Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Social Networks for Adoption of Product or new technology implementation

I was watching this video and lots of ideas sprouted in my mind...

For a large organization, it makes much sense to focus on studying this 'Social Networks' and connections at work for making any technology implementation successful (if not increase the adoption rate)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Feedback that works!

One of the most effective models of delivering feedback is set forth in a small handbook, Feedback that Works by Sloan Weitzel, published by the Center for Creative Leadership, 2000. There is a three-step process (added fourth step - See below) in delivering effective feedback:
  1. Capture the situation (S)
  2. Describe the behavior (B)
  3. Describe the impact the behavior had on you or the organization (I)
  4. Place a request (R)

Capture the situation (S): In the first step of the process, you must be specific as to what happened, when it happened and the context. The more specific you can be the better. Refrain from adding any judgmental statements. Be as neutral as possible, avoiding words that might trigger defensiveness. The idea here is to recall the event.

Describe the behavior (B): In this crucial step, you must give information about what behavior needs to stop or continue in order to improve performance. Avoid using adjectives that describe the person, but using words that describe the person's actions are acceptable. The more observable behaviors that can be described the better, as you are presenting facts here, not interpretations. It is important to capture not only what people do, but how they are doing it. This requires keen observational skills in order to describe nonverbal communication and body language.

Deliver the impact (I): In this step, you must focus on the impact of the behavior on you. This is not where you communicate what the impact may have on the organization or on other people. When you interpret and make a judgment about the behavior, you are less effective because the person can become defensive and argue with your interpretation. When you deliver the impact it had on you, it is harder for the person to dismiss your personal experience and it is more likely they will hear what you've said. You are sharing your personal point of view and asking the other person to view their behavior from your perspective. This kind of sharing can build trust and lead to honest sharing.

The fourth step in the process (based on my experience and the 'Conflict Management Tools' program I facilitated at Satyam School of Leadership) is:

Place a Request (R): This is important aspect of Soliciting, Giving or Receiving Feedback. Without placing a request i.e. What would you like the person to keep doing or do differently? and What support would you offer him/her? the other person would not understand what action is expected of him/her.

In brief:
Situation: Where and When did the specific behavior occur?
Behavior: What are the characteristics, actions, words and non-verbal behaviors that need to be repeated or improved?
Impact: What are the consequences? What impact does this behavior have on other people? Is the behavior effective or ineffective?
Request: What would you like the person to keep doing or do differently? What support would you offer him/her?
Some organizations, use a modified version of the above:
- Event
- Action
- Results
- Next Steps
essentially the same principle

Feedback needs to be clear, specific, candid and concise. It should not be judgmental (good/bad), blaming (fault/scapegoating), or come from right/wrong thinking. If delivered in any of these modes, it will trigger either active or passive defensiveness.

These steps are valuable for both positive and negative feedback. Perhaps the best way to begin the practice of effective feedback is to start with positive messages. One message should be delivered at a time, however, to avoid the sandwich effect. When negative feedback is sandwiched in between two positive messages, it is less effective because the positive messages never get heard. This may be perceived as manipulative and insincere and does nothing to build trust.

I also benefited a lot from reading the Q&A material

*p.12 Feedback That Works, Sloan R. Weitzel, Center for Creative Leadership

Friday, May 13, 2011

My 'Yellow Brick Road'

Few thoughts that trigged in me while reading Dr. Myra White's book 'Follow the Yellow Brick Road' - A Harvard Psychologist's Guide to Becoming a Superstar:


I was part of a Non-Profit (around 6 ½ years) in the last decade. We ran a 90 day program in classroom, starting with 'Life Skills' module and then domain skills (Arithmetic, Basics of Computer, Retail, BPO, Automobile etc.). The 'Life Skills' program (first 10 days) is worth mentioning as it followed the same pattern as Dr. White has outlined in her book.


The Program is designed to answer the four key questions,

1.       Who am I?

2.       Where do I come from?

3.       What are my goals? (We believed in multiple goals)

4.       How do I achieve them?


At the end of 10 days, these youth were very clear about their 'Purpose' in life and reportedly felt 'in control'. This was also a testimony of our 'facilitation skills' as we had a challenge of 'Drop outs' in the program. This was a 'Free' course and we were not sure if they would come back again the next day for the classes. Yes, we did not charge any money from these beneficiaries, we found corporate or govt. sponsors for the program, later moved to 'Pay-it-Forward' model. The graduates of the program started to pay for the subsequent batches from their salaries. A commitment to help their fellow youngsters! We were surprised at the evolution of this program. We did not design this to be this way! Neither we forced them into such a model.

These four questions, held the key for success of the participants of this program. Those who kept their 'journals' handy and made copious notes (some students even preserved these notes & exercises that we gave in class - well after 3 or 4 years of their graduation!). We had designed games, activities to help them realize the importance of these four questions. As these were young adults (some of them primarily dropped out of school education system because they were 'Told to do' certain things and they never understood 'why' they were supposed to). We did not want to 'Tell them' what they should 'do'. However, they 'understood' the message.


In these 'First 10 days', around 70% of the students turn around and 'focus' on what they should be doing with their lives. The rest, feel the momentum and join them well before the end of the program. We always enjoyed around 90% employment rate and we followed them for many years after they graduated to ensure that this is 'Sustainable' change.


Taking sessions for these young adults and training facilitators to 'make this happen' were the beautiful moments in my life!

That was my 'Yellow brick road' and I can say proudly that in this process, I could help many walk the same!



Bhaskar Natarajan, ACC

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Thirteen Virtues - Benjamin Franklin

Thirteen Virtues
Franklin sought to cultivate his character by a plan of 13 virtues, which he developed at age 20 (in 1726) and continued to practice in some form for the rest of his life.
His autobiography lists his 13 virtues as:

 1. "Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation."
 2. "Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation."
 3. "Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time."
 4. "Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve."
 5. "Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing."
 6. "Industry. Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions."
 7. "Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly."
 8. "Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty."
 9. "Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve."
 10. "Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation."
 11. "Tranquility. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable."
 12. "Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another's peace or reputation."
 13. "Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates."
Franklin did not try to work on them all at once. Instead, he would work on one and only one each week "leaving all others to their ordinary chance". While Franklin did not live completely by his virtues and by his own admission, he fell short of them many times, he believed the attempt made him a better man contributing greatly to his success and happiness, which is why in his autobiography, he devoted more pages to this plan than to any other single point; in his autobiography Franklin wrote, "I hope, therefore, that some of my descendants may follow the example and reap the benefit."

Bhaskar Natarajan, ACC