Sunday, June 22, 2008

Understanding the 80/20 Rule

Stop, Think, Reflect…

What is the biggest issue facing most teams to becoming successful?

What does it mean to ‘seek to understand before being understood’?

How does your ideology affect your conversations with others?

Why is rapport critical to creating relationships?

What is common among all of us?

How do you prefer to interact with others?

The components and complexities of understanding

If I do not want what you want, please try not to tell me that my want is wrong. Or if I believe other than you, at least pause before you correct my view. Or if my emotion is less than yours, or more, given the same circumstances, try not to ask me to feel more strongly or weakly. Or yet if I act, or fail to act, in the manner of your design for action, let me be. I do not, for the moment at least, ask you to understand me. That will come only when you are willing to give up changing me into a copy of you.
Please Understand Me II, David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates, page 1

Many times during assessing and discovering the “pinch-points” of a team’s performance, poor communications appears as a major issue.

Communications is a subset of understanding. All behavior is communication. Body language, tone of voice, eye contact, and even seat selection at a meeting table are all forms of communication. Communications involves channels, patterns and connections. Communications uses tools.

Understanding is a process and capacity for clear thinking. Understanding becomes a condition and requires empathy. Understanding is a lifestyle.

Eighty percent of what we are, how we function and behave is similar and common among all of us. Human blood can be transfused to any other human being of the same blood type whether black, white, red, yellow, young, old, male, female, straight, gay, Catholic, Muslim, Hindu, American and Chinese. Every human being feels and experiences pain at some threshold. Every human being has fear at some threshold.

Twenty percent of what we are, how we function and behave is in our individual preferences based upon nature, nurture and social constraints. Each of us perceives the world through our five senses as well as our intuition. Our threshold for sensitivity is unique for each of us. For some of us a hot bath is 88 degrees, for others the temperature had better be over 95 degrees.

It is important to know our own preferences so we can better understand other’s preferences and how we react to them. Do I prefer to work with people or to work alone? Do I prefer to analyze information through logic or impact on people? Do I prefer to be organized or spontaneous?

Our brains process incredible amounts of information. To keep us from going crazy we incorporate assumption (we assume fellow drivers will take turns at a four-way stop), selective listening (if working in a big city, one may tune-out the sounds of traffic) and distortion (a snake phobic may picture a snake many times larger than reality).

Each of us has communication preferences from our sensory system. Some of us prefer to communicate by what we “see.” Others of us prefer to communicate by what we “feel.” Still others of us prefer to communicate by what we “hear.” To better understand others, it is important to push the personal pause button and try to tune-in to his/her communication style. By pausing, you suspend assumptions, selective listening and distortion by asking critical questions leading to better understanding.

Multi-tasking causes many misunderstandings and fosters poor communications. In a multi-tasking situation (e.g. laptop or Blackberry open and on during a meeting) people speaking do not get full attention. Words are not heard, body language is not seen and the emotion of the speaker is not felt.

Another cause of misunderstanding comes from the use of abstract words (buzzwords) like empowerment, coterminosity, and stakeholders. Business acronyms like SWAT, SKU and ROI can cause a breach in understanding. Many times, we assume others know the meaning of these words and acronyms as well as how these are being used. Buzzwords tend to be over-used thus tuned-out due to selective listening. Have you ever played Buzzword Bingo at a meeting?

To better understand

- Suspend judgment and assumptions and ask better questions. If a co-worker says, “This team does not respect me!” Respond, “Who does not respect you?” Another response might be, “What if you asked yourself, ‘Who don’t I respect on this team?’”
- Avoid micromanagement. Un-micromanaged people are more trusting, more open and less fearful.
- Fully listen. Do not share your story, thoughts or ideas until you fully understand the other person. Practice asking questions for clarity. Great talkers are great listeners.
- Avoid criticism. Criticism builds walls. Focus on what is going well. Build on the positive. Praise builds bridges.

Experience Understanding

Create a “doodle” as pictured to the left. The “doodle” can be created in such a way that when it is pulled apart the out come has no knots or has knots.

People gather around the “doodle” and individually “noodle” on the outcome. Contact with the "doodle" is not allowed. If the individual believes the outcome will be knot(s), then they stand on the right. If the individual believes the outcome will be straight, stand on the left. No fence straddling!Once people have made a decision, one person from each side meets to form a pair and discuss why each believes in the outcome. Not only listen to the words, listen for tone of voice, watch body language and watch eye movement. After pairs discuss, people move back to belief out come positions.

Before the facilitator pulls the “doodle” apart slowly from both ends, tell all participants that anytime during he process of pulling the “doodle” apart, individuals who believe in a different outcome may move to a different position.

After the “doodle” is pulled apart and reveals the final outcome – knots or no knots, there are several critical questions to ask. First, why did people choose to stand where they did before the “doodle” was pulled apart? Did the paired discussion change your thinking and position? Second, did people move as the “doodle” came apart and why? Third, did people stand firm even though the outcome was completely the opposite of their decision at the beginning? Why? How did people who were on the correct outcome side treat those who remained on the wrong outcome side? How does this initiative connect back to work, meetings, brainstorming sessions, problem-solving and significant others?

Suggested Reading

Please Understand Me II by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates, 1998, ISBN-10: 1885705026

Introducing Neuro-Linguistic Programming: Psychological Skills for Understanding and Influencing People by Joseph O'Connor and John Seymour, 1993, ISBN-10: 1855383446

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler, 2002, ISBN-10: 0071401946

Six Thinking Hats by Edward DeBono, 1999, ISBN-10: 0316178314

egonomics: What Makes Ego Our Greatest Asset (or Most Expensive Liability) by David Marcum and Steven Smith, 2007, ISBN-10 1416533230

True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society By Farhad Manjoo, 2008, ISBN-10: 0470050101

Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki, 2005, ISBN: 978-0-385-72170-7

Suggested Movies

Abilene Paradox (2nd Edition) – see (1984) “The in ability to manage agreement, not internal conflict, is the most pressing issue facing modern organizations.” Dr. Jerry Harvey

Changing Lanes – (2002) – “Whatever drama you've gotten yourself into, it's just the kind of thing that always happens to you. And it never happens to me unless I am in your field of gravity.”

Crash – see - (2005) – “It's the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We're always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something.”

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tim Russert, May 7, 1950 – June 13, 2008

I read Tim Russert’s book, Big Russ and Me, in the summer of 2004. His book touched me as I recalled many memories of my own father including his sacrifices, his courage, his accountability and his enduring love for his wife, children, family and friends. I wrote a book summary reflecting on similarities and differences between Big Russ and my father. I emailed the summary to Russert expecting nothing and received more than I could ever imagine including a personal thank you!

I got an email from Bill Novak, Russert’s associate, explaining how many others were moved by Russert's writing and how many had shared stories of their own father’s. Novak invited me to be a part of Russert’s new book, Wisdom of Our Fathers: Lessons and Letters from Daughters and Sons.

Apparently, what caught the attention of Russert and Novak in my summary of Big Russ and Me were my father’s inspirational quotes. Novak asked if I could find a picture of my father and me when I was young and send it to them. They wanted to use the picture and one of my father’s favorite quotes in the new book under the chapter, Honor.

With the help of my mother, I sent an old black and white photo taken back in the mid fifties of my father and me. That photo is on page 35 of Wisdom of our Fathers along with my one my father’s favorite quotes, 'He who stands for nothing will fall for anything.'

In return for sharing this photo and quote, Russert sent me a personal note and autographed copy of the book. I consider the book an “artifact” and I use it with groups when I facilitate the initiative, Meet My Artifact. In fact, I had just shared it with a group I was facilitating this past Thursday evening, June 12.

Tim Russert was one of the few news people I trusted. Spin was not part of his questioning or delivery. He treated interviewees with dignity and respect, a reflection of his humility exemplified by upbringing. For me, Tim Russert made sense and connected-the-dots of the news and news-makers.

In Big Russ and Me, he wrote about visiting Pope John Paul II. Outside the Pope’s apartment was a plaque with the Pope’s motto, a Latin phrase, Totus Tuus – translated “totally yours.” I believe this motto also fits Tim Russert.

Tim Russert’s wife, Maureen Orth, has lost a wonderful partner. Tim Russert’s son, Luke, has lost his father. Big Russ has lost his son. NBC lost a wonderful anchor and staff member. The nation has lost a trusted patriot. I have lost a friend who made a difference in my life.

Friday, May 16, 2008

My Keynote Address to the Graduating Class of 2008

Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try. - Homer Simpson

To the class of 2008, your role models as seen on the front pages of newspapers, headlines on the evening news, perhaps the person sitting next to you...

are political leaders who speak ethical, honorable, words and then act the opposite.

are athletes with asterisks after their records.

are corporate CEO's who are making more money than he/she knows what to do with while their front line followers struggle to buy gas, have basic health care and live in unsafe neighborhoods.

are suicide bombers who act because all hope is gone and fear rules his/her life.

are scientists who debate whether global warming is real while poor air quality is a fact leading to more breathing disorders.

are yelling radio and television personalities whose ideologies speak but do not listen or have meaningful dialogue.

are obese people, smokers, irresponsible alcoholic drinkers and type A driven people who choose to continue to live unhealthy lifestyles that frustrate doctors and drive health care costs up.

are people who drink bottled water from exotic places like Fiji where half the population does not have descent drinking water.

But then there are some role models you may have missed...

Did you see Randy Pausch whose "last lecture" (You Tube) should be an inspiration to all of us to live a life of value rather than a life of success.

Do you know of Dustin Carter who lost his legs and arms to a rare blood disease early in his life, yet through hard work and discipline went to the Ohio High School wrestling championships!

How about Lacey Henderson, the University of Denver cheerleader who lost her right leg at age nine and was captain of her high school cheer leading squad.

Do you know the name Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind person to reach the summit of Mount Everest as well as seven of the tallest summits on the seven continents?

Then there is Porter Ellett of Bicknell, Utah who lost his right arm several years ago. He led his Wayne High School basketball team to the state playoffs. In addition, if that is not enough, he runs track and plays baseball!

My question to you during this graduation season, who inspires you?

Who is your role model? Does he/she inspire you to get off the couch, away from the TV and Play Station, stop texting and to make smart choices? Does he/she challenge your negative, 'I can't,' 'that's impossible,' 'it will never happen,' 'I was born this way,' thinking?

You may not have to look far. It might be a parent(s) who sacrificed time and money to support you. It might be a sports coach who gave you an opportunity when others said you were not good enough. Perhaps it was your employer who pushed you a bit harder to be your best. Can you think of a teacher who touched not only your mind but also your heart?

The World needs your desire, your energy, your curiosity, your concern, your heart, your service - NOW!

Human rights violations continue at epic proportions. Crime is always in the headlines. People continue to die from poor drinking water and a lack of nutritious food. We are energy dependent on nations that support terrorists. A majority of the world is illiterate and lacks fundamental education. Greed accounts for many selfish acts. Trust is at an all time low while fear is at an all time high.

Please, get busy living and make a difference!

What can you do?

Make common sense common practice.

Begin with you. Daily, sharpen your saw. Make your health a priority. Eat right. Get enough sleep. Get regular exercise. Use sunscreen. Reach for water instead of a soda. Drink responsibly. Obey the speed limit. Wear a seat belt. Practice moderation.

Know what you stand for and your values.

Live them. Be a role model to others, because we are watching! Purchase a graduation present for yourself – a journal. Discover your purpose, your gifts, your talents and write them down. Write down your philosophy on life. Write down your mission – what your life looks like in five years, ten years, even fifty years from now. Write your obituary! What legacy do you want to leave others? Write down inspiring sayings, poetry, stories, scripture, proverbs and even jokes. Refer to all of this regularly – even daily to help keep yourself on track, see where you need to make changes, help when you hit a “valley” and monitor how you are growing.

Work on your first impressions.

First impressions are lasting impressions. Practice being interested rather than interesting. It is really all about others, not you. Make eye contact. Give a firm handshake. Dress in a manner that causes people to look at you and not how you are dressed.

Be curious.

Get out of your comfort zone. Step out of your rut. Try new foods. Go to the library and see what is new. Visit museums and learn. Visit places people do not normally go. Talk with people who appear to be different from you including age, skin color, religious preferences, and even personality. Pick up magazines you do not normally read. Go to websites that challenge your thinking. Try a new sport including bowling, chess and geocaching.

Finally, prove Homer Simpson wrong.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Great Leaders are Great Readers

Sources for knowledge and information.

1.) Other people. I love to ask people what they are reading including magazines, newspapers, websites, books and articles. Usually what they share has touched them and made an impression, and worth noting. In my Palm under tasks, I have categories in which I enter books, magazines, websites and news to check out the next time I'm at the library, bookstore or on the Internet.

2.) The library. I visit our local library about twice a month. Great source for books, books on CD and cassette and books on MP3 players.

3.) iTunes podcasts. Incredible resource to play while on the go and in place of the radio talking heads. You can also download audio books.

4.) CBS Sunday Morning, Public Television and The Discovery Channel. I do not watch much television, but I tend to be intentional in watching these (as well as ESPN!) These help justify the cable bill!

5.) Websites I frequent. - This news source tends to be be more on news facts and less on opinion or slant. - liberal, but witty commentary owned by The Washington Post - challenges one's thinking. - life is too serious to be taken seriously! Great source for laughs! - links to mainstream media, can be controversial, makes me ask questions - average guy, continuously looking to live a better life. You'll find interesting tips and ideas. - an interesting blog with the purpose, "We are finding the best article for you everyday." - a professional "myspace" or "facebook" for social networking. Great questions and answer for career, technology, sales, and related. - source for new books. - My parents spent several hundred dollars on World Book Encyclopedia back in the early '60's. Here is the 21st century encyclopedia online and free!

What are your resources?

Friday, February 29, 2008

What Gets Celebrated Gets Repeated!

There is a television ad with the tag line, "The best surprise is no surprise!"

I believe many of us enjoy pleasant surprises. Yesterday, my team attended our organization's board meeting to share the work we are doing as well as our hopes and dreams.

One of the board members who works closely with our team shared with the rest of the board how our team had broken all previous records of success. She proceeded to present us with totem of appreciation.
We were speechless! We were honored! We were pleasantly surprised!

Catching people doing things right leads to people continuing to do the right things.
In our culture, it is easy and natural to point out failures, short comings and mistakes. It seems unnatural to look for what is going well, especially the small things. Suggestion - Commit to the theme of Blanchard and Johnson's timeless best selling little book, The One Minute Manager - Catch people doing things right! See what happens to people around you. Experience a change in culture.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A Personal Vision - How?

Stop, Think, Reflect…

Will you make a commitment to doing the work of exploring and creating your personal vision?

Will you make personal appointments with yourself and keep them in doing this personal visioning work?

What are you willing to give of yourself to make your vision come alive? What are you willing to sacrifice?

Will you explore your past to discover the times, people and places that gave you energy and desire to be your authentic self?

Who can you go to who will ask you tough critical questions that make you squirm?

Will you stop being a victim of statements… “I don’t have…”, “People do not believe that I can…”, “I am not…”, “There is never enough time to…” ?

Personal Vision - How?

I recently read Peter Block’s The Answer to How is Yes. Added to that reading experience was a retreat that Block lead that made this book come alive. Block claims the how questions are dis-empowering and causes one to look for the
“yellow brick road” and follow it. While benchmarking has value, it should serve as motivation to do, not as the way to do.

There is no right way exploring, creating and living your personal vision. According to Block, the only way is to ask critical, thought-provoking questions and finding people who will ask the critical questions of you rather than give advice. The questions are more transformative than the answers.

Besides the critical questions listed above, grab your journal and noodle these.

Who are my roles models? What draws them to being a role model for me? What do they do to inspire others and me?

What does my spiritual being say to me? Have I taken time to listen?

What are my core values and beliefs? For what do I stand? What keeps me focused and true to my being? Look for a list of values. Look at these words and discover the three words that speak to you. Hold these words close and use them in critical thinking. When you know and understand what you value, then you live a more focused life. Living these values will guide you – the people you want to associate, where and with whom you want to work, the movies you wish to see and the person you wish to vote for in the next election. A principled person can step out of his/her comfort zone.

What are my strengths? What are my weaknesses? Check out the personal strength assessment from Learn more about this assessment from the book NOW, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton. You will gain valuable insight and receive another piece of your personal vision puzzle.

What are the themes in my life? What work, activities, service, institutions, museums and people am I drawn? What do others say I do well or inspire them? Meet one-on-one with friends and colleagues and ask them their perspectives on what you do well. If you want to delve into this deeper, hire a life coach as a guide.

Where do you see yourself a year from now? Where do you see yourself three years from now? Where do you see yourself ten years from now? Write down these visions. Describe the environment, the people who are with you, the work you are doing. Do you believe these visions? Do you trust your visions? What can you do to help yourself to believe and trust in your visions?

Develop a strategy to make your vision become reality. Does sitting in front of the television help your vision? Do the people you associate with help fulfill your vision? Are the clubs and extracurricular activities you do helping you make your vision come alive? What “mile markers” or “touchstones” do you need to create to help you know you are staying focused? What financial resources do you need? In Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, he writes about the 7th habit as “sharpening the saw.” What are you doing to keep your saw sharp? Finally, what is the downside or worst-case scenario of not acting upon your strategy to help you reach your vision? What potential roadblocks might prevent you from living your vision? What can you do to minimize these potential problems?

Experience Vision

This is the plan. This is life.

Get two objects and hold one in each hand. Gather a group of six people, standing shoulder-to-shoulder in a semi-circle facing you. Turn to the person on your right and explain that you will be handing them the object in your right hand. When you hand the person the object, you will say, “This is the plan!” Before taking the object, the person must ask, “What is this?” You reply, “This is the plan!” The person who receives the object then turns to the person on his/her right and says, “This is the plan!” Again, before the person receives the object, he/she must ask, “What is this?” The question must always come back to you to answer the question and relay back, “This is the plan!” Hold participants to being accountable to these steps. After the object has reached the third person, turn to the person standing in the semi-circle on your left and hand them the object in your left hand and say, “This is life!” Before taking the object, this person must ask, “What is this?” To which you reply, “This is life!” In the mean time the object working its way from your right will be coming back to you to answer the question, “What is this?” The object given on your left will come back will also be asking, “What is this?”

Watch what happens when the two people who turn to each other with their object and make their declarations, “This is the plan!” and “This is life!”

Stop the activity and reflect on what happened. Ask why it happened. Ask how this activity relates to our personal lives.

Back in 1988, my business partner suddenly died. It was a very tough time and numbing experience. Because of the vision, we had and a vision our staff believed in, we were able to continue serving our clients and customers. We not only survived this trauma, but we thrived as people rallied, supported and lifted us up. This experience forever etched into my mind and heart the need and value of creating a vision and making it come alive.

Suggested Reading

NOW Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham, Donald O. Clifton , 2001, ISBN-10 0743201140

How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else by Michael Gill , 2007, ISBN-10 1592402860

The Answer to How is Yes: Acting on What Matters by Peter Block, 2003, ISBN-10 1576752712

Suggested Movies (2007)

Death of a Salesman see (1985) “Why am I trying to become something I don't wanna become when all I want is out there waiting for me the minute I say I know who I am?"

Walk the Talk (the movie) see
“If we shut out all the noise and clutter from our lives and listen to that voice, it will tell us the right thing to do.” Christopher Reeve

Thursday, January 3, 2008

There Is No BOX - book review

I have had the honor of working with Steve Coats and Tom Heuer for over six years at Joy Outdoor Education Center, Clarksville, Ohio. Together, we have created three-day leadership-learning labs for individuals to explore, discover and create better personal leadership. The success of these leadership-learning labs is due to two key things that Coats and Heuer do very well. 1.) They are masters at asking critical, challenging, questions leading to deep personal reflection and new behaviors. 2.) They are master storytellers, which feed and nurture participants. Coats and Heuer create magic that gets participants to share his/her stories.

The outcomes of these leadership-learning labs are life changing. Many participants have spoken publicly that these leadership-learning labs are the best program, workshop or seminar they have ever attended and more importantly, participated.

If you believe that leadership is everybody’s responsibility or if you want to explore this thought, There Is No BOX is the book for you.

There Is No BOX is an in-addition-to, the addendum to Coat's and Heuer’s leadership-learning labs. For the first time reader who has never experienced Coats or Heuer as facilitators on leadership, he/she will get a taste of the possibility. For the reader who has been with Coats or Heuer, There Is No BOX is a reminder, a refresher and a challenge to continue the important work of leadership.

There Is No BOX has met critical requirements for this reader. It is easy to read, heartfelt and credible. The stories they share back up their facts and opinions. “Leaders are said to be life-long learners.” (Page 82) Stories and connections to the hit television show CSI and former HP CEO, Carly Fiorina, follow and support this quote.

Read There Is No BOX for a personal challenge as well as to challenge your team or organization. The outcomes will not only surprise, but also lead to better bottom-lines personally and organizationally.