Sunday, September 26, 2004

Here today, guano tomorrow Posted by Hello

If there's more, read it here...

Appreciative Inquiry Workshop, Vancouver

Tip: Mention this blogspot and get the early bird discount until September 30th

Focus on the best with Appreciative Inquiry

Meaningful participation leads to a sense of involvement that evokes a feeling of influence that generates psychological ownership that results in COMMITMENT" John Jones

Through millions of interviews, the Gallup Organization discovered that workgroups that exhibited the highest levels of employee engagement were more likely to have above-average employee retention, customer loyalty, safety records, productivity and profitability. Committed, involved people will let you know what they want. Better than that, they will be personally involved in creating it.

Which is where Appreciative Inquiry comes in.

More than a methodology, Appreciative Inquiry (AI) is a powerful, practical and proven tool that empowers the imagination and generates innovation, creativity, participation and commitment. AI engages people in creating and sustaining transformational change by using the power of positive questions to draw on their peak experiences and shift the focus and energy to the strengths and possibilities in your organization. The five stage AI process (define, discover, dream, design, destiny) leads participants to uncover their vision and take action to create it.

Organizations are using AI to build capacity, change culture, maximize operations and deliver to the bottom lines. They use it to shape strategic alliances and corporate turnarounds and apply it to common internal practices such as strategic planning, performance management, process improvement and team development.

Join us on October 18 & 19 2004
at Hamersley House, North Vancouver for an informative, reflective and challenging two days

In two full and highly participatory days in the beautiful setting of a late Victorian mansion, attendees will explore the AI process, and identify and discuss the benefits and challenges. By the end of the workshop, they will have a clear understanding of what is needed to design and conduct an Appreciative Inquiry and how applying an AI approach to common organizational practices can get better results.

Although we pack 21 hours of workshop time into just two days the environment and attentive care keep us relaxed, energized and fully engaged. Come to the Hamersley House workshop for knowledge, like-minded people and challenging, lively discussionsDetailed schedule and registration form at

or contact me with questions or to register

If there's more, read it here...

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Open minded, open hearted. Creating profound and lasting change

"Solving Tough Problems: An Open Way of Talking, Listening, and Creating New Realities" by Adam Kahane (Berret Koehler, 2004)

About the book: Our most common way of solving problems is to use our expertise and authority to apply piece-by-piece, tried-and-true "best practices." This works for simple, familiar, uncontentious problems. But it doesn't work for the complex, unfamiliar, conflictual problems that we all increasingly face. When we try to solve these complex problems using our common way, the problems end up either getting stuck or getting unstuck only by force. We all need to learn another, uncommon way.

Adam Kahane started out as an expert analyst and adviser to corporations and governments, convinced of the need to calculate "the one right answer." Then, through an unexpected experience in South Africa during the transition away from apartheid, he got involved in facilitating a series of extraordinary, high-conflict, high-stakes problem solving efforts: in Colombia during the civil war, in Argentina during the collapse, in Guatemala after the genocide, in Israel, Northern Ireland, Cyprus, and the Basque Country.

Through these experiences, he learned how to create environments that enable creative new ideas and solutions to emerge even in the most stuck and challenging contexts. Here Kahane tells his stories and distils from them a "simple but not easy" approach all of us can use to solve our own toughest problems.

Using examples from families, corporations, governments, and nonprofits, Kahane explores the connection between individual and systemic transformation, and shows how to move beyond politeness and formal statements, beyond routine debate and defensiveness, towards deeper and more productive dialogue and action. Engaging and inspiring, personal and practical, this book offers us a down-to-earth and hopeful way forward: a way of "open-minded, open-hearted, open-willed talking and listening" vital for creating profound and lasting change.

If there's more, read it here...

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Trust is the Keystone.

"We need to Open Hearts and Minds! This is more difficult when there has been a history of bullying, control and command. Most of the successful transitions to a high trust culture come from key decision-makers being prepared to let go of outdated ways of behaving and create safe space. Clear evidence needs to be shown as to why a new trusting environment is going to better serve the business and the lives of the people involved. Unless clear reasons are made why a more trusting culture is better, the flow and stimulation of knowledge will struggle.

Some of the common strategies to help make this transition are about creating new ways for people to contribute to the business. In some cases this may mean setting up cross-functional teams, communities of practice or special projects for people to work and learn together on. People who have a history of excellent knowledge stimulation and teamwork would be a good place to start. When these trust building activities have meaning and are seen as worthwhile you will have greater potential to foster a new way of learning together"

says Alastair Rylatt. (Alistairs declared mission is to inspire the spirit of learning, enlightenment and innovation in business... I like it).

There are certainly compelling reasons for taking the time to build trust. Here's 4 of them:

"... in low trust groups, interpersonal relationships interfere with and distort perceptions of the problem. Energy and creativity are diverted from finding comprehensive, realistic solutions, and members use the problem as an instrument to minimize their vulnerability. In contrast, in high trust groups there is less socially generated uncertainty and problems are solved more effectively." Zand, 1972

“The most productive people are the most trusting people. If this seems to be an astonishing statement, it shows how distorted the concept of trust has become. Trust is one of the most essential qualities of human relationships. Without it, all human interaction, all commerce, all society would disappear.”Taylor McConnell in Group Leadership for Self Realization

“Under conditions of high trust, problem solving tends to be creative and productive. Under conditions of low trust, problem solving tends to be degenerative and ineffective.” R. Wayne Boss Harvard Business Review, 1977

“Creates a reservoir of goodwill that helps preserve the relationship when, as will inevitably happen, one party engages in an act that its partner considers destructive.” Nirmalya Kumar Harvard Business Review November/December 1996

One of the saddest statistics was reported in a US study last year where 70% of workers surveyed said they would not speak up for fear of reprisals. Whether or not their fear is well founded, the perception is enough to prevent full participation in the workplace. No participation - no commitment, no engagement. All that unrealized potential going to waste, all those people not ejoying their work.

And trust once lost takes five times the effort to rebuild. Typically, rebuilding trust involves admissions of guilt, apology, compensation and/or punishment - each of which may have significant costs. It hard for us to trust again as it involves repeating a decision to trust that was proven to be wrong the first time.

One of the biggest factors in workplace trust is the employees perception of their managers' behavioural integrity. In other words, do they do what they say they will do. Three simple principles will move a manager, and anyone else for that matter, a long way towards building trust with their people:

  1. "Walk the talk" and "talk the walk". Model the behaviours and values you want to see and talk about them in ways that people can relate the behaviours and values to their own situations.
  2. Communicate authentically and effectively - no mixed messages, make sure that the message sent was the message received, listen,listen,listen. Be aware of your personal assumptions and value systems and don't project your reactions onto others. Understand and own your emotions and responses.
  3. Be willing to be called on it if you slip up - and you will, no-one is perfect!

Sounds simple doesn't it? We know it's so important that we should spend more time on it than we do. Somehow perfecting our processes is easier than this kind of "heart work". Yet without trust, those processes will not survive or at the very least, will never realize their full effectiveness.

In every stone archway there is a keystone. It is the central stone that bears the weight and makes the arch possible. Trust is the keystone for every other workplace practice. Make an effort - trust me, it will work.

If there's more, read it here...

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Shutting Off or Mopping Up? What to do with the "to do" list.

Making the Right Mistakes

Did you know that if you accidently write on a whiteboard with a permanent marker you can take an erasable marker and scribble over the "permanent" mark? The solvent in the erasable marker will allow you to erase it. Most of us have made this mistake at some point. It happens when we are in a rush, excited by an idea and not paying attention. Usually we only do it once and now you know it's fixable. Other mistakes we make in a hurry are not so easy to eradicate.

Michael Alter, president of SurePayroll, talks about the secrets of learning from mistakes and riding herd on rapid growth.

We know from past research that the majority of people in business keep a list of things to do each day. The problem is that a significant number of those lists have more than a dozen items on them, with little or no chance of getting done when planned. Our past research also shows that 64 percent of senior executives and managers work either a 9- or 10-hour workday, with a third working 11 hours or more. Rather than shortening the lists, people continue to try to accomplish more, with many stretching their workdays to do so. But trying to move too fast can cause more problems down the line. Fast-paced decisions, though expedient at the time, often ignore the long-term implications.

Q: What does the decision mean for employees? How does it fit with the organization's overall strategy and direction? What is the long-term cost vs. the short-term benefit? What advice would you give to others about growing their businesses?

I don’t think there any silver bullets when it comes to business advice. The main thing I advocate is to be contemplative about your business.

Wake up early every day and go to bed late. Spend the time in between thinking about what’s going on in your business and what you can do to improve it.

Create an organization that is contemplative as well, that thinks about how to do things better and takes the initiative to implement the improvements.

There’s an old test for insanity that I’ve heard about: You put a person in a room with open faucets spewing water and a mop to clean up with. There are no drains in the room so the water starts to fill up the room. A lunatic will grab the mop and start mopping – a sane person will turn off the faucets.

Based on what I’ve seen out there, I think a lot of businesses are mopping when they should be turning off the faucets.

If there's more, read it here...