Monday, September 24, 2018

Facing the Unexpected: 3 Powerful Habits to Help Workers Train Themselves - Tip #196

What do you do when you have a problem? How do you respond to unexpected outcomes?

When faced with complex challenges or uncertain outcomes, many leaders believe that if they are smart enough, work hard enough, or turn to the best management tools, they will be able to find the right answer, predict and plan for the future, and break down tasks to produce controllable results.

But, the truth is no matter how good we are, we find ourselves having to deal with problems and situations that we've never faced before. To effectively solve these issues, we have to think differently - the way we think needs to change.

3 Powerful Habits to Change the Way We Think

In the book Simple Habits for Complex Times: Powerful Practices for Leaders, authors Jennifer Garvey Berger and Keith Johnston explore three powerful habits of the mind - that we all have - which will help us see the world differently:
  1. Asking different questions,
  2. Taking multiple perspectives, and 
  3. Seeing systems
Improving our ability in one, or all, of these areas offers a world of insight and promises the avoidance of problems. A powerful read.

The book reminds me of another one by Elie Ayache, The Blank Swan: The End of Probability. In our complex world, there are new habits to be learned.

One of those habits or skills is how we think things through. John Hagel speaks of this as the need to have advance cognitive skills.

3 Steps to Developing These Powerful Habits

The three habits discussed in the book Simple Habits for Complex Times is at the heart of the new software which I just launched called Situation Expert. Its key design supports what Daniel Kahneman calls as "slow and fast thinking": People tend to be biased in most of our quick decisions and actions, so it’s best we think them through.

Here’s how it works:
  1. It asks workers and learners to share a situation, a problem, or an issue they want fixed and solved.
  2. Then they ask others to think this through with them.
  3. They go through the three steps of
  1. analyzing the problem,
  2. finding solutions, and
  3. discovering patterns.
To implement these three steps, workers use tools such as Fishbone analysis, What if situations, Pareto laws and Workarounds. They offer solutions via a checklist or a reference video or link. The final step is to make sense of everything by identifying key patterns. The net effect of going through the process is better thinking for reliable results and learning from others.

These habits based on Berger and Johnston’s book Simple Habits for Complex Times is timely as we continue to explore how we can reliably depend on our workers to learn by training themselves.


Jennifer Garvey Berger and Keith Johnston. Simple Habits for Complex Times: Powerful Practices for Leaders 1st Edition. Stanford Business Books, March 1, 2016
Elie Ayache. The Blank Swan: The End of Probability.Wiley, May 17, 2010
John Hagel. Mastering the Learning Pyramid. Edge Perspectives with John Hagel, November 28, 2017
Tip #50 - Have You Worn the Learners' Glasses?
Tip #51 - How to Mold Smarter Learners by Using Patterns
Tip #100 - Spur Learning Through 'Curiosity Conversations'
Tip #150 - Using Intuitive and Deliberate Learning in Story Lessons

Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

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