Let’s first try to understand what is ‘Unique-ability’ before trying to understand what your Unique-ability is and how to use this potent idea in improving your effectiveness individually and as a team.
Unique-Ability is a description for a level of ability. To simplify it let me offer four broad levels of ability. At the bottom is ‘Incompetent’, where we just can’t do a particular task. The next level is ‘Competent’, where we can do a particular task. The third level is, ‘Excellent’ where we not only can do a particular task, but we can do it well. We can get up to ‘Excellent’ level through training and developing our skills. But to get to the fourth level, ‘Unique-ability’ we would not only be really good at doing a particular task, but we are passionate about, it energizes us and it inspires others. It is simply something natural in us. Therefore I believe we cannot get to the level of Unique-ability by training ourselves, it should be within us. It is a word used to describe your natural strengths. It also highlights your responsibility to put your talents to work for the shared purposes of those with whom you make a commitment of this tremendous energy.
We are one of seven billion people in this world and each one of us sees the world from our own paradigm. This short blog post will examine the dangers of getting imprisoned in a paradigm and the benefits of becoming a prism as prisons are restricting and prisms are reflecting.
For example, when it comes to a decision of buying a family car, each family member would look at the decision from a different paradigm. The father might look at technical performance and fuel efficiency, the mother might look at the spaciousness and colour scheme, the teenage son might look at how classy it looks and how fast it can go and the teenage daughter may not care about any of this. When each family gets prisoned in their paradigm, they will not be able to come out of it to look at the decision from other paradigms, leading to possible misunderstandings, conflicts and even permanent damage to the quality of relationships.
Therefore the question is, how do we get out of the paradigm prison?
It is fascinating how we continue to look for the right answer. Perhaps it is because of schooling systems which expects us to know the ‘right answer’ in order to pass examinations. Perhaps it is because of interviews panels that expect us to know the right answers in order to qualify for a job. Perhaps it is because of management who expects us to make the right decisions to business problems.
But what is a ‘Right Answer’? Who decides its right? By what standards do we decide it is right? Who sets these standards? People come from different backgrounds, education, experiences, cultures, mind-sets etc. The variables are almost infinite. Therefore we are all unique and we see, hear, feel, smell and taste things differently. Furthermore each situation is different. Each situation is a collection of places, time of the year, people, infrastructure, concepts, brands, climate, culture etc. Again the variables are infinite.
In my blog post on the 7th of May 2014 titled ‘How great is your team?’ I promised to go into details of the 11 different aspects that make a great team. The first eight aspects regarding ‘Burning Platforms’, ‘Team alignment around critical goals’, ‘Clearly agreed way of working?’ ‘A great decision making process’, ‘Information flow is encouraged’, ‘Great leaders don’t mince their words’, ‘Positive Crisis’ and ‘ Great Conversations’ have already been posted in this blog. Here is the ninth installment; ‘Radical Action Conversation’.
Radical Action Conversations are authentic. They go beneath the surface and deals with ‘adaptive’ issues that hinders real execution. Such conversations deals with engagement issues, honesty issues, relationship issues etc. that people may generally try to avoid to maintain false harmony. It encourages team members to be in ‘Adult’ mode rather than ‘Parent’ or ‘Child’ mode as described in ‘Transactional Analysis’. Such conversations are about identifying and dealing with assumptions team members make in their decisions, prejudices, actions, relationships etc.
Consider this. Your organization is working on a product launch that requires coordination between planning, manufacturing, marketing, sales, legal, finance and supply chain teams. The project is running late and at the current speed the launch could be delayed by more than 2 months. This can give a major advantage to the competitors who are working on a similar product to meet the same need of the customer.
The discussions at the management meetings are very technical. They speaks about the delay in finding the right raw materiel, delay in gearing up distributors and delay in configuring machines in the factory. The team discusses this and decides on some steps to speed up, but the situation is the same at the next meeting. The team resorts to unproductive conversations such as fake, dormant and aggressive conversations to avoid facing the real issues. See my blog post ‘Great Conversations’ for more details of unproductive conversations.
This becomes a radical conversation when the team starts talking about the adaptive aspects such as the trust issues between the marketing and sales manager, the integrity concerns of the supply chain manager and the competency concerns of the factory manager. The team starts focusing on facts, when the focus changes to transforming rather than debating reality, when there is willingness to challenge and explore assumptions, when tough decisions are made based on these conversations and when clarity of accountabilities and commitments are achieved. Discussions at future meetings focus on tracking actions decided, agreeing on course corrections required and ensuring execution with both discipline and speed.
Such Radical Action Conversations will see relationships growing rather than cliques being fostered and team capability clearly growing through the engagement. Radical Action Conversations requires skill and courage and it takes a lot of effort to develop team with this capability. However this is not just useful but essential for a great team!
Remember the last time you were engrossed in a conversation? Conversation where real issues were discussed! Conversations that were authentic! Conversations that were value adding! Conversations that made time stand still! Conversations that made things happen! Conversations that got continued! These are the conversations that make great teams.
In my blog post on the 7th of May 2014 titled ‘How Great is Your Team?’ I promised to go into details of the 11 different aspects that make a great team. The first seven aspects regarding ‘Burning Platforms’, ‘Team Alignment Around Critical Goals’, ‘Does your Team have Clearly Agreed way of Working?’ ‘A Great Decision-Making Process for a Great Team’, ‘Information Flow is Encouraged’, ‘Great Leaders don’t Mince their Words’ and ‘Positive Crisis’ have already been posted in this blog. Here is the 8th installment regarding the 8th aspect; ‘Great Conversation’.
Have you ever wondered what makes a movie interesting? It is the crisis in the movie, even when it is a comedy or an animated children’s film there is some crisis and you will realise how boring that movie could be without that crisis. Similarly meetings become interesting when there is a crisis to deal with. A project becomes interesting when there is a crisis to deal with. A team becomes interesting when there is crisis between team members.
In my blog post on the 7th of May 2014 titled ‘How great is your team?’ I promised to go into details of the 11 different aspects that make a great team. The first six aspects regarding ‘Burning Platforms’, ‘Team Alignment around Critical Goals’, ‘Does Your Team have Clearly Agreed Way of Working?’, ‘A Great Decision-Making Process for a Great Team’, ‘Information Flow is Encouraged’, and ‘Great Leaders don’t Mince their Words’ have already been posted in this blog. Here is the seventh instalment regarding the 7th aspect; ‘Positive Crisis’.