Tuesday, March 29, 2011

recipes for success - what is missing?

OK,  so someone is stuck. You, or someone you are assisting, has the making of a simple problem you can't seem to get unstuck from. You need a quick practice to assist yourself(s) to finding the answer that likely already lies within the deep reaches of your mind. This tool is another I have learned that helps you to figure out what is missing from your plan to achieve success in the situation.

The challenge is to break down the situation to determine if what is missing is

a) your willingness to get done what is necessary to pull through to success or
b) your skills, abilities, aptitude, understanding, knowledge of the subject matter at hand or
c) the circumstances, situation, environment, schedule that would enable you to reach for success.

If someone is not really willing to put in the effort require, sometimes called commitment, then the discussion that follows is around determining why?

Skills and abilities can be the easiest of the three because it comes down to finding a plan to get those skills through training or some other course of learning.

For the environment, it might mean redefining the rules and talking with others about the situation to layout the space to succeed.

A couple examples:
My kids participated in a athletic program which started off with success but after a few evenings there seemed to be a problem with their participation. When I applied this practice to the situation I determined that they had the skills to participate, the environment for success but they were not 100% willing to put in the effort to make it work. In this case they thought if they didn't participate they could instead play video games. Once they realized that the other option instead of participating would be less fun than the program, and not video games, suddenly their commitment was back.

Later we experienced another lull in their participation and what I found that time was that they were still willing, still skilled but in fact now the circumstances in the program had changed. The instructors had slacked off their early rigour with a solid schedule to more of a "guys hanging out" kinda program where they bragged about their accomplishments. For our kids who were hoping to do cool things sitting around listening to cool stories was boring. I spoke to the instructors, and their boss, and in a very short order the kids were excited to be participating.

So, what is missing, the will, the how or the way?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

recipes for success - relationship * possibility * action

One of the most powerful concepts of the coaching practices that I have learned is to think of our interactions with the idea of three types of conversation: relationship, possibility and action. There is no script for each of these conversations to happen but rather the practice of seeing your conversations through these lenses has helped me consider where I am at with the person.

A conversation that is about you getting to better understand the other person. Its not about becoming friends or buddies but rather finding out what are the things that are affecting and influencing them. How do they think about issues, how do they shape their decision making and what styles of leadership, communication and connection works for them and doesn't work for them. You will find that the more you learn and the more connections you have in your relationship the more possibilities you will find emerging.

This conversation leverages on your relationship, what is possible now that you know more about the person. Who they are and what they can do that you have discovered in the relationship building helps you understand why they are the person for "the job". Your collaborative relationship building has created a possibility that they can live into because you understand them better. For example, I find when I am working towards connecting a technical person with a client that part of the relationship building is finding a common language about the work to be done. That relationship building has now created the possibility that they can talk action because the language barrier of the technical terms and business terms is gone.

Finally the conversation you have been waiting for, a conversation about action.  Its the conversation about doing stuff and having gone through building a relationship and building possibility now that action is far more likely to result in success. Now if the request for action is not well received maybe you need to go back to the conversation about possibility or maybe even further back to consider the relationship but in either case you have somewhere to go. I find this much more comfortable than the situation where I need action from someone or expect it from a friend or peer but because there is limited possibility its easy for both sides to take it personally.

I  am amazed at how this simple practice can help me in solving a problem or helping someone or figuring out where to go next in a conversation.

Ben Zander has a taken on creating possibility and I will leave you with one of the videos that captures part of his view on it:

recipes for success - an offer to share what I have found or learned

Engaging in discussion with people that are very passionate about their work (paid or otherwise) is incredibly stimulating but also at times exasperating because of the tendency not find opportunities for collaboration let along finding consensus towards some good results. With that in mind I wanted to share some ideas that I have taken in since a couple years back in a coaching practitioner learning event in which I took part. The coaching practices shared with us were not about getting some credentials but rather about us regular folks learning new ways of thinking and doing things.

Over the next while I will post the recipes as I have time to type them and share them.