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Freedom

Freedom

Freedom From & Freedom To
 
When I was a missionary in Mozambique we spent time exploring the African bush, which was remarkable, by the way. One of my missionary friends asked the guide how they find water to drink when they are thirsty?
 
Our guide explained how they set-up salt-traps for the baboons.  Where we were in Mozambique, water was scarce but baboons were plentiful, and those in the bush know baboons love salt. So what do the bush-folk do? They put a big lump of salt in a hole and wait for the baboon.  The baboon comes, sticks his hand in the hole and grabs the salt.  The salt makes the baboon’s hand bigger, and the baboon’s hand is now trapped in the hole.  But the baboon loves salt so much that it won’t let go of the salt. So the men who live in the bush come and grab the baboon, throw it in a cage and feed it a bunch of salt. What happens next? The baboon becomes thirsty and they release it knowing it will run directly to the water.  The bush men follow the baboon to the stream, and voila…
 
Today, we are the baboons. The salt is cheap dopamine. 
 
Baboons are addicted to salt.  We are addicted to cheap dopamine.  Addicted in the sense that we refuse to let go of the temporary pleasures even while knowing the addiction creates negative consequences.
 
There is an important lesson we should learn from the baboon, it is called Freedom From & Freedom To:
 
In order to get freedom to, you must get freedom from… Don’t be a baboon.

Examples:

  • [Financial] Freedom to buy whatever you want requires freedom from compulsively buying whatever you want.
  • [Physical] Freedom to enjoy a six-pack (abs) requires freedom from enjoying six-packs (beers).
  • [Psychological] Freedom to enjoy peace of mind requires freedom from consuming anything stealing your peace of mind.  
  • [Relational] Freedom to enjoy people who help you build a better life requires freedom from people who helped you build a bitter life. 
  • [Spiritual] Freedom to worship God requires freedom from worshiping god(s).
  • [Time] Freedom to control your time allocation requires freedom from things controlling your time allocation.    

Everyone wants freedom to.  Few will do the work required to receive freedom from.  
 
Corollary: The next step is freedom from, again.  We don’t have time for that today…we will cover it in a future dialogue.  The cycle looks like this: Freedom From, Freedom To, Freedom From Again…

 

-MV

 

Cultures of Accountability

Cultures of Accountability

In order to build a culture of accountability, we have to understand the fundamentals of how accountability exists within the organizational structure. Let’s start by coming into agreement that most of the accountability that is done by leaders is done through a negative lens. In other words, the accountability only happens when people miss the mark on performance metrics or behavioral expectations. We will deconstruct that narrative to help us understand a better way.

The second item of competence is in regards to the idea that we should only hold our direct reports accountable. This couldn’t be less effective. We are a team, and we exist to win together. That’s why we need to hold our peers and our managers accountable – in addition to our direct reports.

The third accountability thought pattern that we must address is in relation to self accountability. If we don’t hold ourselves accountable, we won’t be able to effectively hold others accountable. Period.

The last paradigm to see in regards to accountability has to do with expectations. If we don’t have clarity with what we expect from ourselves and our team-members, then we can’t effectively hold anyone accountable. This article will address these four narratives and act as a how-to overcome these obstacles in creating a culture of accountability.

Step 1: Positive Accountability

Accountability should be given and received as a gift.  Today,  accountability has become more of a “leadership checklist” type of response, rather than acting from a place of care for your people. Let’s get this straight… When we hold others accountable we are saying:

  • I see you and I am paying attention to you
  • Your work matters
  • I value you and see great potential in you
  • I care too much about you to not honor your output (good or bad)

We understand the misconceptions that come with accountability, but if we come from the above heart postures, then we will increase our chances of being received with optimism and gratitude. The main thing to change within our leadership approach is to hold people accountable when they exceed expectations (honor them) instead of just having this conversation when they miss the mark.

Step 2: Peer-to-Peer Accountability

As our data tells us, we primarily hold our direct reports accountable. Why? Because that’s what we were taught to do and we can check that off of our leadership checklist if we do it consistently. But what about the rest of our team-members, including our managers and peers? Should we hold them accountable too? The answer is an affirmative yes!

Why? Because if we really care about our work and our team-members, then we should be honoring and recognizing each other when we go above and beyond. We should also be asking questions when we fall short of the desired outcomes. Again, why would we do this? It really comes down to a heart posture of believing in the potential of our team and the members that are involved in the work we do. This peer-to-peer accountability mindset is not included in your normal daily deliverables, and that is why this can be such a powerful tool to build a culture of accountability. Here are a few questions to ask to help with peer-to-peer accountability:

  • What are your most important goals for the next quarter? How can I support you in achieving them?
  • What do you want your next position at this company to be? How can I help you get there?

Step 3: Self-Accountability

For growth to happen, inventory-taking is an extremely powerful tool to apply consistently within your organization. This inventory taking needs to start with you taking a deep look into the mirror and evaluating your own outcomes. Remember, we tend to judge ourselves by our intentions and we tend to judge others by their actions. Make sure you are not only looking at your intentions, but your behaviors when assessing your current reality. Here are a few questions to help get you started with better self-accountability:

  1. How do I view my performance and contributions to our team?
  2. How does my team view me?
  3. What are my top achievements this year?
  4. What has been my biggest performance disappointment this year?

Step 4: Set Clear Expectations

This step shouldn’t have to be said, but we know that common knowledge is not always common practice. In order to hold anyone else accountable, you must have clarity around expectations that exist for your team to be successful. This means every single player on the team needs to know and understand the key deliverables that each person is responsible for day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month.

What we’ve found is that most people are clear on their own expectations, but they have no clue about the deliverables and focus areas of others (outside of their direct reports). This is madness. Let’s change the story on this and start by working with all of your team-members to answer these three questions:

  1. What can team-members expect of me?
  2. What can I expect of you (the other players on the team)?
  3. What can we expect from each other (peer-to-peer)?

Remember, clarity is kindness. Let’s be clear with what is expected of ourselves and each other.

Conclusion:

A culture of accountability is a brilliant thing. When we see it, it looks like the team running the “Flying V” in perfect formation based on the deep philosophical movie The Mighty Ducks. In all seriousness, a culture of accountability is something that we all want, but rarely see. The application of these four steps may look slightly different, but the concepts remain the same in any field.

You want a better culture? Start by setting clear expectations and holding yourself accountable. After you’ve accomplished those two things, put a framework in place to hold your peers and managers accountable for their output. And remember, the most important idea is that accountability is a gift, and it should be used from a place of care.

Note:This article will help you get started.  For more encompassing details on each step, please sign up for the Cultures of Accountability Digital Training Course by emailing us at info@maxvalueconsulting.com

Be great!

 

-MV

 

The Learning Velocity Contest

The Learning Velocity Contest

It is easy to argue that the whole world is turning into a learning velocity contest. Whether it is business or sports, the speed with which we learn has never been more significant. The idea that we can stay the same and not learn new skills is not a possibility anymore.  According to Harvard Business Review, why do more than 51% of senior leaders believe that their talent development efforts don’t adequately build critical skills? The answer: We are not learning fast enough.  Why? we aren’t intentionally overcoming these two learning velocity gaps.  First, the relevance gap.  Second, the execution gap.  Today, we will focus solely on the execution gap.

 

Addressing the Execution Gap:

In order to overcome the execution gap you must pay attention to the locus of application. The execution gap, or the skills transfer gap has never been larger. In other words, what is taught in our world is rarely applied.  Low level training companies blame their clients for this.  Back in 2017, we took a look in the mirror and started to take ownership of addressing this gap… Ultimately, to better serve our partners.

The distance between where a skill is learned and where it is applied greatly connects  to the probability that  a participant will put that skill into practice.  In other words, it is much easier to use a new skill if you apply it shortly after you learn it.  And of course, the opposite is true as well.  In the development world, we call this near transfer.

Of course, when we say “distance,” we’re not referring to physical proximity, we are more so referring to the gap of time between “learned” and “applied”.  In essence, if you allow too much time and space between when students are taught, and when they execute, there will be a transfer gap, and therefore, a skill gap.

That’s why we built our digital training platform, to ensure the skills acquired during training are actually being applied. And yes, it’s true – we all need reminders and to flood our ecosystem with triggers to bring the techniques and best practices to the forefront of our minds.

At the end of the day, a great digital training platform will use modern technology is used to close the time and space gap between learning and applying.

At the end of the day, if you want to increase your learning velocity, ask yourself what you are doing to address the execution gap. If that gap is not being addressed, don’t expect your learning speed to increase.

Check out our digital training platform here: https://maximize-value-consulting.dialogedu.com/maximize-value-consulting/

 

Love,

-MV

The Hawthorne Effect

The Hawthorne Effect

The Hawthorne Works at Cicero Illinois was an enormous factory built by Western Electric in 1905. In 1924 their electrical suppliers claimed that better lighting would increase productivity and the managers at Hawthorne commissioned a study to find out whether this was true.

They fixated on their factory production workers in charge of assembling electrical relays which were switching devices used in telephone exchanges.  So, the researchers moved in, measured productivity, divided the workforce into a test group and a control group, and then carefully increased the light levels for the test group.  To the surprise of the researchers, productivity shot up in both groups.   Intrigued, the investigators tried changing their study by changing the work environment in other various ways.

One of the tests involved two women that they invited into the test room.  Here, an experimenter discussed changes with them, and at times implemented their suggestions.  One of the recommended changes was to have two five minute breaks at 10AM and 2PM.  When the experimenters later found that productivity had gone up, they offered ten-minute breaks instead (after hearing mumblings that the breaks were nice, but a little too short).  With the longer breaks, they found that their overall productivity went up by an astonishing 30%.

This psychology study has gone on to be the framework for several other studies (none of which we have time for today).  All of the experiments have led to many new behavioral psychology conclusions.  Let’s dive into two of these conclusions from the Hawthorne Effect that should impact the way we still serve our teams today.

  1. One of the major findings of the study had to do with the impact of the informal interactions within your work group, and how they can lead to enhanced productivity. Today, we call these forced collisions.  When we intentionally collide with each other throughout our work day, our output expands.  It’s really that simple.
  2. The other major productivity factor had to do with the sympathy level of their supervisors.They advised the supervisors to listen to their people, provide feedback, and make the changes that the team-members suggested.   When the supervisors demonstrated this behavior, the production increased. Every time.

So, perhaps this psychological research indicated that the workers wanted to please the experimenters, which is often the case in psychology studies.

Or… Maybe it is possible that people really do support a world they help create.

Love,

-MV

Don’t Miss It

Don’t Miss It

Have you ever heard of the famous study in 2007 by the Staff at the Washington Post? Here’s what they did. They put Grammy winning violinist Joshua Bell in a Washington D.C. Metro Train Station and had him play a violin for 45 minutes.  In the research, they studied pedestrians as they were rushing  by without realizing that the musician playing at the entrance to the metro stop was a world famous talent.

Two days before his playing in the subway, his concert sold out at a theater in Boston where the seats average $100. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.  In the 45 minutes Joshua Bell played his violin, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. Around 20 gave him money, but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected a grand total of $32.  

This study by the Washington Post was part of a social experiment looking at the perceptions and the priorities of people.  Gene Weingarten later posed a brilliant question in his article, “in a banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?”  He later won a Pulitzer prize for his story… But I digress. 

This behavioral psychology research helps us ask several important questions that correlate to life and leadership.  Here are three of them: 

     – First, do we perceive greatness? 

     – Second, do we stop to appreciate it? 

     – Third, do we recognize the talent when it is in an unexpected context? 

As it turns out, most of us are not nearly as perceptive to our environment as we might think we are.  Think about it, how many people do you think walked by on that day, and only 6 really stopped.  Heck, he was playing with a 3.5 million dollar violin.  Yes, I said million.     

Now, Chase, great story.  Why are you telling me this?  What does this have to do with influence? Just stop to think about it honestly for a second.  Could that have been you walking past Joshua Bell? Or even better, do you intentionally stop to appreciate greatness that is right in front of you? Has there ever been a time where you didn’t even recognize the talent of one of your team-members?

And why do we just keep walking at the same pace, and don’t stop to engage?  Why are we in a hurry all the time? Where were they all going that they couldn’t stop and listen. 

I’m reminded of the brilliant philosopher and master strategist, Ferris Bueller and his famous quote, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” 

Which ultimately brings me to the point of this timely message… Perhaps.  Just maybe. I wonder if it is possible that the best thing that this Caronavirus situation has taught all of us is that if you don’t take time to appreciate the great things that are already around you, you might not have the chance to do it later. 

I’d never thought I’d say this, and I am still a little hesitant even now, but thanks Caronavirus for helping us pause, and giving us time to reflect, and to ultimately appreciate the greatness that is right in front of us, or already around us.

Love,

-MV