New IQ

The new IQ: forward by Marshall Goldsmith

The knowledge workers: manage people who know more about what they are doing than their bosses to. We need to ask, listen, and learn from everyone around us.

This book is written from the student’s point of view. Chris’s philosophy and process and David’s execution.

Peter Drucker is quoted in the foreword by Marshall Goldsmith, “The leader of the past knew how to tell; the leader of the future will know how to ask.” This sets the thread running through this book.  IQ stands for Innovative Questions which leads to thoughtful reflective dialogue rather than a recipe or the command and control style of leadership.

An Innovative Question has the following characteristics:

  • It gets people to pause and think.
  • It often leads to an “aha” moment.
  • It is focused on getting to an “Ideal Final Result.”

Without dialogue, understanding how people process information, we are limited to watching the behaviors.  This can waste time and money because behavior is a lagging indicator. Talking about what we think, how we feel, and considering possible responses gives more control versus just reacting.  Reflection research shows better decisions are finalized when taking time to think through an issue instead of reactively.

Some have called the time to think as the pause that refreshes.  This pause refreshes energy, gains clarity about what is the desired result, and reduces the emotional reaction which may not be productive. Chris calls this creating a “safe space” for thinking and truth-telling. This process must be an authentic conversation.  People hate being “techniqued” and have developed great crap detectors.

Clarity saves time, energy, focuses on the goal, and empowers us to know what we want.  Einstein said if he had an hour to solve a problem he would spend fifty-five minutes clarifying the result and five minutes deciding how to get there.  Coffey calls this finding out what the “Ideal Final Result” should be prior to strategizing how to get to an outcome. This deliberate process can be part of a learning culture engaging more stakeholders and gaining more commitment to the final result.

Here are “Six Questions of Clarity – With Innovative Questions, we achieve clarity by applying the following six questions:

  1. What is the Ideal Final Result?
  2. How do we define success?
  3. What measurements will we use along the way?
  4. What resources are there?
  5. Who is accountable for what?
  6. What are the consequences/rewards for failure and success?”

It is one thing to want the conversations, quite another to intentionally create the space to make it happen. “Space Creation, first, allows us to effectively define the Ideal Final Result and then gives us a means and a place to make competent moves toward achieving that result.” A “safe space” encourages honest conversations focused on learning from each other and gaining shared commitment toward a common goal.

Many of our meetings and discussions go through a routine.  Certain people talk, some listen, and most just wait it out for a decision.  This withholding of stakeholders thinking has disastrous results. We get into a routine that plays out many times. “To quote Marshall Goldsmith, inertia is the default human state. Most people react to a typical question with a habitual, preprogrammed response.”  Inertia is continuing to the same path unless some outside force changes the structure.

Another part of IQs and “safe spaces” is banishing the word “but.”  In workshops, we say listen for the word “but.’”  Then, listen intently.  When “but” is used, the speaker probably does mean anything they said previously and after the word “but” that is what they really believe.

Here is a summary of IQs:

  1. IQs create a Safe Space for constructive and positive dialogue.
  2. IQs create a space in which your conversational partners can move past an often poisonous stock or programmed response.
  3. IQs allow for finding common ground (what everyone can agree on).

“Innovative Questions allow for the creation of Safe Space so we can work through conflict and decision-making effectively.”  Safe spaces provide an opportunity for all stakeholders to win rather than the one who gets the most air time or who is the most aggressive.

Here are some “Strategies that help you fine-tune your Innovative Questions:

  1. Always check in with the other person or people in the room as you are going back and forth through the elements of a discussion, “Would you agree with that?’
  2. To come to the best decision, or are some people trying to win for themselves? Is everyone on board with that concept?”

Two bonus questions: “If you could wave a magic wand and make this work exactly how you wanted it to, what would you do?” “Could the opposite of what you are saying be true?’”

Asking innovative questions and creating safe spaces for this kind of dialogue is about changing the way we work. The following are the ways Chris classifies change:

  1. “Kaikaku – is the process of making rapid, large-scale change in order to receive large gains. It’s somewhat akin to bikini waxing — you rip off the wax quickly and the change process is complete.
  2. Kaizen – is the process of small changes which, in the end, add up to significant results.
  3. No Change”

Which type of change needed for your organization is a decision best made inside the organization unless you are stuck.  Then, maybe an outside resource might be needed. 

To assess the readiness of change, Chris has his clients fill out a “daily sheet” to see if the client “gets it.”  Steps of Getting It:

  1. Find the motivation to try something new.
  2. Understand the costs and benefits of achieving the goal.
  3. Learn what to do.
  4. Develop the skills to do it.
  5. Acknowledge that you have changed and realize the benefit.

It is important to assess readiness in order to not spend time, energy, and money. James Allen said, “Humans are anxious to improve their circumstances, but generally unwilling to improve themselves; therefore, we remain where we are.”  There is no reason to try and initiate change is there is no motivation. “Getting it” is the primary key in learning. If they don’t “get it,” they probably will “get it” in the end. (no pun intended)

Here are some guidelines that will help in assessing readiness:

  • “We must be clear on the task, meaning we define the Ideal Final Result (IFR) for that task in advance.
  • We must agree on intermediate objectives.
  • We need to set deadlines.
  • We have to contract for styles. This means that we have to agree on the way in which the manager and the team member are going to interact in getting a task done to achieve the objective (the Ideal Final Result).”

For a long time, people believed the beliefs or mindsets needed to change first, then new behaviors would be seen. Richard Pascale posits, “People are much more likely to act their way into a new way of thinking, than think their way into a new way of acting.” For those of us who like quick action, this fits our preferences.  The quote has huge implications for coaching.  Focusing on what can be done and whether or not the actions are being taken creates momentum instead of static inertia.  “The bottom line: Everyone wants to feel significant, confident, and likable.”

“Three elements are very important to Innovative Questions:

  1. Emotions are part of day-to-day human experience.
  2. Leaders benefit when we allow our team members and stakeholders a Safe Space to talk about their emotions.
  3. Leaders have an obligation to work through a conflict.”

Here is a process that might help when trying to figure out what is going on in the organization or with a leader:

  • “Make a statement.
  • Ask the question.
  • Shut up and listen.”

The questions that will help for increasing clarity are:

  • “What do you need more of? Less of? What do you need to start?
  • What should stop so you can do your job better?
  • Paraphrasing what you just heard and asking, “Is that accurate?”
  • What were you hoping that I could do for you?”

Since time for individuals and groups to work on projects means higher cost, most leaders try to find ways to save time and increase results. “Exceptional managers and coaches help individuals shorten their learning curve by teaching skills or the ability to execute more quickly than they might have otherwise.” Innovative questions, clarity for the Ideal Final Result, and safe spaces for honesty conversations can reduce time and increase energy.

So, what do you do when the project ends or is in the final stages? The following are questions that Chris uses for the After Action Review.

  1. “What did you set out to do?
  2. What actually happened?
  3. How did it happen?
  4. What insights do you have?
  5. What are you going to do moving forward? Or
  6. If you could do it again, what would you repeat and what would you do differently?”

The book ends with a great quote. “Strive for clarity over agreement. Clarity is power.”  Amen