Did you know that Albert Einstein's brain was dissected after he died and scientists tried to figure out his genius by doing that? That is an extreme measure.
Most of the time, we try to decipher the inner thoughts of our leaders and managers to get a glimpse of their thought processes so that we can have clues to the rationale behind their actions and motivations.
Imagine your supervisor, CEO, head of the division, owner of the company starts doing something that nobody understands. This happens more than you think. Well, the old man doesn't know how to communicate or much less articulate where exactly the business is going and if our jobs will be the next in the firing line.
Companies who haven't made the implicit explicit suffer from unnecessary complexities. Without clear, rational, and strategic thinking, CEOs and leaders cannot articulate and galvanize support from their managers and staffers. Too many times, assumptions that do not conform to the realities of the market, and honest valuation of where the business is growing, where threats are coming from, on and so forth, lose its meaning. Take the case of Sears. The giant company folded up recently because the CEO has lost sight of why it was a great success in the past, forces a new strategy that is totally alien to their core DNA and thus imploded from within.
The challenge is getting the implicit assumptions out and putting on the table, dissecting it, challenging it, validating it, and raising it up to pass the standards of what the market requires and what assets the organization have/can muster. That is the place where strategic thinking starts in organizations. Alternatives can only be sought if the original idea has been validated to be no longer tenable in the context of the competitive landscape, obsolescence of product/services, or organizational failure.
Steve Jobs started with the strategy where personal computers are present in every homes-this strategy is part of the larger vision for computers to become part of the lives of people-not just in companies and institutions as computing tools for business. Avon believes in the Avon lady-as the business strategy that underlies the assumptions that the best distribution is through personal connections & word-of-mouth than using a store-front retail approach.
The best organizations have truly expressed in many creative ways what they stand for, their values and operational missions, their business strategies, and their stories that connect with their stakeholders in a compelling way.
The journey towards their next level of growths starts with understanding why the status quo no longer works/or why it is viable and define the possibilities that can come from that realization.
Do you want a piece of Einstein's brain? Hmmm.
Framing and reframing are one of the best weapons of the trade of supervisors, managers, executives, negotiators, trainers, communicators, and of course, it can practically be anyone's.
In 2010, with two suitcases and a dream , I landed in Vancouver airport as permanent resident immigrant. No networks, no classmates, no alma mater, no friends, no former employment history in Canada. It was tough, starting again from scratch, leaving the familiarity and security of one's country to live in a foreign land. My savings went almost dry, when I finally got job.
I underwent a rigorous job application. I attended 5-panel interview that lasted almost an hour in intensity. I felt I did good but I didn't feel that I am fully secured about it too. For me at that time, it was a case of a good job.
Looking back and talking to my former supervisor, he said that I nailed it. In hindsight, I used a lot of framing and reframing skills in that time, illustrating and demonstrating my knowledge, skills, and aptitude towards the job that I am seeking. Instead of just answering their questions, I reframed a lot of them to put myself in a situation where I can give better answers. Remember not all questions are the right questions to answer.
This skill of framing the conversation, creating the situation for honesty and candor, providing alternative perspectives are tried and tested way to ensure that the objectives of the meeting are actually achieved. A lot of times, business meetings take enormous amount of time because the facilitator/chair does not know how to manage difficult conversations and steer them effectively.
Enough of that being said, another reason why reframing is important is because the meat of the topic is being skirted, avoided, or ignored. When this happens, somebody in the group can use reframing to bring back the conversation to the topic at hand, identify the hot issues, the 'elephant in the room' so-to-speak and resolve it.
Authentic communication can flourish when people in the conversation takes more time to listen than speak, frame and reframe what needs to be clearly discussed and addressed, and resolved to be accountable for the results in the interim and the long-term or whatever it takes.
You can't use this enough. I am guilty of not using it when I should be which is most of the time. I guess it boils down to being intentional and clear about what you want out of the conversation and the complexities you are facing in that moment.
I can still recall some of the best moments when I didn't jump into my logical conclusions, waited to hear everyone's perspectives, put myself in their shoes, and checked my intentions before I spoke. It made my day unexpectedly pleasant, effective, and less stressful.
Boards and staff have to set the records straight. They need to define their roles and responsibilities. The Board needs to set the general direction for the organization and look at the long-term viability of staff, programs, and assets. While the staff is hired to look after the particular operations of the organization.
When hands-on Board becomes to muddled up in too much detail, the staff feels disempowered and frustrated that every decision including what nails to use or plants to buy or how many colors of the logo needs to have is a pain in itself. Boards are not meant to make those calls!
It is important to leave it up to the staff to figure it out. They are to be trusted to make those important operational decisions because they are close to the problem, they know what works because they have the experience working in this role, and that they need to exercise their creativity and ingenuity. Respecting each other's roles is highly critical to the success of this relationship.
When Board and staff work constructively, then it can be heaven on earth. It is important that staff can consult the Board when....(state those reasons) and stick to those as much as possible. Constructively in the sense that while roles and responsibilities are delineated well, the relationship is very supporting of one another. If both Board and staff collectively use their energies and their strengths together, they can solve problems, anticipate future challenges, and deal with setbacks with resilience.
It is a tango- takes two steps forward and one step backward. As a dance, partners have to be in one heart, soul, and mind so that it doesn't become a labor but of an art in itself. So it does with Board and staff relationship.
This is one of the learnings of all time.
If you want to get a better deal, ask for it.
Negotiating your interest and what favors you is very important. There is no one on earth who can actually speak for you than yourself.
Whether it is asking for a raise, getting your internet provider/cable costs reduced, getting clients to honor payment deadlines, subcontractors working on their deliverables, buying a house, getting bought out, selling your business, these things do not go in your favor naturally. The other party would have their interests as their main driver/motivation.
Did you notice that usually the one giving advice to you has their interest on their own and not yours? Some time ago, a new acquaintance said that I have to get trained on this particular model to get a particular client's business or even attention. Well, to tell you the truth, getting to another training to get certified is not the best use of time. It does not guarantee business at all. With that and a ticket, you can get on the bus.
There is nothing wrong with getting your deal the way that you want it. Sometimes, you wont and sometimes you do. But asking all the time and not accepting blindly what is being offered is the best policy.
Have you actually asked for a better deal?
Do not ask for permission, ask for a better deal.
This is one of the best questions you can ask an organization.
What business are you in?
If you are selling ice cream, you can't be selling computers next year. That is out of your character, identity, and your mission.
If selling the highest quality of ice cream all over the world is your objective, then please stick to that and do not attempt to be the best of something else, or else, you lose your personality and you confuse your audience, market, and buyers.
The tendency to be-all for everyone is a strong temptation. Resisting is a must if you can be seen as a credible player in your field. The marketplace is very unforgiving. It does not care if you lose focus or patience. It is for the quickest and the strongest of all.
Clear differentiation is the best weapon for businesses to stand out in the crowd. You may be the best barber or social media or marketing professional, but if you do not provide the clear value proposition and significant difference from the pack, it will be hard to attract the right audience for what you do.
It is in the mind of your audience that you have be in the front, centre, and clearly the best choice of all.
In the Philippines, we have a traditional song that goes....
"Planting rice is never fun"
"Bent from morn till the set of sun"
"Cannot stand and cannot sit"
"Cannot walk for a little bit"
It is not fun at all when you have a water buffalo that wanted to do something else! Life in rural Philippines had changed dramatically but in very remote locations, you can see a farmer with his buffaloes.
I don't know about you but planting the seeds of consciousness starts with preparing the mindset for a new thinking, acting, and doing. It is laying the ground work for future action that will take place in not so distant future. It happens in organizations that are thinking strategic, thinking long-term, and thinking about investing further along. Managers need to think carefully how to set the stage, create an environment where the status quo is no longer adequate to account for challenge, let alone, to compete effectively.
The best scenario is the one that comes from the decision-makers themselves and this goes not by serendipity but by actually nurturing and creating those needs for action, the ownership will be there, and of course, the resourcing will never be behind.
Leading from behind is more art than science. Let your nudge take them where you want them to go.