What Really Matters Vol 1 No 3 2009

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Gary Ryan and Dr Andrew O'Brien have created this ebook from articles published on The Organisations That Matter Learning Network (http://www.studentsthatmatter.ning.com) from October 1st through to December 31st 2009. This is the third of a series of three ebooks for 2009. The focus of the ebook series is upon Personal and Professional Development to help you to accelerate your career.

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  • The ebook and Online Course What Really Matters For Young Professionals! How To Master 15 Practices To Accelerate Your Career is now available at www.orgsthatmatter.com/WRMFYPBookBA
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What Really Matters Vol 1 No 3 2009

  1. 1.             Organisations That Matter      What Really Matters!  Volume 1, Number 3, 2009  Gary Ryan & Dr Andrew O’Brien 
  2. 2. What Really Matters! Volume 1, Number 3, 2009 – is a compilation of selected articles from The Organisations That Matter Learning Network from October 1st through to December 31st 2009. By Gary Ryan and Dr Andrew O’Brien Published by Organisations That Matter Pty Ltd Level 8, 350 Collins Street Melbourne, Victoria 3166 AUSTRALIA Phone +61 3 8676 0637 E-mail: gary@orgsthatmatter.com Copyright © 2010 Gary Ryan & Dr Andrew O’Brien, Organisations That Matter® All effort was made to render this ebook free from error and omission. However, the author, publisher, editor, their employees or agents shall not accept responsibility for injury, loss or damage to any person or body or organisation acting or refraining from such action as a result of material in this book, whether or not such injury, loss or damage is in any way due to any negligent act or omission, breach of duty, or default on the part of the author, publisher, editor or their employees or agents. Recommended Retail Price (RRP) AUS$55.95 However, this is a FREE eBook. You have our express permission to share it with friends, family, colleagues, clients – and whoever else you think will get value from it. A note about ebooks Ebooks provide a special function that traditional books cannot provide. The links in this ebook are ‘live’, so if you read the ebook while online, you can immediately access the reference material.                
  3. 3.        Who should read this ebook? This ebook is for people who are interested in personal and professional development, specifically as it relates to achieving career aspirations and enabling the organisations within which we work to be better places for human beings. This ebook represents articles from October 1st through to December 31st 2009 from The Organisations That Matter Learning Network. To join our network please follow this link. Thank You! Thank you to all our members of The Organisations That Matter Learning Network. We hope that you will receive great value from this collection of articles from The Organisations That Matter Learning Network. Please respect our copyright. This means that if you are a member of The Organisations That Matter Learning Network you have our permission to share this ebook with your friends and to invite them to join our community so that they too can enjoy this book. Best wishes! Gary Ryan and Dr Andrew O’Brien
  4. 4.        Table of Contents  How to communicate important messages effectively          By Gary Ryan ............................................ 5  Communication channels ................................................................................................................... 6  The synchronicity of inspiration By Gary Ryan ..................................................................................... 11  Setting the scene ....................................................................................................................... 11  The marathon begins ................................................................................................................ 12  Finding inspiration! .................................................................................................................... 13  Synchronicity ............................................................................................................................... 14  Completing the race .................................................................................................................. 14  Identifying the relationship between purpose and goals    By Gary Ryan ............................................ 17  How to host a large group conversation that matters!         By Gary Ryan ........................................... 22  Setting groundrules ‐ the why and the how                                  By Gary Ryan ..................................... 27  The problem ...................................................................................................................................... 27  The process for establishing groundrules ......................................................................................... 28  Question 1 ..................................................................................................................................... 28  Question 3 ..................................................................................................................................... 29  Discover how structures support development – an example from karate By Gary Ryan .................. 32  How to prepare powerful questions By Gary Ryan .............................................................................. 36  Questions, Oprah, dancers and innovation By Gary Ryan .................................................................... 43  Learn How A Strategic Conversation, A Customer Summit and Twitter Helped Telecom New Zealand  By Gary Ryan ......................................................................................................................................... 45  An account of my marathon run and a question ‐ what is success? By Jim Poussard  ......................... 46  . Discover three steps to bring your organisational values alive through storytelling By Gary Ryan ..... 51  Step 1 ‐ Start the story. ..................................................................................................................... 52  Step 2 ‐ Explain the middle section of the story ............................................................................... 52  Step 3 ‐ Finish the story .................................................................................................................... 52  How to show respect as a manager By Gary Ryan  ............................................................................... 55  . Shared vision alert – warning this might be a rant! .............................................................................. 58  By Andrew O’Brien ................................................................................................................................ 58  How to leverage part time and volunteer work By Gary Ryan ............................................................. 60  1. Communication skills .................................................................................................................... 61  2. Problem solving skills .................................................................................................................... 62  3. Initiative skills ................................................................................................................................ 62 
  5. 5.        4. Teamwork skills ............................................................................................................................. 63  5. Using technology ........................................................................................................................... 63  6. Planning and organising skills ....................................................................................................... 64  7. Leadership skills ............................................................................................................................ 64  9. Service excellence skills................................................................................................................. 65  10. Self management skills  ............................................................................................................... 65  . About Organisations That Matter ......................................................................................................... 67  About Gary Ryan ................................................................................................................................... 68  About Dr Andrew O’Brien ..................................................................................................................... 69  More in this series! ............................................................................................................................... 71  Feedback ........................................................................................................................................... 71  Join us! .............................................................................................................................................. 71  Share! ................................................................................................................................................ 71  Thank You! ........................................................................................................................................ 71 
  6. 6. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     How to communicate important messages effectively           By Gary Ryan  “How are things going”, asked Huy. “Not so well” replied Juanita. “What’s up?” “Oh, my boss asked me for this report late on Monday. So I stayed back to complete it and emailed it to her straight away. It’s now Friday and I haven’t heard anything back from her. Obviously I did a bad job, but I don’t know what I’ve done wrong, nor what to do about it.” Imagine if you were Juanita. Have you ever jumped to a similar conclusion before? (see The Danger of Jumping to Conclusions and a tool that can help). In this scenario it is likely that Juanita will spend a lot of time worrying about her boss’s reaction to her email. This is likely to distract her from focusing on her work which could reduce the quality of her work. This could then lead to more worrying about her work which could, over time lead to lower and lower performance. In many ways Juanita could create the very outcome that she doesn’t want, i.e. her boss seeing her as a low performer. There are many ways to manage this scenario after the event. But that is not the focus of this article. The focus of this article is about what Juanita could have done in the first place to ensure that her message to her boss had been received, therefore reducing her concern and worry that occurred in the scenario above. 5       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  7. 7. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     Communication channels Too often people rely on a single ‘channel’ of communication when sending an important message. Communication channels are the various forms of communication that we use to send messages and include (but are not limited to): • Face to face conversations • Meetings • Presentations • Telephone (landline and mobile) • Television • Skype and other voice over internet protocols (VOIPs) • Text messaging • Intranet services • Email • Memos • Letters (snail mail) • Whiteboards/blackboards • Brochures/flyers • Twitter etc. etc. etc. There are many, many channels of communication. In Juanita’s situation she relied on a single channel, email to communicate the very important information that her boss had requested. Email, by nature is a one way channel of communication until the recipient of the email decides to make it a two way form of communication. Email is often used effectively as a one way form of communication (such as the global emails that your organisation sends to you that you file for 6       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  8. 8. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     reference), but for an important document email should not be the only form of communication used. Too many people seem to hold this view about what happens when they press ‘send’ for their emails: • As soon as I press ‘send’ my email will be received by the intended recipient(s) of the email • The recipient(s) will receive and open my email immediately, because my email is very important to them • Not only will the recipient(s) understand what I have sent to them, they will understand it in exactly the same way that I intended my email to be interpreted • Once understood (which, of course it will be!) the recipient(s) of my email will take immediate action as a result of my email • The recipients of my email will be thankful that I sent it to them and will respond accordingly While these views are understandable (after all, each of us puts a lot into the work that we send out) they are fairly irrational. People don’t sit around waiting for our emails to arrive, just like we don’t sit around at work waiting for other people’s emails to arrive. Generally speaking we are all too busy to be sitting around waiting for other people’s emails. Please note that I am not saying that we shouldn’t send emails. Quite the contrary. Email is a very important form of communication. However, just because we sent it doesn’t mean that it ... Arrived at its intended destination 7       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  9. 9. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     Was received and fully understood by its recipient(s) The recipient(s) had the time and capacity to take action on Etc. etc. etc. Having established that a single channel of communication may not be effective for important messages, consider this issue: up to 70% of the written word has its meaning interpreted in a different way than intended by the sender of the message. This is known as a form of ‘noise’. Each of us uses filters and other mechanisms (such as our mental models, see What you think affects what you see) to interpret the messages that are sent to us. With written forms of communication it is very easy for us to listen to our ‘own’ noise and mis-interpret the intended message by the sender. In this context it is very easy for email messages, even if they do arrive at their intended destination to be easily mis-interpreted. For this reason email should not be the sole form of communication for messages that contain potentially emotional content, or content that is highly likely to be interpreted by the recipient(s) in an emotional way. Again when up to 70% of a message can be interpreted in a different way by the recipient(s) of the email compared to the intentions of the sender, it just isn’t worth sending such potentially damaging emails. Find a more appropriate channel to communicate such messages. While many people now say, “Yeah, I know that I shouldn’t send emotionally ‘charged’ emails, and yes I know that I should compose my emails using correct grammar and spelling...”, a recent study highlighted that a little under 50% of employees had experienced problems because of mis-interpreting messages sent via email. 8       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  10. 10. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     It really is worth asking yourself, “Is email the most effective way of sending this message? If it is, what other communication channels should I also use to ensure that my message is properly understood?”. Reviewing Juanita’s scenario she probably should have followed up her email with a quick phone call to at leave a message that the email had been sent. In both the email and the telephone message Juanita could have included a short ‘call to action’ requesting her boss let her know the report had been received. Why? Because Juanita would explain in her short message that due to the importance of the report it would be pertinent to ensure that it had not only been received but included all the correct information. When given the request by her boss in the first instance, Juanita could have said something like, “Yes I’ll get onto to that straight away and I’ll send the completed report to you tonight. I’ll also follow up with you first thing in the morning to ensure that the report has been received and is exactly what you want. I can also provide a copy on a USB stick and leave it on your desk if you like.” Using multiple forms of communication increases the chances that important information will be effectively communicated. As this article illustrates, many, many problems arise when important messages are mis-communicated. Therefore, when you next have an important message to communicate, consider the most appropriate channels that you could use to communicate your message, as well as considering how you might pro-actively use those channels to communicate your message. 9       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  11. 11. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     Please feel free to make a comment on this article by clicking here.           10       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  12. 12. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     The synchronicity of inspiration By Gary Ryan  Setting the scene I'd woken feeling bloated and not quite myself. "This isn't good" I thought to myself as I ate my pancakes and banana for breakfast and sipped my bottle of water. Tiptoeing quietly around my house so as to not wake my family I showered and dressed in my running gear. My plan was to take our people mover into the carpark at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (known as 'The G') and my wife, four children and mother would come in by train to see me finish the race. Another good friend was to meet me at the 30km mark to provide me with some 'supplies' for the final leg of the 42.195kms. Outside was very cool and a perfect morning for running was predicted. I was prepared for a cool start to the Melbourne Marathon and had applied lavish amounts of anti-inflammatory cream to my right knee that hadn't yet fully recovered from my last marathon in Alice Springs less than two months earlier. As this was my 8th marathon I was no longer fearful of not completing the course, just fearful of how I would tackle my mind this time around. Every marathon that I have run has included a mental barrier or two and each time I have been able to overcome them and reach the finish line. However I'd never woken in the morning feeling quite the way I did this time. My meal the night before which included pasta and pancakes was a fairly normal dinner prior to a marathon; I was well hydrated and looking forward to finishing the run on the hallowed turf of the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Driving in to The G my mind was occupied by how I felt in my stomach. There was no denying it, I felt bloated and this wasn't normal. As I parked my car my nerves began to rise. I had arrived 75 minutes before the start of the race, so I laid back in 11       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  13. 13. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     the seat in my car, covered my legs with a towel and rested a little more before walking over to the start position which was just over one kilometre away from where I was parked. I had hoped that the extra rest would settle my stomach. It didn't. I was then hopeful that the walk over to the start of the race would "do the job". It didn't either. Once at the start line I had about 20 minutes to wait before the first steps of the run would commence. People were huddled in groups, chatting with each other. It was now light and the race announcers were doing their best to 'pump' everyone up. It seemed to work for me as I momentarily forgot about how I was feeling. Kerryn McCann's sister, Jenny Gillard was being interviewed. Jenny was running in memory of her sister who had lost her fight against cancer after having won the gold medal for the marathon at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006. Kerryn's son Benton was introduced as he was going to be the official starter. The crowd had suddenly grown and everyone was both excited and sombre and had spontaneously started clapping in Kerryn McCann's memory. Within moments the National Anthem was sung, the countdown had begun and we were off! The marathon begins As I ran through the starting line I waved at the TV cameras - you never know maybe I could get my head on the TV which would make my children happy! Within the first 200 metres my consciousness of my discomfort returned. "This is going to be interesting" I thought. It is amazing how one's mind can become so pre-occupied with something that everything else around you literally disappears. While I knew that I was running with 4,200 people, I felt as if I was running on my own. I then became conscious of my consciousness, if that 12       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  14. 14. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     makes any sense! I thought, "C'mon! Snap out of it. Enjoy the run, the discomfort will pass, your rhythm will come. Think about how you'll feel at the end of the run. Think about running in front of Mish and the kids around the G and how it will contribute just a little bit toward their own thinking about health and fitness." And then, "I think that this will be a PW today - a Personal Worst!", and then, "C'mon, focus on the moment. Left foot, right foot! Each step is one step closer. Just focus on doing what has to be done now!". Sounds crazy, doesn't it! But that little war of words is what was going on in my head. All the while, however, the discomfort continued. Finding inspiration! We had travelled about five kilometres when I noticed a man limping ahead of me. Then I noticed his left leg. It was permanently bent in toward his right leg so that when he swung his leg through it actually clipped the inside of his right knee. His left heel appeared to be permanently raised so he wasn't able to perform a heel strike with his left foot. Rather, he was running on his toes with that leg. He wore a green and white singlet that advertised cerebral palsy, and checkered shorts. We continued to run and leap frog each other for next 16 kms until his paced started to slow and I slowly moved ahead of him. I do not know if the man had suffered from cerebral palsy, but I suspect that he had. My focus on how I was feeling had been brutally challenged. As we ran I found myself thinking about the various challenges that this man may have encountered in his life. The one thing that I didn't have to speculate about was whether he had taken on the challenge of a marathon. There he was, running beside me. Suddenly my bloated stomach seemed a little irrelevant. 13       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  15. 15. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     The experience also thrust my mind back to my first marathon in New York in 2006. The advertisement for that race said, "37,000 Stories", which was true. The same was also true for this day. The only difference being that there were 4,200 stories and not 37,000. The way I was feeling was just another story and everyone around me suddenly took on another level of importance. As I was struggling with my story, possibly they were all facing their own stories and struggles. In this way the very thing that kept us different (i.e. our stories) also kept us united. So I accepted that today I felt uncomfortable and that was that. This would simply be my story for this race. However, I also knew that how I felt was not going to stop me from performing. I had come here to complete the race (ideally under four hours) and that was exactly what I would do. Synchronicity Joseph Jaworski defines synchronicity as, "...a meaningful coincidence where something other than the probability of chance is involved." I don't know if it was anything other than luck that resulted in me and this gentleman crossing paths, but it certainly had meaning for me. Who knows, maybe he was looking at me and the way I looked inspired him to overcome whatever demons he was facing at the time! You never know! Completing the race The second half of a marathon is usually where the real race begins. It is both a mental and physical challenge. Yet somehow the mental challenge for me had eased and my body finally felt 'normal' over the last 8 kms where I ran the most freely and comfortably I had done for the whole race. Upon completion of the race (in 3 hours and 56 14       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  16. 16. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     minutes) I stayed around the finish line for a while until I was ushered off the ground to make way for the athletes who were still coming in. I had hoped to cheer the gentleman who had inspired me when he completed his race but I was consumed by the mass of people heading into the bowels of The G. Crossing the finish line   On reflection this gentleman probably had little awareness of my existence. Yet he had served me in a most profound way by inspiring me to recognise how lucky I was to be able to do what I was doing no 15       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  17. 17. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     matter how uncomfortable I felt. His example displays the power of taking action. This man could run. His running style may be different to yours and mine but he could run. For reasons known to himself through his own story, there he was running the Melbourne Marathon. Did he get up that morning and think to himself that he would inspire and help me through the race. I don't think so. However, through participating and taking action he created the possibility that he could inspire someone. And that someone was me. That is how synchronicity works. What you do does matter! When you are at work and you think that you are only one person and that what you do doesn't matter so it doesn't really matter if you do the right thing or not, maybe it does matter. Just because no-one walks up to you and explicitly points out that your actions have inspired them to take action doesn't mean that your actions aren't inspiring anyone. So it might start with the courage to create Ground Rules for your team, or to use a story or article to stimulate a Conversation That Matters, or maybe you take a stand that supports both your personal and organisational values. Leadership isn't all about titles and power. Leadership is often about the influence that your actions have on other people and just like my friend out on the marathon course leadership is often subtle, yet no less inspiring. So take action; you never know how the synchronicity of your actions could inspire other people to do likewise. Please feel free to make a comment on this article by clicking here. 16       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  18. 18. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     Identifying the relationship between purpose and goals     By Gary Ryan  “We have Happy Feet starting this week.”, said my seven year old daughter as we sat down for dinner. “What’s that?” I asked. “Oh, it’s a program at school where we see how many laps of the track around the school that we can complete. It goes for two weeks.” “What part of the school day will you get to participate in this program?” I asked. “It starts this Thursday and we’ll do it at morning playtime.” “So you don’t have to do it?” “No, I want to and I’m going to do it every day. I want to run like you. It’s good for my health and fitness.” This conversation took place the night after I had completed the Melbourne Marathon. I can’t explain how happy I felt to hear my daughter spontaneously start this conversation. In all honesty, a spontaneous conversation like this one makes me feel even happier than when I complete a marathon (and believe me, I usually feel pretty happy when I get to the finish line!). My life is so busy and hectic that if I didn’t have goals like completing a minimum of two marathons per year, it is quite likely that I might not do any exercise at all. One of my life’s purposes, however, is to set 17       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  19. 19. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     a good example to my four children about health and fitness. Completing two marathons per year is a concrete goal that I set myself that enable me to live that purpose. A conversation like the one described above provides clear evidence to me that my purpose is working. Over time, examples like this provide more and more motivation for me to continue to ‘live my purpose’.   Happy feet on the move!   In the Integrated Personal Planning programs that we provide many participants are very good at identifying goals for themselves. However many people are not clear about the higher purpose to which their goals relate. For example, many people may have a health and 18       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  20. 20. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     fitness goal to lose a certain number of kilograms. For this example, let's say five kilograms. Unless they relate this goal to a higher purpose these people are at considerable risk of achieving their goal, but then slipping back into the bad habits that caused them to be overweight in the first place. The result; within a very short timeframe they put the five kilograms (and often more) back on. This is a familiar story for many, many people. Clarity about your purpose may mean that more than one goal is created to help you to ‘live’ your purpose. If your goal is to lose five kilograms, maybe your purpose might be to live a healthy and more balanced lifestyle so that you can physically do want you want to do. For example, you may have one goal to lose five kilograms, and another goal to maintain your weight for five years after you have achieved your first goal, and another again to complete one holiday per year that involves some hiking. All these goals would work together to assist you to ‘live’ your purpose. Linking goals to your purpose reduces the risk of oscillating between success and failure as it relates to your goals. Another function of having a clear purpose is that it enables you to continue to set new goals as you near the achievement of your current ones. For example, I always ensure that I know the next marathon that I will be doing after I complete the current one that I am booked in to run. This ensures that when I finish my current marathon (and achieve a goal) that I don’t fall into the trap of saying to myself, “Oh, I’ll get back into training when I work out what marathon I’ll do next.” Six, 12, 24 months etc. could easily ‘fly by’ and before I knew it I would have stopped living my purpose and become unhealthy. Maintaining tension 19       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  21. 21. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     with ongoing goals as they relate to your purpose can be very, very powerful! It is important that I note that I am not advocating that you all go out and start running marathons. That’s just what works for me. In fact health and fitness goals are relative to your current situation, so it may in fact be a bigger achievement for many of you to run/walk five kilometres than it is for me to run 42kms. Maybe swimming is your thing, or maybe it is averaging a certain number of exercise to music classes per week over a 6 month period. Having goals is what is important, and relating them to a higher level reason for doing them (i.e. your purpose) is even more powerful. Many people also get stuck with regard to working out their purpose as it relates to their goals. Purpose is not unique. Is my purpose to set a good example of being healthy and fit to my four children (as well as being healthy and fit to be able to do whatever it is I physically want to be able to do in my life) particularly unique? No, it isn’t. Is my goal to run a minimum of two marathons per year also unique? No it isn’t. What IS unique is how I bring those goals into reality. The way I train and the marathons in which I choose to compete are unique to me. What is also unique is how living my purpose and achieving my goals contributes to me creating the future that I desire (see The Power of Personal Vision by Andrew O’Brien for more information). My challenge to you is to identify the goals that you are currently striving to achieve and then articulating to yourself what higher purpose those goals are serving. The following three questions can be helpful in helping you to work out your purpose: 20       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  22. 22. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     1) Why is this goal important to me? 2) What are the benefits of achieving this goal? 3) How does achieving this goal relate to the future that I want to create for myself? Please feel free to share your thoughts with our learning community because the more examples that we have that highlight the relationship between purpose and goals, the more other members of our community will be able to work out the relationship between their goals and their purpose for themselves. Please feel free to make a comment on this article by clicking here. 21       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  23. 23. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     How  to  host  a  large  group  conversation  that  matters!          By Gary Ryan  It was the year 2000 and Andrew and I were attending the Systems Thinking in Action Conference in San Diego, USA. Andrew had attended this conference several times before but it was my first time attending a conference in the USA, let alone one outside Australia. There was a buzz of excitement in the air as the 1,000 delegates from around the world were waiting to file in to the large auditorium for the keynote speech on the first morning. All of a sudden a piano commenced playing in a modern classical style. "This is interesting" I recall thinking to myself. The hotel staff simultaneously opened four or five large doors so that we could enter the conference venue. My eyes were met with amazement. Rather than the seats being arranged in rows (which was all I had ever experienced at conferences) the seats were arranged in groups of four around small, round, cafe sized tables. Each table was covered with a cafe style cloth, had a large piece of butcher's paper on it with some coloured pens in the middle of the table, a "menu" that included some rules for how we would conduct our conversations and a small flow placed in the middle of the table. With the smell of coffee emanating from the stalls across the back of the room, I felt as if I had just walked into a huge cafe! Within minutes the place was buzzing with excitement. This was different. I sensed it. Andrew sensed it. Everyone seemed to sense it. Our host walked to the podium and introduced himself. He was Daniel Kim one of the co-founders of Pegasus Communications who were 22       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  24. 24. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     conducting the conference. Daniel explained that he was going to provide the first keynote of the conference and that he would also be playing the role of 'theme weaver' throughout the conference. He then explained that his keynote would not be a 'talking at' event, rather it would be a 'talking with' experience. "How is that possible? There are over 1,000 people in this venue at the moment. How can we hold a conversation together?" is the immediate thought that went through my mind. But hold a conversation we did. It was truly amazing. Daniel shared with us a process that he had learned from Juanita Brown and David Isaacs. Upon leaving the conference venue that morning Andrew and I looked at each other and said that we had to find out more about the process because it fitted perfectly with our perspective of including people who were working on issues that directly impacted them. It also seemed to solve our problem of creating a shared understanding amongst large numbers of people. As a result we have been conducting our version of Conversation Cafes (we call them Conversations That Matter or Strategic Conversations) ever since. We have worked with many, many different organisations and groups of people and the process continues to work. People like to be able to have their say, but not everyone likes to have their say in front of everyone else, which is why the Conversations That Matter process is so effective. It allows people to have their say while also enabling people who might not normally have an opportunity to speak 23       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  25. 25. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     with each other to have a clear and focused conversation about issues that concern both parties. The process works for group sizes as small as 12 through to more than 1,000 people as our story above highlights. We have also modified the process for groups smaller than 12 using some of the core principles of hosting Conversations That Matter. A Strategic Conversation in action   The process is relatively simple and includes the following features: 1. People sit together in small groups (ideally 3 - 5 people per table) 2. Butchers paper and coloured textas are provided at each table People are encouraged to have tea, water of coffee while they converse 24       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  26. 26. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     3. A brief overview of the process is provided including the etiquette for the conversations 4. The first question is posed to the group and the people at each table hold a conversation for 10 - 15 minutes, recording whatever they like on their butcher's paper 5. After 10 - 15 minutes one person stays at their table and acts as the 'host', while the other 3 - 4 people who were at the table move on to separate tables for a second 'round' on the question 6. The host welcomes the new people to the table, explains the conversation that had taken place in Round 1, and then invites the new people to share their conversations (this is called 'cross pollination" of the conversation) 7. Depending on the issue and numbers of people present, a third 'round' on the first question may be conducted 8. A 'town hall' process is then held to capture themes and patterns that have emerged from the conversations Over-all two to four questions are usually posed to the group following the process outlined above The final question usually focuses upon a call to action, so that people can clearly see something will happen as a result of the conversation While the process is simple, creating the right questions to ask is not so simple. Also, this process should only be used when there is a genuine desire to have input from the people participating in the conversation. If you are in a position to include people in conversations about issues 25       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  27. 27. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     that directly affect them, then we encourage you to adopt a Strategic Conversation process because quite simply, they work! Please feel free to make a comment on this article by clicking here.   26       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  28. 28. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     Setting groundrules ­ the why and the how                                   By Gary Ryan  The problem  Over many years I have been involved in helping people to create high performing teams. One of the fundamental steps for creating a high performing team is to set groundrules. Less than 5% of program attendees report that they have ever been in a team where groundrules have been created. When I then ask, "How many of you have experienced being a member of a high performing team?" very few participants report that they believe that they have experienced a high performing team. While there are a number of factors that affect the capacity of a team to perform to its potential, the existence of groundrules is one of the factors that have a significant impact on a team's capacity for high performance. What is then interesting is that program participants often say, "Look, groundrules sound okay, but we don't have time for that stuff!". It's interesting how people often say and/or believe that they don't have time to do the very things that will save time and enhance performance. What I'm about to say next may seem a bit odd, but in the context of creating a high performing team, slower is faster! I encourage you to be different from most other people and to try the following process for creating groundrules. It isn't hard, people will respond positively and it takes less than 20 minutes (it’s even faster after you have had some practice!). 27       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  29. 29. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009       The process for establishing groundrules  I would like to recognise Jock MacNeish (a member of our learning community) for teaching me this very simple process that I have adapted from his book, Teams - The First Twelve Weeks that was co- authored with Tony Richardson and Angela Lane. Setting groundrules is worth the effort   The process involves a whole team conversation and agreement around three questions, plus a simple way to keep the groundrules 'alive' after they have been created.   Question 1  At work (or study) what team member behaviours happen that really annoy us, let us down or stop us from performing to our expected standards? 28       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  30. 30. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     Record the behaviours that are discussed in this conversation. Question 2 In the context of our response to question one, what groundrules do we need to agree to so that these behaviours won't occur in our team? Record the groundrules that you agree upon. These will be the groundrules for your team.   Question 3  What will we do when a person breaks one of our groundrules? This is a very important conversation. It allows the team members to discuss the consequences for breaking the groundrules before they have been broken, which enables all the team members to be very clear about what they can expect to happen should a groundrule be broken. Another benefit of this conversation is that it allows the team to recognise if any of the groundrules that they had originally created were not as clear as they could have been. As an example, people often create a groundrule such as, "We will always be on time for our meetings." The reality for many people is that on occasion they will be late for a meeting. Discussing the consequences for such behaviours allows the team to then discuss what is expected once you know that you are going to be late (which will happen to even the most diligent team members from time to time). 29       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  31. 31. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     A final benefit of the third question is that it clarifies the behavioural standards expected for all team members. This increases the pressure for people to behave to those standards because they are both explicit and everyone in the team participated in their creation. Keeping the groundrules 'alive' There are two relatively simple ways to keep the groundrules alive. a.) Create an artefact of the groundrules. I've worked with some teams where they have created a cafe menu and placed it in a menu holder. When the team meets they place the menu in the middle of the table. While they might not explicitly look at the menu, the artefact of the menu reminds people of what they have agreed. It’s a simple thing to do and it works. b) Every once in a while include the groundrules as a topic for conversation in your meeting agenda. Ask, "How are we going with our groundrules?". Should a new person join your team it is critical that you conduct a conversation with that person explaining your groundrules, and provide them with a genuine opportunity to contribute to updating the groundrules. This process keeps the groundrules fresh and relevant for the specific members of your team. Please don't be like 'most other people'. Be different and give the teams of which you are a member every chance for success. Create groundrules for your team and keep them alive. You'll find that they will not only enhance the positive experience of being in your team, but your performance will most likely improve as well! 30       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  32. 32. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     Please feel free to make a comment on this article by clicking here.   31       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  33. 33. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     Discover how structures support development – an  example from karate By Gary Ryan  One of our close friends had invited our family to watch their 10 year old son Joshua complete his grading for his Black Belt in karate. Having been training in karate since he was six years old this was a 'Big Occasion' for him. A crowd of over 200 people had assembled in the local karate club's hall to support children from the age of nine through to 14 complete the requirements for their various Black Belt or First Dan assessments. The formworks and kata were performed to perfection to the delight of everyone. This was followed by various fighting stick assessments, jumping and tumbling kicks & strikes, a nun-chuka formwork and finally wood breaking strikes. Considering the ages of the children their performances were very, very impressive! 32       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  34. 34. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     Finally, six of the boys and girls who were also being assessed for a special leadership award (which is specific to this club) took it in turns to perform a speech about leadership. As each child gave their speech on their own in the middle of the gymnasium floor, no notes in hand, a structure for their speeches became apparent. The structure was: 1) Introduce yourself and your age 2) Identify your favourite karate activity 3) Name a high profile leader of your choice 4) Provide a 'key-point' history of your leader 5) Share a quote created by the leader 6) Explain how the quote relates to your own personal circumstances 7) Thank your parents for their support 8) Thank the audience While I had been highly impressed by the various karate demonstrations, I was astounded by the performances of these six children. It was clear that they all had different personalities yet each of them was able to stand up in front of a crowd of predominantly adults and provide their speeches. One of the children spoke about Ghandi and provided great detail as he shared an accurate account (including dates) of Ghandi's life. This boy was nine years old! It was also interesting to watch each of the children stumble at some point in their speeches. When this happened, each of them drew a 33       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  35. 35. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     long slow breath, gathered their thoughts and then continued with their speech. Imagine the pressure that could have been mounting and the self-talk that could have been going on in their heads. Yet they remained focussed and completed the task at hand. It seemed to me that the children had been well taught with regard to the structure that they should follow in providing their speeches, including what to do when they lost their train of thought. It really was a delight to watch. To me the high level of performance that the children were able to achieve was due to a clear structure that they had been provided in preparing for their speeches. No doubt each of the children had also practiced and practiced this structure, much like they had practiced their kata and formworks. Imagine the confidence that these children will have in their lives going forward. Many adults would run away as fast as possible rather than provide a speech in front of 200 hundred people. Yet these children did it and did it well. They will have that experience to draw on for the rest of their lives. As each child finished their speech the applause sounded like it was coming from 1,000 people and not just 200. It really was extraordinary to witness! This experience once again highlights the power of having structures to support the outcomes that you desire. While the structures that the children used for their speeches may appear simple on the surface, their importance is no less valuable. What similar examples do you have where a clear structure has supported your own or someone else's development? What stories are you willing to share with our community? What key lesson stood out for you from your experience? 34       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  36. 36. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     Please leave a comment and share your thoughts with us about this article. Please feel free to make a comment on this article by clicking here. 35       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  37. 37. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     How to prepare powerful questions By Gary Ryan  Preparing powerful questions can be one of the most important practices that a leader can include in their repertoire of leadership skills. Powerful questions have the following four characteristics: • They are genuine, meaning that we are open to whatever answers are provided • They are thought provoking • They invite another’s contribution • They act as a call to create It is relatively easy to identify whether or not a powerful question has been used because the five outcomes from powerful questions include: • New thinking • New solutions • New partnerships • New products and services • Action that would not have otherwise occurred On the surface creating powerful questions may seem easy. My experience has taught me otherwise. Just like any skill, the ability to develop powerful questions takes time and effort. In programs where we teach people about the importance of developing their questioning skills, the participants often experience difficulty in generating questions. People often say, “I’m really good at answering questions, I’m just not very good at creating them!”. 36       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  38. 38. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     We encourage people to adopt a practice whereby any meeting that you are about to attend, you spend some time thinking about the types of questions that you could consider asking. When adopting this practice there are at least two levels of questions that should be considered. These are the ‘Big Picture’ or strategic questions, and the second level is the action or event level questions. Most people have a tendency toward the action questions which often create a cycle of problems, questions and actions that may not be connected with the strategic possibilities that may exist. For example I recently conducted a program where a team of participants were helping another participant (Dan) to prepare a list of powerful questions for a meeting that he was about to conduct with a team member Judith, the following week. Dan was an experienced manager and had authorised leave for Judith who had been with the organisation for about four months and had just completed a training program for her role. Judith had proven herself to be highly competent in her short time with the organisation. Two other staff were to share Judith’s duties while she was on leave. Dan had asked Judith if she was happy to train the two people to do her work and she had agreed to do so. Dan was happy that he’d been able to allow Judith to go on leave and was pleased that two other staff had been trained to do her work. However, on the first day that Judith was on leave he discovered that while the two staff had been ‘shown’ what to do, neither of them had actually been given the opportunity to ‘do’ the work in their ‘training’ and therefore had little idea about how to do Judith’s work. 37       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  39. 39. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     As a participant in our program Dan was preparing his list of questions with the help of the rest of the participants in his group. Initially, the questions that the group generated included: • Did you know that the two staff didn’t really know what to do when you were on leave? • What did you expect would happen on the first day of your leave? Why didn’t you train them properly? To me, these questions were very much at the action/event level because they are focussed on the detail that is ‘right in front of our eyes’. In this example it was clear that the staff had not been trained properly because their performance was lower than expected. Action- event level questions are like zooming in on an issue with a video camera. The problem with starting at action-event level questions is that if you are looking at the wrong picture you will zoom in on the wrong details! Such responses are quite normal from our program participants because, once again, most of us are used to answering questions rather than designing them. When I asked the group how they would have responded to the questions themselves if they had been Judith, the group (including Dan) reported that they would probably feel like they were being attacked. I then asked Dan if Judith was a specialist in the field of training. He said “No.” 38       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  40. 40. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     Dan had a sudden ‘a-ha’ moment and then said, “...yet I expected Judith to know exactly how to train someone in her job. Just because she could do her job doesn’t mean that she’d be able or competent to train someone else to do it. I have assumed for years that people could train others to do their job. Some people probably can, but not everybody.” I then asked, “What performance outcome does your organisation desire when staff are ‘back-filled’ while on leave?” This was a strategic question, a ‘Big Picture’ question. “The same level of performance.” was Dan’s answer. “What system has the organisation created to ensure that the performance outcome that you desire will occur?” I continued. “Well, other than staff training other staff to back-fill them, there really isn’t one. And come to think of it, we regularly have performance issues when staff go on leave, which then leads us to be reluctant to approve leave in the first place.” Strategic questions enable us to zoom out, to take in the whole picture and to see how the system is contributing to the issue, not just a single individual. We then focussed back on the questions that Dan was preparing for his meeting with Judith. When generating the questions a member of the group then said, “Maybe it isn’t a meeting between Dan and Judith that we should be preparing these questions for. Maybe it is a meeting with between Dan and the rest of the organisation’s leadership team?”. 39       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  41. 41. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     Dan had another ‘a-ha’ moment. “You’re right! That’s exactly who we should be preparing this list of questions for. My focus was in the wrong spot. It was very easy to blame Judith, but actually those of us leading the organisation need to take responsibility for this issue. Under-performance when people have gone on leave has been a problem for years.” For the first time Dan’s thinking on this issue had shifted. Nothing more than a shift in focus from creating answers to creating questions and a couple of strategic questions had enabled Dan to think differently. Preparing questions is powerful     40       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  42. 42. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     Finally after generating a list of questions for the Leadership Team (including both Strategic and action-event level questions), Dan was asked by another group member what his intentions regarding meeting with Judith would be. He answered, “I’ll ask her about her holiday and fill her in about what’s been going on while she was away. I’m not going to focus on the training, not yet, anyway. I was blaming her but it wasn’t her fault. It was ‘our’ fault, including mine. When the time is right I’ll seek her input to the new system that we clearly need to create.” In conclusion I asked Dan and his group how they would feel if they were Judith when she had the ‘new’ conversation that Dan now had planned to have with her. “Great! I’d feel like Dan actually cared about me and was interested in my holiday.” Think about the different outcomes that the two potential conversations with Judith would most likely create. Which outcome do you think is more likely to enhance Judith’s engagement with the organisation, and which one do you think is more likely to reduce her engagement? Clearly the new conversation that Dan was planning to have with Judith is more likely to enhance Judith’s engagement with the organisation. Preparing questions before meetings is a very powerful practice to include in your repertoire of leadership behaviours. Remember to prepare some strategic questions, and as soon as possible to introduce them to your conversation. A simple, yet effective action-event level question to be asked after discussing your strategic questions is, “What will we do next?”. 41       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  43. 43. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     If you are trying this practice for the first time, please let us know how you go. In addition, please share the questions that you used that seemed to be effective in helping the people with whom you are working to shift their focus to a more strategic level. Please feel free to make a comment on this article by clicking here.     42       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  44. 44. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     Questions, Oprah, dancers and innovation By Gary Ryan  Questions are powerful. First they enable the possible to be imagined, and then they enable the imagined to be created. To illustrate I refer to the amazing Flash Dance Mob that occurred at Oprah's 24th year season opening party in Michigan Avenue, Chicago. As part of the celebration the Black Eyed Peas performed their hit "I Got a Feeling" to the 21,000 strong crowd. Unbeknown to Oprah who was on stage with the Black Eyed Peas, several hundred dancers were strategically placed throughout the crowd. The crowd had been informed that if they wanted to join in the dance then they should simply follow the moves of the people around them. The result was that the majority of the crowd joined in the dance, started by a single dancer strategically placed in front of the stage. If you haven't seen the clip, turn up your volume and watch it now. It was an amazing spectacle! The beauty of the crowd dancing together was that it embodies action. There is no denying it, the whole crowd took action, danced together and created an amazing spectacle and surprise for Oprah. 43       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  45. 45. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     So how does something like this dance get created? Quite simply, someone (probably the producer Australian Michael Gracey) asked a question, something like, "What if we could get the whole crowd to dance together?". This question would have sparked the imagination of those people who were involved in the conversation, more questions would have followed and eventually a plan would have been created. At the start of the dance no-one, including Michael Gracey would have known that the dance would actually work. Yet it did work. And it all started with a question. '"What if" questions are often powerful because they allow people to imagine what might be possible. What if questions often lead to innovation. Unfortunately I can't remember the source, but I once learned that innovation comes from getting something and putting it with something different. In this case, dancers were put together with a crowd and voila, innovation occurred. Questions played a central role in enabling the innovation to be realised. When was the last time that you asked a powerful question? What happened, what did you create and what something did you put with something different to create something new? Please feel free to make a comment on this article by clicking here. 44       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  46. 46. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     Learn How A Strategic Conversation, A Customer Summit  and Twitter Helped Telecom New Zealand By Gary Ryan  Strategic conversations are conversations that include anywhere from 12 to over 1,000 people. These conversations are designed to enable large groups of people to quickly 'get on the same page'. This can include gaining clarity regarding a desired future, understanding the current situation in the context of the desired future, to then agreeing on the steps to be taken to move forward. New technology including twitter has suddenly and exponentially increased the power and possibilities for strategic conversations. Recently Dr Andrew O'Brien from Organisations That Matter facilitated a strategic conversation that was hosted by the CEO of Telecom New Zealand as part of their Customer Summit process. Twitter was used to include people from 'outside the room' and proved to be an outstanding success. Our understanding is that this was a world first for this type of conversation. If you are interested in finding out more about that specific conversation, check out this blog that was posted by a participant. As a facilitator of strategic conversations is it exciting to see the possibilities that new technology is bringing to 'face to face' communication. The question for you to consider is, 'when do you plan to host a strategic conversation?'. Please feel free to make a comment on this article by clicking here. 45       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  47. 47. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     An account of my marathon run and a question ­ what is  success? By Jim Poussard 3 Bays Marathon - Portland, Victoria, Australia 1 November 2009 I ran my 4th marathon on the weekend and despite posting a personal worst marathon time of 4.03.40, it was by far my most successful and enjoyable marathon experience. Which brings me to the questions, what factors make a great marathon experience and how should you measure the success of these? First a quick match report. The 3 Bays Marathon is held in and around Portland, a seaside town in south-western Victoria. The course is quite hilly, with one big uphill section at about the 20k-22k mark they call the shuffler. There were about 5o participants in the marathon and I had the lofty bib number of 24. Suz and the girls came down and we made a long weekend of it with the Melb Cup holiday on the Tuesday. I ran the first 25k strongly and at a good (but not too fast pace). I ran most of the time with a guy who did an Ironman event every 2 years. That's basically the marathon run, plus a 3k+ swim and an 180k bike ride. It was his first (stand alone) marathon and training for his Ironman in March. As the big hills approached, I was confident that the running I had done in the Mountains of Colorado and Northern Greece on our holiday would hold me in good stead. This proved to be 46       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  48. 48. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     the case as I bid my new friend goodbye (he was starting to feel the effects of an ITB injury) and worked my way up the hills. There were humorous signs along the way such as "You call that a hill" and "What goes down must come up". I passed about half a dozen runners in this stretch and felt good. There was a section of the run which was dead flat and straight for about 5-7km which they dubbed Cashmore straight. Sure enough there was the funny sign - " Cashmore Straight - turn to autopilot now". I thought about this as my mind struggles with long straight sections of road/track when I am training. I decided to take the sign literally and actually closed my eyes as much as possible, opening them every 10 seconds or so to make sure there wasn't a car coming. Strangely, it was like I was resting and preparing my body for the final onslaught. I went through 30k feeling good...better than usual. I am normally walking a little bit at this stage. Only 12k to go. After hitting a few smaller hills, I finally hit the wall (a bit) at 35km and move into a walk/run pattern - trying to run with others to motivate me. 35k-40k is a huge mental challenge for me as my time slips and runners pass me. I don't quite have the conditioning to run it out but I know its as much a mental hurdle. I am relieved to see the 40km drink station as we enter Portland again. Pride kicks in and I follow a familiar pattern of running out the final 2.2km. I slowly reel in the tourist tram which is moving along beside me and finish in the main street with the customary fist pump and satisfaction of conquering the course. My new friend came in about 20 mins later, feeling pretty sore. It was great to share the moment with Suz and the kids and their support throughout the race made a huge difference. 47       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  49. 49. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     So what made 3 bays a successful outing? Jim in action  Well for a start, it was a hard marathon. Whilst it was the slowest of my 4 marathons, it was still within five minutes of my personal best time of 3.58.47. Now I am not ultra competitive when it comes to times but I am keen to improve. Given that the website and other runners say you will add about 10 mins to your regular times for the 3 Bays event, I feel I achieved my personal best 'performance', even if it didn't show on the clock. Also, I love the small field of competitors, the sense of community and the camaraderie. I saw a guy, John, who I met on the plane coming back from the Canberra marathon. He has run over 100 marathons. I 48       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  50. 50. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     got chatting to him, his wife gave me a lift to the start line, and he cheered me as I crossed the finish line. At the smaller events, you really feel like you are part of a caring running community. Its a bit different to the Gold Coast Marathon (my first marathon), where you are one of 30,000. The smaller field meant Suz and the kids could drive past me, park the car and cheer at different locations. No closed road, Just you, the country, and your support team. It was great having them there and I was able to have the luxury of giving Suz my fuel belt at the 35k mark and getting a banana off her when I was struggling a bit. The opposite to this was when I ran the Canberra marathon earlier in the year and I didn't know anyone there. It was a tough run and I did feel quite alone before, during and after the run. Funnily enough, I did my PB there. But the run still felt a little empty. So overall, it was a fantastic experience. I may be back next year, depending on the calendar and if I run the Melbourne Marathon which is three weeks beforehand. I definitely enjoyed the challenge and feel it will hold me in good stead for future marathons. I'm not sure what the measures of success should be for a marathon...I'm still learning. Maybe it is something like (in no particular order)... • meeting and conquering a challenge • finishing great conditions, enjoying your running • camaraderie, community, friendship 49       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  51. 51. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     • support and encouragement • beautiful scenery • a good time, PB Of course the answer is different for different people. If you have any thoughts on this, feel free to add to the dialogue. This comes from my blog Mordi Marathon Man which you are welcome to visit and contribute to. Please feel free to make a comment on this article by clicking here. 50       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  52. 52. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     Discover three steps to bring your organisational values  alive through storytelling By Gary Ryan  Organisational values are too often left to gather dust on office walls. If you are a leader and your organisation has values, how regularly do you bring those values alive in conversations with your team members? The usual response is, "Not very often." Yet when we ask leaders if they believe in their organisation's values they reply with a resounding, "Yes!". So what is the problem? Why is it that so many leaders struggle to host conversations with their team members about their organisation's values? The answer often lies in two issues. Firstly leaders simply forget to take responsibility for keeping their organisational values alive by talking about them with their team members. Such behaviour is simply not on their radar. Secondly, many leaders aren't taught how to tell effective stories. It is assumed that leaders know how to tell stories. In part this is true. People DO know how to tell stories. However, telling effective stories is different. Telling effective stories requires some structure. Thankfully most storytelling structures are quite simple. Here's one that most of you will remember from your childhood. The structure was effective then, and it is still effective now. 51       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  53. 53. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     Capture your stories    Step 1 ­ Start the story.  This usually involves setting the scene and context of the story. For stories regarding the organisations values you would explain a situation and set the scene that you are going to explain how the organisation’s values can be used in real situations.   Step 2 ­ Explain the middle section of the story  This usually involves the details about what happened and who did what. It is where the rationale behind how the values were used would be explained.   Step 3 ­ Finish the story  This section provide the "So what!" part of the story. What was the result? In this case, what was the impact of using the organisation's values to guide decision making and actions. An example 52       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  54. 54. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     Start When I was on the executive team of a medium sized business some legislation was passed that affected $14million of our revenue. In 12 months time it would be gone. This revenue directly paid the salaries of over 200 people. Middle Having already performed some scenario planning on this outcome, the executive team met to confirm what would be done for the staff to ensure that the values of integrity, teamwork, service and community were upheld throughout a difficult period. A decision was made to use the organisation’s training and development budget to up skill the staff in resume writing, interview skills and outplacement programs to ensure that as many staff as possible could find new jobs. End All staff who wished to access the support were provided with the training and outplacement support that they required. While it was a difficult period for everyone involved staff consistently reported that while they wished that the situation had not occurred, they were delighted with the support that the organisation had provided them throughout their transition. The vast majority of staff found new jobs and opportunities that fitted with their career aspirations. A significant benefit of storytelling is that it helps people to makes sense of situations. After you have told a story it is worth asking people if the story has triggered any similar examples that also might show the organisation’s values in use. When listening to their stories 53       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  55. 55. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     listen for the start, middle and end. Not everyone tells stories correctly so they might miss out some important parts of the story. If you are listening you can help them out. For example, if someone shares a story but leaves out the end, ask, "What happened? What difference did your actions make?". You'll be amazed at the difference asking such questions can make to the quality of your team members storytelling. Using this technique can create highly engaged and flowing workplace conversations. Without even knowing it your team members will start to deepen their understanding of what your organisation's values really mean in action. So, set aside 15 minutes once a month in your team meetings and see if you can bring your organisation’s values alive through storytelling. Follow the simple start, middle and end structure and you'll be surprised just how effective it can be. Please add a comment or let me know how you go applying these three steps for organisational storytelling. Please feel free to make a comment on this article by clicking here.         54       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  56. 56. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     How to show respect as a manager By Gary Ryan  Recently a participant in a leadership development program for managers asked, "I've discovered that 'respect' is a core value of mine. What are some practical ways that I can ensure that this value is present in the way that I behave as a manager?". The following is a list of eight suggestions that emerged from the conversation that was conducted with this participant and another four people at their table. It is important to note that the following behaviours can be conducted irrespective of the culture that exists within the organisation. 1. Take the time to get to know each member of your team individually. This means that you would know the names of their partner and their children (if they have any). You would remember their hobbies and passions and genuinely inquire about how they are going with those pursuits. If you had a poor memory you would create a structure to ensure that you could remember these things. An example of such a structure is creating a notes folder for each of the members in your team. 2. You would have a clear understanding of the career path that each of your team members is travelling and raise their awareness of any opportunities that would enhance their development in that direction. 3. You would let people do their jobs and trust them with appropriate authority for their roles. As much as possible you 55       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  57. 57. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     would stay out of their way and you would be explicit with them about why you would be doing that. 4. When bad news about your company was required to be shared with your team, you would share it. You would not ‘sugar coat’ the news. 5. You would provide performance feedback to your team members and make it as easy as possible for them to provide you with feedback. You would not ‘sugar coat’ feedback. 6. You would be proactive about ensuring that the remuneration of your team members was ‘fair’ in the context of your organisation and industry. This means that if you discovered that someone’s package was not ‘fair’, you would do whatever your system would allow you to do to rectify that situation. 7. You would recognise and reward your team members for their contributions. 8. You would be proactive with letting your team members know about opportunities that might take them out of your team if your view was that the opportunity aligned with their career aspirations as you understood them. This list of examples is just a start. Once again it is important to note 56       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  58. 58. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     that these behaviours can be adopted irrespective of the overall culture within the organisation. What are your examples of how, as a formal leader you have practiced the value of ‘respect’ in your role? Or, if you would like more information about how to practice the examples provided above, please let me know. Please feel free to make a comment on this article by clicking here. 57       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  59. 59. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     Shared vision alert – warning this might be a rant!            By Andrew O’Brien  Shared Vision is my thing. It is the focus of my work, my writing and when done well is the starting point for great success. As a CEO I always figure if I can foster a shared vision then people will make sure we create the results we want and I carried my shared vision passion on to my research on creating shared vision and desired futures. As a facilitator, author and speaker shared vision is what I am all about and in the next few weeks Gary and I will be launching a new website and blog where I will work hard to promote my passion for vision and desired futures. As a soon to be "Shared Vision and Desired Futures" Blogger I have been honing my Google Alert and Twitter search skills and am writing this blog to share my frustration and concern with what I have discovered in the last week. Early last week my "Shared Vision" alerts and searches took off as people from all around the world started talking about shared vision as the focus for the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. Concern turned to alarm as I followed the news and commentary and it became evident that negotiating a "shared vision" statement was being talked about as if it would provide a shared vision and generate commitment. The classic vision mistake is to put together a shared statement and assume it is understood, will be acted upon and is a sign of genuine commitment by everyone involved. Too often these weekend or conference documents represent a deal or frustration and wanting to 58       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  60. 60. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     be seen to act rather that a genuine reflection of what people will act upon and devote themselves to. From the beginning it was evident that people were thinking very differently about what to do and most of them were looking for a political treaty rather than a genuine meeting of the minds and a true shared vision. I hope they reach agreement and take unified action but calling it a shared vision is a sham. A treaty may foster shared vision in time but it is clear there are so many diverse views at this time that any political deal will not be a shared vision. I am not sure a genuine shared vision that aligns thinking, action and commitment for all participants is possible through a political process and the way I hear the politicians describing it as all about politics I can only shake my head. Enough from me before a shift from rant to ramble. Please feel free to make a comment on this article by clicking here. 59       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  61. 61. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     How to leverage part time and volunteer work By Gary Ryan  Holiday seasons are terrific for many reasons. None the least is the opportunity to catch up with friends and family as well as the opportunity to relax. For many people, especially students, holiday season means that you have the chance to earn some money. If you aren’t taking extra classes over your break, then the opportunity to work and earn some extra dollars is huge. Many students relish in the opportunity to work not only because of the money but because of the social side of work life too, depending of course on the industry that you are working in. Unfortunately, many students don’t take full advantage of their holiday work. Oh, by the way, when I say work, I also mean volunteer work. Of course this means that no extra money will be earnt, but something far more valuable than money (unless you are starving!) can be learnt! Yes, that’s right, learnt! Too often I hear students say that they are ‘just a check-out chick’, or “I just work at a cafe”, or “I just provide meals to homeless people.”. There is no such thing as “Just a part time job”! Not if you are prepared to consider the employability skills that you are developing while doing your work. Below is a short list of ten skills that part time / volunteer work develops: 1. Communication skills 2. Problem solving skills 3. Initiative skills 4. Teamwork skills 5. Using various forms of technology 60       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  62. 62. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     6. Planning and organising skills 7. Service excellence skills 8. Leadership skills 9. Learning skills 10. Self management skills   Leverage your experiences!   Let’s look briefly at some examples of how you might develop these skills in practice:   1. Communication skills  If you have to communicate with your boss, other team members and/or the general public, then you have the opportunity to develop 61       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  63. 63. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009     communication skills. It doesn’t matter whether the predominant form of communication is via a telephone (as in a contact centre) or face to face (as in a cafe). You still have the opportunity to test whether you are communicating effectively. Here’s a tip – good communicators are good listeners, which also means that you are good at asking questions. So, develop your questioning skills and your communication skills will skyrocket!   2. Problem solving skills  Problems occur all the time. In every job. A computer won’t work. The electric doors are stuck shut. Another staff member didn’t turn up for their shift. The delivery that was meant to come in hasn’t arrived yet and customers are waiting for their orders. The list goes on. Each of these examples is a wonderful opportunity for you to consciously practice your problem solving skills. Not only that, you have a wonderful opportunity to create a bank of stories about how you solve problems. Can you imagine any of your future employers not wanting a problem solver? Neither can I!   3. Initiative skills  Showing initiative is when you do something that is helpful without having been asked to do it. Every time a problem arises at work you have an opportunity to show initiative. Every time you see that something could go wrong (like someone slipping on a banana peel) and you take action to stop that from happening (like picking up the banana peel) you are showing initiative. Opportunities to demonstrate initiative are everywhere. Keep your eye out for them and grasp them with both hands when they pop up. They also create great stories that can be used in interviews. 62       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  64. 64. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009       4. Teamwork skills  There is hardly a job that exists that does not involve teamwork. Even if you work alone, you are probably still part of a team. A night shift worker at a convenience store is part of a team with their manager and other staff, even if they rarely see each other. How? What is your response when another team member rings you and asks you to cover their shift? One of the reasons why you might say yes is because you are in a team and when you are in a team sometimes you have to cover for each other. Imagine the interview when you are asked about your experience of working in teams. It may be your stories that relate to covering for teammates (notice the deliberate use of language!) that you use to answer such a question. The beauty is that your answer would be both true and genuine. Perfect!   5. Using technology  Technology is everywhere, but it isn’t just using electronic devices such as computers, scanners, point-of-sale and other devices. It can be writing on whiteboards, driving forklifts (providing you have a license) and whatever else you have to use to do your job. You may be a volunteer who plants trees along freeways or in parks. The shovels, picks and other tools that you use are all forms of technology. The purpose of having a range of stories about your capacity to use different types of technology is to demonstrate that you are a fast learner and can quickly adapt to a range of technologies. Most students don’t even think about these things as being relevant to their future. But, they are! 63       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  
  65. 65. What Really Matters! Vol.1, No.3, 2009       6. Planning and organising skills  In whatever work you are doing be on time. Full stop. Employers like it and they expect it. Full stop. Practice it and practice it now. Full stop. Get it?   7. Leadership skills  For those of you who have responsibility for a team or other staff, then you have the opportunity to develop your leadership skills. How do you treat the people who you lead? What are your mental models about leadership? How are your personal values reflected in how you treat the people you are leading? Conscious thought about these questions can create wonderful leadership experiences for you as well as the opportunity to make relatively ‘safe’ mistakes. Think about you personal theory about formal leadership. Try it out. See if it works. Most of all, learn how to lead by doing it when the opportunity arises. 8. Learning skills  Part time and volunteer work always involves learning some of the following: • a new set of technical skills • policies and procedures • cash management processes • customer service procedures • people’s names • how to work in a team • how to communicate the ‘company way’ (e.g. contact centres often have their ‘formula’ that you are expected to follow) • how to make food and drinks (e.g. cafes and fast food outlets) 64       ©Copyright Organisations That Matter® 2010       www.orgsthatmatter.com  

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