Walking a Developmental Process for Change
Walking a Developmental Process for Change – 10:29:21, 10.11…
Fri, 10/29 10:16AM • 41:03
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This is Dave Fleming at the ingenuity lab. Let’s talk about the process of change. Perhaps you’re trying to develop a new skill, or enhance a familiar one, some area in your personal or professional life, or both, where you really want to excel to another level of effectiveness. Is there a process that can help us do that? Well, the good news is there is a process, we’ve learned a lot over even the last 100 years about how to change a particular area of life. And what seems to be at the core of this process is intentionality, mindfulness, a deliberateness about the approach. So that’s really where we should start that throughout every element that we’ll talk about, remember that mindfulness and deliberate pneus is at the core of each element, it’s at the core of the process. In fact, there’s some pretty interesting research that shows that the longer you do something, the worse you get at doing it, unless you are mindful, to always be a learner, always adding to your skill, and sharpening it.
So it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re at the top of your game, simply because you can say you’ve been doing something for 25 years. In fact, it could mean you’re sliding down rather quickly. Unless, unless you’re deliberate and intentional, to continue to be a learner, and work a process that increases the effectiveness of your skills. So let’s keep that in mind. As we’re going through the steps. Every step starts with a deliberate intent to stay flexible, and moving deeper into each step. So that as you practice them, they’re not becoming so automatic, so familiar, that you’re no longer aware and engaged as you do it, we want to take the automaticity out of the learning. So that we’re really trying again, like it was the first time. So designing this process is the second important piece, it really does help to design a process, it really does help to see steps that are interrelated. And you’re moving through them. And and it’s not always linear, there’s a lot of back and forth. And there are cycles, and there are circles to these things. But there are steps that make the process more intentional.
And the first piece is to design, your development, your desire for change, actually design a process. Now if you’re in an organization, this could be part of a performance management element. It could be some coaching, you’re receiving and you’re wanting to, to grow in a particular area of a skill as a leader or as a contributor, it could be in your personal life where you’re perhaps trying to get in better shape, or learn a language or whatever it might be. Knowing the design process, and then following that process can make a big difference. If you’re a leader, and you work with people who are in the process of their own development curve. Walking this process with them can also be helpful. So here we go. We know we want to be deliberate and intentional. We know we want to in that intentionality have some sort of design process so that we can continue to come back to it and get better and better at working those steps. And then we come to the actual process. So I’m going to assume you already know the big area that you want to make some improvement in or you know the area you’re working with someone who
is on your team or reports to you if you’re in a in a in an organizational structure. You already know the big area like for instance, let’s just give a personal example. I want to be more healthy. Alright, that’s a big big area, that’s a big area of focus, I want to be more healthy. And that’s a good overall objective. But that alone isn’t going to get us very far, just having that desire, even though it’s good is going to have to be refined down to something much more specific and much more articulate. Same thing in the in the world of work. If you want to develop a skill, let’s say you’re in accounting, and there’s a new system that you want to actually go to the next level of your own effectiveness of knowing how to use it, or how to pull things out of it, or how to analyze data, or how to be a better leader when it comes to controlling your emotion, or how to really trust the team so that they’re taking the initiatives that have been developed and really executing them. But you’re still involved as a leader who knows what it might be. But I’m going to assume you have an area already identified.
Now, if you already have that area identified, the real sweet spot, if you’re in an organization, is what I call the opportunity zone. So the opportunity zone is where a Venn diagram, two circles come together and connect. On the one hand, the opportunity zone reveals something important, you want to change a skill, a quality that you want, either more of or less of. And in doing so you will be better at work, you’ll be better in your job, however, and opportunities own in an organization also means that as you develop that skill, and you hand that skill, that gift back to your team. In other words, you donate your development back to your team. Not only are they the benefactors of it, but the mission advances in more powerful ways. Because now you’re giving the gift of your own development, right back contributing it right back to the organization, it’s a good way to even think about development in an organization. Development in an organization is slightly different than development in my personal life. In my personal life, there still may be Venn diagrams coming together, I want to get better at something in, say, the way I communicate, well, that’s going to help my relationship with my wife or my kids or or or so Venn diagrams can still overlap each other circles can overlap in my personal life. And really, the more circles that overlap in my development curve, the better if I’m developing a skill that is good for me at work, good for my team at work good for my organization, and also happens to be good for me at home.
Wow, that that’s a homerun, that’s, that might be a Grand Slam. If we’re thinking about it in an organization, if you’re a leader, and you’re working with people to help them develop goals for their own development path, keep the opportunity zone in mind have both lenses in mind, how can we increase skills for you that make you a better professional? At the same time as you get better? How can that also be donated back to the team and the mission, so that the connection between the skill of the individual is connected right to the gift it becomes for the team, the team is better because of it. And the mission is advanced in powerful ways. So find the opportunity zone, find the place within the big area of focus, where you can now kind of narrow down a bit and say, inside the idea of being a better leader. I now want to work on being a more strategic thinker. Now. Is that good for me? Absolutely. It is. It’s good for me as a leader to be able to think strategically reflectively ponder on my world, see the right stakeholders who need to be participating at the table with me as we create vision and execute it. Absolutely. That is good for me as an individual. Is it good for my team? Yeah, it’s good for my team.
Because as we are more strategic in the way we think about things, if I’m facilitating that, it’s going to affect not only our conversations and the quality of them, but it’s going to make it it’s going to advance the mission in ways where we’re going to probably come up with more quality initiatives or projects or be able to adapt better along the way. So we go from I want to be a leader, a better leader to I want to be a better strategic thinker. Now we’ve got something that’s sitting in the sweet spot of the opportunity zone. Okay, or think of someone on your team, if you’re a leader, and perhaps it’s a skill set you want them to have or maybe they need, maybe they’re having problems with vendors or with customers or with internal stakeholders that they work with, perhaps they’re needing to deal with anger issues, or they’re not coming across in emotionally intelligent ways. And it’s, it’s angering people, or it’s a, it’s more
related to their job skill, like if they’re in accounting, it’s a whole part of the system they work in, or the kinds of analysis that they have to do. I don’t know what it might be, but you do. But you you see the idea here, the opportunity zone is the place where my personal growth and some other element, if we’re talking about an organization, the team and the mission, are all positively affected by by me developing in this area. And if you’re a leader, talk about it that way, with people try to move it just beyond, hey, this will be really good for you, and move it to this will be really good for our team. And the mission, as well as you what a great gift you can donate back to the team. Okay, identify the opportunity zone. Now, once you’ve identified the opportunity zone, let’s just stick with this one, I want to be a better strategic thinker. Then you want to isolate variables, you can affect and measure. And by variable I simply mean here, actions, behaviors, mindsets, situations, circumstances, dynamics, people, things that you can affect and measure. So the idea here, maybe the operative word in the sentence here is isolate, isolate out variables, you can affect and measure. So let’s take behavior as because really, this does come down to behavior, if I’m trying to bring change to a particular area of my life, I am going to have to get down to the element of behavior.
So let’s just talk about this variable. Remember, we’re thinking about being a better strategic thinker. At work as a leader? Well, what are some of the behaviors that make one a better strategic thinker? What are the variables, those are variables, behaviors are variables, other people or variables, situations or variables, you know, the way you woke up in the morning and what you had for breakfast, and that your stomach hurts, and you’re trying to be a better strategic thinker is a variable, how much hydration you’ve had during the day is a variable. And I’m really not joking. There are hundreds and hundreds of variables that can come into play in any moment of trying to do strategic thinking. So I mean, it could be a little maddening when you start to think of all the things you might need to change to be better. So what we have to do is find the most optimal variables we can leverage right now, that makes sense right now for us to focus on right now. So that we can get better at the skill. And then continue to find other variables, other behaviors, other actions, other, whatever, whatever it might be, for the next round, and the next round. That’s why development is ongoing, because you never run out of variables to try to influence and get better at. I mean, just think about being a really good runner. There’s hydration, there’s your shoes, there’s the surface there is what you wear, there’s weather, there’s how you breathe, there’s what you eat on a regular basis.
There’s your biology, your makeup, your frame, your body, holy moly. I mean, those are just a few. There are lots of variables that come into play when thinking about how to be a better runner. And if someone is an elite runner, like take the Olympics, maybe they run the 100 meters or maybe a marathon runner, let me tell you, they are isolating many, many variables, very minute variables to try to increase the the effect that they can have by developing just a little bit better in that area. This is why the better we are at something and if we’re really trying to continue to strive Is that when someone starts to hit mastery and then an elite status, which I think we probably should never say that we are personally, I think, I think other people recognize eliteness, rather than we deeming that of ourselves. But when people get to an elite status, it becomes very hard to continue to make big leaps of change. You know, there’s no more low hanging fruit, if you will, because you’ve isolated so many variables. Now, it’s about small gains over time, that create the big wish for someone who’s elite. You know, like,
I mean, I, there’s a lot of low hanging fruit for me to be better at basketball. I mean, there’s so much low hanging fruit, it’s touching the ground, it’s there so much. But there is no more low hanging fruit for Lebron James. I mean, that guy is at such an elite level of being a basketball player, that it takes literally organizing his entire life around basketball to get better. So I want to be a better strategic thinker. Okay, well, I don’t know what variable you should isolate. I don’t know. That’s where coaching is helpful. Because having a coach and you may be the coach in this situation, if you’re a leader, but having a coach ask you important questions, areas where your strengths and where your weaknesses come into play, is important. So you can start to isolate variables of where you want more behavior or less behavior, but let’s just do one so that we can get the idea here, okay.
Strategic Thinking requires time alone, to ponder and observe, and make connections and reflect on the terrain of my world. Okay, and let’s say someone is going 100 miles an hour, never has any time to themselves, never has any time to think. And he’s always in firefighter mode, always behind, always running, never able to really catch their breath and stop at all. In fact, they feel guilty if they do. Well, we found at least one variable we could isolate, and measure. And that would be time for strategic thinking to occur. So one variable could be just developing time to think. Now, is that something that the person can affect? Can they do something about the time that they need to think well, you might argue that in certain organizations, they might not be given that time. But I will tell you, after many, many years of three decades of talking to people across a variety of industries from private, public, nonprofit, you name it, it, I’ve been in it. Most people do have the time, they don’t take the time.
Very few people are told not to take time to think strategically. Now, there may be situations where people are not granted time, but they can make the time. So their organization might not see great value in strategic thinking, although that’s a real shocker to me every time it happens, because most organizations have reached a point where they understand the value of strategic thinking for leaders, but let’s just even say that they’re not a particular organization isn’t against strategic thinking. They just don’t give people dedicated time for it. I’ve still seen people make the time for it in very creative ways. So let’s say this is an isolated variable, time for thinking. That is something I can affect. I can do something about it, and it’s something I can measure.
Okay, so then I would determine at that point, that one of the most important variables that I can change right now, that will help me better develop better the skill of strategic thinking is time for it. Time for it, because I might as well not even get down the road into what are the skills of strategic thinking and what books am I going to read and should I take a course on strategic thinking? And should I watch this set of videos on strategic thinking, or should I get a coach to help me learn how to strategic, if I’m not willing to spend any time at all on it? I’m stuck until I change that. You see why that variable in this scenario is so critical to isolate and change first?
Are you willing to give time to strategic thinking? And if the answer to that is no, we’re kind of stuck. But if the answer to that is yes, then we move on to the third piece, find actions that shift the variable. Okay? Find actions that shift the variable? Well, what’s the variable we’re talking about? I want to be a better strategic thinker, that’ll be good for me, that’ll be good for my team, that’ll be good for our mission. So I’ve isolated an opportunity zone. Now I’m going in deeper to find all these different variables. And I’ve isolated and see one that if I leverage will make a big difference. I don’t make time to think, Okay, if I don’t make time to think the first step is to make that time. And maybe the first step in making the time is simply to make time to learn how to think better.
But I can’t even do that if I never make the time. So I need to make time now we’re into number three, find actions that shift the variable. Okay, well, what’s an action that is going to need to change if I’m going to make time for learning how to think strategically, I’m going to have to make time to think strategically. I mean, it really does get this granular when we’re trying to learn something new. If you’re learning the piano, you do not learn a Chopin piece the first day, you understand, or the first day that you sit down at a piano and start playing. You just don’t do that. Now, maybe there’s some savant somewhere that has done that. But that is not the normal course, for most of us. You don’t sit down with a very complicated piece of music and start playing it. I mean, when I learned to play the piano, I started with this. This is middle C, play that Dave, push that right there, push that bomb. Yep, that’s C, we call that middle C.
Here’s why we call it middle C, hit it again. And then from there, we went on. And then I read very basic, very basic things. And I’m still not a great piano player. But I can read, you know, some things and other things. You put it in front of me. And I’m like, no, no, no, can do. No can do. So we start with things that often will feel like we’re back at the beginning, but in a way, that’s okay. That’s okay. So in our particular example, we are going to make time and this could feel really hard for someone who never makes time, well, what are they going to have to do? They’re going to have to shift the actions that shift the variable. Well, what could that mean? Well, it could mean going into their calendar, and looking at their days and starting to analyze what kind of meetings they’re in, what kind of ways they’re spending their time right now, where could they cut, in order to block time to learn how to think better, how to think strategically in more effective ways. So perhaps one of the skills that they’re going to have to learn is to block their time in a different way, and go in and make time for strategic thinking. So that would be a variable to shift.
Now, there might be some other ones. What if they actually make time for strategic thinking? It’s on the calendar, but they never utilize the time for strategic thinking. Maybe they even bought a book on strategic thinking. And they read one page and start answering emails, well, now we have a different variable to isolate. It’s called discipline, or will or are and that now that gets into a whole different kinds of sets of behaviors like Am I doing it at the wrong time? Or have I chosen the wrong thing? Why is my interest waning? I know this is important in my out of sync with when I should be trying to do this. Who knows, right? And now Now you might be thinking, oh my gosh, this is endless. Yeah, it is. That’s why development is life long. And we kind of crawl and walk slowly our way forward until we really start to pick up steam in an area but even once we’ve picked up steam and there’s not a lot of low hanging fruit left, it still takes tremendous effort to get better at something. And that’s why most people quit getting better.
Because it’s just too hard to keep thinking about what variables I should leverage what actions I should change, so that I can continue to up my game, I’m good enough. And in certain things, that’s okay. In certain things, I’m good enough is okay. For instance, I’m good enough at basketball, if someone challenged me to play a game of horse, I know how to play it, I could do it, we could have fun, good enough, it is not in my worldview, or in my goals to be better at basketball, ergo, I’m not going to try to be better at it. But there are other things I want to get immensely better at. And those are the ones I work this practice, I work the process. So now we are finding actions that shift the variables, I want to be a better strategic thinker. I need to block time to learn how to be a strategic thinker, and to do the work of strategic thinking, I need to block time, I need to stay faithful to that time, I need to have chunks of learning. Because now I learned that that 700 page book on all things, strategic learning just wasn’t good for me, I need some chunks of learning. So I’m going to start with an overview of strategic thinking that’s only an hour long. And that’s the first thing I’m going to do. And I’m going to try to get a terrain a lay of the land on strategic thinking. And then I’m going to number four, practice the new action, I’m going to practice it, I’m going to practice it again.
And again, I’ve blocked time, I have learned how to put the distractions out of my world, I turn my notifications off, I shut down my email, I do as much as I can to be in a place where I’m not going to be externally distracted, then I have to deal with the distractions internally. And I’m learning to set a timer say for 30 minutes and say to myself, read or watch this video, read this book, or watch this video for 30 minutes. And then you get to take a seven minute break. And then you’re going to go with round two. What am I doing? I’m practicing actions that are going to help me get better. Now, if you’re in a course, a class of something, you know, or you have a coach, the beautiful thing there is a lot of this gets laid out for you. Right, someone else has done all of this work. That’s why That’s why adult development education is such a hot industry right now. Because someone else has done all this work. And they’ve put the whole package together. But in some cases, particularly things at work, you may have to do some of this thinking yourself, so that you can then practice what others have created. Once you’ve made the choice and created the process, then you can find tools that can help. But there are no there aren’t necessarily a lot of tools to help you with this part that is designing the process you will use for change. So where are we identify an opportunity zone, got it, isolate a variable that you can affect, I need to take time and make time to learn and practice strategic thinking, practice the new action.
I blocked my time every week, I set aside 90 minutes every week for learning and practicing strategic thinking. And I do it I blocked the time. I have the time. I have my resources. I watch these videos first and then I’m going to move to this book and then I’ve I’ve I’ve signed up to go to a one day seminar on strategic thinking put on by the ingenuity lab. So so I’m in it, I’m in it to win it here. Measure often number five, measure often and number six, listen to the measurements. Measuring now is all the stuff that we’ve talked about for strategic thinking measurable? Absolutely. Am I blocking the time? Well, let’s see. Let’s pull up my calendar and look at the next six weeks. Is the time blocked? Yes. Well done. You. You blocked 100% of the time over the next six weeks. You did it. Well done. Now, let’s look at the last six weeks. Did you take the 90 minutes?
In all the six weeks? Doesn’t look like I did. Okay. How many of the 90 minute blocks did you do have the six weeks? to two and a half? Okay. All right. Well, the good news there is that’s 200 more minutes than a year ago. So let’s celebrate that. And then we see room for improvement. And we listen to the measurement. Right? So we’re measuring, did I block the time? Yes. Did I use the time? Sort of, but not enough to really create momentum. And oh, by the way, it was week one and week four. I didn’t do anything in week 235 Or six. Not enough consistency there. I’m never really going to be able to develop the skill of strategic thinking, if I don’t stay faithful to the time where I’m trying to learn and practice it. So what does the measurement Tell me?
The measurement tells me I’m not making the time. Oh, well, actually, no, it doesn’t tell me that does it? I did make the time. I actually went in and block the time. Now, some people might not even get that far. But the measurement tells me I did it. I look out three months. And there it is. There it is. It’s there. I blocked it, well done. But I only utilized that time for strategic learning and thinking and practicing about strategic work I only utilized out of, let’s say, nine weeks, I only did it three and a half times three and a half of the nine weeks meaning I did three full weeks. And one of the other weeks I did 45 minutes. So out of nine weeks, I only did three and a half weeks of staying faithful to what I designed in my goal. That tells me something. Now, listening to the measurement means not making excuses. Yeah, but I got called into this meeting. Yeah, but I got this well, but you don’t understand well, but listening to the measurement is simply sitting with what the measurement says, Before making any excuses. I did three and a half of nine weeks, and then asking yourself some questions. Is that going to get me where I want to go? Nope.
Do I still want to go where I thought I wanted to go? Yep. Then I’m going to have to do something to increase that time I’m actually taking that I blocked. Okay. So in the next three months, I’ve got to go from three and a half weeks used to seven. That’s going to be my goal. Now. I’m going to try to be faithful to my 90 minutes of strategic learning and thinking seven of the next nine weeks. Okay, is there anything else you’re going to have to change? In order to be able to do that? Yes, I’m going to have to move a couple meetings around. Because now what I see is that I scheduled my 90 minutes in three blocks. And so I’m not I need the 90 minutes to be all at once. Or I need at least an hour and 30 minutes. And I was trying to sneak it in. Ah, okay. Well, so is Do you think you could find 90 minutes? I really do think I can find 90 minutes. Okay, when is that? It’s Thursday afternoons. That seems to be a time where for some miracle,
nobody calls or wants to meet. Alright, then let’s put your 90 minutes there. And let’s see how we do. And then you don’t wait until three months later to measure this right. The first week. Did you do it? Yep. The second week, I did it again. I am to four to the third week. You didn’t do it. And there was no meeting put on top of it. You just didn’t do it. And so you think to yourself at the end of the third week? Yeah, I got lazy. I got to get back to it. And you’re back to it the fourth week. And maybe the fifth week you get an hour of the 90 minutes and the sixth you do all 90 Whoa, you’re picking up steam here. Something about changing when you did it worked. Now it might not continue Due to work, you’ll have to that’s why this is a continuous improvement process.
But you found something isolated an action changed it because you listened to the measurement. And instead of just saying, well, this doesn’t work, or you don’t understand, or I can’t do this, you kept mining for what is the measurement telling me, the measurement is telling me I need to shift when I tried to do this, you shifted it and you got a better result, stick with that result until it no longer works, then you have to ask yourself, why isn’t it working, and you have to again, create a way to continue. Now we could talk from there about all kinds of other strategic thinking variables, right, but we’re not going to. But I mean, just just so you know, just making the time for thinking strategically isn’t enough, then there’s practicing strategic thinking, then there’s taking the elements of strategic thinking and really thinking about, well, which ones Am I really good at, like, I am really good at sitting by myself and pondering my world, but you know what I’m not good at, I’m not good at bringing my team into my thinking, Ah, well, there’s a variable, now I need to go back and isolate and work my process again, and see what that does. Wow, this is called continuous improvement. And you’re adapting, that’s the really the last piece, you’re adapting, again, and again, rinsing and repeating. You, you utilize your current change strategy, until it starts to break down.
And when it breaks down, you ask yourself, what about this needs to adapt in order for me to continue and away you go. And then your improvement becomes a contribution, your improvement, your ongoing continuous improvement becomes a contribution to the team. Now look, I want to say something here, at the end of this process, we have slowed this way down, way down. I’ve given multiple examples. And talked deeply, you know, relatively deeply, not really, we could spend, we could spend a whole day on this. But relatively, you know, going into each one of these, and you might think, Dave, I, I can’t do this or lead my team through actions like this, there are seven people who report to me, or eight people who report to me, I can’t sit for hours and talk to them about this. And you don’t have to. You take the process, and you work it with the amount of time you have. So if you have a 30 minute conversation with someone, you take the seven steps, and you condense it into 30 minutes, and you do what you can and you start, start, help them isolate. If you just said, what’s the opportunity zone, and they got down to what the opportunity zone is? And you said, What do you think, is the one behavior that if you changed that behavior, either to have more of or less of? What do you think that one behavior would be that would help you in the next 90 days, make the biggest amount of shift, help them isolate that, figure out a way to measure it, and then keep this process going. Much better to spend 30 minutes monthly, then two hours
yearly, talking about these kinds of things, for the people that you lead or for yourself. When continuous improvement just becomes part of my mindset, it doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Once I start to learn this process, I’m adjusting all the time to make my performance better. So this can feel overwhelming when you listen to it at the depth and time we’ve just given it but you can start very small, isolate something, work the process, see what happens, get better at it, and then rinse and repeat, continue to do it. And if you consistently do what even is just 30 minutes a month at this in a year, you will be in a different spot. You will be in a different spot. It’s more about the consistency of diving into these areas and working them then it is the amount of time all at once. Much better to have shorter amount of times consistent than longer time. infrequently. So you don’t have to be overwhelmed by this. And ask your team members to think about this process before they talk to you have them give this some thought before the meeting where you’re going to talk about it. And you might just see that some of them are really good at thinking like this. Hmm. Maybe that will tell you something about a skill they should donate to the team. And others might struggle but you can work with them, scaffold them, help them develop. I hope that you can see the immense I really do mean this fun and adventure it is to work a process like this to continuously improve in something that’s important to you, and I wish you the best in whatever change curves and priorities are important to you.