A Lesson from China

The Great Wall of China was built as a protection from the barbaric hordes of Mongolia.  It was 1,500 miles long, 12-40 feet thick and 20-50 feet high - too high to climb, too thick to break through and too long to go around.  In the first 100 years of the Wall's existence, China was invaded 3 times.  Not once did the hordes break the wall.  Each time they bribed the gatekeeper and marched through.  The fatal flaw in their defense lay in spending too much money in building the wall and too little money in building the character of gatekeepers

The Heart of Godly Leadership - Allan Webb

Wisdom from Leighton Ford

The ultimate goal of leadership is to reproduce ourselves int the lives of our followers.  Leighton Ford writes, "Leaders are those who are able to divest themselves of their power and invest it in the lives of their followers, in such a way that their followers are empowered and the leaders themselves end with the greatest power of all, the power of seeing themselves reproduced in others."

The Heart of Godly Leadership - Allan Webb

Choose Your Focus

Here is a simple but very effective tool that David Rock shares in his must read book 'Quiet Leadership'.

The Choose Your Focus model has five different ways we can think about or communicate about any project.  The model helps us to recognize which angle we are thinking from and then allows us to choose another way to think, or allows everyone in the conversation to be talking from the same angle.  This simple model is helpful in any conversation or meeting.

  1. Vision: Vision thinking is about the "why" or "what."  It is the big picture of what is your goal or what are you trying to achieve.
  2. Planning: Planning thinking is about how you are going to get there.
  3. Detail: Once you know where you are going and how to get there, then comes the detail of doing thinking.
  4. Problem: Problem thinking is the territory of events going wrong.  The focus on problems.
  5. Drama: Is the place where things have fallen apart and all that is left is emotional charge.

As David Rock suggests, I have used this by putting it up during a meeting so that everyone can see it.  Then with each agenda item stating which level we are talking at.  It is easy for people to get lost in detail, but if they know it is a vision or planning conversation, the detail can wait.  This is very helpful for having everyone thinking and communicating at the same level.

As David Rock wisely says "Quiet leaders are highly disciplined  in their conversations.  They are diligently focused on ensuring every conversation is as productive as possible every step of the way, and if it's not, they do something about this.  They know that it's important to get the process of any conversation right before getting into any of the content of a dialogue".

Question: Where could you use this 'Choose Your Focus' tool in a conversation or meeting this week?

The Decision Tree

Recently I was reading 'Fierce Conversations' by Susan Scott and came across this helpful analogy she calls the 'Decision Tree'.  I have used this while coaching others to help them process what kind of decision they are grappling with.  This model gives clarity to employees about where they have the authority to make decisions and take action.  It also provides a path for growth and professional development, and personal accountability. 

The Decision Tree:-

  1. Leaf Decisions - Make the decision.  Act on it.  Do not report the action you took.
  2. Branch Decisions - Make the decision.  Act on it.  Report the action you took daily, weekly or monthly.
  3. Trunk Decisions - Make the decision.  Report your decision before you take action.
  4. Root Decisions - Make the decision jointly, with input from many people.  These are the decisions that, if poorly made and implemented, could cause major harm to the organization.

This picture of a tree is useful tool in helping your team understand which decisions lie within their authority. Are you staff clear on which decisions are within their authority and which to report or seek input? 

Pictures are a great way for us to learn!

The WIGWAM Cycle

When it comes to developing a product or service, we seldom get it exactly right the first time.  In ' The Personal MBA' written by Josh Kaufman, he suggests the use of an Iteration Cycle to make things better over time.  Changes and revisions bring the project one step closer to what you are trying to accomplish.

He lists these six major steps which he calls the WIGWAM method:

  1. Watch - What's happening?  What's working and what's not?
  2. Ideate - What could you improve?  What are your options?
  3. Guess - Based on what you've learned so far, which of your ideas do you think will make the biggest impact?
  4. Which? - Decide which change to make.
  5. Act - Actually make this change.
  6. Measure - What happened?  Should you keep the change or go back to how things were before the iteration?

Once you have completed the cycle, measure the results of the change and decide whether or not to keep them.  You can then repeat the process by going back to the beginning and starting the WIGWAM cycle again.

I like this very simple but practical cycle for making improvements in what our business is offering.  How could this apply to what you are currently developing or seeking to improve?