The Problem Isn’t Between You and Me…

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…or you and them or us and them.

No.

The problem is always over there, on the table in front of us. And you and I and we and they are the ones to solve it.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: We can tell we’ve brought the problem between us because of the ensuing drama.

PPS: And yes, it only takes one of us to realize we’ve made this mistake and to change the focus back to the problem, over there, on the table, ready for us to solve it.

 

Today’s photo care of Pexels.

Where the Really Good Solutions Are Hiding

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Most of the conflicts we see in the news and in our businesses are silly and wasteful.  Stuck in our positions, we snipe, grouse, and power-struggle. No solutions (especially those belonging to others) are good enough. We can easily lose faith in our ability to make progress.

This and all conflict melts away when we stop pushing for what what we want and start talking about why we want it. At this level, we tap our shared values and humanity; we open doors to trust. Then the really good solutions–ones invisible while we were stuck in our positions–finally appear.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: I write this because I value effectiveness and think we are better off working together. What about you?

 

Today’s photo credit: MTSOfan You Cannot See Me via photopin (license)

Helpful or Confusing?

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Leading, We=All Who Matter
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Other people’s perspectives can either open new possibilities or merely add confusion. Mostly, we get to choose which it will be.

And they get to choose how long they will remain engaged and keep contributing.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: And if we all remain open enough, we can listen more deeply, unearth stuck-but-silly assumptions, and change the world.

Today’s image is from the Wikimedia Commons.

At Each Others’ Throats

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For the most part, we can all agree about the symptoms of a problem (say, the volume of traffic at rush hour or a spike in complaints from our clients). With some coaxing, we can all agree about the pain the problem causes. But it’s too easy to be (actively or passively) at each others’ throats when we discuss why the problem exists or what to do about it.

What’s going on?

At least three personal drivers cause us to fight over the why and what to do. These are

The need to be right. Ever since elementary school we’ve learned that there’s prestige and pride in being the one with the right answer. So we fight to be the one with the right answer and resist attempts to modify our positions.

The need to belong. We all want to fit and will lead or join a side just for the sake of affiliation. We see this (way too often) in public politics. People will vote for candidates who are bad for their greater interests simply because, “that’s what people like me do.”

The need to win. Our answers to “Why?” and “What to do about it?” can reflect our bias toward, emotional attachment to, or personal benefit from taking a particular course. We perceive that we will be stronger, better accepted, safer, or less criticized if we get our way. It’s mostly not logical; we first have our (often hidden) positions then come up with reasons to justify them.

We know that we can never really sway or be swayed when these drivers are in force.

But, good leader, we can get past them by changing the game. Instead of battling we ask, “How do you see the situation and what would a win look like for you?” We then say how we see it and what a win looks like for us. Both sides listen and confirm understanding. From this point of collaboration, better and more collaborative answers will pretty much automatically start to appear.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: Peretz Partensky cc

The Fundamental Challenge for Teams

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The fundamental challenge for any team of two or more people is trust. When there is lack of trust, issues about who does what, who has the ideas, who sets the agenda, and who gets credit bloom into conflict, politics, and poor results.

To build trust in a team, we start with ourselves. We choose to see things differently. We trust that it’s not personal, that there are room and abundance for all here, and that we can handle whatever comes up, when it comes up, should it come it.

When we make that shift, the conflict, politics, and poor results melt away because they have nothing to push against anymore.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: Trust me; it’s true.

 

Today’s photo credit: . .. a.k.a. Dobi. cc

questions

Six Tough Questions for Better Sales and Collaboration

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Sales and Influence
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We can answer the following questions both when we sell something to our clients and when we seek better collaboration with others inside our organization.

  • What do they care about, really?
  • What do they struggle with now?
  • What do they want?
  • What have they tried and why hasn’t that worked?
  • What will be true for them after they have signed up and used our product/service/suggestion?
  • Knowing the answers to these questions, how must we adapt?

Tough questions? Yup. Important questions? Yup, yup.
In your corner,

Mike

PS: When we don’t know the current answers to these questions, we fall into a rut or worse.

 

Today’s photo credit: Joel Mark Witt via photopin cc

shortest distance

The Shortest Distance

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We are here, we need to be there, and we need to take these steps to get there. It’s the straight line, the shortest distance. Yet other people not only can’t see it, they get in the way. They don’t do their part. They engage in politics, passive or aggressive resistance, and interference. Why can’t they see it? Why do they insist on making us take the long-way around?

Because what we see as obvious they see as a threat. Our plans conflict with their sense of themselves and with their opinions, beliefs, values, thoughts, egos, and emotions. They feel challenged, rejected, unsafe, or wrong. So they react, often unconsciously. And the path that seemed the shortest distance ends up taking way too long and costing way too much.

The path that seemed the longest–understanding what would be a win for each other then creating together a real win-win solution–is really the shortest distance between here and there.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: Wolfgang Staudt cc

When Meetings Are Painful

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, Leading, Strategy, We=All Who Matter, What=Compelling Focus, Will=Our inner game
Reading time: 2 min.

Most meetings serve two distinct functions: to track and to choose. These functions don’t mix well.

In a tracking meeting, we check progress, coordinate with each other, and hold ourselves accountable for selected chunks of work. Tracking meetings are shorter and more frequent. They range from a daily, 5-minute, stand up scrum to a biweekly project update. A tracking meeting agenda comes from the list of current chunks of work.

In a choosing meeting, we explore, select, plan, and commit to those chunks. We set strategy. Choosing meetings are longer and further apart. They range from a monthly operations review to an annual, multi-day, strategy off-site. The agenda for a choosing meeting comes from the difference between what is true now in our business and what we want to be true in the next little while.

Mixing these two types makes meetings painful.

When people in a tracking meeting want to explore or set strategy, tensions rise, eyes roll. When we are in a choosing meeting and someone wants to talk about minutiae, tensions flare, blood boils. And, without a regularly scheduled set of both types of meetings, people will bring up whatever topic at any meeting whenever.

With such a regular schedule, people will wait for the appropriate time. And meetings will resume their role as useful work tools.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

PS: There are other forms of meetings–such as training and interviews–that lie outside this model.

Today’s photo credit: blake_obrien via photopin cc

right?

Being Right Is Awful And What Works Better

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in We=All Who Matter, Will=Our inner game
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Being right is awful. How can it be that we are so sure we are right and yet everyone argues with, fights, or ignores us? It’s because we really want to be right. Which means that we want them to either be wrong or capitulate. That’s win-lose. They can feel it and they will resist it.

Our better alternative is to let go of being right. Yes, we use our smart-thinking-brains to evaluate situations. We do want to get clear about what we think is true now and what we imagine would be better outcomes. Then we stop. Instead of latching on to specific assessments, opinions, and solutions, we turn our focus toward the others involved. We take the time to learn and prove to them that we understand their perspectives.

Only at this point will we have earned the right to share how we see it and then ask them, “How might we solve this?” And only at this point does their resistance melt.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: Letting go of being right is one of several stances we can take to speed up our work with others.

 

Today’s photo credit: aussiegall via photopin cc

eyes

Shared Values and Unshared Values

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Shared values are helpful in teams. If you and I have similar values, we will have less conflict and our collaboration will be easier.

But we need not have shared values. Great collaboration and solutions can come from our different values.

We only need to know what each other’s values are and commit to finding solutions that satisfy us both.

In other words, whenever we don’t see eye to eye, let’s start with looking each other, kindly, in the eyes.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: AmUnivers via photopin cc