“If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them. Instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking.” - Buckminster Fuller, American engineer, author, designer, inventor, and futurist.
The primary purpose of my Good Thinking Series of books is to help individuals and teams improve their performance by guiding their thinking to help them collaborate, to make better decisions and build better buy-in.
Considering an organization’s success depends on the number of great decisions being implemented quickly throughout an organization, I can also ask “What decision should I make next to move me towards my goals?” “How can I build buy-in?”, “What can I learn (new ideas) that will promote my decision making?” and “Which tool should I use to guide my thinking to learn more efficiently?”
Someone once joked “You can’t not decide.” Say you end a meeting by saying, “Let’s not decide today.” Well, you just did decide - to delay the decision. If there is a time value to the decision you probably could calculate how much the delay will cost, like not depositing some money in an interest bearing account, losing the accumulative value of the earlier decision.
The decision is the stepping-stone to action. No decision, no action. I’d prefer to reduce the cycle time on my and my team’s decision making. These collaboration tools speed up the decision making process by providing a method to promote dialogue, to promote the conversation that generates learning.
There are many good resources of collaboration techniques and tools. What I do hope to do is to help inspire or encourage you to use techniques and tools like these to help improve your thinking, ideas, behaviors and buy-in, and especially your results..
The most effective way to learn this collaboration approach is to actually use the tools in either a seminar situation or a real work situation. Just reading will be interesting, but until you use a tool to direct your thinking, modify/improve your options, and modify/improve the decisions and support, you won’t see and feel the improved results.
I recommend people practice with groups out of work – non-profits, school meetings, church meetings, family meetings. The better practiced you are when you present this approach to a work team, the more likely they will welcome your help. The more likely you as a helpful messenger won’t be shot.
The small group tools I will present are pretty easy to use and likely to be used occasionally to frequently. They are most often used in groups of 2-4, and often used when the decisions to be made are about relationships and expectations between people.
“Did you hear what I think I said?” AB See is a collaboration tool best used when two parties too often move to argument and rarely accomplish anything.
The goal is to establish dialogue. In dialogue all members actively listen to understand others’ points of view, and speak to describe their point of view while working to build a shared understanding. Dialogue can describe the kind of conversation which builds a synergistic new and better understanding of an issue.
Ordinary discussion describes the kind of conversation which often only presents and compares current points of view. If positions and/or personalities are strong, it usually deteriorates to an argument.
AB See Exercise Instructions
1. Assemble two opposing persons in a room with a third person as a referee just in case things get testy.
2. Decide which opposing person is A and B. Flip a coin to decide who goes first, let’s say A.
3. A speaks while B can only listen while B takes notes.
4. When A says they’re done, B must report what they heard A said without any editing etc. When B is done, A must confirm B heard A. If not, B continues.
5. Reverse roles and repeat.
The beauty and effectiveness of this simple technique is that its structure when followed by the participants prevents an argument, maximizing the chance to be heard as well as hear.
In my experience, about 70% of the formerly arguing parties come to discover they had only a misunderstanding significantly improving their willingness and ability to work together in the future more productively. Great with coworkers, couples, kids – anyone who want to improve understanding, relationships, and productivity.
And as with all the collaboration tools, notice the “tool” is really a series of questions that answered openly and honestly generates dialogue. The questions guide your thinking but you provide your own answers. Done well, the series of questions forms your learning process that helps you both improve and innovate. Also notice that answering the questions in a very interactive way also builds buy-in – people support what they help create.
“If I really want to improve my performance, what’s the best way to think about this?
1. Associated Videos
2. Good Thinking Series – Part 2: Collaborate – includes about 50 collaboration tools
3. Visual Literacy Project – Periodic Table of Tools – roll your cursor over the issue and the supporting tool will appear.
5. Introductory video Interview John Canfield
6. Website: www.johncanfield.com and www.goodthinkingseries.com
7. Call or write 616-392-2634, firstname.lastname@example.org