Posted tagged ‘solution’

Pep talk from Kid President (wisdom in a small package)

February 22, 2013

This Kid is my motivational speaker idol now! Move over Tony Robbins! I’m moving over. Let Kid President take the stage.
I can’t wait to see what he does next.

Influencing Your Inner Movie – The Thinker & The Caveman

September 13, 2012

This is my favorite thing to teach. Being able to positively influence oneself is a critical skill for anyone increasing success, happiness, and even health.

There will be more videos teaching how to apply these concepts and tools in your life.

Stay tuned!


(note: Safari seems to have trouble playing this video. Please use a different web browser.)

Positive Intelligence

February 7, 2012

Shawn Achor is a dynamic speaker and writer on this topic.

His take, through the Harvard Business Review on positive intelligence is a fantastic example of putting the science of happiness ahead of outdated conventional wisdom.

Even though he is a “competitor” of sorts I can only speak highly of everything I’ve seen him put out there.

Rock on, Shawn! You are a major player in what I call the Positive Change Revolution!

Do Free Work – For a career you’ll love!

January 22, 2012

Charlie has clearly articulated a powerful approach to creating a career you can love. It’s an approach that we have used successfully as well.

Our Story:

In mid-2009, when work slowed down dramatically, I did the same thing. We had all this free time on our hand so we decided to go out and do what we loved for free until people could pay us. We realized that the best thing for creating paying work, is when people have experienced good work of ours.

The ways that have worked for us:

  • We identified our “ideal client” and our “ideal gig”.
  • We began to speak about these favorite topics to groups of people that contained our ideal clients (CEO’s, human resource professionals, and other leaders).
  • Even more radically, we became very flexible with our price structures if an ideal client fit the following criteria:

Their mission is one we are passionate about

We like them as people and working with them was enjoyable

We have the time to do it

  • The easiest thing is to do whatever it takes to make our consulting programs work for the client. That often means going way above and beyond what we’d expected to see happen. Adding value in many unexpected ways as we go along. The wonderful thing is that this is a far more delightful way to work as well. Plus, the testimonials clients did for us went from very good to outstanding.
  • We produce free videos for our ideal clients. I’m a bit of a video production geek anyway, so it was an easy next step. We started asking if we can video-record portions of our programs. We created videos they could use to communicate changes to their far-flung employees and other stakeholders.
  • We even create videos and lead events far after we are officially done with a gig.

The benefits

  • No surprise, their gratitude helps us network and build a reputation much faster.
  • We’re doing more and more of the work we love to do.
  • We’re partnering more and more with clients we like and respect and who like and respect us.
  • I’ve always enjoyed my career, but now I love it more than ever.
  • We keep honing our skills at what we most want to master.
  • We feel engaged and alive, even when the money isn’t so strong. It keeps morale up.

My challenge for you

What can you do to create even more passion in your career?

Video that speaks to positive life-transformation

September 27, 2011

Last year I blogged about this amazing nonprofit in “Deep full-life transformation“.

This video is a compilation of client interviews we made over about 6 months. Very inspiring!

Using classical music to inspire – video

December 18, 2010

This video shows Benjamin Zander in full glory presenting at Being a world-class conductor, he speaks to influence and leadership using marvelous musical analogies. He has wonderful stories that are worth the video themselves as well. And his shoe salesmen joke is a classic example of looking for solutions.

Positive Change Questions that can transform every part of your life

April 23, 2010

Positive Change Questions

These three questions create positive direction, momentum and creativity–fast. I’d guess that in most situations 95% of the problems that might have been brought up in tension-causing ways are dealt with simply by answering these questions. That saves a lot of potential waste of time and emotional energy from blaming, defensiveness, avoidance, obfuscation of the goals, etc. If there are still problems to be dealt with after answering these questions, I find that people address them more positively and optimistically having already created significant momentum towards their goal(s).

Our Positive Change Questions tend to increase momentum, goal-focus and unity in a team. Each question has specific effects on the people answering them:

Goals? It is part of being human to be regularly distracted from our goals by the demands of the day, the stressors of the moment, and the frustrations caused by problems. It can be easy to become focused on fixing problems that may have little impact on our actual goals, particularly in interpersonal dynamics. Answering this question helps to refocus ourselves on the point of why we’re doing what we’re doing.

What works? This helps us build upon momentum that already exists by first asking about our past successes. This question has many powerful benefits. This builds confidence by focusing upon the capabilities, attitudes, tools and resources we already have. It helps us to remember to do what has been successful when we might otherwise have left it behind unnoticed and unappreciated. A third benefit is that we learn during these dialogues about many best practices that others have used and how they were used successfully. Then we focus on what is currently working for others. This broadens our focus by learning from others’ best practices as well. These conversations also help motivate people to strive to create best practices that will be mentioned in such discussions in the future. There is a very healthy pride that is cultivated in these discussions as well.

I’ve noticed with many clients that “What works?” is rarely used during most teams’ problem solving.  This habit often lowers morale, creates meetings most people loathe, and the too common Blame Game.

What else? I find it very helpful to do this after the “What’s working” discussion so that we are building upon the momentum and thus it is far easier to keep focused on solutions and away from blame.

It is helpful to “think out of the box” regularly, too. Allowing a free flow of ideas on other alternatives is the fundamental step in innovation. I’ve found it also builds a sense of vitality and creativity in teams. Done well, it cultivates a culture in which ideation is rewarded and innovation is fostered. It is very helpful to have commonly agreed upon brainstorming guidelines during this stage.

My story of discovery – the power of solution-focus

April 21, 2010

An Old Sea Dog Can Learn New Tricks

I want to tell you why my approach has changed so radically over twenty years as an Organizational Development practitioner. I want to tell you why I love my work now more than ever and why my clients do as well. I’ve grown into using the OD approach known in Europe and Japan as Solutions Focus1. We’ll start with a true story.

It’s December, 2008. I’m in a conference room in The Mariner’s House in downtown Boston. It’s an Inn where sailors have been visiting for 160 years. You can practically smell the salt in the air and feel the roll of the ship underneath your feet. I’m facilitating an inter-sector collaboration event with forty-five members of the US Coast Guard. Bill Schenkelberg, my internal partner, approaches me. Bill is the Special Agent in Charge of the Coast Guard Investigative Services. He’s one of those rare clients that really understands both the nitty gritty challenges his agents face and the concepts of organizational development. He and his eight liaison agents are the hosts for this event, to which they’ve invited several other Coast Guard sectors. He has a worried look on his face. “Some of these guys look tense. Most of them only see my men when we’re investigating somebody within the Coast Guard. Are you still confident that we can pull this thing off?”

I survey the room looking at the inflow of sturdy sailors of all ages. These people look like they could face down the perfect storm. I doubt they would tolerate anything that is not eminently practical. Looking back at Bill, I put as much confidence into my voice as I can and say, “It worked with the Transit Authority, and they had a much tougher situation. These are good people here who are passionate about their jobs. We’re using language designed to work with their physiology. It’s very powerful. Plus, we’re giving them a chance to achieve collaboration, which is in everybody’s best interest.”

As Bill begins his introduction, I notice a burly weather-bitten man with his arms crossed and a look of real skepticism on his face. Let’s call him “Mike.” Seeing Mike’s dubious expression, I now need to reassure myself. To do that, I think about the training and preparation we’d already done and begin to relax. Bill and his crew of eight agents had proven to be as tough and resilient mentally as they were physically and emotionally. They had learned the brain science I’d taught them. They’d really grasped the concepts on how to craft language that motivates others rather than scaring them into fight, flight or freeze. Most importantly, they had created very moving “Solution-Focus Power Reframes” about the value of each sector and the importance of collaborating with each other.

As the Power Reframe presentations are happening, I can see most people relaxing, with smiles appearing more frequently and more and more nods of agreement. During our first discussion there is an almost tangible spirit of openness and sharing. Bill and I tell each other, “Things are going well.”

Later in the training, I lead the group in a feedforward2 exercise. Mike approaches me still looking skeptical. In a deep growl he asks, “What’s the point of this positive stuff anyway? Does this activity really make any difference?” Taking a breath to keep myself calm I reply, “In ten minutes (gesturing to the group), they will tell you the answer to your question. Yet I can tell you now if you’d like.” At his nod, I continue, “My experience and many scientific studies have  shown that people are much more open to new ideas when you build on the strengths they have and focus them on positive outcomes. There’s a clear place to address problems, but a vast majority of the time focusing on solutions is faster, easier and a whole lot more fun.” Mike’s expression softens a bit, but he still looks a bit dubious.

As the activity continues I muse on Mike’s question. I think back to how I became so convinced of the power of more positive approaches. Twenty years ago when I first began consulting with organizations I used the classic root cause analysis approach.

I still remember the one event   fifteen years ago that was my catalyst for using Solution-Focus with my clients.

We were in a beautiful conference center in central Massachusetts. I was facilitating thirty members of a small medical clinic – helping them to improve their teamwork. We brainstormed a list of problems with their teamwork and began a Gap Analysis to see what needed to be done to fix the problems. I watched the group closely and noticed that their motivation continuously waned as we talked about the problems.  This distressed me as they had started out enthusiastic and optimistic when we did our team simulations. I asked myself, “How I would feel if I were in their group right now?” I realized with a start that I would also be depressed by the conversations we’d been having. I then realized that I didn’t use this approach with my own life because I didn’t like the way it felt and found it so negative that I’d often abandon problem-focused efforts mid-stream. So why was I using it with them? … Because that’s how I’d been trained.

Over the next few weeks I thought about what actually works best for me personally, and what works with my own employees. Over time, I realized that focusing on three topics energized and directed us very well. I sat down and wrote down what I came up with:

  1. Goals? Clarifying what we are trying to attain together and why.
  2. What works? Listing all the things that we and others are doing that are ALREADY working towards this goal.
  3. What else? Brainstorming new ideas or approaches to achieving our goals together.

(Note: Years later these topics evolved into my Solution-Focus Change Questions – see full article)

I began to get very excited about trying this with my consulting clients. I also began to feel very nervous. I worried, “This just wasn’t the way it was done. What if clients don’t like it? What if they find it too ‘touchy feely’? But I decided it was worth the risk.

To my great relief and excitement the approach of focusing on solutions not only worked, it worked far better! It also was faster, which surprised me at first. Then I realized that often focusing on problems takes the group down rat holes of blame and defensiveness, and then it takes a long time to get people focused on the goals again. This new approach was also more fun. This didn’t surprise me as talking about strengths and energizing visions is generally motivating.

Over the years I experimented with many ways of guiding my clients to focus on solutions. I kept honing the concepts, tools and my approaches. I took courses in Appreciative Inquiry3, learned about building on strengths4, and studied emotional intelligence5. I began using Marshal Goldsmith’s feedforward model2. I loved them all and adapted my favorite ideas and concepts into an approach that I began to call Solution-Focus. I discovered more and more research that supported my experience6. I was delighted to discover a burgeoning movement in Europe called, delightfully enough, Solutions Focus1!

This led me to using the Solution-Focus Change Questions with the Coast Guard. Responding to these questions was clearly building energy and focus, whereas in the past focusing on the problems between the sectors had often led to more conflict.

The Coast Guard members are done with the feedforward activity and I bring myself back to the present. I ask them each to share one word about what the   Feedforward activity was like for them. The energy builds in the room as they excitedly throw  out words like “enlightening”, “engaging”, “fun”, “educational”, “helpful”, “insightful” and “energizing”. I look at Mike to see if he is satisfied with their responses. He nods at me thoughtfully. The smiles and creative ideas people have shared understandably build far more credibility than my reassurances had.

The feedback at the end of the event includes phrases such as “built bridges”, “I now see how much we need each other”, “I have great ideas for better cooperation”, etc. Bill and I feel great and talked excitedly about next steps to keep the momentum going. The icing on the cake, however, is when Mike approaches me and asks, “Can I have your business card? This would be really helpful in my sector too.”

The views expressed in this publication belong solely to the author. They do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Coast Guard.

[Follow this link for a copy of the full article including sources quoted – go to “Publications” on the lower left of the page]

%d bloggers like this: