I’m a big fan of group fitness classes at my local Y. They keep my body busy which frees up my mind to think about interesting problems. In a recent group cycle class I found myself pondering ideas for new workshops. To get my brain in gear, I focused on the question, “What information do managers need to be more effective?” I considered and quickly dismissed a couple uninspiring ideas. Suddenly, something grabbed my interest. Oddly, it wasn’t the answer to my question, but rather a rejection of the question itself.
For many problems and with many managers, there isn’t a lack of information. They are amply equipped with more than enough theories, processes, tools, principles, techniques, and reference guides to deal with the situation. And yet they don’t. The challenge isn’t in providing more know-how. It’s inspiring people to apply what they’ve already learned.
Here’s an example. I offer a workshop on meeting facilitation skills. In it I describe all the best practices that effective meeting facilitators use to create positive results. People shake their heads in agreement. Many of the ideas they tell me they already knew. And yet, they fess up that they don’t use these techniques, and many of their meetings go off the tracks. Why? The usual suspects are lack of time, support and self-discipline.
So what’s the right question? For most of us there are two questions.
- Why don’t I use what I’ve learned?
- What would help me start using what I know?
While these questions are primarily meant for work, they apply in other aspects of our lives too. Is there anyone trying to lose weight that doesn’t know the secret is decreasing calories and increasing exercise? If we already know this, why do we keep pursuing the next “big idea” in weight loss? Again, lack of information isn’t the problem.
I don’t pretend to know the answers to the two questions I’ve posed. Perhaps I can start by working on myself. If you think these questions are worth answering, ask them now. And when you’ve discovered (or perhaps already have) something worth sharing, I hope you will add your insights in the comments below.
Photo by CarbonNYC