Archive for November, 2010

The power of wondering and pondering in business

November 29th, 2010 Kevin No comments

Wonder and Ponder in Business Models

There are many models that describe how business works. There is the Deming cycle (plan, do, check, act); Lean; Agile; Benchmarking; Just in Time; Theory of Constraints; Total Quality Management; Six Sigma; Voice of Customer; the list continues.

Two verbs underlie all business models: wonder and ponder.

Wondering and pondering underlie all business cycles?

Yes. Our ability to wonder and ponder as we plan and act is critical for our business success. Improving our business efforts demands a comparison: wondering and pondering provide it.

Say some more?

One of the unique things that separates humans from other animals is our pre-frontal cortex. It’s that part that lets us wonder before we act and ponder as we act and after we act too.

Can you put wondering and pondering in the context of business models?

Sure. Most business models create a plan as the first step.


The process of creating a plan deserves to be full of wonder, in a word, wonderful. Here are some wonder-full questions:

Where are we?

Where do we need to go?

How will we get there, with what, and when?

When and how will we check in on our progress?

How will we know we’ve arrived?

That’s planning. The next step in many models involves analyzing the pros and cons.


The act of analyzing prevents failure and promotes success. This step deserves to be “ponderful,” or full of ponder. Here are a few ponder-full questions:

What benefits will the plan provide?

What outcomes will it deliver?

Have similar plans been successful?

Have similar plans failed?

What are the plan’s strengths, weaknesses, challenges and opportunities?

What assumptions have we made?

After planning and analyzing, most business models encourage that we take action.


As we take action our efforts benefit from an intact sense of wonder and willingness to ponder. We keep track of what is happening and what to make of it. Here are a few questions:

What’s happening right now?

What affect does it have?

What’s working?

What needs to stop?

What questions go unanswered?

What must get answered as we go on?

What results are we getting?

What do they mean?

After we take action, we leave room for feedback and follow up. There are many different terms for this stage, although “review” works as well as most of them.


During the review stage we ask questions filled with wonder to help our team imagine how we can refine efforts and make success happen. Here are a few wonder-full review questions:

How will we compile the results we have so far?

What are our learning points?

What will we reframe or reappraise?

What stays the same?

What has caused uncertainty?

What obstacles showed up?

How can we manage things better?

Who else needs to be involved?

What will benefit from further consideration?

What can we use to benchmark our performance?

What new targets are obtainable; which ones are a stretch?

After the review period, most business models have one final step: improve efforts!


To improve we must bring all the power of pondering into focus. We can benchmark our progress and consider what we need to change. Here are some questions:

What is our standard for performance?

What are we comparing our level of performance with or to?

What room for improvement stands out?

What training will improve our results?

What knowledge needs to flow better?

What management steps will lead to further success?

Where can we loosen control to increase efficiencies?

What new definitions and rules will help existing processes?

What new processes will work better?

Is the structure we have chosen working well?


The good news is that organized business models bring solid benefits. Here are a few of them:

get team members on the same page;

focus on the customer;

improve efficiencies;

save time and money;

avoid reinventing things;

access out-of-the-box thinking;

make change an active part of the business cycle;

stretch and modify goals;

honor the roll of urgency in successful business outcomes.

Whichever business model you use, wonder and ponder how it works for you!

Categories: Consulting, Questioning Tags:

A questioning method for coaching colleagues.

November 21st, 2010 Kevin No comments

Here is a helpful format you can use when you coach others through their business problems, solutions and opportunities:


Have you thought much about this [problem/solution/opportunity]?

How often does it come up for you?

How much attention do you place on this [problem/solution/opportunity]?

POINT: determine whether the issue is even on the person’s radar


From 1 to 10, how clear are you about this [problem/solution/opportunity]?

Are you focused on taking some kind of action on it?

Is the [problem/solution/opportunity] fuzzy or in sharp focus for you?

POINT: a sincere level of focus improves the chance the person will take action


Between very low and very high, what level of importance do you place on this?

Would you place a number on the importance of this, is it 10, or 5, or a 0?

What will it mean for you if you don’t get on this [problem/solution/opportunity]?

POINT: low importance means low motivation; the person must really want to act


Based on what you have said so far, can you describe your resolve about this?

Are you motivated to move on with a plan and act on what you have said?

How do you feel about your consideration of this [problem/solution/opportunity]?

POINT: there is often a knowing/doing gap, check the person’s resolve to close the gap


Have you planned out your next steps?

What kind of a plan do you have in mind?

Would you like to describe your plan to me?

POINT: talk is cheap and a plan makes moving from here to there much easier


What will it take to begin the plan?

How will you make the plan work?

When will you get started?

POINT: specific deadlines and a clear intent to act are critical to make plans a reality

Good luck and let me know how it goes.

I adapted the above format from the work of David Rock, a master coach and founder of the Neuroleadership Institute. His book, Quiet Leadership, explains the importance of questioning others to help them manage their problems and solutions.

For more information, see pages 125-133 of Quiet Leadership on David’s approach.

Categories: Thoughts Tags:

Gesture more with your hand on your heart.

November 16th, 2010 Kevin No comments

Has it been a long time since you gestured with your hand on your heart?

For many, the answer is yes. Although for some, this is a very common gesture.

Do you know people who place their hand on their heart as they talk?

When I ask, people say they like friends and acquaintances who put their hand on their heart as they talk. There’s just something about it that we appreciate. It is a telling gesture.

Do you feel funny placing your hand on your heart while you say something?

People can find the hand on heart gesture funny, perhaps slightly awkward. Get over it!

Placing your hand on your heart helps you for two reasons:

1) it reminds you that you “have a heart”;

2) it reminds others that you talk with that you have a heart.

What’s the point of this post?

The point is, “having a heart” is key because people look below, around, or under your words to see how you really feel about things. By putting your heart into the conversation with the hand on heart gesture, you show them that you back the thing you say: “with all of my heart.”

Gesture more with your heart because it makes it real clear where your heart is!

Categories: Thoughts Tags:

“Newbit:” a new word that honors the importance of new habits

November 13th, 2010 Kevin No comments

What is a “newbit”?

It’s a new word. I made it up. It stands for “a new habit.”

Why the new word?

Because new habits deserve more honor in our daily lives. To honor our new habits, we can call them by their own special term, newbit.

Why do you need a separate word; why not just say, “this is my new habit“?

When something is important enough, we name it. It deserves its own word. The word creates a frame of reference and helps pattern how we handle the concept that the word symbolizes.

You think it’s important to honor the idea of creating new habits this way?

I don’t think, I know (a play on Yoda’s famous line: “Do or do not. There is no try.”)

Why are newbits so important?

Change is the only constant. A daily check of old habits (oldbits) helps us consider which newbits we can form and rely upon to improve things as we navigate our increasingly changing times.

Can’t we just change our old habits?

Changing old habits is the task of heroes and saints. Creating new ones is the work of all the rest of us mere mortals. It is far, far easier to create newbits than to change old ones.

I think I am a little lost, can you explain the point of this post?

Sure. This post encourages us to focus our attention on the importance of new habits. A new word helps us do that. “Newbit” symbolizes the importance of honoring new habits daily.

If we honor new habits more that will help us move forward with our life better?


Raising our attention and focus on newbits helps us create and nurture them?


So the idea of new habits deserves a word to create buzz around the concept?

You tracked my thoughts exactly.

So the point of the post again?

The word “newbit” focuses our attention on how critical new habits are, and naming the concept helps improve the importance we place on creating new habits.

Newbits matter: let’s create, nurture and honor their presence in our lives.

Categories: Thoughts Tags:

The brain under threat: your goal, regain control!

November 12th, 2010 Kevin 2 comments

What’s this post about?

This post is about the science of threat. In other words, how our brain and body deals with threats as “we” (both the conscious and unconscious parts of us) perceive them.

What happens to my brain under threat?

First your automatic safety systems kick in (the amygdala, among other things, starts assessing and rerouting input that demands an ancient course of action to deal with the threat). Second, “you” (the conscious you) start to lose control. Third, your brain’s hard wiring, hormones,  and a few other things put you in fight or flight mode, or you express a non-fight based significant emotional response with an intense urge to talk about it.

Do I have a choice in the matter?

Yes and it is slim at best. Mostly, everything but your conscious self is on the move dealing with the threat. Fast. And if the threat response happens in full, it takes several hours to recover back to the status quo from it. Think about that recovery time next time you have a series of stressful events happen at work, all at once!

Tell me about the slim choice I have?

Well, at the last possible minute, sometimes you can veto the urges and instincts that flood your system. You get tipped off by your body that a threat response is brewing due to your calls to action, like frowning, clenching your fists, averting your eyes, running away, or crying uncontrollably. You can veto what follows those things and regain control of the situation.

Do you have suggestions?

You, the conscious “human” part of you, can prevent the threat from escalating by doing something about the threat response. For example, you can acknowledge with your conscious mind that your “other you” perceives a threat. Say something to yourself like, “Wow, I’m having a threat response.” You will know you are having one because your brow furrows or your palms begin to sweat. Another way to regain control is to reframe or reappraise the situation. Accept the facts as true and reconsider what they mean, moving them away from threat and more in an “interesting” or “I wonder what’ll happen next” place.

Say some more about reframing or reappraising, what do you mean?

These terms refer to the conscious decision to “rethink,” or “re-feel,” what sense your complete self is making of a situation. If a coworker looks at you and says, “You jerk, now I will have to do this all over again!” You can immediately reframe the moment, knowing the message you hear is missing all the facts and, with them, likely is not the one the coworker is sending. Reappraising things has the same effect, for example, you could have compassion for the coworker because of the stress he is under and the concern he has due to a shortage of time.

So what’s the science of threat, anyway?

In a nutshell, scientists are proving we are hard-wired to pay very close attention to things that might be a threat. And once we think it’s a threat (and there are lots of false positives, in other words, times when we think it is a threat and it turns out to not be a threat), our bodies automatic functions take over and “we” lose most of the control we might have had. Some researchers have called this the “amygdala hijack” and there are daily discoveries about how this set of events can really foul up an otherwise very enjoyable, “human” moment.

What (or who) controls our actions during a threat response?

Heck if I know. What we do know, the rational, decision-making person you think you are goes on sabbatical. Just for a little. And that little is enough to jump from a train, cry nonstop, or want to strike out at someone in a spontaneous rage.

What can we make of all of this?

Well, stay tuned. The science of threat is turning up great stuff daily. Once we know what happens, we are in better shape to do something about it. For now, be aware when you are experiencing a threat response, accept it for what it is and acknowledge you know it is happening. Then, try and reframe or reappraise what the senses you are gathering mean.

Rethink threat; act, before it’s too late, to avoid your autopilot from taking “you” over!

Categories: Brain power, People Tags:

Use “filetype:ppt” to learn how others organize topics.

November 4th, 2010 Kevin No comments

Use “filetype:ppt” to locate organized, to the point information on a topic.

Example: in the Google search box, type: “filetype:ppt” and then a subject, like “brain.”

The search results show power point slidedecks related to the subject you typed in. You can then explore how people address that topic, what they believe are key “points on topic,” usually these come in user-friendly bullet points, and how they progress through the topic. Added bonuses include images, sometimes video or audio clips, and often, diagrams and charts that explains things in simple to understand formats.

Use “filetype:ppt” to discover great resources for topics you research on line.

Categories: Thoughts Tags: