Post by Frank Connolly 23rd January, 2012
Thinking is invisible and none of the actions we undertake can ever take place without it, yet we don’t pay thinking the serious attention it requires. The quality of our performance is determined by the quality of our thinking.
Think Quick can help your organisation improve the quality of its thinking, and in doing so the quality of its performance.
We can help build your organisation’s ability to adapt and perform at their best in a world that is complex and shifting. Accelerating change is now the norm and the familiar ways of doing things are not always sufficient to address our current issues.
We require new thinking methods to develop improved service offerings, generate savings, increase revenue and ensure ongoing viability.
No business is easy these days. Increasing demand and shrinking budgets mean we must do more with less. If we are to continue to survive and thrive, our thinking must adapt to keep pace with the world around us. In addition to keeping pace we face the additional challenge of doing so in a sustainable manner.
At Think Quick we liken ourselves to river-navigators that help guide your people’s thinking “back upstream to the river’s source” where they can generate their own, improved downstream outcomes. This is done with a unique blend of methods to utilise and build upon the current knowledge and expertise of your people.
We focus on the practical application of the new and different thinking to current issues and on generating a return on investment to the client. Think Quick has three primary foci:
We will also assist in the design and implementation of projects where new perspectives, new insights and new ideas are required. These include Evaluations, Knowledge & Change Management, Strategy, Planning, and initiatives to positively impact Workplace Culture.
Post by Frank Connolly 23rd January, 2012
Having given some thought over the years to the way people think and interact in meetings, I have pulled together this simple model of interactive collaboration, or What is the thinking behind the behaviours that we observe in our meetings?
The model is an inclusive one with a place for all interactive styles depending upon context, however in this instance I present it as a judgmental one, suggesting that the top right quadrant is where we should be if we have some serious thinking and interaction to do.
The two key criteria I have included on the axis are FOCUS and PERSPECTIVES. Without either there’s probably not much point convening to meet.
By FOCUS I refer to: What does the assembled group want to get out of the meeting? What is the intended outcome? Too often we venture into meetings (me included) with very different expectations.
By PERSPECTIVES I refer to the diversity of views that are carried by the meeting attendees. It is important that we are able to hear and incorporate these views where appropriate. Too often we hear a view that is contrary to our own and we shut-down our thinking because we are of course – Right! It is important to be able to incorporate diverse perspectives because it is through diverse approaches that we are more likely to gain traction on difficult issues.
The Four Thinking Quadrants
Starting in the bottom left quadrant we have adversarial thinking. Here we seek to have our own views prevail over others. It this quadrant is is usually about winning. Unfortunately most of us don’t take too kindly to having our views contradicted and opposing views expressed. When this happens we waste time and brain-power in rambling discussion and argument, which in many instances is counter-productive when you have a specific outcome you must achieve.
Those who are more senior or the best at argument and debate will usually prevail in this quadrant, irrespective of whether or not their perspective is the best one. In this area we have a minimal number of perspectives tolerated and little agreement on how to achieve our focus. For a great example of adversarial thinking watch our Parliament in action.
Top left we have disparate thinking. Here the approaches are less adversarial but remain scattered and unfocused. We have many views here but not all are overly productive and add little value to the meeting. In this quadrant there is often the diversity required but insufficient focus to incorporate its value.
Bottom right is the quadrant where group-think happens. Here we tend not to have a sufficiently diverse group in the room to offer alternate views and opinions, or more commonly we have dominant or more senior personalities who everyone will tend to agree with once they have expressed their view. The reasons people do this are varied and can included the assumption that because person is senior they must know better than me. (The most dangerous of assumptions I’ve always found!)
In group-think mode people will just tend to agree with the prevailing view for fear of being seen as different. Often, in a hierarchical organisation group-think happens because expressing a view that is different to more senior views can be a career limiting move. With Group-think there tends to be little exploration of the possible outcomes and even less exploration of possible means of achieving the outcomes.
The top right quadrant is where parallel thinking occurs. Parallel thinking is a term coined by Edward de Bono and it finds its best expression in the application of the Six Thinking Hats methods. Here the focus of the session is clear, people know why they are in the room and what is expected of them. Here also there is a very deliberate incorporation of the multiple perspectives that are around the table. This is achieved by the group examining the topic at hand from the same thinking perspective at the same time. Diverse perspectives are welcomed but do not bring people into conflict because they are expected and welcomed!
With parallel thinking we have a single Focus and multiple perspectives incorporated. The inclusion of the multiple perspectives allows a full subject matter exploration – something we rarely get when time is short and argument prevails. An important side benefit of getting your people thinking in parallel is also that the meetings will dramatically reduce in length, a valuable outcome in itself when work demands increase and our time-poverty increases with them.
Most meetings will not stay within the one quadrant throughout, often they will tend to move between quadrants. We shouldn’t seek to eliminate this movement entirely, rather we must get participants to maximise their time in the parallel space and minimise their time in the less productive thinking spaces. We do this by using a range of techniques that assist meeting participants to move from Adversarial, Disparate and Group-think into Parallel thinking. When such techniques are incorporated, interactions becomes more focused, inclusive and outcome oriented.
If you’d like your meetings to be more oriented toward outcomes and business results, Think Quick can help you - Just give us a call.
Post by Frank Connolly 10th January, 2012
We often see strategic plans, change projects and innovation approaches struggle to gain traction in organisations for a range of reasons. The reasons are many and varied depending upon context, yet from experience I have found that there is one key area that is often taken for granted or ignored. Getting the collaborative approaches and attitudes right to start off with.
The premise behind this brief post is that you cannot develop sound strategy and then the new ideas you need to evolve unless you can incorporate multiple and diverse perspectives from the start.
The problem is that that when we elicit perspectives, their diverse nature brings us into disagreement and conflict.
Despite our claims to the contrary, we are not good at collaborating in ways that allow these perspectives to both emerge and be fully considered. This is almost a default position for us given 1000′s of years of relying largely on the winning and losing of debate to determine the best outcome.
We all bring very diverse ranges of experience, education, learning, backgrounds and knowledge to the table. These in themselves are powerful forces for addressing difficult issues. However, this very diversity can be an impediment to our success. So, before we start to ask our people to become more innovative and produce new ideas, we need to assist them with techniques that allow them to collaborate in a manner that allows alternate opinions to prevail and be considered, instead of being rejected out of hand.
This diversity is an essential element of good strategy. A good strategy involves broadly scanning and incorporating multiple perspectives. Once we have a good strategy in place we are then well place to generate new insights, perspective and ideas to achieve that strategy. To get the best possible perspectives and ideas we need to have a broad and inclusive strategic view of the world. To be able to develop up a broad and inclusive view of the world we must learn learn to Collaborate and Interact better. If we ignore this aspect we are building on sand.
Therefore before you attempt to drive innovative approaches and new ideas to generate better business results, get your broad and inclusive strategic scanning done first, but don’t forget, that to do this well you must have you people interacting in a manner that allows the inclusion of diverse and multiple perspectives. This is the hard part and the part we most routinely ignore. As a result our strategies, new approaches and outcomes are often not quite as good as they might be.
First Collaborate, Second Strategise and then the best Ideas will come!
Do it by the numbers and your business results will improve.