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    Entries in making sense (8)

    Wednesday
    Jul172019

    Oh the waste of unnecessary work

    Oh, the waste of unnecessary work! We can be head down, diligently working away on a project or task and yet not know when it’s time to be done with it, to test it or share it or press 'go', launch or go live.

    That's because it takes hindsight for us to make sense of things.

    It could be that some of what we have done may have been a waste. Some of our time and effort may have been wasted. When we are deep in it we are too close and connected, too attached to it. We can be attached to the expectations we have or the standards we think we need to reach or the end results we think we are reaching for.

    So how do we get hindsight sooner? How do you get yourself in a position where you can look back on what you’ve done ... sooner?

    Put it out there, pilot, test and trial it. Even if it's not done yet. Then you’ll get feedback and insights and you’ll make sense of that. That’s hindsight.

    Most people can press 'go' sooner on a project or task or piece of work. Sooner than they think. Are you holding back from pressing 'go'?

    >> Where could you ‘go live’ with something today so the power of valuable hindsight arrives sooner?

    Friday
    May172019

    Know where your thinking is at

    With all the information flooding in to our mind - posts, meetings, documents, reports, media ... plus the things we make up in our own mind - knowing where your thinking is at is a powerful form of self-leadership.

    Where are you?

    ⬅️ Are you at HINDSIGHT - the past? This is about stories, sharing what happened and it helps us make sense of now or the future via what has already taken place.

    ⬇️ Are you at INSIGHT - the now, present? This is where information is coming in ("incoming!!") and we need to interpret it, connect it and integrate it.

    ➡️ Are you at FORESIGHT - the future, thinking about the next? This is about predictions, projections of what might happen (based on what happened in the past or what's happening now).

    None of them, or any of the locations are wrong or right. It's the knowing where you're "at", this is the powerful thing about thinking and sensemaking.

    Sensemaking is understanding the deeper meaning of things and how we connect the dots. Are you aware of how you make sense?

    Monday
    Dec032018

    Match the work to the meaning and the meaning to the work

    Match the work to the meaning and the meaning to the work.

    1. A leader presented the team with a 'roadmap' of what was ahead. It was a spreadsheet table full of words.

    2. A manager discussed the need for a team member to 'step up' and showed them a page with specific details. It was boxes of text going across the page.

    3. A sales team leader presented at the annual conference and inspired the team to 'lift' their performance. They showed a list of dot points going down the screen.

    Our language -- and our work -- are rich in metaphors. If you're speaking in them, then why not show them? 👉🏽 Show... a roadmap -- or at least a road! :-)

    👉 Show a series of steps that rise, diagonally up the page.

    👉🏾 Show information that lifts up from the current level of performance.

    Help people make sense of what you're saying and communicating by matching the work to the meaning and the meaning to the work. 

    Monday
    Jan302017

    A story will help you make sense

    This is sense making at work. It's how we connect the dots and draw some conclusions from what was uncertain or complex.

    With Sensemaking rated as a vital capability for the future of work as work keeps getting re-worked, we've got to look at human, helpful and effective ways to make sense - that don't involve drowning in fathoms of data.

    In making sense, stories are critically important. Not so much the telling of stories, rather the hearing, the distilling and the getting to the essence. That's the sense part.

    Even micro narratives, tiny little slivers of a story are worth grabbing and capturing. It could be a phrase, a statement, a couple of words, a slang term or a quote.

    When people drop these little micro-gems into the conversation, look out, grab them and capture them. Reflect them. These will help you make sense.

    It’s a little like how panning for gold might give you hundreds or thousands of little pieces of golden glitter, but no big nuggets. Yet it’s the mounting up of those little shimmers that can give you the right to say you’ve ‘struck gold’.

    So don’t discount the little pieces of glitter, the little slivers of a story, the tiny segments or phrases or grabs. Together they can make some wonderful sense.

    In sensemaking and making sense, you’ve got to tune in those listening skills to hear the slivers of stories; to listen to what people are saying and sharing with you… to capture those.

    Don’t just wait for facts and data. Engage in the anecdotes, the stories, the tales and the telling.

    In my earlier career, my first career, I worked in public relations. Oooh, don't throw tomatoes or boo and hiss. It was good PR. It was community relations. I worked in public health, education, government, training, media, sport. It was about helping people understand what was going on and how they could either get involved … or run the other way!

    Whatever the topic, project, program of work or PR piece I was working on, we always had to craft key messages. When you watch someone present to the media, and if they've been media trained, they'll be delivering their content in sound bites and key chunks - those repeatable, printable, quotable quotes that the media like to broadcast. It's a short chunk of sweet loveliness on the topic. (Oh and at the bad end of the scale are those nothingness quotes that politicians like to sprout. Not those.)

    The same can apply in communication, leadership and workplaces the world over. You need some sound bites and digestible chunks for your listeners and viewers to take in and understand - for your employees, teams and tribes to grab hold of.

    Gather together the little slices, pieces, chunks and cues. Together they can give you incredible sense and help show what people are thinking, wondering, learning, sensing and making.

    Collect the stories you hear - even the tiny little ones - capture them, visualize them, share them and reflect on them… put them together, for they will help you – and the people you’re working with - make sense.

    Thursday
    Nov102016

    For the adventurers, cartographers and tool smiths 

    If failure is sexy and pivoting is in, that means we have a world of people who are keen to keep looking around, wondering, improving and trying stuff out.


    I reckon that might be you.
    I’m giving a big shout out and encouraging thanks to the:

    • adventurers : the people who cringe at bureaucratic BS and wasteful systems; 
    • modern day mapmakers and cartographers : who help people see what’s going on and where we’re going; and 
    • toolsmiths : those who use any type of tech, digital or analogue tool or  implement to get sh*t done.

    You're important mavens, facilitators and connectors in the workplaces of today … and the future.
    I think we’re always on the dangerous edge of losing touch with each other or wasting time on activities that don’t really make a difference.
    So as we head off on our next change journey or a transformation project or as we create a new product or try out something, I particularly want to zoom in on the mapmaker, the cartographer who helps guide or map what the heck is going on. 

     


    Unlock and formulate meaning 
    Static maps of two dimensional things – locations, objects, the universe, stars and planets – have a history as old as time. More recently, 3D and interactive maps have given us more knowledge, awareness, access and opportunity.
    We’re able to depict so much information and detail on a map, thanks to (now) well-recognised symbols and icons. And with the rise of digital mapping on our phones and devices, I think we’re breeding a new generation of map lovin’ people; who either like checking out (or in) where they are, or would LOVE to see more about where things are heading on your project.
    But there’s more to maps than just using them on our phones or devices to find out where we are or to use a GPS in a car to plot out the best or most scenic route. 
    Maps have a stunning place and role to play in the workplace. Here’s why:  
     
    “A map does not just chart, it unlocks and formulates meaning; it forms bridges between here and there, between disparate ideas that we did not know were previously connected.”
    From The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen

     
    To help people know what’s going on, to help them buy-in to the change or project or to see what’s next, we all need a little bit of map maker in us. Here’s how.
     

    Start by mapping the dialogue
    Dialogue mapping is the activity of facilitating a conversation and capturing the threads. When people say stuff, you write some of it down. It’s that easy.


    Once you’ve got some threads, you write 'em down. These threads I'm talking about, it’s what we mean when we say ‘connecting the dots’.  Often you’ll hear people ask, 'Does that make sense?' They’re hoping you’re connecting the dots!


    It's known as sense making: we’re trying to work out what’s going on and what we need to do about it. 
    The beauty of a dialogue map is that you don’t let key content vapourise upward in the room back out through the air vents! No, you capture it and map it. It means others can see what is being said, in dialogue. It brings seemingly unrelated items together, creating a systems approach to thinking and conversations.

    Yeah but what maps?
    Try some maps like this: 

    • For competing sides use an argument map or a pros and cons chart
    • Isolate the questions people have or are asking
    • Collate the answers or ideas you’re all coming up with
    • Scope out the rationale
    • Pinpoint the data, sources of information or research
    • Show the connections and relationships, links and lines.

    Yes, these are maps. 


    The land was unknown before you mapped it and now there’s a map, there’s a way forward. 
    You’ll look like an adventurer, even if you don't feel like it because that map helps keep holding the threads together. 
    I’ve found dialogue mapping to be one of the most powerful tools working with groups and different cultures, countries, fields, industries, levels of literacy and in groups of large and small numbers.
     
    ‘Hooray!’ is what people often say (out loud or in their head; you can tell by their a-ha facial expressions!) when they see the product or thing you’re discussing taking shape. They’re finally able to see what’s been sitting quietly in other people’s heads!
     
    Then once it’s up there, further collaboration happens. You can start building on it. 
    Beyond that conversation or meeting, it becomes an artifact of the conversation; it marks a time in history when sense was made based on what was known. Anyway, maps keep getting revised all the time! This may be version 1.
     
    We are not listening all the time
    Mapping the dialogue helps people hear each other. Because we’re not really listening, are we? Hello? Are we? Well not ALL the time! I don’t think it’s about ‘making’ people listen to us, rather we need to use some other ways of making information

    • easier to relate to (what's in it for me)
    • quicker to digest (who’s got time for big hefty packs of info)
    • clearer to understand (we're all important here).

    This isn’t dumbing anything down anywhere. We are always going to have complex information and content to deal with.
    But we must try a little harder to be better sense makers - for others in the room and most importantly, for those who aren’t in the room! 
    Dialogue mapping helps people hear what’s being said that they just missed (while they were checking their phone).
    It helps capture complex content and represents the views of all, not just the loudest.
    It helps create shared understanding. 
    Meetings are shorter, more gets done, it’s a richer experience and it’s highly engaging. Your brain can not look away (for too long) when there is a changing map up there on the wall, whiteboard, window or chart. 
     
    If you're stressing thinking this is art...
    Please relax. It doesn’t really matter what your map looks like; it can have roads and cities and stops marked on it like a real road map or subway map for example; or it could be a bunch of circles connected with lines or perhaps one wavy line with some points marked on it or a few cloud-blob shapes with some words in them. 

    In the words of Sensemaking guru Karl Weick...
    ‘any old map will do’. 
    It doesn’t matter what it looks like, ok?
    Just have something for people to look at so they know where they are and what’s going on. 


    But not too box-ey ok? 
    I would put one rider on maps; I think there is a danger in having a boxy organisation chart-style map that we’ve lovingly created on our desktop in PowerPoint over the past three days. Urgh. If it looks like a hierarchy or control-like or template-ish, no, not a map. 
    We can get a little hung up on trying to make a ‘plan on a page’ and then reducing all that text down to 6 point font size so it fits in all the boxes we’ve jammed on the page. In trying to make sense we've gone all box-ey. That’s an over-engineered piece of vanilla that neither engages nor inspires. It might tick somebody’s box but it’s not going to light anyone up with ‘hey, that looks amazing; let’s work on this thing’. 

    Then. Now. Next
    The main thing to do is create something that helps people see:

    • where they are
    • where you’re all going. 

    Then you’ve got something to go with; you can can start working out how you’ll get there. 

    Road trip anyone?
     
    “To put a city in a book, to put the world on one sheet of paper -- maps are the most condensed humanized spaces of all... They make the landscape fit indoors, make us masters of sights we can't see and spaces we can't cover.” 
    From Eccentric Spaces by Robert Harbison