14 Dec

If you are a LeanMail user who finds him or herself on the road a lot…

by Michael Hoffman

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If you are a LeanMail user who finds him or herself on the road a lot — perhaps you don’t even start your computer every day, you can still keep up with LeanMail.

 Here’s how:

Of course the best way is to download the LeanMail app for iPhone (now in a Beta version) by contacting us at info@atrendia.com

But if you don’t have an iPhone there are still some things that you can do to leverage the power of LeanMail.

  1. When you finally do get to your computer, faithfully follow the two-step process: Prioritize all your mails before planning them.  Once you get to your Today view, review your list and reschedule the mails that you know you won’t get to.  It’s best to do this in the All view so that you can drag and drop single mails or groups of mails to specific dates.

I want to be very clear that there is no more efficient way of managing your inbox than following the LeanMail method.  If there were we would have incorporated it into our method. (Actually we do this each time someone has a brilliant idea! Send your brilliant ideas to info@atrendia.com.)

Every time you don’t follow the method (skip prioritizing or planning, hunt around your inbox for important mails), you lose precious time.  It’s not easy, but fight the urge to hunt.  In the end, you’ll have a system you trust and that is unbeatable in terms of speed and accuracy.

  1. Remember that prioritizing and planning mails doesn’t take that long – even if it feels like it sometimes, so even if you only have fifteen minutes to work on your email, try to get on your computer to manage your inbox at least once a day*.  It will:
    1. Help you get an overview of what your day/week is looking like
    2. Ensure that the most important mails will get done
    3. Ensure that the most urgent mails will get done
    4. Lower your stress about not being in control
  2. In a worst case scenario, you can just prioritize and act on the High priority mails for the time being.  In this case you would prioritize everything first (remember it only takes a minute to prioritize 20 mails once you get good at doing it), then plan/do only the important ones.

The important mails are the 20% that produce 80% of your results, so the worst case scenario is still much better than what you were doing before.

Send us your feedback.  We want to learn from our troops on the front lines!

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13 Oct

Why leaders are blind to the most important productivity opportunity of all

by Michael Hoffman

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Email is the leading cause of preventable productivity loss in organizations today.
Forbes Magazine (2008)

Employees spend 1 to 3 or more hours per day managing email at 40-60% of capacity.  That means they typically lose 30-60 minutes PER DAY.   Not some.  All — even the ones who believe they are extremely productive. That means you too.

It goes completely unnoticed because you probably think this is an exaggeration.  It isn’t.  Go ahead and challenge me.

Employees, many of them top managers, lose, forget or simply don’t have time to get to 5-15% or more of their email – a lot of which is highly important.  Many of these mails haven’t even been looked at.

It goes completely unnoticed because it has become status quo.  It shouldn’t because it is ravaging your business.

These otherwise highly productive employees often answer unimportant little task emails rather than pouring their focus into the most important things – systematically.  The idea of applying a methodology to the way people manage email (25-30% or more of their day I remind you) is not even discussed or considered.  Who’s in charge of email productivity in your company?  No one.  It’s not even on the map.

It goes completely unnoticed because you think email is personal and difficult to systemize.  Rubbish.

There is no other single activity in your business that is as poorly regulated and in so much need of improvement than email management, and yet…

…it goes completely unnoticed.

Why isn’t fixing email management a burning platform in your organization?

blogpicYou guessed it.  The problems go completely unnoticed; and for good reason: no one has experienced what it is like to have an entire team of employees:

  • working their inboxes at twice the current velocity;
  • prioritizing and executing what is important and urgent; and
  • having complete visibility control over what is going on at all times of the day. 
  • never late, never missing ANY emails.

Face it, most people probably can’t imagine that this is possible – THAT’s why there is no burning platform.  You simply can’t know what you don’t know or have experienced.  Wilbur and Orville had this same problem.

Click here to read all the comments from cynics like yourself and see the light.

 

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05 Oct

Inbox480 – My Personal Story – Part I

by Michael Hoffman

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Inbox480blogpost1It all started with a client.

To begin with, his IT manager had told him that 92% of his incoming email was spam and was filtered out before it ever reached his inbox. So my client never saw more than ninety percent of his incoming volume.

What my client found even more astonishing was that among the things that did reach him, he considered at least eighty percent of it “quasi-spam” — newsletters, articles and press releases, vendors trolling for new projects, social media, etc. — things that vied for his attention but were, more often than not, unwanted and unimportant.

Implications: In his unfiltered mail, out of every 100 messages he was being sent, fewer than two were essential.

So even with a spam filter, on a daily basis my client had to wade through and ultimately delete eighty percent of his email.  That’s a lot of decision-making and clicking for no return. — I asked him:

Why don’t you just unsubscribe from these senders instead of deleting them all the time?

Well, he said, every once in a while a vendor or newsletter — or even a LinkedIn group — has something interesting to say. I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  

So I said to him: Sounds like you could use a new inbox that only your essential senders could get into.

Exactly, he said.

That got me thinking.  I was pretty sure that others had that same problem, so we commenced work on our latest solution, Inbox480.  The inbox for 80 percent of your mail.

I480

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22 Jul

Can Collaboration Work?

by Guest Blogger Sharon Drew Morgen

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Sharon-Drew MorgenWe enter into collaborations assuming we’ll succeed as teamwork partners. Yet we rarely achieve true partnership:

  • Because we listen uniquely and through biased filters we sometimes mistakenly presume intent or misconstrue what’s been said and agreed upon. Problem: Flawed assumptions, wasted time and relationship capital, and restricted scope.
  • There is often not enough diversity to enable maximum creativity and unrestricted solution options. Problem: Similar ideas and options constrain possibility and maintain the status quo.
  • Agendas and goals are often established with less than the full set of essential participants.Problem: Hidden agendas and inadequate preparation.
  • Not all vital collaboration partners are present. Problem: Incomplete input and limited output.
  • Collaborators often enter with specific (albeit unconscious) goals and limited tolerance for risk. Problem: Restricted possibility and inspiration.

As a result, we end up with little real change, spend time waiting for takeaways that don’t occur, expend considerable relationship capital, or overlook the full range of possibilities.

  1. Biased communication. After spending 3 years researching and writing a book on the gap between what’s said and what’s heard, I now appreciate it’s nearly impossible for collaboration partners to all walk away with the same understanding. Therefore, 1. Tape each session. 2. Get group agreement on what’s been said and action items before moving on to the next topic.
  2. Gender, age, and ethnic diversity are necessary. Consider your goal. Think about who you might invite to offer different perspectives. Invite Troublemakers.
  3. Make sure everyone has access to the agenda well before the meeting. There can be no hidden agendas; too much is lost that ends up being problematic later on.
  4. Everyone must attend meetings. If anyone can’t come to the meeting, cancel it or there will be a voice, an idea, an annoyance missing that would counteract the reasons underlying the collaboration. Anyone who will touch the final solution must be present to move forward or there will be fallout, sabotage, and resistance: there is no way to compensate (as per creativity or consensus) once a meeting is held with folks missing.
  5. No restrictions. Collaborators must enter with no assumptions. Collaboration means you either meld disparate ideas, or cultivate something new among you that’s never existed.

We all bring our natural biases and assumptions to the collaboration table, thereby restricting possibilities. Yet until we confront, challenge, and defy the status quo with new thinking, there can’t be change. And that’s the problem: Our results are in direct proportion to our ability to override our biases and assumptions.

BIAS RESTRICTS COLLABORATION

Since researching and writing my new book (Free download What? Did you really say what I think I heard?) I have realized it’s pretty impossible to accurately comprehend what others mean to convey. Here’s a summary of what I learned:

Not only do our eyes merely take in light that our brains then translate (through our filters uniquely developed since birth) into what we think we see, our ears merely take in sound that our brains then translate (through our filters) into what we think others mean – hence we each experience the world uniquely, through our personal translations. To make it truly pernicious, our brains only offer us the translation itself: we never know how far from the Truth we are, potentially causing misplaced resistance and misinterpretation.

For effective collaborations, we must move beyond our filters to hear others without bias during meetings:

  1. Notice resistance, feelings, annoyances, or immediate negativity the moment it happens and ask yourself: How can I hear what’s just been said in a different way?
  2. Since you don’t actually know if what you think you’ve heard is accurate, tell your collaboration partners what you think you heard and ask them if they heard the same thing.
  3. Make sure there are no strong feelings left unsaid after each discussion topic.
  4. At the start of a session, everyone must agree to goals/outcomes for each topic; as each topic is completed, everyone must agree on action items that will match the original goals. Everyone.
  5. At the end of the session, agree to all action items and take-aways. Do a review of what’s been accomplished according to original goals. Ask if anyone else needs to be included for the next session.

By minimizing biases, by including a full range of thought-partners, and by checking in with the other collaborators as to what’s been said and heard, it’s possible to form effective collaborations. Otherwise, we’re merely doing more of the same.

_____________________

Sharon Drew will not longer be writing original content or sending out original articles. She will regularly change out articles from her library of 1500 published articles on sales, Buying Facilitation®, change, listening, collaboration, and decision making. You can still purchase her learning products on Buying Facilitation® and hearing others without bias. Should you wish to reach Sharon Drew for coaching, training, consulting, or speaking, she can be reached at sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com or 512 457 0246.

Visit my websites: www.sharondrewmorgen.com and www.didihearyou.com

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18 Jun

Hey Mr. Sales Director, George Trachilis is NOT nuts. Are you nuts?

by Michael Hoffman

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dedoOne of your prime objectives as a sales director is to get your teams out of their inbox and in front of the customer as much as possible. I’m not knocking the importance of email, I’m just saying that you probably see a huge benefit to having your teams managing their inboxes at twice their current rate, with 90 percent fewer errors and 80 percent more attention to priority.

A lot of leaders see email as a personal time management problem. They’re nuts.

Email, is a process. It’s a factory. Mail comes in, gets processed and goes out. It’s what transports your business all day long. If you see that as a personal problem, then you, indeed, need your head examined. Luckily, processes can be tuned up my friend (we can still get a bit personal).

Since you and your teams have been managing email about the same way since ’94 (mail comes in, you poke at it, you go home), it’s not that difficult to imagine that a company like ours could completely transform the process if we made it our core business, but to achieve a 95% adoption rate of a best practice in any area is nothing short of amazing.*

George Trachilis, the founder of the Lean Leadership Institute with Jeff Liker – and one of many Lean experts who recommend LeanMail, says,
“…It has personally helped me reduce my email management time by 50%…”

Now we can’t guarantee those insane results for everyone, but 30 percent improvement? No problem. Don’t reach 30 percent? Don’t pay. Which KPI’s do we use, you ask? Yours. Whatever you throw at us — or we’ll suggest what we think are important ones since most organizations haven’t put that much thought into inbox KPI’s. They should though, since the time spent managing email represents a whopping 25-40 percent of salary spend. Yes, if you spend 25-40 percent of your day managing email it means that 25-40 percent of your salary goes to processing email. That’s an enormous amount of money in ANY organization isn’t it? (By the way, have you ever wondered who’s responsible for this area in your organization? Good luck. They don’t exist.)

So, Mr. Sales Director, your nuts if you don’t at least pause for a second and imagine what your sales teams would be able to achieve if they doubled their productivity and focused on the 20 percent that brings you 80 percent of your profits in an area they spend a huge part of their day in. You heard me. Nuts.

*According to our 6-month post-training survey with 82% responding.
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29 May

Meetings: The Purpose, The Pain, The Possibility

by Sharon Drew Morgen

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Sharon-Drew MorgenAs business folk, we hold meetings regularly. Yet often we don’t accomplish what we set out to achieve. Why?

The Purpose

Meetings are held to accomplish a specific, beneficial outcome requiring the attendance of the right people with the right agenda.

The Problem/Pain

Often we end up with miscommunication, wasted time, incomplete outcomes, misunderstanding, lack of ownership and ongoing personnel issues – sometimes an indication of internal power and faulty communications issues.

The Possibility

With greater success we can: stimulate thinking; achieve team building, innovation, and clear communication; and efficiently complete target issues. Here are some problem areas and solutions:

People. When outcomes aren’t being met effectively it’s a people- and management problem including: fall-out, sabotage, and resistance; long execution times; exclusion of peripheral people; restricted creativity and communication; exacerbated power and status issues. Are the most appropriate people (users, decision makers, influencers) invited? All who have good data or necessary questions?

  • Rule: unless all – all – relevant people show up for the meeting, cancel it. It’s impossible to catch people up or have them collaborate, add creative thoughts, or discuss annoyances. Once it’s known that meetings aren’t held unless all are present, the frequency, responsibility, and motives shift.
  • Rule: unless all – all – of the people who will touch the outcome from the meeting’s goals are in some way represented, the outcome will not reflect the needs of all causing fallout later, with resistance, sabotage or a diminished outcome.

Agenda. No hidden agendas! Recipients of potential outcomes must be allowed to add agenda items prior to the meeting.

  • Rule: unless all – all – of the items of ultimate concern are on the agenda, the meeting will be restricted to meet the needs of a few with unknown consequence (resistance and sabotage).

Action. Too often, action items don’t get completed effectively. How do action items get assigned or followed up? What happens if stuff’s not done when agreed? How can additional meetings be avoided?

  • Rule: put a specific, consensual, and supervised method in place to ensure action items get accomplished as promised.
  • Rule: as meeting begins, get consensus on what must be accomplished for a successful outcome. This initial discussion may change agenda items or prioritize them, detect problems, assumptions, resistance before action items are assigned.

Discussion. How long do people speak? How do conversations progress? How do the proceedings get recorded? What is the format for discussions? How is bias avoided?

  • Rule: record (audio) each meeting so everyone who attends can have it available later. Folks who didn’t attend are not privy to this audio. (See People above).
  • Rule: design a time limit for speaking, and rules for topics, presentations, discussions, cross talk.
  • Rule: include periods of silence for thought, notes, reflection.

Understanding. Does everyone take away the same interpretation of what happened? How do you know when there have been miscommunications or misunderstandings?

  • Rule: unless everyone has the same perception of what happened for each topic, there is a tendency for biased interpretation that will influence a successful outcome.
  • Rule: one person (on rotation) should take notes, and repeat the understanding of what was said to get agreement for each item before the next item is tackled. This is vital, as people listen with biased filters and make flawed assumptions of what’s been said/agreed.

Transparency. Agendas should be placed online, to be read, signed-off, and added to.

  • Rule: whomever is coming to the meeting must know the full agenda.
  • Rule: everyone responsible for an action item must be listed with time lines, names of those assisting, and outcomes.

Accomplishments. Are items accomplished in a suitable time frame? What happens when they aren’t?

  • Rule: for each action item, participants must sign off on an agreeable execution. A list of the tasks, time frames, and people responsible must accompany each item, and each completed task must be checked off online so progress is accountable.
  • Rule: a senior manager must be responsible for each agenda item. If items are not completed in a timely way, the manager must write a note on the online communication explaining the problem, the resolution, and new time frame.

Meetings can be an important activity for collaboration and creativity if they are managed properly and taken as a serious utilization of time and output. Ask yourself: Do you want to meet? Or get work accomplished collaboratively?

__________

Sharon Drew Morgen is the author of What? Did you really say what I think I heard? (free download at www.didihearyou.com) and NYTimes Business Bestsellers in the area of sales, decision facilitation, change management, and helping buyers buy. She is developer of Buying Facilitation® and a recognized thought leader in communication and decision making. She is a coach, trainer, speaker, and consultant. For those in sales, coaching or leadership want to communicate better Sharon Drew Morgen has the tools to help make improvements with online learning, group coaching, or on-site training. Sharon Drew can coach and train your sales teams or license trainers to prospect and get more appointments by finding real buyers on the first call. She can be reached at: sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com.

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08 May

Is this you?

by Michael Hoffman

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FullSizeRenderI’ve seen Hector (not his real name) wheeling his cart around Barcelona a few times. It’s massive. It must be extremely difficult to maneuver. One day I went up to him asked him if he really needed all of those things. He actually articulated an impressive defense.

Does that remind you of anyone you know?

It reminds me of all the people I have encountered who justify their overstuffed inboxes, piles of papers on their desks and drawers filled with goodness knows what. Just like this homeless person, they carry all their crap around (mostly digitally) and defend their ways as not being problematic at all for them. I can find everything; It doesn’t bother me; I’m a creative type; or the biggest lie: I don’t have the time (What they mean is: I don’t want to prioritize being orderly).

If someone took Hector’s cart, he would find a new one. In a few weeks it would be as big as he could bear because he is a pathological hoarder. What about you? Isn’t it true that those times you have cleared your desktop, physically or digitally, you have gotten some satisfaction – and maybe even some pride from the achievement? Yes, it eventually fell apart again because you didn’t have the correct habits in place, but that’s another story. The point is that it felt good. You felt organized and on top of things. If you have had moments like that, then you’re not a pathological hoarder. But if those moments are few and far-between you’re also not at your best. Imagine having that feeling of being at your best, not just when you finally get so tired of the mess that you painstakingly clean it up, but EVERY DAY. Just because it hasn’t worked for you in the past doesn’t mean you can’t be more consistent NOW. It just means that you need some help in finding out what the trick is – for you – from someone who has enabled many others in the past.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and it takes time to build new habits, but what if you could change this part of your life in a few short weeks? From then on, you’d be at your best EVERY DAY. Or you can continue with your cart; the one that everyone notices but you.

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23 Apr

Most salespeople completely blow their first newbiz meeting – including you

by Michael Hoffman

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You land a meeting with a prospect that you’ve been researching for quite some time.  Then you make the same mistake that most sales people make:  you book an hour-long meeting at her office.

Businessman
What’s wrong with that?  Plenty.  The chances of converting that meeting into a sale are quite slim at this point.  So let’s look at the math:

Meeting: 1 hour
Travel to and from: 1 hour
Waiting time (you always want to leave a margin for traffic): 15 minutes
Preparation: 30 minutes

You’ve just invested nearly three hours on a meeting that hasn’t yet been properly qualified.  Big mistake.

Not only that, for every meeting you’ve booked you could have probably booked three if you had asked for 15 minutes instead of an hour.

What can you do in 15 minutes? You’d be surprised – but who says it has to remain a 15-minute meeting if you’re both having fun?

 First, let’s look at the typical office visit:

  1. After travel and parking you wait for the prospect, then more waiting.  Even if you politely refuse the coffee in order to not lose more time, she’ll grab a cup.  Fine, you take care of the small chit-chat while you’re walking down that mile-long corridor.
  2. Down to 45 minutes, you get to business.  Introductions, etc.  Finally, you have 30 minutes to do your song and dance.

If you don’t get a second meeting, you’ve just blown about three hours.  Ouch!

Now let’s look at the potential behind 15-minute LeanMeetings® for sales executives

  1. No travel, no coffee, just a quick call to qualify each other.  Both of you agree this is a good idea before blowing an hour with a total stranger.
  2. With only 15 minutes to work with, you dispense with chit-chat and long introductions and get right down to the business of qualifying each other.
  3. If you’re not a good match, you’ve lost 15 minutes (more likely just 10 if you’re good) – not 3 hours!  Think about it: how many of your first face-to-face meetings get to the next level?  If it’s less than 100% then following this LeanMeetings® method is a no-brainer.  Don’t forget that you’re booking three times as many meetings because you’re only asking for 15 minutes.  Who doesn’t have 15 minutes?
  4. Wait, it gets better.  What if it goes well?  The phone call doesn’t have to end after 15 minutes.  You’ve planned 30 minutes in your calendar – and you’ve got to know that she doesn’t have an 11:15 or an 11:45 meeting right?  So you spend the second half of the call planning a “real” meeting with the right stakeholders attending.  In the end, you get the same amount of “quality time” but with less than 20% of the time investment – never mind the gas and parking savings.
  5. Your next meeting (your first live meeting) has the right people around the table so you book 90 minutes – at her suggestion.  Shazam!

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15 Apr

8 strategy questions every CEO should ask

by Jeroen de Flander

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With 300+ likes and 1K shares, the strategy article 8 things every leader should know about strategy somehow struck a nerve. But as many readers pointed out correctly, it’s one thing to know what strategy is all about, but it’s another to get out there and come up with one.

As you will probably agree, there is no magic formula for crafting the perfect strategy. If there was, the business world would look a lot different. But that does not mean there aren’t a few shortcuts that you can take. Here are 8 strategy questions to inspire your strategic thinking.

1. Should I strengthen my current strategy? And if yes, how?

Are you doing ok today? If yes, ask yourself how you can strengthen your existing strategy. Look for ways to improve what you do well already. Think about introducing new technology, features, products or services that leverage other areas in the value chain and fit with the current strategy. In short, build on what you already have.

2. How can I copy with pride?

Copying what others in your industry in your main markets are doing isn’t smart. You will start competing on the same axes and this competition will lead to price erosion. But copying can still pay off big time. The world is a big place and many great companies only operate locally. But in this information era, it’s easy to find them, learn from their success and see if some of their ingredients for success can be copied.

By spending only one evening on the internet, 56 out of the 80 companies that participated in my research found at least one great example in another geographical area that fuelled their strategic-thinking process

3. How can I go beyond product innovation?

Don’t focus only on the product or service – a risk, especially in an engineering environment. There are more things to a value chain then the product itself. The key to a sustainable competitive advantage is that ALL activities are tailored to the value proposition.

4. How can I recapture company heritage?

If your company has been around for some time, it follows that it has been doing something well for at least a certain time period. Finding out what that uniqueness is/was and reapplying it to boost your strategy is an interesting way of fuelling your reflection process about strategy. This doesn’t mean that you have to re-do it in the same way, but an adapted version might be just what you need.

5. How can I take advantage of a crisis?

Take a look at these figures from an article in the Harvard Management Update(Baveja, Ellis, Rigby, March 2008). A study of more than 700 companies over a six-year period found that “Twice as many companies made the leap from laggards to leaders during the last recession (90-91) as during surrounding periods of economic calm”. And most of these changes lasted long after the recession was over − a clear indication that what you do during the crisis determines your position when it’s over. Put differently, what you do during a crisis determines your strategic position once it’s over. So when the going gets tough, the tough get going. And win in the end.

So keep going, even when it’s tough out there.

6. How can I build an execution edge

Strategy Execution provides a competitive edge. A strategy needs to reinvent itself every five to seven years. Execution capabilities last much longer. So it pays off to invest in strategy execution excellence.

7. How can I innovate my business model?

A business model is a fancy word for the combination of choices you have made in your activities – your value chain – to bring your value proposition to life. The concept has been around for a long time, but for some reason, everyone apart from strategy consultants have forgotten about it. A recent book by Alexander Osterwalder in which he puts thinking about business models in an easy-to-use format has been a big hit. If you want to get going, identify activities and ask yourself some questions for each block.

8. How can I create Shared Value?

Sustainability is a hot topic today and I believe it is more than a fad. Shared Value is a new concept that helps strategists to incorporate social value into the strategic positioning of an organisation. And it goes far beyond philanthropy.

Michael Porter’s definition of Shared Value is: “You create shared value by enhancing the competitive position of a company while at the same time advancing the society in which it operates.”

The words ‘at the same time’ are very important. When people look at the relationship between a company and society, they tend to think it’s a zero-sum game, a game with only one winner. The strategy concept of Shared Value looks at the positive sum. It means that certain choices will strengthen the strategic position of the organisation and at the same time offer benefits for society.

It’s your challenge as a strategist to find that sweet spot.

There’s an active discussion on LinkedIn Pulse. You can join it here

Original source: The Performance Factory by Jeroen de Flander

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07 Apr

Guest blog: Training vs. Learning: do you want to train? Or have someone learn?

by Sharon Drew Morgen

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Sharon-Drew MorgenTraining successfully educates only those who are predisposed to the new material. Others may endeavor to learn during class but may not permanently adopt it. The problem isn’t the value of information or the eagerness of the learner: It’s a problem with both the training model itself and the way learners learn. It’s a systems/change problem.

HOW WE LEARN
We all operate out of unique, internal systems comprised of mental models (rules, beliefs, history etc.) that form the foundation of who we are and determine our choices, behaviors and habits. Our behaviors are the vehicles that represent these internal systems – our beliefs in action, if you will. So as a Buddhist I wouldn’t learn to shoot a gun, but if someone were to try to kill my family I’d shift the hierarchy of my beliefs to put ‘family’ above ‘Buddhist’ and ‘shooting a gun’ might be within the realm of possibility.

Because anything new is a threat to our habitual and carefully (unconsciously) organized internal system (part of our limbic brain), we instinctively defend ourselves against anything ‘foreign’ that might seek to enter. For real change (like learning something new) to occur, our system must buy-in to the new or it will be automatically resisted. It similarly effects selling/buying, coaching/clients, doctors/patients, leaders/followers.

A training program potentially generates obstacles, such as when

  • Learners are happy with their habitual behaviors and don’t seek anything new
  • Fear they might lose their historic competency
  • The new material unconsciously opposes long-held beliefs.

We are programmed to maintain our status quo and resist anything new unless our beliefs/mental models recognize that the new material will align with our status quo regardless of the efficacy of the required change.

HOW WE TRAIN

The training model assumes that if new material

  • Is recognized as important, rational, and useful
  • Is offered in a logical, informative, interesting way,
  • Allows time for experience and practice

It will become accepted and habituated. But these assumptions are faulty. At an unconscious level, this model attempts to push something foreign into a closed system (our status quo): it might be adopted briefly, but if it opposes our habituated norm, it will show up as a threat and be resisted. This is the same problem faced when sellers attempt to place a new solution, or doctors attempt to change the habits of ill patients. It has little to do with the new, and everything to do with change management.

Truly experiential learning has a higher probability of being adopted because it uses the experience – like walking on coals, doing trust-falls with team members – to shift the underlying beliefs where the change takes place. Until or unless there is a belief change, and the underlying system is ready, willing, and able to adopt the new material into the accepted status quo, the change will not be permanent.

One of the unfortunate assumptions of the training field is that the teach/experience/practice model is effective and if learning doesn’t take place it’s the fault of the learner (much like sellers think the buyer is the problem, coaches thinks clients are the problem, and Listeners think Speakers are the problem). Effective training must change beliefs first.

LEARNING FACILITATION

To avoid resistance and support adoption, training must enable

  1. Buy-in from the belief/system status.
  2. The system to discover its own areas of lack and create an acceptable opening for change before the new material is offered.

I had a problem to resolve when designing my first Buying Facilitation® training program in 1983. Because my content ran counter to an industry norm (sales), I had to help learners overcome a set of standardized beliefs and accepted processes endemic to the field. Learners would have to first recognize that their habitual skills were insufficient and higher success ratios were possible by adding (not necessarily subtracting) new ones. I called my training design Learning Facilitation and have used this model successfully for decades. (See my paper in The 2003 Annual: Volume 1 Training [Jossey-Bass/Pfieffer]: : “Designing Curricula for Learning Environments Using a Facilitative Teaching Approach to Empower Learners” pp 263-272).

Briefly: Day 1 helps learners recognize the components of their unconscious status quo while identifying skills necessary for greater excellence: specifically, what they do that works and what they do that doesn’t work, and how their current skills match up with their unique definition of excellence within the course parameters. Day 2 enables learners to identify skills that would supplement their current skills to choose excellence at will, and tests for, and manages, acceptance and resistance. Only then do new behaviors get introduced and practiced.

Course material is designed with ‘learning’ in mind (rather than content sharing/behavior change), and looks quite different from conventional training. For example Day 1 uses no desks, no notes, and no lectures. I teach learners how to enlist their unconscious to facilitate buy-in for new material.

Whether it’s my training model or your own, just ask yourself: Do you want to train? Or have someone learn? They are two different activities.

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Sharon Drew Morgen is the author of 9 books, including NYTimes Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity, and What?. Did you really say what I think I heard? She has developed facilitation material for sales/change management, coaching, and listening. To learn more about her sales, decision making, and change management material, go to www.sharondrewmorgen.com. To learn more about her work on closing the gap between what’s said and what’s heard, go to www.didihearyou.com. Contact Sharon Drew for training, keynotes, or online programs at sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com. Sharon Drew is currently designing programs for coaches to Find and Keep the Ideal Client, and Lead Facilitation for Lead Generation.

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