The Search for the Single Right Answer

We currently live in a world which can be defined by two things its complexity and the need for wide scale change. The world is complex – the accelerating pace of change, globalisation, new technology and the blurring of traditional boundaries all contribute.

 

The need for change is also apparent.  Even before we faced this economic crisis issues such as climate change and over-population were pressing governments (and us as individuals) to try make radical changes to how we think and act.

 

These issues however major and however theoretically important often seem a long way from the tough challenges of day-to-day life.  The hardest of these are those that involve other people and as soon as people are involved problems become really difficult to solve.

 

In my experience regardless of the scale of the issue faced, there is also a common blockage – the search for single right answer.

 

The hunt for the mythical one right answer seems to dominate so many conversations and more worryingly get in the way of things being done.  Complex problems will never have a single right answer so we need to stop wasting time and resources trying to find it.

 

Instead we need to find solutions that will help the situation and that we ourselves can implement.  Then we need to just give it a try – it might not work but it will always be work effective than searching for the single right answer that does exist.

 

Where is the hunt for the Single Right Answer getting in the way of you actually doing something?

 

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Leadership, Difficult Conversations and Coaching

Through our bespoke work we have recently noticed key themes emerging for our clients as they respond to the challenging market conditions. In response to this, we have developed a core suite of workshops that we are   able to offer  at  reduced rate.

Difficult Conversations – Many organisations have the right tools and processes in place to deliver successful people management. In our experience managers lack the skills and confidence to use these processes as well as they could. This programme uses the principles of having difficult conversations to ensure that the organisation makes the most of these tools. A recent programme focussed on Absence Management contributed to a 20% improvement in attendance rates.

“A key strength of Kynesis is their ability to tailor a development event or programme which not only focuses on the ‘real time’ key issues to be dealt with but which, more importantly, also encourages practical actions for dealing with them”

Frontline Leadership – Developing the Frontline leaders in an organisation is vital. Whether they are your emerging talent or your well-established load bearers this group have a clear influence on the service and performance of your business. Our 4 day programme develops the leadership skills of these individuals in a way that is engaging and impactful.

“Thanks for a great couple of days. I found the course to be challenging, thought-provoking and very inspiring”

Coaching Skills for Managers – A coaching culture isn’t about being supportive and caring instead it is about leaders challenging and developing their teams in a way that increases accountability and engagement. Most of all it is about performance improvement. This two day programme develops coaching skills for managers of all levels. Giving them the skills, experience and confidence to coach their teams to improved performance.

“Coaching for Success has helped increase the capacity of the organisation by creating a culture of supporting managers to think through issues and options to make informed decisions themselves”

Is Cultural Matching the missing ingredient in collaboration?

I was recently brought in to help a partnership where the honeymoon period was well and truly over and it was proving hard to achieve all that looked possible while “courting”.  Some things were going well but there was still a lot more to be gained.  We certainly helped, but some hard thinking and honest evaluation earlier in the partnership could have avoided a lot of anguish.   Sometimes we are involved in the early stages, facilitating the initial joint discussions, however the real work of making collaboration work starts even before this.

You need to be asking two critical questions before any formal discussions:

  1. Is Collaboration the right answer?
  2. Are these really the right partners?

I’ll address alternatives to collaboration later.  So dealing with the second point: choosing the right partners can be very difficult.  The numbers seem right and the opportunity is clear so what can go wrong?  Resources, Shared objectives, Governance and Leadership all matter a great deal but not considering the impact of different cultures is one of the most common mistakes.

Differing organisational cultures (fundamentally the way things are done) can be big barriers to a successful partnership. It is very easy to trust “it will all work out” but once the unwritten rules that make up a culture come into play it is very easy to start to misunderstand or even doubt each other.  This then impacts on your mutual trust the cornerstone of good collaboration.

Once you are committed, changing the culture of either partner is very difficult, if not impossible. So before you reach that stage you need to be asking – “Can these cultures work together to deliver value for both of us?”

This is a really challenging question to answer involving unquantifiable cultures, sub-cultures, artefacts and layers.  The temptation is to ignore these challenging “soft” issues especially while caught up in resolving the other easier “hard” issues but doing so can put your whole project at risk from day one.

Initiated, designed and delivered  professionally, genuine collaborative working can offer both partners many advantages.  In fact, in the current economic environment collaboration can be the only way for organisations to thrive (or even survive).

Cognitive Fitness – Get your brain sweating

Looking after yourself generally means exercising and watching what you eat.  New research in neuroscience is now showing that it is just as important to exercise and feed your brain as well as your body!  We know that the brain is split into 2 sides with the left side taking care of the practical, ordered side of life whilst the right hand side if the imagination and creativity.  Opinions vary as to which side you should focus on but one is linked to the other so both sides should be developed.

It used to be thought that as we got older we “lost brain cells’ and that it was impossible to get them back.  The new research however proves this not to be true. In fact it is quite the opposite, you can actually increase the connections and neurons by exercising your brain.  4 simple steps can help you (adapted from Gibley & Kits, HBR Nov 2007) –

1. Understand how experience makes the brain grow.  Look at how you learn and the different ways in which we learn, for example – through observation, by listening, reading, getting professional qualifications in a structured manner, by learning languages or studying sport.

2. Work hard at playing.  Play improves your ability to reason and understand the world.  It can be a learning or a social activity and increases our enjoyment of life.  Play has an important role in learning skills, helping us set goals, developing our mental imagery and our memory amongst other things.

3. Search for patterns.  Your brain’s ability to scan the environment and create order and meaning from all of the information out there.  By doing this we can then assess a situation and decide the best or most appropriate course of action to take.

4. Seek novelty and innovation.  It was traditionally thought that this only develops the right side of your brain however, we now know that it is actually develops the connections and neuron growth in both sides.  It is also what keeps your mind open to new ideas and other people’s views, opinions and thoughts.

Here are some quick ideas that might get you started

  • Manage by walking about – chat to other people in your life/work, listen to what they have to say and don’t live in a silo.
  • Read humourous books or watch comedy programmes.  Laughter not only makes you feel good but also boosts your immune system and allows you to cope with the physical and mental strains in life much better.
  • Play games, not just physical ones but do crosswords, suduko, play chess.
  • Act on what you have learned to get physical and theoretical  experiences.
  • Take a look at what you don’t know, get feed-back from others, fill the gaps, open your mind to new ideas and experiences.
  • Get the most out of your business trips, make time to visit a place of interest, speak to local people, read a book about the area.
  • Take notes on things that interest you, ideas, thoughts of others.  Read them back and make use of them even if it is to help create other ideas.
  • Play with new technologies, download music/funny video clips onto your ipod, get the latest gadget and share with friends.  Technology uses a whole range of senses giving you a complete workout in one.
  • Learn a language or instrument, this will give your brain a top workout.
  • Exercise your body.  The chemical reactions that take place in your body during and after exercise also help your brain develop.