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What are “good” #questions? (#strengths with @alexis8nicolas)

May 20th, 2014 Posted in Strength Tags: , , ,

Well, is this question a good question in itself? I’ll let you answer it after reading what follows.

This came out of an exchange with a friend and colleague: Alexis from YisY.

A good question is one that serve the purpose of the person asking it, obviously. It would be a bit long to explain what our purpose is with Alexis (hint: we’ve developed a kind of workshop to help people grow using “soft” social technologies which we named “Laboratory of Social Technologies” and a provisional french only leaflet is available here), but here’s what I came to.

If you have complementary criteria, please contribute in the comments below!

So, good questions might be:

  • questions that seek what is rather than what isn’t: they work from strengths (what you want, what you do that works, what you desire, etc.)
  • questions that bring closer rather than move away: they help bring ideas or people close rather than move them apart
  • questions that encourage collaborative rather than individual answers: they foster social constructionism or collective intelligence, if not wild emergence
  • open rather than closed questions: they make people think something new/more profound rather than stay on the surface and elicit automatic response
  • exploratory rather than justificatory questions: they invite “why if?” rather than “whose fault?”
  • questions that stretch rather than contract: they help people grow rather than force them to stay at their place
  • questions that encourage rather than threat: they help develop people rather than command them

What are your good questions?

#slideshare: La puissance des organisations qui se basent sur leurs forces de @bernard_tollec et @pscheuerer‎

Excellente présentation, en français, sur les approches du changement fondées sur les forces ! Je vous la recommande chaudement !

La puissance des organisations qui se basent sur leurs forces.

Reblog @HarvardBiz : Can You Invent Something New If Your Words Are Old?

A nice post that makes you think: Can You Invent Something New If Your Words Are Old?

Lean is deficit-based in its language: what problem do we need to fix? What failure demand do we need to take care of? What’s the gap between where you are now (bad) and where you want to be (customer need)?

Hopefully, I see the glimpse of positive change here and there:

  • Lean Startup is gaining a lot of traction when it comes to doing just what the customer want but with a constant thrust to find more and more added value, even in the form customer didn’t know they had a need for. Lean startup is also starting to be use elsewhere, like in Lean Change for instance by Jason Little.
  • Strength-Based Lean Six Sigma by David Shaked which specifically addresses this (disclaimer: I reviewed the book). The book is due on November 4th.
  • And of course the usual positive suspects (deficit word, again!): Appreciative Inquiry, Solution Focus, Positive Deviance, and much more.

In my book (“The Colors of Change“), I make the case for strength-based change approaches and explain why we don’t use them naturally (why it’s normal to fail), what can we do instead, and list some of the change approaches that I feel are strength-based and make use of a different language to achieve different (and better!) results.

Using a different language, we can co-construct a different reality, and, experimenting it, we can confirm and reinforce our thinking that this indeed works better. It’s usually better because of the absence of so-called “resistance to change”, learning step, etc.

Don’t try to match reality to your dreams (it will just reinforce the gap).

Don’t try to force your dreams onto reality (you’ll find resistance).

Instead, do search for your dreams in reality. I bet you’ll find them!

Reblog: How Do You Get Leaders to #Change? – Chief Learning Officer, Solutions for Enterprise Productivity

Here’s a nice article on How Do You Get Leaders to Change? – Chief Learning Officer, Solutions for Enterprise Productivity.

I especially like the end of the paper about coaching and asking questions.

Indeed, when we’re told something, there are high chances that it comes to collide with some of our beliefs or mental model (because we make sense of what we’re told with our own past experience, and that often means we mis-interpret what others are saying).

On the other hand, when asked question, we are forced to bridge the gap between where we stand (our current mental model) and what the other is trying to say. A question isn’t as explicit as a statement when it comes to expressing a perspective. So when asked a question, although we feel that some perspective is at play behind the question, we’re let with space which we can feel however we want, thus bridging the gap between our own mental model and that of the questioner.

Whatever your conviction when it comes to how people resist to change, I think we all admit that it’s hard to resist to a question (though, sometimes we might end up affirming that a question is meaningless. Yet, this is an opportunity for dialogue and explaining why we think so. So even in this case, the exchange and gap-bridging occurs, from the askee or asker).

No wonder Socrates asked questions! :)

 

#Lean Five Whys: when do you stop asking? Please answer here:

October 15th, 2012 Posted in Lean Tags: , , , ,

give me five! (CC)Creative Commons License Martin Fisch via Compfight

I have a question to me fellow readers.

On of the most famous Lean tools (or quality tool as well) is the Five Whys. Literature has it that one should ask 5 whys at least and that a further number of whys isn’t a bad thing. Yet, Taiichi Ohno often gives examples where the investigation is stopped at the fifth why despite one could easily have asked some further ones.

Aside from the usual caveats (doing wide whys and forgetting to go deep five levels; assigning blame to other people; etc.), what are your practices regarding five whys, and what’s your criteria for stopping?

Here’s my answer below, but please only read it after you have posted your own in a comment this post (double-click the following paragraph to have it decoded in a pop-up – an alternative way is copy-pasting the text onto www.rot13.com website).

Zl bja pevgrevn sbe fgbccvat nanylfvf vf jura crbcyr raq hc jvgu n pnhfr gung unf abg bgure shegure pnhfr orfvqr “jryy, jr whfg unir gb qb K”.

Why #leadership development doesn’t mean ‘winner-take-all’! (A #solutionfocus reblog of @alankay1)

Very nice article (as usual) from Fry The MonkeysAlan KayWhy #leadership development doesn’t mean ‘winner-take-all’!

I especially like the questions one can ask oneself (or others!):

  • Suppose my leadership capabilities got even better, what would I be doing that would be useful to others?
  • What one thing could be better about my leadership abilities?
  • In what situations does my leadership help others? What would they say they value about my leadership?
  • Suppose I was taking a leadership development course, what goals / outcomes would I be focused on? How would that be useful to my organization?

 

A response to Youtellus: The power of questions

I really like this blog post: Youtellus: The power of questions. All the stuff about asking powerful and mind-blowing questions is true and should be practiced all day long.

Yet, this part makes me wonder:

“Leaders and managers have the obligation to always look for ways that the organization as a whole can function more effectively.To do this, they need to ask questions about practices, processes, persons and structures:
Why do we things this way?is there a better approach?”

I mean, do we really need to ask people questions about practices, processes and structures? I guess that if we do, we’d find problems. People rarely get interested in these (I do, but then, I’m a Lean coach, so that doesn’t count because I’m not “normal” :)

To be a bit more serious, I was interested in processes at the beginning because I was a sort of productivity geek. But then I understood that improving processes with Lean or Six Sigma was not a matter of using tools. Even further, it was not a process matter.

Improving organization is a people thing.

I don’t mean a social or psychological thing (though these may help, but at the same level as can IT for instance – heck, I am in IT now!) When I say “people” I mean real people, with a head and a heart!

Improving organizations is about taking care of your people and what they care about.

And in the sentence “what they care about“, the important word is not “what” (it’s none of your business) nor is it “care” (how they do it: again, it’s personal to them). What’s important is “they“.

  • If you want money in your pocket as a manager, you won’t be able to motivate people.
  • If you want to improve your organization’s efficiency, you won’t be able to motivate people.
  • If you want to serve your customers better, you won’t be able to motivate your people.

In order to motivate your people, you need to help them identify their WIIFM factor: What’s In It For Me?

You need to ensure your people have identified what motivates them (but they’ll tell you only if they want to). You need to provide them with the support they need from you.

By instituting a permanent Dialogue between your people regarding what and how they want to contribute to the world, you will be able to fuel the change your organization desperately needs. By building on what works for them, they’ll build an organization that will also:

  • work well (efficiency)
  • provide your customers what they want (efficacy)
  • and help them fulfill their dreams
  • which may, in the end, provide some earning for you (and them) as a side effect.

Of course, you need to trust your people to be able to come to an agreement about making a profitable company. But do you sincerely think they’ll imagine something that can’t pay their salary?

If you don’t trust your people, they’ll notice and they won’t trust you. Self-fulfilling prophecy.

Try giving first and see what happens. Only a bit, something that you won’t regret afterwards. Notice how it comes back, sometimes bigger. Then, next time, gives a bit more. And a bit bigger next time.

Then ask your people now that you’ve rebuild a trust relationship what they would like from you first.

And then give it to them.

Then see.

Enjoy.

 

10 questions for the #solutionfocused (#lean?) #coach

September 5th, 2011 Posted in Change, Lean, Solution Focus Tags: , , , , ,

Today seems to be under Coert Visser’s auspices. Here’s another nice blog post of him about questions to help a coach prepare himself to really listen to the coachee or client:

Doing What Works: 10 questions for the solution-focused coach.

I feel it really hard not to fall in the rhetoric trap where I know what I would like them to do (Lean management for instance) but feel listening is the way to go and so I need to ask them questions.

A coach mainly works by asking questions, but not in a rhetoric way. He must deeply want to know what is it that his coachee wants, how does he see things or how he feels about the change.

Of course, there’s no other way to do Lean management than by doing Lean management. Yet, there’s more than one path to reach that goal and it’s important to use the easiest path for the learning manager (the coachee) and help him identify what worked before in the direction of that Lean management.

For instance, if the coach identifies that creating a flow is the path to follow for now, one can go for the following kind of question:

Lean teaches us that the most efficiency is achieved in a flowing process (provide details as necessary). Tell me about a time where you have experienced work flowing? What allowed it to happen?

Then, work could focus on the current process:

In the current process, what gives you hope for increasing the flow-ness of it?

 

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