By Joe Moore
Challenging and changing things around us for the better starts with being curious. There is so much to be done in a week at work that it makes sense to focus our curiosity. We cannot challenge everything, so we need to decide what to challenge.
If we are going to be more curious – let’s be curious about things which are important, leave the trivial to QI – they are much better at it than us!
How do we assess what needs to be challenged, changed? What moves us to begin to change? The answer lies in unhappiness, discontent, dissatisfaction with the way things are now. The dissatisfaction moves us to be curious – to ask – “how can this be different?”. Or, “how can I do this differently?”
For most of us the starting point for making a change is that we are unhappy with some aspect of the way things are at work, and we think there has to be a way out – even though we are yet to know what the way out looks like.
It makes sense – why change things we are happy or content with? We need to be unhappy with something important – otherwise – why bother investing time and energy on changing something unimportant?
There are two difficulties with relying only on our discontent or unhappiness as the guide to deciding if something needs to change. One is we may be unhappy over things incidental to the values, strategies, goals and outcomes of the organisation. Unhappy with things that do not need to change. The second is we may be happy with things that really do need to change. Some of your colleagues may be happy with having clients wait unnecessarily – yet your clients are not. Others are happy with the way they address more junior staff – despite the feedback that the way they talk diminishes performance. So the way we feel is important and it’s not the only indicator things need to change.
The task of assessing where to start! Once you have a general idea of where to start follow this up with a group of people who know about the issue and use a structured approach to first broaden, then narrow the focus.
A structured approach helps do this. Without such an approach you run the risk of rehashing tired opinions, office politics and gossip.
There are two classes of facilitation approaches. One works with numbers – we can use facts to decide if something about the way we do things at work needs to change. The other with people’s opinions, ideas, and experiences.
Either way it is useful to structure how a group of people considers numbers and ideas. Structure provides discipline to help groups function effectively, use time well and allow for all members to contribute and participate. It’s useful to begin by canvassing the experiences and ideas of the group by taking them through a structured process so the group can decide the most important thing to change. Often the group will decide that the next step is to collect some data to determine frequency, patterns, and trends.
How do you know what’s important to you at work and why?
About Joe: Joe Moore is the founder and principal of Kimber Moore & Associates. Joe and his team are highly skilled in helping leaders and staff deal with uncertainty, change, complexity and conflicts. You can read more of Joe’s posts and contact him here