Archive for the ‘7 Levels of Change’ Category

The Opposable Mind

July 28, 2011

Last evening, I started a new book, The Opposable Mind: Winning Through Integrative Thinking, by Roger Martin. Though I haven’t gotten past the first chapter, the premise definitely makes sense to me. He quotes F. Scott Fitzgerald on page 1:

  • The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to fuction. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless yet be determined to make them otherwise.
    The Crack Up, 1945

When I saw this book and read the back cover, I thought the concept of opposable mind was obvious. I’ve been doing it for years. An the business I am going to build will help people develop their “integrative thinking” skills in a number of ways, which I hope will be an addition to what he will be discussing in his book. I think I’ve had an opposable mind for my whole life, but never thought of myself that way. I imagine that if I had known I was thinking that way, I might have told people why I was taking a contrary stance to theirs. They might not have seen me as a rebel, but as someone who was contributing something different to a conversation.

If you are wondering how I plan to do this, let me offer just a few hints:

  1. The 7 Levels of Change gives us a way to look at situations from at least 7 different points of view. I think there is an 8th Level – make a commitment to change, and possibly additional levels of stasis, which might be though of as negative levels of change. For example, if Level 1 is doing the right things, then Level -1 could be doing the wrong things. A lot of human behavior is easier to understand if one thinks of them as a spectrum of stasis and change.
  2. Six Thinking Hats gives us six different ways of looking at situations that are different from 7LoC. What are the facts? What emotions are involved? What do we need to worry about? What makes us happy about the opportunity or threat? How can we come up with new ideas? What do we need to do to organize things? When we have the ability to put on each hat in sequence, we have options that we never saw before. How many of us go through life wearing a Black Hat (Devil’s Advocate) and never acknowledging that the Red Hat (Emotions) may be holding us back in different ways? Would we be more flexible if we had a hat with seven colors, the last being “status quo/apathy” or our resistance to wearing any hat at all.
  3. The Pareto Principle also known as the 80/20 Principle, tells us that 20% of the effort in most efforts will deliver 80% of the value. And if we focus on the 20%, 4% of that effort will deliver 64% of the value (.8 x .8 = .64). But how often do we think about the value we are going to get from activities, much less think about the value before we even put them on our agenda? If we organized the agenda items we might put in our daily calendar, and put the important things first, would we deliver better value at the end of the day?

These are a few of the ideas that are already part of my tool. It is already working for me, but I don’t know if anyone else would be willing to try using it. That is where the thread about Composing Change comes into the picture. I went through many months of handwritten tracking of things I was doing, things I wanted to do, and things I thought mattered before I recognized that I could build a tool to help me manage everything. Those lists I was keeping in separate composition notebooks blended together in the tool I have built. The habits I realized I wanted to develop became one leg of the stool; the goals were the second. Where goals and habits meet is on a day you can start all over again and try to do something different, and then see where you succeeded and failed. I’ve never seen a daily planning tool that helped me manage short-term projects as well as behavior changes. In a few weeks, if there is a new release of FileMaker Pro, I will be able to offer the rest of you a chance to try out what I am doing. But invitations to that party will be based on what you have been doing in your Composing Change notebooks. If you aren’t willing to do the pre-work to get into a program, why would I believe you were ready to change?

But I’m off track again. We started talking about a book that offers examples of how people can hold opposing points of view and still get things done. Then I suggested there might be dozens of ways we might guide those opposing thoughts. And I finished by saying I would let you try out my idea if you do a handwritten version first.

For people who start reading this blog after this date, I’m sure this will be very confusing. They might have to go back to the beginning to make sense of it all. But so what, I say, the stream of ideas will keep moving. It doesn’t matter where you get into the water. It will always be refreshing.

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WIIFE (What’s In It For Everyone)

July 26, 2011

This morning after I woke up, I had this nagging thought about why I am doing all this work for myself. Will it benefit me now or down the road? Will anyone else benefit? Is the underlying method that evolving something that could be called “open” if I’m also selling something to support it? I needed to take a step back and see what was motivating me. What was the point of it all?

  • WIIFMe – An individual wants a better life, though some may struggle with the idea of leapfrogging those who already have it better
  • WIIFMyKids – A parent wants a better life for their children, but may not feel like they can be part of the solution because their own school experience was miserable and ineffective
  • WIIFMyParents – A smart kid wants a better life for their parents, not after they leave home, but now, when the kid is still around to help and benefit themselves
  • WIIFMSpouse – A wife who stayed at home while the kids were yound may not feel ready to re-enter the workforce when jobs are scarce, because she could be reducing the opportunities for her husband
  • WIIFOurSchool – A taxpayer may feel like they have done enough over the years, paying for their own kids to attend school, but want to help the next generation get good jobs in the community
  • WIIFOurCommunity – A resident may look at the surrounding neighborhood and want to do something, but where would they start
  • WIIFOurChurch – A church goer may want to do more than one service a week, with occasional dinners and social events, but how do they channel their effort into activities that reflect their faith
  • WIIFMyEmployer – An employee may want more than coasting along toward retirement and a pension, but how do they tell their supervisor or manager that they have ideas that would improve products or attract new customers
  • WIIFMyEmployees – A business owner may worry about meeting the next payroll, but not be willing to share their concerns with the people who work for them
  • WWIFOurCustomers – Businesses (owners and employees together) may feel they have value to provide to customers, but may not understand how to develop products and services

Everyone wants something for themselves, and can only thing about something for those near and dear to them when their own issues are addressed. That is where I think my method will shine, because it works the same way at every level, no matter who is using it. A phrase I came up with a while back was debabelization, which means nothing more than removing the confusion about how we do things so we can focus our attention on what we are doing.

If someone has spent time on their own dreams for the future and conquered one or two small but seemingly impossible goals, wouldn’t they be more supportive of the efforts of those around them. Wouldn’t a business be able to tackle something really difficult if  20% of the employees had the same vocabulary for identifying and implementing change? Couldn’t a parent help a child if they had started working on some dream of their own.

Why do things by ourselves? Why not leverage proven methods from manufacturing and engineering that can be applied in a simple but elegant framework, to turn impossible into nothing more than hard work?

That’s what I’m going to do. Anyone who wants to help needs to identify themselves so we can start meeting in person and talk about how I think this would work. I will contribute the environment and some of the content, but I want to make the rest of it open to those who live nearby. When we figure out how to get this idea to work, I think we will have something that other communities will want to know about. That would mean job opportunities for those who helped get things started. I’ll be busy working on the next thing we do together.

So there it is. Tell me what you think. I tried to make it as vague as possible but that will change, for those who come forward to help.

Anyone want to help me change the world, one small rural school district at a time?

Am I Listening?

July 24, 2011

I was just out on the porch looking at the fog that has settled into the valley. As time passed, I could see more of what is across the road. The field emerged, then the trees on the other side of the field, then the foothill just beyond the trees. By the time I came upstairs, I could almost see across the valley.

While this was happening, I was reading the end of chapter 5 in The Starfish and the Spider. What made me notice the fog clearing was their description of people who are catalysts. Good catalysts listen to people. Great catalysts hear what people are saying and draw them out. I want to be a great catalyst but wonder if I have the disposition for it. Let me try a test with those of you who are my readers. Send me your results if you like. I will post your comments if you want, and if they make sense.

Here we go:

7. Think of a significant goal in your life. Write it down on the left side of a blank piece of paper.

6. Under that, write down one thing that hasn’t been done that would be a step in the direction of achieving the goal.

5. Under that, write down one thing that other people are doing that would build a foundation for doing the one thing  that hasn’t been done.

4. Under that, write down one thing you would have to do away with to be able to do the one thing other people are doing.

3. Under that, write down one thing you would have to improve to recognize the one thing you had to do away with.

2. Under that, write down one thing you would have to do the right way before you could understand how to do it better.

1. Under that, write down one thing that was the right thing to do, that would get all the previous steps going.

0. Under that, write down one thing that would allow you to make a commitment to doing the right thing that would get things started.

What happened? Did your view of that significant goal change when you saw there was at least one path to one small piece of it? What would your future be like if you had a way to look at every problem as an opportunity you could tackle with gusto? How would people react when you were the one who took on jobs that had been ignored for weeks or months? What would they think of you when you went out and did things they thought were impossible? How much of their reaction would have been a reflection of their own perspective, and not a true reflection of what you were capable of doing? Did they say it was impossible for you because they didn’t want to try it themselves? Did they put you down because they needed to be looking down on you as someone who was inferior, because they had appointed you as scapegoat?

Guess what! They won’t be watching if you decide to do things differently. They have a perspective on you that won’t recognize the change in your attitude or behavior. Their radar is set to a frequency that will ignore your little quirks. Their opinion of their opinion of you is so high they won’t notice you aren’t playing a role in their game anymore. By the time they notice you aren’t believing what they say about you, you will be somewhere else. And oddly enough, that somewhere else might not be where you thought you wanted to go.

Try the exercise above again, only this time, use the right side of the page, and start from the bottom:

0. Write a few words that capture the commitment you are making to your goal.

1. Write one thing that would be the right thing to do to honor your commitment.

2. Write one thing about the right thing that would be the right way to do it.

3. Write one thing about doing the right thing the right way that would make it better.

4. Write one thing about the thing that you could do away with once it is improved.

5. Write one thing about the thing that other people are already doing.

6. Write one thing about the thing that hasn’t been done.

7. Look at the goal you started with. Is it enough of a stretch, or could you do something even more impossible.

I think this approach is how I need to interact with people in the future. Instead of telling them about my method or my the tools I am building, I need to ask them leading questions and then listen to their answers. I need to talk them through the first 8 questions to wake them up to the possibility that their current outlook on life could change. I need to listen to them and get them to listen to themselves, so they want to do the second set of 8 questions on their own. If they want my help, that would be fine, but it wouldn’t be necessary. I think I can write a book that would help people get through some of the preparation for what we could do together. In fact, the whole point of what I want to do is developing other people who wanted to work on really tough problems. Getting people to make a significant change in themselves would be their audition.

I think we all need to listen to each other. Is anyone listening to me?

Serious Habit Building

June 18, 2011

This morning as I was starting my morning routine, I had an insight about habit building. The conventional wisdom states that you have to do something for 21 or 28 or 30 days before it becomes a habit. I agree with that concept, but wonder if it is enough. A book I’m working my way through at the moment says 21 days, but the habits must be associated with an action. It can’t be mindless continuation of something you aren’t doing in a conscious way.

Now I have a new insight that comes to me after doing my habit building for nearly 4 weeks. It isn’t enough to do the thing on consecutive days. You need to add another factor into the equation.

Back in 2004, I went to a “thinking expedition” with Rolf Smith down in Houston. It was a huge eye-opener and taught me a lot about myself. It also helped a bit at work but didn’t help me keep my job. But I did learn about the 7 Levels of Change and my MBTI as well as my KAI. Those acronyms won’t mean much to most people but my results confirmed I was an innovative guy.

The problem was that I was working in a very adaptive company. Innovators were tolerated but not nurtured. Over the years, I had developed coping behaviors to get along and get things done. But my natural tendency was to go places no one else had gone before, simply because the routine stuff they wanted me to do was a little boring because it was so easy.

When I retired nearly four years ago, I knew I wanted to do more with some of the ideas that had fallen flat earlier. But I quickly realized my ideas were going to fall flat pretty much everywhere. I was looking for a new paradigm that I could share with people, not just use myself.

What I have now come to realize is that building a habit isn’t just about doing the right things (Level 1). Once I’m doing the right things, I need to do them the right way (Level 2), and then do them better (Level 3). That means I’ll start to notice things I can do away with (Level 4), which makes it easier to see things that other people are doing (Level 5), which makes the things that haven’t been done (Level 6) that much more obvious, because they stand out. Then the interesting things can start, the things that can’t be done (Level 7).

So for me, my tool has just changed again. It isn’t just about doing a habit or routine for 21 days in a row. I need to do it at or above the level of change (LOC) I currently aspire to for 21 days in a row. Once that happens, I need to aspire to a higher LOC. Sometimes that will not make sense, because the habit was just a daily routine like taking my blood pressure medicine. But if I lost weight and exercised more, maybe I wouldn’t need my BP medicines at all, and I could do away with them.

What habits are you trying to build? Do you just want to do the right things, or are you ready to do those things the right way? I didn’t realize what was possible until I asked myself that question this morning.

Now I have to watch what is going on and see how I can make it all better.