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Tools – Yes! And…

94 Reduce Risk Creatively …

YES! AND… # 94 By placing yourself in the future and visualising why something has gone wrong, you can help ensure it goes right… “One does not have to be a mad scientist to travel in time” – Authors of research paper: “Back to the future. Temporal Perspective in the Explanation of Events”</ How might you help ensure that a project does not go wrong? Curious? As many of you know, I like to try different techniques that I encounter. Researching material for an article last year, I stumbled across one such technique from Gary Klein of Applied Research Associates (you can find a copy of his article here). In the article, Gary talks about using a technique called the Premortem at the beginning of a project. Instead of asking project members, “What might go wrong with this project?”, Gary has people think themselves into the future when the project has gone wrong and asks, “What went wrong?” In Gary’s version, individuals write down as many reasons as they can, the project leader records these on a flipchart and then uses the data to strengthen the project plan. This technique is based on a concept known as Prospective Hindsight. Research on this concept has shown that people are able to come up with richer and more numerous explanations of why an event might happen when they are told to imagine that the event has actually happened. So Having read Gary’s article, I decided to use his technique with a client’s project team. In their case, they were working on a pilot of a major project that had to deliver...

117 Make Progress With the Progress Canvas…

Yes! And Blog #117 Help your team progress with the Progress Canvas… “I never cry about what I don’t have. I’m always positive. I am happy with the team I have and I am confident that we can do well.”  Fabio Capello, former England football coach and optimist On the TV back in 2010, pundits were discussing what had to be done to enable England to win the World Cup, England having gone out in the second round (Round of Sixteen), losing to Germany 4 – 1. Eight years later, having achieved the semi finals, it seems England have made  progress. How might England have achieved that progress? In my work, I use a tool called the Progress Canvas with teams. This is based on one known as the Strategy Canvas (see here for original article). The Progress Canvas provides a simple way for teams to describe the future they want, make progress towards it and monitor how they are doing. You use the tool in steps: Step 1: Detail a preferred future by asking, “What would we, our customers and other stakeholders notice when we are successful?” I like to have teams draw a picture and then document  this, but there are many alternatives. Step 2: Identify the five to six areas your customers / stakeholders would say you must focus  on to achieve success: Discuss if these focus areas really are critical to success and whether collectively they will enable you to achieve success Avoid having more than 5 – 6 focus areas, otherwise they are unlikely to be focus areas. Step 3: On a scale of 1...

Creative Leaders – Quickly Improve Team Performance [Yes! And Blog 124]

“Anyone got a Swiss Army Knife?”  Construction worker in a TV programme   This facilitator’s scaling tool can help your team improve performance very quickly…   I am on the way to the airport, stuck in traffic jams in snowy weather. To complete my joy, I have just received a text telling me that my flight home is cancelled and the next flight is in seven hours. So I thought I would do something enjoyable and write the blog in the back of the cab. Recently, I ran a facilitation master class, something I have run successfully many times for MBA students. I go into this class without a plan and have attendees write on Post It notes what they want to know about facilitation. I have two hours to provide and demonstrate all the answers. On this occasion, an attendee wrote that he wanted a multi purpose tool to help him facilitate meetings quickly. This article shares with you the tool I provided to the students. It is based on “Scaling”, a tool from Solutions Focus, a methodology I use a lot. To make it more real for you, imagine you are a creative leader working with a team (I used “facilitation” as the class topic).  Here are the steps that I put together on the spot from my experience: Ask them to consider what would be happening if they were performing really badly, the worst team in the organisation, world, wherever. Assign that description as “1” on a scale. Have them describe the benefits if they were performing brilliantly as a team.  Assign that description a “10”....

133 Encourage Action

Yes! And… # 133 How do you  innovate and maintain the operation? Use Sprint Actions “Great acts are made up of small deeds” – Lao Tzu, Chinese Philosopher Are your people struggling to effect change and run the operation? Some of you may be the type of person to pull out a toolkit at first sight of a drawer knob dropping off or other domestic issue. To my discredit, I can always find something more interesting to do and many jobs build up before begrudgingly, I complete them. However, when our bathroom door hinge recently developed a very high-pitched squeal that grated on the teeth, I lubricated it quickly with WD40. It was easy and the WD40 was handily under the kitchen sink (that had a knob on the door). I wish I could write an article about a tool that cures management issues as easily as WD40 cures many household issues, however, the squeaky door hinge provides a good analogy. When a management team has a “to do” list of more pressing things to do, it takes a very squeaky issue to replace an action on the list. However, I am sure most of you have sat in meetings and created a large list of additional actions to add to the already full “to do” list. Many people are enthusiastic and accept the actions; others are pressured to take them. It is no surprise though that people often fail to take actions because the issue is not squeaky enough. This is especially the case when new actions are about creating change and the existing actions are dealing with operational issues...

Use Scaling As a Measurement Tool [Yes! And Blog 41]

“I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving; we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it; but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.” Oliver Wendell Holmes JR. American Supreme Court Judge   Scaling is a simple but powerful tool that uses subtle questions to create a positive state and movement in people. The other day, I ran a two hour workshop on Solutions Focused Fund Raising for a group of school fund raisers at their conference in Manchester. On the train journey I wrote down my intention for the day. “To make the workshop as good as I can and something unexpected will arise from it.” Well, it certainly did! During the workshop, I introduced the group to the Solutions Focus method. This is an approach to change that concentrates on what is going well, clarifying the facts of a problem and then seeking solutions rather than analysing the causes of the problem. It is very motivating. The workshop ran really well, the whole room of people were in flow and the energy was amazing. As a final exercise I ran “Scaling”, asking, “On a scale of 1 – 10, how confident are you that you could reach your perfect fundraising future?” Scaling is a great technique that you can use anywhere in facilitation and coaching because it is very flexible and can produce powerful results. One way to run it is to have a group of people stand on a scale marked out on the floor and...

How Creative Facilitators Can Use Scaling to Measure [Yes! And Blog 165]

 How might you use scaling more creatively? Imagine you are a sheep. Your experience is limited to a gambol around fields but now you are in the back of a truck on a glorious autumn day, watching the world zip by at 50 miles per hour (80 KPH). As I overtake your truck on the motorway, the question I want to ask you (as a sheep) is, “On a scale of 1 – 10, where 10 is high, how surreal is this experience for you?” That question came to mind as I was driving back from Coventry recently, partly because my mind was in that engaged / disengaged state you have when driving and partly because I had been reflecting on a workshop I had participated in the previous day, at our SFCT UK meeting.  In the workshop I asked, “What ways can we use the Solution Focus (SF) scaling tool in workshops?” Scaling is a way to measure a variety of performance related items like motivation, confidence, understanding, progress, success, etc. Typically SF people use the 1 – 10 scale and I often use the tool with people standing in a line, from 1 – 10; I wanted to explore other ways to use it. Please see Blog 41 and Blog 124 for further explanation of SF and Scaling. With thanks to Jenny Clarke, John Wheeler, David Shaked and James Lawley for their contributions in the workshop. So With a small group of talented people, we elicited a number of interesting ways to scale, which I share here with you. Apart from the first two (me and Cyriel Kortleven),...