The definition of critical thinking is to deliberately analyse information. By making it an intent we can make better decisions and have a better judgement of a situation.
We need to take time to step back and analyse a situation be the Judge and the Jury. By asking the right questions we need to evaluate arguments and evidence. Ironically we need to be open minded and not critical, to be open to being creative, reflective and adaptable.
Critical thinking in essence is about filtering and discovering. We must have a clear mind and not be influenced by a higher order of thinking.
Think about situations that require you to apply critical thinking:-
Buying a house
Choosing a school/college or University
We have to be rigorous in our wish to apply critical thinking we have start with looking at scepticism (why are we doubting the truth) and we have to take a more neutral stance and be objective “fresh eyes”.
The starting point is “What do I know?” and “How do I know this?” this can dispel any deep routed opinions of others or even yourself.
In 1968 Dick Fosbury won the gold medal for the high jump in the Olympics, it is one of the best examples of critical thinking. Up until 1968 high jumpers believed that you had to land on your feet. Fosbury decided to ask the question “How else could I get over the bar?”. By throwing himself head first over the bar he lowered his centre of gravity and reduced his chances of hitting the bar. We are now all familiar with the Fosbury Flop but it all started by applying critical thinking.
Tom Chatfield wrote a book on Critical Thinking and created the 10 commandments of how to do it:-
Slow down – take time to understand what you know already
Conserve mental energy – stay focused (don’t have anything else on the go at the time)
If in doubt wait – only get back to some-one until you are sure
Know your limits – don’t pretend to know what you don’t know (read more and find out more)
Beware of costs – don’t hold on to an idea, just because you have invested time and money
Be strategic – judge the strategy not just short term results
Look to long term – you might have a success then fail however the right way is the mean
Seek out diverse opinion – re-examine
Look beyond a frame of reference
Is their a choice outside the frame
Critical thinking is about a better way of looking at the world. Please do get in touch if you would like nuggets to deliver a workshop firstname.lastname@example.org
The expression think outside the box is the soundbite we all use to think creatively. It often scares the logical thinkers as the randomness of having no stucture or parameters and literally no box can be very intimidating.
There is an alternative “Inside the box” a book by Drew Boyd and Jacob Goldenberg, they give a framework for how you can do creativity with what you have. New ideas are normally a combination of old ideas and the key is to how sort what you have.
Boyd and Goldenberg give three techniques:-
Divide and rearrange
Subtract and replace
Multiply and revise
Divide and rearrange is to look at the components you have and literally divide and rearrange. One of the best examples of this is lego, the bricks are the physical parts that once divided up or rearranged can create many different things. The same principle can be applied with a service, write all the stages of the process on post-its and then stand back and decide whether you can divide or rearrange any of the parts.
This is the journey of promoting and selling a workshop – lets divide and rearrange a few elements. No reason why the Blog cannot move to the end as key learnings for the delegates.
The second idea from the book is Subtract and replace, the best example of this is Apple with the iPod Touch. Initially they did away with buttons and replaced with a wheel. They also went to a further stage and took away the screen.
With the workshop journey, no-one enjoys a death by PowerPoint, how many slides can be replaced with discussion or exercises even though it is an online workshop.
The third idea of Inside the box is Multiply and revise. The example is back in 1971 Gillette introduced the razor with two blades, they did not just double the blades they made the angle different a revision that led to a smoother shave. With the journey of the workshop I need to double the times that I post the workshop to social media with a revision of how I promote it, what is the key angle.
Try and use the technique on a service or a product to see if you can look at it differently, it compliments process mapping technique perfectly.
Please do get in touch for further ideas and for a workshop on creativity or process mapping email@example.com
A client last week shared a brilliant story about why they go to one Fish and Chip shop rather than another that is cheaper and closer to their home. It is all about their brand integrity and the product/service. The Fish and Chip shop only uses fresh fish never frozen, they are not the cheapest, however they have queues outside the shop. It made me think about what defines everyones business “quality of fish” and also how you engage with your customers during lockdown. This restaurant undoubtedly has returning customers due to the quality of their product, this ensures they have people returning.
We will recognise companies that have been imaginative during this time, changing their product or service and making it more accessible. Restaurants like Wagamama sharing their recipes and setting up an online cookery school. ASOS adapting their stock to accommodate the demand for casual clothing, this repositioning of their offering shows they understood the customers need.
Communication is key, the right level of messaging and the right tone. Even on shop windows the positivity of a simple message “opening soon” or the longer ones thanking everyone for their loyalty. Speaking to the hearts and minds of who you want to stay in touch with.
During the time out the companies who have made their products and services even better or adapted their offers will be recognised. I was predominately a learning and development business, with a coaching offering. nuggets is now an online coaching service with workshops. Recognising the need for learning and development to be more intimate and more immediate has lent itself far more to coaching, therefore I have adapted my services.
The lockdown has made it necessary for firms to engage with their customers in new innovative ways and prioritise their happiness. Loyalty schemes need to be personalised therefore even more data capturing and more artificial intelligence to understand what really will make their hearts sing.
The road ahead is still going to be long, however the more we take the time to stay true to our brand integrity eg. quality and communicate with our customers the more secure our businesses will be.
Please do get in touch if you would like nuggets to facilitate a brainstorming session on your key offerings and how you are communicating with your clients. firstname.lastname@example.org
Working with Clients at the moment I get asked how to make one to ones as effective as possible now they are over Zoom.
Do I need to have them more often?
Can I do them over the phone instead of Zoom?
Do I prepare the agenda?
Do I need to give a summary?
With most people working from home, one to ones need to be more often. You possibly followed a best practice guideline of one hour once a month, however in this climate, fortnightly will be better with a timing of 30 minutes.
Zoom is a great tool for one to ones as the intensity of just two faces does give you a clear insight as to how the person is feeling. They might well convey some leakage in their body language which you would not spot on the phone. However with Zoom fatigue being the current buzz phrase it is perfectly understandable that many may have had enough of the video conferencing. As a leader suggest a combination of one by phone and one by Zoom.
The one to one session should always belong to your team member so therefore it is their agenda. However it is good to provide a template that gives them an idea of what to prepare. Currently we will have items in there that would not normally have been in there before, such as well being of working from home. The template can be really simple with some headings as below:-
Up and coming projects
Well being of working from home
Achievements and wins
It can even be as simple as Past/Present/Future, the most important thing is that they steer the meeting and that they come prepared.
Your job is to summarise what was covered, in simple bullet points, so that you can track their performance. You also have shown that you have listened and demonstrated support.
As a leader don’t committ any of the following common mistakes:-
Cancelling the one to one
Setting the agenda and owning the one to one
Doing most of the talking
Taking the problem away from some-one
Not inquiring about feelings
Delivering unclear messages, unclear coaching and unclear instructions
Running out of time
Assuming your one to ones are effective
Embrace getting to know your team better and Zoom is a great for intensity, intimacy and confidentiality. During this time you can get to know your team really well.
Please do get in touch if you would like one to one coaching with nuggets email@example.com
Matthew Syed’s book “Black box thinking” seems very relevant for now, as we are all trying new ways of working and we need to ensure we our creating new initiatives.
It starts with your culture do you have a growth mindset where you and your team practice hard work and learn from trial and error. Failure is not hidden and you all work through how to make it better going forward.
If you are working in a culture of a fixed mindset you think talent is dominant, might be your people or even the product or service. You think when mistakes happen it is just one of those things. Before Covid 19 “our service was brilliant it must just be a – one off”.
The aviation industry has famously the “black box”, when a near miss happens or tragically a fatal crash, the black box is recovered. There are two in reality one the technical recordings of the mechanics and electrics and the other the conversations in the cockpit. The boxes are also bright orange so that they can be located easily. These boxes give the answers as to what happened and provide valuable data to make changes going forward.
We might not have boxes to record our failure however in organisations we can encourage our teams to speak up and share when something is not working. We also want them to be honest about a failure and then as a group it can be analysed.
Syed talks about a hospital in America where they realised two drug bottles were too similar in colour and labelling. It was only until a patient was given a dose of the wrong medication that the changes were made to the bottles. Open your eyes to the processes you have now and ask yourself are they working.
The right culture creates success and every time you are honest with each other you are fostering psychological gain. Whilst working remotely speak to your teams about new ideas and encourage Q and A sessions. We are in an unknown arena for working everyones ideas are good and everyone should be listened to.
On Friday the nuggets book club will be reviewing and summarising “Black Box Thinking” please do join us the invitation is below:-
You are invited to a Zoom meeting.
When: May 22, 2020 10:00 AM London
We often get stifled by organisational thinking, the systems in place and the overhead costs of new ideas, put the lid on fresh thinking. We have a great new product or service but it gets costed out and is rejected before it is even tried.
We need to dream big and start small these are the words of Elvin Turner author of the upcoming book “Be less Zombie”.
In a recent TED talk he explained how a surfer wanted to film himself and literally stuck a camera with tape to his arm to record his surfing. The implementation of his idea was very low tech and cost very little. The Go-Pro was in place and as an individual he had dreamed big but started small.
In organisations we don’t take any risks there is awkwardness, and lack of sharing of ideas which leads to creative constipation. Obviously the stats work against with 9 out of 10 new initiatives failing. However are they counted as failure on paper before any initiative is taken. We create a hierarchy of assumptions in our head as to why something would not work, rather than just trying.
We must challenge our thinking as we now have many new companies who have done just that. Amazon, Uber and AirBnB have all been a disruptive influence on traditional ways of trading.
Think this week of a new way of doing a task, focus on being disruptive, look at everything with fresh eyes. Dream big and start small.
The difference between being successful and effective is knowing how you got there. Success can be luck, it was incredible, however upon reflection there was not necessarily a process to get there. Being effective has longevity and can lead you to success multiple times.
Taking time out to analyse your process can lead to even greater results. A good example was the process of cash machines. When they were first introduced the Banks found that they had high costs on lost cards. The process they had mapped out, was as follows:-
The initial process involved getting the cash out of the machine before the card was returned. Most people were focussed on the money, so, once they had the notes in their hand, they turned away, leaving their card still in the cash machine. Simply by reversing the order of two steps solved the problem – people had to remove their card before they got their money. This small change in the process saved the banks money and also was a more effective process for the customer.
We can process map anything, your morning routine, invoicing, sales, customer returns and setting up a new system.
The most effective way to conduct a process mapping session is as follows:-
Map the process – use magic whiteboards or a roll of brown paper, then use post-it notes to log every step of the process
Analyse the process – step back and decide whether there is anything missing and who has ownership at certain points of the process
Redesign the process – if there are obvious points where the process gets held up, look to redesign
Implement & communicate – Follow the process and document it (infographic) share with as many team members as possible
Review – after 90 days review with the original process mapping team
Facilitating a meeting is to take a complex situation and make it easy for a team to see it simplistically.
True definition of facilitation is as simple as “To make easy”.
It starts with a good brief, clarity on what the purpose of the meeting is and expected outcomes. From this initial discussion the Facilitator can then design an event using tools and exercises that will fit around the objectives.
The structure and tools are designed to create collaborative contributions. They must be varied and interactive and to anticipate different energy levels.
The tools and techniques can range from an initial ice breaker to set the tone and rapport of the day. Flip charts around the room to ensure movement, card sorts and post-its bringing colour and vibrancy to content.
The Facilitator will ensure that the day is kept on track from a time and agenda perspective.
There must be ample opportunities for joint problem solving and lots of discussion. To ensure that items are always relevant it is wise to create a car park flip chart so that you can say:- “That is really good point however can we cover it separately and therefore put on the car park”.
Neutrality is really important and is often best achieved if the Facilitator comes from outside of the company.
The Facilitator is there to make sure that you get the most out of your team members and have relevant actions and outcomes.
Sadly a poor selling technique is to go straight to sharing the knowledge, particularly when talking about a service. Telling your client what it says on their website is the classic “Value snoozer”, why do I want to know something I know already.
The stage that is above the mnemonic and the most important is the rapport building. How do you make somebody feel really comfortable that they want to buy from you, as they have made you feel valued.
You initially find out the service or requirement they are looking for which is the problem and then when you reach the asking lots of questions, split them into two categories.
There are hard facts that anyone and everyone can give you but the soft facts go into identifying the personal requirement.
Working with property managers you can see the divide easily:-
Where do you live currently?
Where have you viewed already?
What attracted you to the area you are currently living in?
What did you dislike about the properties you have viewed already?
If you only collated the hard facts you would be providing them with the same properties they have already seen or rejected.
The balance of questions and listening should always be on the buyers side, remember the 80:20 principle. Ask an open question and listen empathetically for the detailed response.
Empathy is always understanding that person’s position at that moment in time, please don’t sympathise with them or make it about you.
Finally when you have collated enough data you can give a knowledgeable response about what service or product you have available.
We often use review tools when we are facilitating a team or strategy day and one of our favourites is Highlights and Lowlights.
Delivering a course that has been effective for a long period of time and gives a good return is a Highlight but might not necessarily be a surprise.
However a module within a workshop on email led to writing a book “Making email work for you” this was a Highlight and a huge surprise.
We can all identify with the time that Brexit is taking and that comes as a Lowlight but really no surprise.
The Lowlights that are surprise are those ideas that are brilliant in your head, however when they get executed they are not quite as effective as you thought. Famous examples might be the Dyson washing machine.
Reviewing anything and everything is a leadership quality. We can use the four boxes to review:-
You will be surprised with the data you get from a review and importantly what you go onto do with the knowledge.