In the beginning of any new relationship the key is to show you can create benefits they value and build interactions you each enjoy. Often the best way to find things they care about and value is to ask a series of questions. A perceived problem can often be a symptom of something else such as poor management generally or too focused on tactical solutions. To find the best opportunities to tackle FIRST, you need to explore a little in creative ways. It is important to start with divergent conversations including a range of perspectives to help with identify potential outcomes. Divergent conversations help to open minds, if the appropriate creative behavioural environment is generated. This provides many options to consider, but do not be fooled by many options- this can be worse than no options. Attempts to do everything that MIGHT be possible are rarely optimal. Cull the list of options to a subset of the highest priorities through convergent conversation (with appropriate analytical behaviours) to get the best actions to address first.
Start with some conversations triggered by questions about them in their contexts. Consider the impacts (or lack thereof) of combining aspects of people, process, tools and desired business outcomes. These interactions will inform the next level of questions required to advance the cause and performance of the client.
Some useful generic starting questions are:
What are we trying to achieve in the business? (divergent)
What keeps you awake at night? (convergent)
What are the three biggest issues or lost opportunities? (convergent)
How is this aspect causing us issues in achieving our desired outcomes? (divergent)
What actions can resolve any barriers caused by these? (or even better, leverage them to create an advantage?). This one is potentially divergent or convergent- depending on how you lead the behavioural environment.
Who do I need to involve to realise the desired outcomes from these actions? (convergent)
When you have reflected on these and feel you have plausible answers, bounce the resulting plan in some more conversations with others. Actively seek to get insights (pros and cons) from a range of people to leverage different perspectives. Then DO IT (implement the actions!). Reflect on how it is going as you do it as well as reflecting how it could have been improved afterwards (more conversations that matter to gather a range of perspectives- not just your own thoughts). One of the reasons we learn more from errors than from getting things right, is we reflect much more deeply when we feel the pain of a mistake, especially an expensive one. When something works, we don’t tend to reflect as much, perhaps assuming the adequacy of our effort was optimal. Without reflection, this is a BIG assumption!
Go ahead – start a new emergent conversation triggered by reflective questions today!