“If I weren’t so busy, I’d get really excited!” Andy Middleton
In 1969 I took part in an overland expedition to India. 500 young people in 25 coaches, we were quite a caravan.
On the way we stayed in Zagreb in Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia no longer exists. The Berlin Wall came down and much of Eastern Europe has since undergone a major transformation.
We also passed through Greece. Even on the top of wild mountains there were huge posters showing soldiers and a phoenix. Greece was under a military dictatorship – it is now free.
Then we passed through Iran. Throughout we were accompanied by very helpful guides from the secret police who ensured that we had right of way through the traffic. Iran has since escaped from the Shah.
Everyone I spoke to was overwhelmed by Afghanistan, the scenery, the men and their beautifully decorated pony and trap transport. Afghanistan has since been invaded by Russia, taken over by the Taliban and is now attempting to grow its own democracy.
In 1981 I was sent by the OECD to Spain to help them with schools transport policy. Spain had recently emerged from the Franco regime and the television was giving lessons on how to run trial by a jury. Portugal has also escaped from dictatorship.
I have worked in South Africa. South Africa has emerged from apartheid.
Change happens, and very often it happens when the time is right; suddenly a tipping point is reached, nobody foresaw it but everything seems to come from nowhere.
Now change is sweeping across the Middle East – currently it is in turmoil.
Change offers both a risk and an opportunity. It is a time when a coaching approach is really valuable.
Whether it is a matter of changing how you do something, changing your job, or something as massive as a revolution, the assistance of someone who will slow you down to really explore the reality, the options and the consequences can make the difference between success and disaster.
When the people of Eastern Europe or Arabia throw off years of control they are left with freedom but little experience. When they destroy oppressive governments they can be left with no civic structure.
This is time to ask “What do you want instead?”
Time to consider:
What do you really want?
What would be even better than that?
What would having that do for you?
How would having that affect others?
What has to happen for that to be possible?
What might stop you?
What is the first action you must take?
All good coaching questions. Use them anywhere, for a simple decision or to overthrow a regime.
“There are people who, instead of listening to what is being said to them, are already listening to what they are going to say themselves.” Albert Guinon
“There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Albert Einstein
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Albert Einstein
Jeff Bezos sells more books than anyone on the planet. In fact he has probably sold more books than anyone else has ever sold, even though he only started in 1994.
So, what books does he recommend? In the summer of 2013 Bezos hosted three all-day book clubs for Amazon’s top executives, using three books as frameworks for sketching out the future of the company.
Of course, I wanted to know what they were – and whether I had read them? Well, the answer is yes, but!
Here they are:
The essence of the book is the theory of constraints; it is about managing a whole process rather than managing individual processes for maximum output. Just like a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, a process only has the capacity of its smallest section – which acts as the critical constraint on the flow.
It is definitely on my recommended list.
Now I must read it, for my own satisfaction and so that I can describe it to you; it is only 144 pages.
This book I have not read, nor previously heard of.
However, Andy Grove of Intel has. Here is what he says about it:
“In The Innovator’s Solution, Christensen and Raynor address the holy grail of all organizations: how to generate growth and sustain it over long periods. Avoiding the temptation to provide simplistic formulas, they guide the reader through carefully constructed frameworks that teach how to think about the issues that limit – and provide – growth to organizations.”
What are the three books I would recommend?
Team members get things done on time and meet expectations.
High-performing teams have clear goals, and have well-defined roles within the group.
The work has personal significance to each member.
The group believes their work is purposeful and positively impacts the greater good.
The last one stood out from the rest.
We’ve all been in meetings and, due to the fear of seeming incompetent, have held back questions or ideas. I get it. It’s unnerving to feel like you’re in an environment where everything you do or say is under a microscope.
But imagine a different setting. A situation in which everyone is safe to take risks, voice their opinions, and ask judgment-free questions. A culture where managers provide air cover and create safe zones so employees can let down their guard. That’s psychological safety.
“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” Alan Kay
“Ships in harbour are safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.” Alan Alda
The Johari Window, named after its inventors Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham, is a way of learning about ourselves by comparing what we are aware of with what others perceive.
It is one of the most useful models describing the process of human interaction. It is also referred to as a disclosure/feedback model of self-awareness and by some people as an information processing tool. The Johari Window represents information such as feelings, experience, views, attitudes, skills, intentions, motivation, etc described from four perspectives.
The model can be used to represent either an individual or a group.
A four paned window divides personal awareness into four different types, as represented by its four quadrants: ‘Open’, ‘Hidden’, ‘Blind’, and ‘Unknown’. The lines dividing the four panes are like window shades, which can move as an interaction progresses.
It is used primarily in self-help groups and corporate settings as a heuristic exercise to help people better understand their interpersonal communication and relationships.
The subject is asked to pick five or six adjectives from a list of 55 that they feel describe their own personality. Peers of the subjects are then given the same list, and each also picks five or six adjectives that describe the subject. These adjectives are then mapped onto a grid.
Adjectives selected by both the participants and his or her peers are placed into the ‘Open’ quadrant. This quadrant represents traits of the participant (or subject group) of which both they and their peers are aware.
Adjectives selected only by the participant, but not by any of their peers, are placed into the ‘Hidden’ quadrant, representing information about the participant of which their peers are unaware.
Adjectives that are not selected by the participant but only by their peers are placed into the ‘Blind’ quadrant. These represent information of which the participant is not aware, but others are, and they can decide whether and how to inform the individual about these “blindspots”.
Adjectives which were not selected by either the participant or their peers remain in the ‘Unknown’ quadrant, representing the participant’s behaviours or motives which were not recognized by anyone participating. This may be because they do not apply, or because there is collective ignorance of the existence of such a trait.
Coaching can take place around a discussion of the differences between the adjective selected by the individual (or the subject group) and the individual’s peers (or by other groups). The window can be redrawn to reflect the relative sizes of each pane. increasing the size of the open area by reducing the size of the blind area would normally be seen as a benefit. This can be done by the quality of feedback, and the process of disclosure.
The unknown area can also be reduced. For example: by others’ observations, which increases the blind area; by self-discovery, which increases the hidden area, or by mutual enlightenment – typically by group experiences and discussion, which increase the open area as the unknown area reduces.
Here is the list of the 55 adjectives used to describe the participant:
Able, accepting, adaptable, bold, brave, calm, caring, cheerful, clever, complex, confident, dependable, dignified, energetic, extroverted, friendly, giving, happy, helpful, idealistic, independent, ingenious, intelligent, introverted, kind, knowledgeable, logical, loving, mature, modest, nervous, observant, organised, patient, powerful, proud, quiet, reflective, relaxed, religious, responsive, searching, self assertive, self-conscious, sensible, sentimental, shy, silly, spontaneous, sympathetic, tense, trustworthy, warm, wise, witty.
Known to self
Not known to self
Known to others
Not known to others