If you are a person who sees the need and you would like someone to participate, it’s the power of the pre-consult that prevails. If you’ve got someone and you want that person to participate because you believe in it – the key is to ask the owner to sit down with you for an hour or two to do a pre-consult. You may not call it that but it’s the idea of just experiencing the process and helping the owner figure out – get a better definition of what he/she is really trying to accomplish. You’re just trying to help the owner – you’re not going to solve anything but just get a better handle on what the problem is so it’s a service to that person to really define or frame the problem well. At the same time the owner is going to experience the methodology you’re going to use giving you high hope, and a high track record they’ll relax with it and like it.
Another thing we do a lot is to ask the owner to go online and do the Basadur profile to get a feeling of how the process works – something we call “the thin edge of the wedge”. And so if the owner is willing to spend a little time with you to help define the problem and at the same time experience the process, it’s a great way to give it a try. One of our mantras is that if you can get a pre-consult with an owner, nine times out of ten they’ll be willing to go through the process with the team.
A challenge is all of those things. Innovation is not focused on hi-tech or products or services. Any challenge you’ve got – we can’t do this, we can’t do that, our business model is not working – whatever it is you need to have people who want to make change – you need a great change making process. We really dislike the term managing change, managing change means we are going to make change whether people like it or not. We’re going to shove it down their throats. Adaptability is the name of the game and adaptability means we’re driving change.
If you recall some earlier topics on adaptability, any good organization is deliberately proactively driving change. They are looking for ways to make things better internally and externally – one of the biggest things they do well is called problem finding. Problem finding doesn’t mean a new product or a new service. It means something you can’t do and you have internal customers, external customers and you want to have people who are not sweeping problems under the carpet. These folks are flagging them and defining them. When you are re-doing process redesign you don’t want to be strictly looking at optimization and implementation – that is where Six Sigma and Lean efforts work. That’s fine but if you keep focusing on that you’re going to be getting incremental changes. You want to bring innovation in where you can do the right hand side of the Simplexity wheel as well – where you start looking at breakthrough challenges in processes and business models – these are the potential game changers. That completely changes the focus from strictly products and services.
YES – the owner is your key person. The owner knows more about the problem than anybody else. If you don’t have an owner don’t do the session. It all revolves around the owner – all we’re trying to do is help. This person(s) knows everything and a good owner is one who is going to be very forthcoming – he/she will not only answer questions, they often give even more information that nobody asked for, so the owner is critical. The only thing the owner can’t do – lead the session. An owner cannot lead the session – these two roles must be separate.
One of the biggest problems people deal with are bad meetings. When we ask people how many of them have been in a meeting which was total waste of time, all hands go up. When we start asking why – what are some of the things that go wrong? Usually the answer is there was no accountability – nobody in that group was accountable. Why in the world would you have a meeting without someone totally accountable? The only reason for having a meeting is to solve a problem that is verbatim – solve a problem, get from A to B. There is no other reason for wasting people’s time. You have to have an owner involved – someone who’s willing to do something – where the whole subject and the objective of the meeting comes. As participants, our job is to help our owner get into action going all the way to step 8 – action.
First of all there are two big things – one – it is fun – people love to find out something about themselves and find out that their way of solving problems is just as good as anybody else’s way. Nobody’s a genius when it comes to creativity and we all need each other.
Second, it helps to quickly introduce this crazy thing called a process. Most people in the world are not at all process oriented they are content oriented. They are all over on the implementation side so the idea that you could use a process to help you navigate your way through a complex thing like developing a new product or solving a problem makes it easy. That’s a brand new idea for most people. They are most used to thinking it’s a bolt from the blue or whatever and so now they understand there is a process – it gives you the navigator carte blanche to lead them through the process so if they’re jumping from here to there and everywhere it’s perfect for you to say are we jumping from “one-to-eight” here or “one-to-seven”. Knowing where we are in the process, using visual tools in each step, allows people to buy-in and stay the course. This becomes a language of innovation – they can ask each other “wait a second now are we optimizing” or “I thought we were still fact-finding”. “We can talk about that and we have one of our colleagues who is a great facilitator.” The idea is just because you are, let’s say, a quadrant 2 (conceptualizer), doesn’t mean that you can’t do quadrant 4 (implementer) work and vice versa – these are temporary states and they can move fluidly. We have a good colleague who gets his participants to all chant “states not traits, states not traits, states not traits” knowing that people will flow through, stay patient, buy-in to each step because they know there is a process to go through.
Whenever a good group suddenly lapses into “going round in circles” or adversarial discussions (however unintended or disguised ), a simple process intervention called “debriefing” always works. In debriefing, a group pauses to self-correct by getting out of content and examining its process to intercept further slippage.
MinSight: Next time it happens, try asking the questions “What are we saying or doing that is helping our process? What are we saying or doing that is hindering our process?” and “ What have we learned about our process?’
In gaining acceptance, matching what you are offering to what the listener is looking for is a fool-proof way to success.
This may be difficult because we have all been taught to provide solutions. It requires a mind wrenching shift from trying to provide the right solution to trying to define the right problem.
But how do you know what the listener is really looking for? Especially if they themselves may not know…and are looking for you to lead them.
It is so much easier if you let the listener lead you to where you should go before attempting to push them onto some idea or solution you are “selling”.
This means asking the right questions. If you ask your customer “what do you want?”, you will likely receive answers limited only to solutions they believe you already can do.
Instead, try switching to questions that probe for the underlying problems that might be lurking in behind the request. By asking “Why might you want to?” and “What’s stopping you from…?” frequently to further clarify objectives and hold backs (which may be hidden beneath the surface). These revelations can open much more room for creativity, many new ideas and options. By practicing, “reversing your field”, this will improve your skills in problem defining and framing and let the solutions fall into place.
Minsight : Next chance you get, try engaging your customer in conversation about the challenges they are facing in their work. We call this fact finding . Listen carefully, clarifying as you go, and begin working together to agree on some interesting “How might we .?“ challenges . Only then let the conversation flow toward some optional ways forward you might be able to help with. Let us know how well it worked.
For more on this topic http://web.basadur.com/publications/research-abstracts/navigating-the-world-of-innovation. For other related research articles, http://web.basadur.com/publications
To register for our next free webinar on June 16, 2015. http://web.basadur.com/webinars/action-plan-implementation-overcoming-the-battlenecks
Why do so many new ideas fail? Or don’t even get tried? One big reason is that people don’t take the time to evaluate properly. They love ideating, but they take idea evaluation for granted and don’t take the time to do it properly. They think they are finished and either just vote, or worse, jump into action right away. Usually these ideas fail to deliver good results or don’t even get tried, left to accumulate on the “back burner” (also known as “idea purgatory”).
Now field research* backs up hands on experience showing how skilful evaluation can contribute much more to the creative process than merely making judgments among ideas. High quality open-minded conversation is the key. When people listen carefully, holding their judgment, while others explain their initial idea selections, full group understanding increases and (1) significantly improves the quality of the ideas being evaluated while they are being evaluated, (2) ignites new and different ideas to emerge, and (3) results in group consensus and joint ownership of superior final selections. Above all they avoid voting, which leads to winners and losers and low commitment to implement.
This Week’s MinSight:
Next chance you get, lead your group to:
• View differences in perception as constructive.
• Listen carefully to what others say.
• Explain exactly what their words mean to them.
• Don’t argue. Evolve words that bridge small differences.
• Give unusual options a good hearing.
• Not let higher status or more vocal people swing the group.
* To obtain a full copy of the article, please email us. Click on the link for the abstract.http://web.basadur.com/publication/researchabstracts/facilitatinghighqualityideaevaluationusingtelescoping