The Art Of Storytelling

13 02 2018

Storytelling is the essential human activity. The harder the situation, the more essential it is.                Tim O´Brien

“The symbol; The New One Minute Manager’s symbol is intended to remind each of us to take a minute out of our day to look into the faces of the people we lead and manage. And to realize that they are our most important resources”.

This book really caught my eye as it is written in such a simple and easily understandable way through storytelling.

Throughout the story the authors reveal three very practical secrets; One Minute Goal, One Minute Praising’s, and One Minute Re-Directs, which they call the new, third secret.

This book will help organizations find new ways to adapt and prosper as well as find meaning in our work by giving us inspiration. It is based on studies on behavioral sciences and medicine which support why these methods are of great success.

Ken Blanchard, one of the two authors of this book, is considered a highly influential leadership expert who has co-authored 60 books, including “Raving Fans” and “Gung Ho!” (With Sheldon Bowles).

The second author, Spencer Johnson, is admired as both a leader and an author, and is maybe best known for writing the bestselling book “Who Moved My Cheese ?” He is also seen as an expert on finding simple, effective solutions to complex subjects and problems.

To make this book interesting, the authors are telling us a story about a bright young man searching for a special kind of manager who could lead and manage in todays rapidly changing world.

The young man wants to find a manager that can both encourage the people and make the organization successful and profitable. He had already spoken to many managers who had tried to deal with this rapidly changing world; executives, government, administrators, entrepreneurs and so on.

He wasn’t always pleased with what he saw according to how people manage people. He had witnessed ‘tough’ managers where the organisations seemed to win at the expense of the people.

Some of the managers thought they were good managers while some thought otherwise. The young man asked brief and interesting questions to the managers in their offices. He wanted to know what kind of managers they thought they were. The answers varied only slightly, when he heard their pride in their voices. Some of the answers would be; “I’m a bottom-line manager. “I keep on top of the situation !”. “Hard-nosed”. “Realistic”. “Profit-minded”.

Authors; “They said they had always managed that way and saw no reason to change. He heard the pride in their voices and their interest in the results”.

On the other hand the young man had heard about managers who had succeeded with their people and lost with their organizations. These kind of managers said; “I’m a participative manager”. “Supportive”. “Considerate”. “Humanistic”. Authors; “They also said they had always managed that way and saw no reason to change. He heard the pride in their voices and their interest in people. But he was disturbed. It was as though most managers in the world were still managing the way they had always done and were primarily interested either in results or in people”.

The young man describes the autocratic manager and the democratic manager. The autocratic is described as result oriented, and the democratic as interested in their people. “The young man thought each of these types-the ‘tough’ autocratic and the ‘nice’ democrat was only partially effective. It’s like being half a manager he thought”.

The story continues with the young man still searching in hope of finding the effective manager, but he almost gave up searching, thinking that he would never find this mythical person. He had however, heard some rumours about a special manager that people liked to work for and that produced great results.

He wanted to check this amazing manager out for himself, and, to make a long story short, he finally met him. During their meeting the young man asked the manager many questions about his managing style, and was impressed by all the interesting answers. The amazing manager described himself as the ‘New One Minute Manager’. He used this nickname because both him and his staff had found new ways to great results in a shorter amount of time. The young man spoke to the rest of the manager’s team and had interesting conversations with them as well. He learned a lot.

Among other things, he learned about the three secrets to One Minute Management; One Minute Goals, One Minute Praising’s and One Minute Re-Directs.

One Minute Goals: “Make it clear what the goals are. Show what good behaviour looks like. Put each goal on one page. Quickly review goals frequently. Encourage people to notice what they’re doing, and see if it matches their goals. If not, urge them to change what they’re doing and win.

One Minute Praising’s: “Praise the behavior. Do it soon, be specific. Say how good you feel about it. Pause to let people feel good too. Encourage them to keep up the good work.”

One Minute Re-Direct: “Re-clarify and agree on goals. Confirm what happened. Describe the mistake soon. Say how concerned you feel. Pause to let people feel their own concern. Tell them they’re better than the mistake, and you value them. When its over, its over.”

Towards the end of the story, the curious young man finds himself becoming a One Minute Manager. He was great at it because he led and managed by example, not because he thought or talked in a certain manner. He managed in simple ways, through the three secrets of one minute management, and by asking brief, but important questions. He was honest, he worked hard, all while laughing and enjoying himself.

The story ends with the young man being contacted by a young woman, who, much like himself many years ago, wants to ask him about his managing style. Just like in real life, this shows the importance of passing on our lessons and knowledge.  (Ref. The New One Minute Manger, by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson)

As shown through this book, a good story engage people and is a great way to learn and share experiences and knowledge.

This book is not the only good example on the importance of storytelling in organizations. Another great storyteller is the guru Robert McKee. He is a highly sought after lecturer, internationally. He has spent the last three decades of his life being an educator and a mentor to everything from screenwriters, to poets, to directors all over the globe. He is called “the Aristotle of our time” because of his insight into the substance, style, structure and principles of the grand art of stories. He says; “Storytelling has to be true”. This short, yet so profound quote explains the simple truth of storytelling, it always has to be true.

McKee; “Good story means something worth telling that the world wants to hear”. He makes us aware that finding a good story is a lonely task. And even though we might love great stories with inspiring characters and a worlds full of passion and bliss, this isn’t enough. The goal has to be a good story well told.

Good stories are important inspirational sources for people, it could for example be implemented in knowledge sharing or you can gain new wisdom from them. People can recognize episodes from stories and they can draw their own pictures from them. (Ref. Storytelling from my blog)

From his article in Harvard Business Review, Joseph Grenny writes about great storytelling. Grenny; “Most storytelling is brief. It involves using concrete examples that reframe a moment by personifying human consequences. People’s feelings about their work are only partly about the work itself. They are equally, if not more so, about how they frame their work. do they see it as empty compliance? Or do they see it as sacred duty? If you change the frame you change the feeling. And nothing changes frames faster than a story.” (Ref. Harvard Business Review, Great Storytelling Connects Employees to Their work, by Joseph Grenny)

Paul J. Zak says in another article from Harvard Business Review, that many business people have discovered the power of storytelling in organizations, and in a practical sense. Author; “Many of us know from Joseph Campbell’s work that enduring stories tend to share a dramatic arc in which a character struggles and eventually finds heretofore unknown abilities and uses these to triumph over adversity; my work shows that the brain is highly attracted to this story style”. (Ref. Harvard Business Review, Why Your Brain Loves Good Storytelling, by Paul J. Zak)

Zak, tells us that storytelling is a great tool to use if you want to motivate, persuade or be remembered. You start with a story of human struggle which eventually end with triumph. Zak; “It will capture peoples hearts-by first attracting their brains”.

To finish this article, I will leave with a quote from the man that says it best, McKee:

Write every day, line by line, page by page, hour by hour. Do this despite fear. For above all else, beyond imagination and skill, what the world asks of you is courage to risk rejection, ridicule and failure. As you follow the quest for stories told with meaning and beauty, study thoughtfully but write boldly. Then, like the hero of the fable, your dance will dazzle the world”.

Author; Inger Lise E Greger, MSc in Change Management

 

 

 

 





Human- Biases- In- Organisations.

20 10 2017

I find that when you open the door toward openness and transparency, a lot of people will follow you through.   Kirsten Gillibrand

“The more people can see what is happening – the good, the bad, the ugly – the more effective they are at deciding the appropriate ways of handling things”. (Ray Dalio)

Let’s take a look at one of many definitions of the meaning of bias; “A particular tendency, trend, inclination, feeling, or opinion, especially one that is preconceived or unreasoned: illegal bias against older job applicants; the magazines bias toward art rather than photography; our strong bias in favour of the idea”.

Bridgewater Associates founded by Ray Dalio in 1975, is the largest hedge fund in the world. Dalio’s philosophy consists of radical transparency into the company.

Dalio, got reactions from three of his top confidants that he was hurting the company by being too honest. His action to resolve this problem was to meet employees individually and find a solution through discussions on how to treat one another. His goal was to create a culture of sharing ideas without creating lasting conflict, as well as engaging employees in thoughtful disagreements.  From this article in Harvard Business Review; “Radical Transparency Can Reduce Bias – but Only If It’s Done Right, Francesca Gino is a professor at Harvard Business School, she gives us some examples through Dalio’s ideas and believes in openness and transparency.

Francesca refers to Dalio where he says; “I think the greatest tragedy of mankind is that people have ideas and opinions in their heads but don’t have a process for properly examining these ideas to find out what’s true. That creates a world of distortions. That’s relevant to what we do, and I think it’s relevant to all decision making. So when I say I believe in radical truth and radical transparency, all I mean is we take things that ordinarily people would hide and we put them on the the table, particularly mistakes, problems, and weaknesses. We put those on the table, and we look at them together. We don’t hide them.”

Here another interesting article; Outsmart Your Own Biases (Jack B. Soll, Katherine L. Milkman, and John W. Payne, Harvard Business Review). The authors gives us theirs view on biases and it’s challenges. “We are all susceptible to such biases, especially when we’re fatigued, stressed, or multitasking. Just think of a CEO who’s negotiating a merger while also under pressure from lawyers to decide on a plant closing from colleagues to manage layoffs. In situations like this, we’re mentally, emotionally, and physically spent. We cope by relying even more heavily on intuitive, system 1 judgements and less on careful reasoning. Decision making becomes faster and simpler, but quality often suffers”.

Let us take a closer look at the meaning of system 1 and system 2 thinking:

System 1 thinking; are associated with automatic judgements which stem from associations stored in our memories, you can choose to work logically with the information available. The authors makes us aware of the importance of system 1 thinking in critical situations and for surviving- “It’s what makes you swerve to avoid a car accident”. Authors; “But as psychologist Daniel Kahneman has shown, it’s also a common source of bias that can result in poor decision making, because our intuitions frequently lead us astray”.

System 2 thinking; “essentially, deliberate reasoning gone awry. Here the authors are talking about cognitive limitations, and an example of limitations can be laziness, and people may focus on the wrong things as well as failing to seek out relevant information”.

In Francesca’s article where she say that scientific evidence confirms Dalio’s belief ; “as human beings, we tend to evaluate information in a biased manner. For instance, we often fall prey to what psychologists and decision researchers call-confirmation bias: “the tendency to focus on evidence that confirms our beliefs and assumptions rather than looking for data that contradicts it”.

Francesca, says that such biases weakens our judgements as well as decisions.

When confronted with our biases, we have difficulties to listen to peoples feedback and learning from it, especially when it’s inconsistent with the way we view ourselves at work. Francesca; “We tend to strengthen bonds only with people who see our positive qualities. Why ? When others provide evidence that is inconsistent with how we view ourselves or our ideas, we find that information threatening. Our natural reaction is to remove the threat-which can mean dislocating from the source of the information”.

In the other article the authors talk about risk taking and says; “Because most of us tend to be highly overconfident in our estimates, it’s important to ‘nudge’ ourselves to allow for risk and uncertainty”.

Further on Jack. Soll, Katherine L. Milkman, and John W. Payne suggests three methods that are especially useful; Make three estimates, use premortems and take on outside view:

The three methods in short.

The problem; Cognitive biases muddy our decision making. We rely too heavily on intuitive, automatic judgements, and even when we try to use reason, our logic is often lazy or flawed”.

The causes; “Instead of explaining risks and uncertainties, we seek closure-it’s much easier. This narrows our thinking about what could happen in the future, what our goals are, and how we might achieve them”.

The solution; “By knowing which biases tend to trip us up and using certain tricks and tools to outsmart them, we can broaden our thinking and make better choices”.

These three methods are useful and keeps you going in the right direction if wisely used.

Francesca says; “Through radical transparency, Dalio has encouraged a culture where people know it’s important to challenge one another’s views, regardless of rank, and do so regularly”. Here the author tells us that this approach will work if people discuss their ideas openly, even if you have to tell someone about their mistakes. Francesca; ” When transparency unveils our universal human biases, we are more likely to benefit as individuals. Our organisations will benefit as well”.

Both of these interesting articles illustrates how to handle biases as well as giving great advice on how to handle challenging  situations.

“Even the smartest people exhibit biases in their judgements and choices. It’s foolhardy to think we can overcome them through sheer will. But we can anticipate and outsmart them by nudging ourselves in the right direction when it’s time to make a call”. (Jack B. Soll, Katherine L. Milkman and John P. Payne)

Honest communication is built on truth and integrity and upon respect of the one for the other     Benjamin E. Mays

Source; Harvard Business Review

Author, Inger Lise E Greger/Master of Science in Change Management

 

 





Winning Leaders Transform Organisation’s To Success

5 03 2016

Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.    Benjamin Franklin

Winning organisations has strong leaders who sees the potential in their peoples strength. A key-element is teaching. “The ultimate test of success for an organisation is not whether it can win today but whether it can keep winning tomorrow and the day after. Therefore, the ultimate test for a leader is not whether he or she makes smart decisions and takes decisive action, but whether he or she teaches others to be leaders and and builds an organisation that can sustain its success even when he or she is not around”. (Noel M. Tichy, The Leadership Engine, 2007)

Tichy, learns us how to practise our knowledge and share it with our colleagues to make them shine and become wise leaders. He tells us that that teaching and learning are inextricably interwoven aspects of leadership. Leaders who are eager to motivate employees are capable of getting things done through others by changing peoples mindsets which will lead and energise them to action. Tichy; “Successful leadership must accomplish this through ideas and values, not through coercion or Machiavellian manipulation.”

Winning organisations offer lots of management training programs as well as career development. However, the programs doesn’t cover the more critical leadership skills. Tichy, makes us aware that the essence of real leadership is to handle changing situations and to motivate others to act in an appropriate way. “Leadership reflects a persons mindset and his or her approach to the world. Even though these intangible qualities are extremely difficult to teach, winning organisations are remarkably successful at it. And that is because their most senior executives, their most proficient and talented leaders, as well as all of their front-line subordinates, are personally involved in the teaching “.

“Teaching is at the heart of leading.” Leading is not about commanding compliance and dictating people, and giving orders. The main goal for the leader is to make people see situations as they really are. People need to be aware of what kind of responsibility they need to take. When people know how to take responsibility, they will act in ways that lead to the best for the organisation. Tichy; “Whether it is teaching something as simple as what concrete tasks need to take precedence over others this week, or something complex as how to make good decisions, teaching is how ideas and values get transmitted. Therefore, in order to be a leader at any level of an organisation, a person must be a teacher. Simply put, if you aren’t teaching, you aren’t leading”.

In this interesting article: The Best Leaders Are Constant Learners (Harvard Business Review, author Kenneth Mikkelsen and Harold Jarche, 2015) makes us aware of the importance of being learners. Authors; “We live in a world that increasingly requires what psychologist Howard Gardner calls searchlight intelligence. That is, the ability to connect the dots between people and ideas, where others see no possible connection. An informed perspective is more important than ever in order to anticipate what comes next and succeed in emerging futures”. There are many digital tools today which makes it possible to help people to learn as well as share knowledge. “Tools are important, but mastery in a digital age is only achieved if you know how to establish trust, respect, and relevance in human networks”.

Mikkelsen and Jarche also talks about the importance of learning in changing society’s; “Reinvention and relevance in the 21st century instead draw on our ability to adjust our way of thinking, learning, doing and being. Leaders that stay on top of society’s changes do so by being receptive and able to learn. In a time where the half-life of any skill is about five years, leaders bear a responsibility to renew their perspective in order to secure the relevance of their organisation”. The authors say that we need leaders who offers learning as well as master fast learning themselves. “If work is learning and learning is the work, then leadership should be all about enabling learning”.

What is leadership?  It is a particular kind of decision-making-decisions a leader makes in guiding and motivating a group of people in responding to a group of people in responding to a particular set of circumstances. The circumstances may be immediate or they may be something the leader foresees in the future, but in either cases, there are choices to be made. ( My blog, What has the “Renewed Darwinian Theory” and The Four Drive Theory” to do with leadership ?)

Back to Mikkelsen and Jarche and their view on sensing; “Sense is how we personalise information and use it. Sensing includes reflection and putting into practise what we learn”. The authors makes us aware that this process is based on critical thinking based on weaving together our thoughts, experiences as well as impressions and feelings  where we make meaning of them. They suggest that by writing a blog post or writing down ideas we contextualize and reinforce our learning.

Francis P. Cholle has written the book; The Intuitive Compass. He illustrates how we can develop intuitive intelligence to navigate the natural tension that exists between reason and instinct. Cholle, describes four tenets of intuitive intelligence; thinking holistically, thinking paradoxically, noticing the unusual and leading by influence. Cholle; “By engaging in each, we can enrich our experience and understanding of personal and business issues that arise, and when we use all four, our capacity for innovation can grow tremendously”. (My blog, The intuitive leader)

Cholle, tells us that if we want to succeed in todays business world, leaders need to innovate, be open to embrace change and create new business approaches.

Noticing the unusual is one of the tenets and includes paying attention outwardly by seeing whats around us or we can pay attention inwardly by feeling whats inside us. We can choose to receive information in two ways, one of them is what makes logical sense, the other one is paying attention beyond the logical sense of what we can contemplate. (My blog, The intuitive leader)

In this article; 4 Ways to Become a Better Learner (Harvard Business Review by Monique Valcour,2015) the author talks about learning agility; “learning agility is the capacity for rapid, continuous learning from experiences. Agile learners are good at making connections across experiences and they’re able to let go of perspectives or approaches that are no longer useful- in other words, they can unlearn things when novel solutions are required. People with this mindset tend to be oriented toward learning goals and open to new experiences. They experiment, seek feedback, and reflect systematically”.

Many leaders are afraid of moving out of their comfort zone as well as missing out on key learning opportunities. In her article, Valcour talks about a research done by David Peterson (Director of executive coaching and leadership at Google)  which is based on steps to take to enhance your learning agility:

Ask for feedback. “Think of one or more people who interacted with you or observed your performance on a given task”. Make them aware of your interest in knowing how you did, and what you could improve for your next task.

Experiment with new approaches or behaviors. “To identify new behaviors for testing, Peterson recommends reflecting on a challenge you’re facing and asking yourself questions such as ‘What’s one thing I could do to change the outcome of the situation? And what will I do differently in the future’?

Look for connections across seemingly unrelated areas.

Peterson, suggest that we choose a domain we are good at and have expertise in, this domain has to be unrelated to your work. The key- element is to apply that knowledge to your current challenge. “Borrowing these principles, Peterson realized that he could extend his mastery of leadership development by seeking out a wide variety of leaders to coach, comparing leaders to each other on various qualities, and discussing leaders with other experts”.

Make time for reflection.

Reflecting on your work is important and boosts your learning significantly. Valcour; “To ensure continuous progress, get into the habit of asking yourself questions like ‘What have I learned from this experience’? and ‘What  turned out differently than I expected’?

Valcour, makes us aware that practicing these steps will help us to extract full learning from our experiences.

Let us take a look at Tichy’s thoughts about learning from experiences; “Winning leaders consciously think about their experiences . They roll them over in their minds, analyze them and draw lessons from them”. He makes us aware of how constantly leaders updates and refine their views as they get new knowledge and experiences. Tichy; “And they store them in the form of stories that they use not only to guide their own decisions and actions, but also to teach and lead others. When you hear leaders talk about their lives, you learn their teachable points of view”.

A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.           John C. Maxwell

Author

Inger Lise E Greger, MSc in Change Management

https://inger-lise.net/page/2/

 

 

 

 

 

 








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