Mentorship & Me Part 9 – Peggy Edwards – On My Own

As my mentor was poorly this week we didn’t have our usual catch up. It was only planned to be a short catch up rather than a full on session so I was surprised how much I missed it. I didn’t get my regular hit of analysis and exploration of the; what and why I do things. I constantly write sound-bites in our meetings, mostly to do with the home work she gives me, and occasionally I revisit these to remind me of the reflections that week. I even have a classic one-liner (see part 5 on the blog) in front of me every day in the office to inspire me. Perhaps I, and potentially my mentor, should collate these together to form some sort of guide, like a thought-for-the-day so I can revisit them to inspire or curtail my activities! Let’s hope she gets better soon, else I could really go off the rails……

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THURSDAY THOUGHTS! – Biggest irritant in understanding whats going on?

Staff Engagement : What Really Works?

A thought to ponder as we go into another weekend:

“As a member of staff, what’s your biggest irritant in understanding whats going on in your workplace?”

There is an awful lot written about staff engagement generally: the good, the bad and the downright ugly demonstration of it.  But when it comes down to it, how effective exactly are the type of staff engagement initiatives you’ve experienced?  Have they worked well or not so well?

There are always things in organisational life that many don’t really want to be bothered with.  But more importantly, there are things that we definitely DO want a much closer knowledge of.  Solutions often come in many shapes and sizes and from multiple directions, so share both the worst and the best of how you have been involved in the past, and share:

“your biggest irritant in understanding what’s going on in your workplace”.

Looking forward to the responses on this one – PLEASE share widely with your networks so we get a wider contribution to this important question.

THURSDAY THOUGHTS! – De Bono Unpicked

Righty-ho!  I’ve asked questions from the perspective of every coloured hat in De Bono terms now.  Mixed response which has tailed off the last week so time for synthesis as we’ve been involved in analysis for the last 7 weeks (albeit virtually).

I always think its important to describe what something IS NOT from the outset, so this technique is NOT a category of person in any way whatsoever.  We have not been trying to “label” or “box” people from illustrating the perspective they have been using in response to the questions posed.  But we have been trying to illustrate the plethora of approaches amongst us and its been hugely illustrative to see that everyone who has been kind enough to join in, has shown a preference for one, but an aptitude for many, different thinking styles.  There is no doubt that we would make a great team 🙂

Below, I outline the process itself, the benefits you could accrue from its use, as well as the ways you could apply this technique.

Process

It’s a technique for a process which is very useful indeed if facilitated in a circle so that everyone has a chance to “wear” and answer a question from the perspective of one hat, all at the same time.  The question allows everyone to look in the same direction at the same time, and in no way is it a competition (which usually infuriates the more competitive members somewhat!)  For example: the facilitator asks a question and everyone in the circle is asked to answer/discuss it from one thinking perspective for a specific period of time, then there is rotation around all the hats.

This process then uses all the experience of everyone in the circle at any given time.  We’ve tried to do it virtually via this little series of questions but it really comes alive in real time and place.  There is an absolute need to separate out the modes of thinking and to focus on one at a time only, for a given period, say 10 mins each (less will work too, depends how many you have in your circle).

The analogy that best describes this process is one of driving and gears: think of the question/issue as the car and the answers (colours) as gears.  You will need to utilise all the gears just not at the same time!  All journeys require you to go through the gearbox to get from A to B to avoid avoidable damage to the car. So see this as a journey everyone is on and if necessary, go through the gears more than once.

Benefits

This technique is simple, portable, practical and embeds tried and tested learning which has been used by NASA and 5 yr olds alike.  It is swift compared to alternatives for osmosis, or for better learning from mistakes.  It has been proven to produce 5x the improvements on any issue than that of other approaches as it shifts individuals from ego (competitive types!) to the true performance of deeper thinking.

Application

In parallel, face to face, real time and place, it produces the best results.

If used occasionally, it can “teach” people to make the fast switch into different hat thinking when needed and the use of a single hat process can also prompt very sharp changes of team thinking indeed.  When you can switch between thinking with ease and in an almost automated manner, you may consider that you’ve passed your driving test 🙂

Systematic application is useful in setting the agenda for the session.  There is a programme of hats to go through sequentially and the sequence can either be chosen as an evolving process, i.e. choose the next hat when finishing with the preceding one (takes skilled and familiar facilitation to manage the flow as there is no right sequence and this is more open and difficult to control); or  a preset sequence can be adopted, identified beforehand.  This is easier to manage if you are less familiar with the technique.

THURSDAY THOUGHTS! continues as a theme, so stay tuned to my weekly question.  Please keep checking back and join in as often as you can.  It’s good to talk!

See you next week, broom broom!

THURSDAY THOUGHTS! – Myth Busting Working Differently

Week 7 is a fairly quick one 🙂  We are living and working in very fast changing times.  Our leaders talk very much about “working differently” and in essence, this is very much required with diminishing resources and an agenda that never appears to get any smaller.  However,

Working differently – is this the great urban myth of our time?

What do you think about “working differently”?  Have you experienced truly different ways of working?  Have you had to champion working differently?  Just how difficult or easy have you found it to change the way you and/or your teams do things and make the new way stick?  In many ways, its the holy grail of nimble professional working, but just how real is it in our day-to-day working lives?

Mentorship and Me Part 8 – Peggy Edwards – Saturday’s Thoughts

In the beginning Thursday Thoughts! were interesting but easy, now they are getting harder and mean exposing the real you for others to see. This is scary to me, despite this world with the internet, when everyone can see what you are doing and saying. Defining yourself by a record or a moment in time can make you feel vulnerable. However the one-to-one relationship with a mentor doesn’t (or shouldn’t) make you feel that way at all. My mentor probably knows more about me and how I tick than ANYONE I know. That relationship needs to be based upon trust, honesty and respect; trust that the conversation doesn’t go further but also trust that that person won’t think you are completely mad! But you do need that honesty to get the most out of the relationship, what you may think is a different facet of your personality can be explained as just another way a deeply ingrained trait is revealed. Respect is also needed, respecting the view of the mentor and also respecting that fact that they are taking all your emotional baggage on board as well. It takes a very special person to do that…

THURSDAY THOUGHTS! – Defining Personal Moments

Week 6 of an interesting series of questions, which aim to explore preferences for our own thinking perspectives and explores where others might be coming from.  The best use of this technique is for achieving a clear understanding of why mixed teams with common skills levels are usually the most productive and successful.  Successful teamwork is primarily about trust, diversity and bringing a breadth of skills to the table – managing that spread of diversity around  a common theme is often challenging.  So this series aims to raise awareness of the principle, and give diversity a prominent place in our work lives.  I hope you are enjoying it as much as we are now we’re in the penultimate week of (hopefully) provocative questions.  We’ll analyse it all at the end so keep tuning in and try to recruit other contributors if you can.  We’re a friendly bunch, don’t bite, and usually have a great banter along the way 🙂  Here’s the week 6 question then:

What do you consider to have been your defining moment(s) so far?

Interesting question don’t you think?  Having occupied life on this planet for half a century now, when I’m reflecting, I can spot several moments in my life, be they personal or professional, that I can pinpoint and say, “yes, that was a defining moment for me in what came next and a direction I took in life generally.”

The question demonstrates a lot of white characteristics, being it:

  • calls for information known or needed;
  • looks for thinking that includes who, what, where, when, why and how; and
  • will force thinking back to objectives, dates, facts, opinions etc.

If we link to last week’s question, we might say this one is rooted in soul type music with lyrics that lean toward soul-searching and bearing grievances.  Its a pretty soul searching kind of question don’t you think?

So, be brave, think honestly and let me know “What you consider to have been your defining moment(s) so far?”

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