November 20, 2017

Archives for May 2011

How just about everything can be seen as a process of learning

The attendees gather – pleasantries here, a joke there, a side issue being dealt with over in the corner; teas and coffees organized. The person chairing opens proceedings and the participants settle down to the business of the meeting. It’s taken for granted everyone knows what they need to know to do their job; to ensure a successful outcome to the meeting; and that they won’t need to change or grow in the process. Great. We can concentrate on what everyone needs to do.

A totally normal experience: How we usually approach a meeting, is it not, even a difficult one?

But wait a second…

Maybe the situation’s not like that at all. Maybe to get to an outcome, at least one person needs to learn something significant, either about the problem, or about themselves – how they relate to other people perhaps. After all, if everybody knew what they needed to know, would the meeting be needed in the first place? If our people knew how to do something, they would surely have done it already. When something’s not happening, chances are it’s because they don’t really know how, whatever they might claim.

We have a paradox…

Stakeholders and others at large expect us to know everything we need to know to do our job, so admitting we are open to learning could be dangerous. So we act as if we know all we need to know. We feel we’re expected to. And yet most of us grow in our roles every day. If we only today know what we need to know, what does that say about yesterday?

To take a different course, you might like to try this…

Whenever you’re faced with a challenging situation, instead of focusing, as is usual, on what everyone needs to do, consider instead what they need to learn, and how you might stimulate that growth.

Many situations make sense when looked at as a process of learning and sometimes that’s the best way to manage them, even if that’s not their overt purpose. Cause the learning to happen and the doing will often take care of itself.

Is NLP too important to be left to NLPers?

“Politics is too important to be left to politicians.” NLP hadn’t been invented when that was said, so the quip had to be about the business of government instead.

Actually, it’s misleading to say “hadn’t been invented,” because neuro-linguistic programming is an innate process taking place within us all the time. The creators of the subject gave expression to it, and gathered and developed techniques for usefully influencing what happens. If they hadn’t, we’d have ended up making the discoveries again and calling them something else.

If you’ve barely heard of NLP, here’s a quick answer to two common questions…

Why the complicated name?

Well, there’s some folklore suggesting it was a spur of the moment thing.

What does it mean?

We form habits or patterns through repetition of what we think, say and do. Some of those habits work well for us and some of them don’t. Typically some that used to work for us don’t any more or we may wish to learn something new. In either case, by understanding and changing the patterned behavior, we can improve our outcomes. NLP is a powerful way to do that. And that essentially is it.

NLP is primarily seen now as a coaching discipline, centred on the self, with a whole world of books and courses – a rather closed one, some would say. That’s a pity, because we need to make use of the knowledge more widely, such as in relationships of all kinds. And that’s why it’s too important to be left to NLPers, who in organizations, typically hesitate to be explicit about their knowledge, and end up using their skills implicitly.

There’s a problem with that…

Organizational performance depends on organizational learning and that in turn depends on team learning and dialog. Individual learning isn’t enough. So keeping NLP under wraps prevents the organization from benefiting. And some problems won’t be solved without it.

A cult topic to one generation is normality to the next.

Why the economics of our lives have changed forever, and what to do about it

Vince CableCoverage of Vince Cable on BBC News saying that the UK government hasn’t yet managed (or really chosen) to communicate to the British people that their old assumptions about economic leadership in the world are no longer valid. In short, we’re following now; not in the driving seat any more. (This shift may also be true of other developed countries.)

The most important consequence for us as individuals?

We need to learn like never before.

Tony Blair was only half right when he said (in 1997) the priority was “Education, education, education”. Though it maybe doesn’t have the same ring, “Learning, learning, learning” would have made clear that it’s a life-long priority and one we need to take responsibilty for ourselves. I don’t entrust my future prosperity to an employer or a government. Do you?

We do our best stuff when we’re uncomfortable

A well-known and respected author on marketing is noticeably apologetic in places in one of his books. He’s worried that it’s too “out there” and challenging for his readers, but I think it’s his best book and, so, he says, do a whole lot of other people.

What we produce when we feel out on a limb – that’s what others want to hear about.

Where’s the people part?

Noticed my own reaction to a demonstration of management software… A great tool, but without a strong people dimension hand-in-hand, it seemed a flat experience, crying out for a personal story to be told. How many of us focus our attention on the more familiar numerical, objective aspect and leave the intangible but vital human part to one side, because we feel ill-equipped to handle it? The result risks being a cold, lifeless experience. And yet, that’s what we’re often trained to do.

Companies and individuals that can play both tunes – objective and subjective, tangible and intangible, task and relationship – stand to gain a deeper connection with their customers, and a great advantage.

In any situation, there is leverage. The question is where…

The meeting isn’t going very well. Agreement looks as far away as ever. In fact, the participants look like they’ve lost sight of their ultimate purpose entirely. On one side, we have a preference for sticking to rules combined with a sharp eye for what’s wrong with anything said by the other side. Opposite that, we have a high need for flexibility. From a neutral position, it’s obvious that some change of behavior is needed if progress is to be made. At least one of the protagonists needs to learn something – to grow as a person – before the problem can be solved. That is frequently the case.

In his book, “The Fifth Discipline”, a must-read for change leaders, Peter Senge talks of the importance of systems thinking in understanding a situation – How do the elements interact? And where is the point of leverage, upon which minimal effort can be applied for the maximum change?

Frequently, the point of leverage within a conflict between individuals or organizations is enhancing the ability of one or more of the players to relate effectively to other people. Wise, therefore, for us all to be open to learning, whatever our role. Senge calls that “personal mastery”, which along with “shared vision,” “mental models” (of understanding) and “dialog” (team learning by talking without taking sides), makes up four of the “disciplines” of a learning organization. Systems thinking is the fifth and integrating component.

As Senge says, “structure influences behavior,” meaning the systemic nature of organizations and their undertakings determines how their people behave. Mastery of interpersonal skills can, however, greatly mitigate the effects, even if that is “shifting the burden” from the change that is truly required.

Where is the point of leverage in the situations you are involved in? Who needs to learn and how can you help them? Or is it you?

Would you like to participate in the virtual blog tour for my new ebook?

We’re organizing a virtual blog tour, from the dates May 18th-31st, highlighting my latest ebook, Relationships Made Easy for the Business Professional. (A virtual blog tour is a set of “tour” stops via various blogs where each day a blogger will share a review about a specified book/author.)

Would you like to participate in this virtual blog tour, by hosting a book review on your blog on one of the dates between May 18th-31st (no weekends)?

For your participation in the virtual blog tour:

  1. You will receive a complimentary review copy (PDF or Kindle or iPad/Mac) of the book
  2. Your blog URL will appear in the book tour’s official schedule, which will be posted at http://www.keybookpromotions.com and here at http://www.drdavidfraser.com.
  3. Your blog post will appear in social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter during the virtual blog tour promoting you and your blog.

Please email by May 13th so that we can add you to the blog tour schedule and send your copy of the book.

To participate:

Please email Teresa Morrow at keybookpromotions@gmail.com with:

  • Your blog URL
  • Preferred format of ebook – PDF, Kindle or iPad/Mac
  • Your top 2 preferred dates between May 18th-31st(no weekends) to share a book review about Dr David Fraser’s book, Relationships Made Easy for the Business Professional, on your blog

About the Book
Interpersonal relationship skills are a key enabler for organizations and individuals. In Relationships Made Easy for the Business Professional, Dr David Fraser’s Relationship Skills for Success formula offers a quick, effective approach to improving results for teams and individuals – like magic, you could say…David’s easily read and applied book is written for professionals. “Very positive, helpful and enlightening” (Harry Reid, The Herald newspaper).

Your generous offer to share your review of the book on your blog is much appreciated.