end goals in the process."

Rules of Thumb
Watkins outlines some rules of thumb for choosing which decision making approach to use:

  • If the decision is likely to be highly divisive -- creating winners and losers -- then you usually are better off using consult-and-decide and taking the heat.  A build-consensus process will both fail to reach a good outcome and get everyone mad at one another in the process.  Put another way, decisions about sharing losses or pain among a group of people are best made by the leader.
  • If the decision requires energetic support for implementation from people whose performance you cannot adequately observe and control, then you usually are better off using a build-consensus process.  You may get to a decision more quickly using consult-and-decide, but not to the desired outcome.
  • If you are managing a team of people who are relatively inexperienced, then you usually are better off relying more on consult-and-decide until you have taken the measure of the team and developed their capabilities.  If you try to adopt a build-consensus approach with an inexperienced team, you risk getting frustrated and imposing a decision anyway, which effectively cuts teamwork.
  • If you are put in charge of a group of people with whom you need to establish your authority (such as supervising former peers), then you are better off relying on consult-and-decide to make some key early decisions.  You can relax and rely more on building consensus once people see that you have the steadiness and insight to make tough calls.

Key Take Aways
Here's my key take aways:

  • Choose the most effective decision making approach for the situation.
  • Don't simply use consult-and-decide under time pressure.
  • Prove you can make the tough calls using consult-and-decide.
  • If you need buy-in and support for implementation, build consensus.

My Related Posts

Development Grid

How can you systematically chart out your professional development?  It's not just functional experience that matters.  The types of business situations you've been in matter too.  For example, serving a marketing role during a Start-up is very different than the same role during a Sustaining Success situation.  You can use the STARS model to help you map out your professional experience as well as to chart your course.  In The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels, Michael Watkins writes about using the STARS model to plan your professional development.

STARS Model for Charting Progression
Watkins writes:

"The STARS model provides a basis for evaluating performance in very different types of situations.  Perhaps more important, it provides a basis for charting the progression of high-potential leaders through a series of positions that build their capability to manage a broad range of business scenarios."

Example Development Grid
Watkins provides an example Development Grid:

- Start-up Turnaround Realignment Sustaining Success
Marketing - - - -
Sales - - - -
Finance - - - -
Human Resources - - - -
Operations - - - -
R&D - - - -
Information Management - - - -
Other - - - -

Fill Out the Development Grid
Watkins writes:

"To illustrate, think of your own job history.  Take some time to fill out the development grid, a tool for charting professional development.  The rows represent functions in which you have worked, and the columns represent types of business situations you have experienced."

Chart Your Positions
Watkins writes:

"Chart every management position you have held, plus any major project or task force assignments.  For example, if your first managerial job was in marketing in an organization (or unit) in the midst of a turnaround, place a circled 1 (indicating your first management position) in the corresponding cell of the matrix.  If your next position was in sales in a new unit (or dealing with a new product or project) -- a start-up situation -- enter a circleed 2 in that cell.  If at the same time you were on a task force dealing with operations issues for the start-up, enter a 2 inside a triangle (indicating a project assignment) in the appropriate cell."

Illuminate Your Professional Trajectory
Watkins writes:

"Record all your managerial jobs, and then connect the dots to illuminate your professional trajectory.  Are there any blank columns or rows?  What do they signify about your readiness for general-management positions?  About your potential blind spots?"

Key Take Aways
Here's my key take aways:

  • Map out your functional expertise.  For example, identify your experience in marketing, sales, finance, human resources, operations, R&D and information management.
  • Map out the business situations you've been in.  For example, Start-up, Turnaround, Realignment, and Sustaining Success are all very different scenarios.
  • Use the map to identify strengths and opportunities.  Now that you have charted your past, you can proactively identify where you can either leverage your strengths or where you can focus on development.

My Related Posts

Identify Supporters, Opponents and Convincibles

How do you identify your supporters, opponents and convincibles?  Part of putting your ideas in place, means knowing the influence map.  You need to know your supporters and opponents as well as those that you can convince to join your efforts.  In The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels, Michael Watkins writes about identifying your supporters, opponents, and convincibles.  

Supporters will approve your agenda because it advances their own interests, because they respect you, or because they see merit in your ideas.  Watkins provides examples:

  • People who share your vision for the future.  If you see a need for going through change, look for others who have pushed for changes like those you are promoting.
  • People who have been quietly working for change on a small scale, such as a plant engineer who has found an innovative way to significantly reduce waste.
  • People new to the company who have not yet become acculturated to its mode of operations.

Opponents will oppose you not matter what you do.  They may believe that you are wrong or they may have other reasons for resistance to your agenda.  Watkins provides examples:

  • Comfort with the status quo.  They resist changes that might undermine their position or alter established relationships.
  • Fear of looking incompetent.  They fear seeming or feeling incompetent if they have trouble adapting to the changes you are proposing and perform inadequately afterward.
  • Threat to values.  They believe you ar promoting a culture that spurns traditional definitions of value or rewards inappropriate behavior.
  • Threat to power.  They fear that the change you are proposing (such as a shift from team-leader decision making to team consensus decision making) would deprive them of power.
  • Negative consequences for key allies.  They fear that your agenda will have negative consequences for others they care about or feel responsible for.

Watkins writes:

"Convincibles are the swing voters:  people who are undecided about or indifferent to change, and people you think you could persuade once you understand and appeal to their interests.  Once you have identified convincibles look into what motivates them.  People are motivated by different things, such as status, financial security or wealth, job security, positive social and professional relationships with colleagues, and opportunities to tackle new and stimulating challenges.  So take the time to figure out what they perceive their interests to be.  Start by putting yourself in their shoes:  If you were them, what would you care about?  If it is possible to engage them directly in dialogue, then ask questions about how they see the situation, and engage in active active listening.  If you have connections to other people in their organization, then you should use them to learn.  If you don't, you might think about judiciously cultivating them.

Meanwhile, ask yourself whether there are competing forces that might tip convincibles toward resisting you.  For example, making them see that their interests are compatible with yours would prompt them to support you, but the threat of losing a comfortable status quo might trigger resistance.  Interests and competing forces should be part of what you undertake to learn about the politics of your organization through conversations, exploration of past decisions, and observation of group interactions."

Key Take Aways
Here's my key take aways:

  • Explicitly map out your supporters, opponents and convincibles.
  • Know the key reasons for resistance by your opponents.  You may be able to address the resistance and turn opponents into supporters.
  • Get convincibles on your side by knowing their motivation.

My Related Posts

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Assessing Your Existing Team

What are the most important attributes of the people on your team?  Which attributes can you influence or change versus which are relatively fixed?   What is your threshold value for whether somebody should be on your team?  In The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels, Michael Watkins writes about using key criteria to evaluate your team.

Six Criteria for Assessing People on Your Team
Watkins identifies six criteria for assessing individuals on your team:

  • Competence.  Does this person have the technical competence and experience to do the job effectively?
  • Judgement.  Does this person exercise good judgement, especially under pressure when faced with making sacrifices for the greater good.
  • Energy.  Does this team member bring the right kind of energy to do the job, or is he or she burned out or disengaged?
  • Focus.  Is this person capable of setting priorities and sticking to them, or prone to "riding off in all directions"?
  • Relationships.  Does this individual get along with others on the team and support collective decisions making, or is he or she difficult to work with?
  • Trust.  Can you trust this person to keep his or her word and follow through on commitments?

Fill Out a Table
Watkins writes:

"To get a quick read on the criteria you use, fill out a table.  Allow yourself 100 points to divide among the six criteria according to the relative weight you place on them when you evaluate direct reports.  Record those numbers in the middle column, making sure that they add up to 100.  Now identify one of those criteria as your 'threshold issue.' meaning that if a person does not meet a basic threshold on that dimension, nothing else matters.  Label your threshold issue with an asterisk in the right-hand column."

Example Table
Watkins provides an example table:

Evaluative Criteria Relative Weights (Divide 100 points among the six issues) Threshold Issue (Designate with an asterisk)
Competence - -
Judgment - -
Energy - -
Focus - -
Relationships - -
Trust - -

Analyze Your Results
Watkins writes:

"Now step back.  Does this accurately represent the values you apply when you evaluate direct reports?  If so, does this analysis suggest any potential blind spots in the way you evaluate people?

Your assessments are likely to reflect certain assumptions about what you can and can't change in people who work for you.  If you score relationships low and judgment high, for example, you may think that relationships within your team are something you can influence, whereas you cannot influence judgment.  Likewise, you may have designated trust as a threshold issue -- many leaders do -- because you believe that you must be able to trust those who work for you and because you think trustworthiness is a trait that cannot be changed."

Key Take Aways
Here's my key take aways:

  • Identify your criteria.  Your criteria should support your success.  This means both having people you can count on to do their jobs as well as complimenting your ability.
  • Find your blind spots.  It might be a blind spot for you if you think you can change attributes that you really can't or that are ineffective.  You also might be undervaluing certain attributes.  Use the table to reflect on how well the results match your experience.
  • Identify what you think you can change and what you can't.  While it's true that you can influence behavior, changing some attributes just might not be worth it.

My Related Posts

Overcoming Resistance with Entanglement Strategies

How do you overcome resistance to change in your organization? You can move people in a series of small steps. Incremental buy-in over time can often be more effective than trying to change too much at once, particularly if you face a lot of resistance. In The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels, Michael Watkins writes about using entanglement strategies to overcome resistance to change in your organization.

Reformulating Incentives, Framing Arguments and Action-Forcing Events
Watkins writes:

"Reformulating incentives, framing arguments, and setting up action-forcing events are relatively static persuasion techniques. You figure out how people perceive their choices, and then you craft a mix of push and pull forces that alter those perceptions. Voila, you get the behavior you want."

Adopt Entanglement Strategies
Watkins writes:

"But what if moving people from where they are (comfortable with the status quo) is either impossible to achieve all at once or just too expensive for you? What do you do then?

You could adopt entanglement strategies that move people from A to B in a series of small steps rather than a single leap. To return to the example of including a group to do something embarrassing, I could start by asking them to stand up. Then I could ask them to stand on one foot, and so on. "

Leverage Small Commitments Into Larger Ones
Watkins writes:

"One approach is to leverage small commitments into larger ones. If you are trying to launch a new initiative, begin by getting people to agree to participate in an initial organizing meeting. Then get them to commit to a subsequent meeting, then to doing a small piece of analysis, and so on. Entanglement works because each step creates a new psychological reference point for deciding whether to take the next small step. When possible, try to make each step irreversible, like a door that locks once it has been passed through. Getting people to make commitments in public, for example, creates a barrier to backsliding, as does getting commitments in writing."

Use a Multistage Approach to Problem Solving
Watkins writes:

"A related technique to overcome resistance to change is a multistage approach to problem solving. Start by getting people to take part in some shared data collection, for example, on how the organization is performing relative to competition. Oversee the process carefully to be sure that they take a hard look at performance using external comparisons. The key at this stage is to get them to recognize that there is a problem or problems that must be dealt with.

When the task is done, shift the focus to gaining a shared definition of "the problem." What exactly is the problem? Push them hard to engage in root cause analysis, using process analysis tools if helpful. Then get them to work jointly on criteria for evaluating alternative courses of action. What would a 'good' solution look like? How should we measure success?

Finally, use the resulting criteria to evaluate the alternatives. How do the various alternative approaches stack up? By the alternative-evaluation stage of this process, many people will accept outcomes they would have rejected at the outset."

Use Behavior Change to Drive Attitude change
Watkins writes:

"Another entanglement strategy is to use behavior change to drive attitude change. This may sound backwards, but the attitude/behavior-change equation runs both ways. It is possible to alter people's attitudes (with a compelling argument or evocative vision) and thus to change their behavior. But attitude change, and its close organizational cousin cultural change, is difficult to achieve and sustain."

Why Changing Behavior Works
Watkins writes:

"It turns out, interestingly enough, that if you can change people's behavior in desired ways, their attitudes will shift to support the new behavior. This occurs because people feel a strong need to preserve consistency between their behaviors and their beliefs. The implication for persuasion is clear: it often makes sense to focus first on getting people to act in new ways, such as by changing measurement and incentive systems, rather than trying to change their attitudes. If you get them taking the right actions, the right attitudes will follow."

Key Take Ways
Here's my key take aways:

  • Think in terms of gradual change
  • Get incremental buy-in.
  • Change behavior and attitude follows.

My Related Posts

Testing for Expert Judgement

Expert judgement is the ability to make predictions and avoid problems in a given domain.  How can you test the judgement of somebody on your team?  You can observe them over time, or you can accelerate the process by asking them about a topic they are passionate about.  In The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels, Michael Watkins writes about how to test a person's capacity for expert judgement.

Make sure You are Assessing Judgement
Watkins writes:

"Make sure you are assessing judgement and not technical competence or raw intelligence.  Some very bright people have lousy judgement, and some people of average competence have extraordinary judgment.  It is essential to be clear about the mix of knowledge and judgement you need from key people."

Making Predictions and Avoiding Problems
Watkins writes:

"One way to assess judgement is to work with a person for an extended time and observe whether he or she is able to (1) make sound predictions and (2) develop good strategies for avoiding problems.  Both abilities draw on an individual's mental models, or ways of identifying the essential features and dynamics of emerging situations and translating those insights into effective action.  This is what expert judgement is all about.  The problem of course, is that you don't have much time, and it can take a while to find out whether someone did or did not make good predictions.  Fortunately, there are ways you can accelerate this process."

Accelerating Testing for Expert Judgement
Watkins writes:

"One way is to test people's judgement in a domain in which feedback on their prediction abilities will emerge relatively quickly.  Experiment with the following approach.  Ask individuals whose judgement you want to evaluate about a topic that they are passionate about outside work.  It could be politics or cooking or baseball; it doesn't matter.  Challenge them to make predictions: 'Who do you think is going to do better in the debate?' 'What does it take to bake a perfect souffle?' 'Which team will win the game tonight?'  Press them to commit themselves -- unwillingness to go out on a limb is a warning sign in itself.  Then probe why they think their predictions are correct.  Does the rationale make sense?  If possible, follow up to see what happens.

What you are testing is a person's capacity to exercise expert judgement in a particular domain.  Someone who has become an expert in a private domain is likely to have done so in his or her chose field of business too, given enough passion about it.  However you do it, the key is to find ways, beyond just waiting to see how people will perform on the job, to probe for the hallmarks of expertise."

Key Take Aways
Here's my key take aways:

  • Expert judgement is the ability to make predictions and avoid problems.
  • Having technical expertise in a domain is not the same as demonstrating sound judgement.
  • Find ways to test for expert judgement beyond waiting to see how people perform on the job.
  • You can speed up the process by asking somebody about an area outside of work and seeing how well they make predictions.

Coalition-Building Cycle

How do you build your support network?  How do you build momentum within your support network?  In The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels, Michael Watkins writes about the coalition-building cycle.

Coalition-Building Cycle
Watkins provides a visual of the coalition-building cycle:


Coalition-Building Cycle Explained
Watkins outlines the key steps in the coalition-building cycle:

  • Gaining allies helps you recruit others.
  • Recruiting others increases your resource base.
  • Increasing your resource base, increase the likelihood of your agenda's success.
  • Increasing the likelihood of your agenda's success, helps you further in gaining allies.

Persuade Convincibles to Become Supporters
Watkins writes:

"Coalition building entails consolidating existing sources of support while developing relationships with those whose resources or connections you need to succeed.  The sequence in which you consolidate and build support is key.  You will also need to persuade convincibles to become supporters rather than opponents."

Keep Your Allies Up To Date
Watkins writes:

"To consolidate existing support, call on established social and political relationships and strengthen them through regular conversations  Make sure you keep your allies up to date.  Pay attention to how they react to changing conditions.  You can even provide them with advice on how to counter opponent's arguments.  You want to affirm the importance of existing relationships and leverage them into support for your new effort."

Key Take Aways
Here's my key take aways:

  • Build momentum by gaining allies.
  • Turn convincibles into supporters before they become opponents.
  • Strengthen your existing support through regular conversations.
  • Provide advice on how to counter opponent's arguments.

My Related Posts

Saturday, March 8, 2008

You Can Travel the Road of Success

Are you traveling the road of success?  Just like perfection, success is a journey, not a destination.  In Your Road Map for Success: You Can Get There from Here, John C. Maxwell writes about how you can choose to travel the road of success at any point.

You Can Travel the Road of Success
Maxwell writes:

"Whether you're just getting started, arriving at the middle of the trip, or approaching the end of it, you can make it.

I'm here to encourage you and tell you that you can do it too.  You can travel the road of success.  I don't know where you are on the journey because I haven't had the pleasure of meeting you in person.  But whether you're just getting started, arriving at the middle of the trip, or approaching the end of it, you can make it.  You can travel the road you were designed to take, and you can finish strong."

Growth Oriented Over Goal Oriented
Maxwell writes:

"Few things worth having in life are easy.  But if you persevere, it probably won't be long before you realize that you truly are successful.  At first, others may not recognize it, and you won't get the credit you deserve.  But as you continue to grow and work at fulfilling your purpose, a time will probably come when others suddenly consider you an overnight success and say, "Wow, how did he get so good so quickly?"  And if you continue to be growth oriented rather than goal oriented, you'll stay on the path of success, and people may even give you more credit than you deserve.  But no matter what happens, keep following your road map and moving forward on the journey, staying true to your new definition of success.  And as you go, make sure you take others with you."

What Did You Like Best About the Trip
Maxwell writes:

"Three, five, or even ten years from now maybe we'll get a chance to meet.  And things will have changed for the both of us.  I hope you will tell me then that you've gone higher up the mountain than you ever expected.  And we'll reminisce, as Stan and I have.  And that's when I'll ask you again, 'What did you like best about the trip?"'

Key Take Aways
Here's my key take aways:

  • Success is a journey, not a destination.  Success is a path you choose to take through life.
  • Start at any time.  No matter where you are in life, you can choose to travel the road of success.
  • Focus on growth.  Greatness comes from growth.  Growth is a process.  The best growth is persistent growth over time.
  • Follow your purpose.   Your success includes following your purpose.
  • Enjoy the trip.  Find the joy in the process.  While sacrifice is often the price of success, it should be a rewarding process.  For me, the key is personal growth and the ability to take on new challenges.

2008 02 - February Post Roundup

Here's my post roundup for February.

February Posts

My Related Posts

Friday, March 7, 2008

Four Needs of the Organization

How do you unleash the power of your workforce?  You find a way to bring together four needs of the individual, the four needs of the organization, and the mission, vision and values of the organization.  In The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness, Stephen R. Covey writes about the four needs of the individual and the organization -- BODY, MIND, HEART, and SPIRIT.

The Four Needs of the Individual
Covey writes about the four needs of the individual:

"Remember that only those people who are allowed to tap into the needs and motivation of all four parts of their nature will find their voice and volunteer their highest contributions.  For the body, the need and motivation is survival -- economic prosperity; for the mind, growth and development; for the heart, love and relationships; and for the spirit, meaning, integrity and contribution."

The Four Needs of the Organization
Cover writes about the four needs of the organization:

  • (BODY) Survival -- financial health.
  • (MIND) Growth and development -- economic growth, customer growth, innovation of new products and services, increasing professional and institutional competency.
  • (HEART)Relationships -- strong synergy, strong external networks, and partnering, teamwork, trust, caring, valuing differences.
  • (SPIRIT) Meaning, integrity and contribution -- serving and lifting all stakeholders: customers, suppliers, employees and their families, communities, society -- making a difference in the world.

Universal Mission Statement
Covey writes:

"The key to unleashing the power of the workforce is what I call co-missioning.  It's clarifying the mission, vision, and values of the organization in a way that overlaps the four needs of the individuals with the four needs of the organization.  Every person's job in the organization ought to be co-missioned to explicitly meet the four needs of both the person and the organization.  An implicit Universal Mission Statement would need to be something like this: 'To improve the economic well-being and quality of life of all stakeholders.'  Your organization's, department's, team's, or family's mission statement would not only embody the spirit of the universal mission statement, but would also represent how you uniquely do that -- your unique gift, capacity, niche -- your voice."

My Key Take Aways
I particularly like this nugget because it maps to what I try to accomplish with my teams.  I tie together improving the quality of life for the organization, the individuals on my teams and our customers.  For customers, I build guidance for a living so knowledge and information are my means to the end. 

Here's my key take aways:

  • Unleash the individual.  Know how the four needs relate to the individual. 
  • Unleash the organization.  Know how the four needs relate to the organization.
  • Know Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.  I think that Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is complimentary.  If individuals are struggling with the basics, then it's tough to get their full potential.  See also Maslow's Hierarchy: Applications for the Workplace.