Posts Tagged ‘reality’

As the Paradigm Shifts #Q: Question Reality

by Rosie Kuhn on August 10, 2011

I read on the back of a car many years ago a bumper sticker that read “Question Reality!” Up until that time my life had been a mish mash of confusing circumstances, and it was a revelatory experience to take these two words deeply into my soul. I breathed deeply and felt as though I’d been given a sign that there was light at the end of the tunnel.

At this same time, the context of my life did not include any mechanisms, supports or guidance that would allow me to take on questioning reality as an overt practice. My parents raised me and my siblings as Catholic. It was a sin to question anything or anyone regarding the authority or truth of what was to be believed.

My context as a female in Middle America also didn’t allow me to ask questions that would potentially ruin my identity as a calm, submissive woman who could be wise but not too intelligent.

Going off to college gave me the opportunity to explore and witness realities lived by other people, however I continued to interpret these different ways of being based on what I still held as right, wrong, good and bad. At the same time, most of the preliminary courses in undergrad were taught by professors who also disallowed the questioning of the reality they were presenting.

Perhaps, all of these obstacles presented to me early in life provided opportunities to covertly practice the art of questioning reality. The value of that is that I wasn’t able to seek the wisdom of others to tell me what was real or true, so I had to do the research and experiment on myself. Today, in the field of research design, this form of study is called heuristic investigation. Here’s how Wikipedia defines Heuristic: “Greek: “Εὑρίσκω”, “find” or “discover”) refers to experience-based techniques for problem solving, learning, and discovery … This method includes using a “rule of thumb“, an educated guess, an intuitive judgment, or common sense.

What do you do when the world is presenting you with a reality that isn’t connected to common sense? What most of us do is conform and contort ourselves as best we can into the context of reality that is in front of us, rarely questioning or using educated guesses, intuitive judgment or common sense.

As the paradigm shifts, we see the dissolving and dissolution of the foundation of our economic reality. What do you make of that? We see the premier leaders of our financial, religious and governments fail to maintain systems that are literally bankrupt in their principles and practices. How do you make sense of that?

In the world of business – the buying and selling of goods and services, questioning reality means dismantling the whole kit and kiboodle and re-inventing based on reality; but first you have to question reality!

A year ago, I choose to end the transformational coach training program. I had designed and facilitated this program for 10 years in the Bay Area, in California. My intuition had been guiding me towards this for years, but I was finally ready to make the leap. While discerning the common sense of this decision it seemed totally irrational and illogical. This program had been my bread and butter. I’d developed a reputation and people were flying in from all over the country to participate in this one year training. What would possess me to give all of that up? Logic and reason were not the major players in this process, and I could do nothing else but question reality. Over the course of this past year I questioned everything and hardly recognize the me that I’ve become. My anxiety is virtually gone; I’m far more calm and peaceful, I laugh far more often and the work I bring into the world is fulfilling. I love it!

A House of Cards

It’s becoming too obvious that there is a dismantling of reality as we’ve known it. And, you’ve heard me say this before, but I’m going to say it again: You are required to play the game. You, me and everyone else in the Western World have built this house of cards we call our reality. Generations of individuals over hundreds of years have brought us to the last cards of the deck. It has culminated into this wonderful masterpiece. And, now, it’s time to dismantle the house either with deliberate consciousness or with a deliberate whack from the proverbial two-by-four. (Don’t you love it when the cards go flying all over the place?)

What I’m wanting is for you to question how you are being in relation to this current reality you call your life and your work? What intentions are being served by your current use of what you consider to be common sense? What flies in the face of this current reality that you hope will go away if you ignore it long enough?

I don’t know if we’ll be saving the planet. I don’t know if we can change the foundations of the current structures that have us think that we are safe from vulnerability. Earthquakes, real and metaphorically have shaken the very ground of being of reality as we’ve known it. Fractures, cracks, fissures leave us dumbfounded with where to begin. Tsunamis, real and metaphorically have washed away the shelters, vehicles and the livelihoods we’d depended upon. What is the reality that exists once we realize that it’s all gone?

Nothing Matters and What if it Did?

People with faith (not faith as in religion but faith as in people who put complete trust in a higher power) have something that is the true foundation of reality. I have no doubt they have questioned the reality in front of them and decided that there is a reality that holds this one in the palm of its hands. They are able to hold the bigger picture and make choices based on this larger paradigm. These people usually share kindness, generosity and compassion effortlessly. Their values dictate choice-making based on spiritual principles instead of social and institutional mandates. They live in integrity and dignity and are accountable for their commitments. Some of these people are my clients and they are managers, CEO’s and COO’s of businesses and corporations around the world. I’m learning from them that to question reality infuses the world with an innovative, higher minded reality that, if nothing else will allow them to empower others to fearlessly question reality. This is how every invention and revelation has come about. Why stop now?

Project Reality Check #16: The Folly of Audits

by Gary Monti on April 5, 2011

“No good deed shall go unpunished,” is crazy but commonly experienced. Why is that? Why would an audit trigger punitive measures? After all, when doing one’s best it would seem safe to assume the value of the work would be recognized and would show in the numbers. This could be considered especially true with this series of blogs since earned value has been trumpeted as the heart of project management. So what is the problem? The purpose and value of reports is a good place to start.

Reports And The Meaning of Numbers

Why have reports? Simple, they sustain communications in a relationship especially when everyone can’t be together at the same time. Consequently, numbers are abstracts – distillates – of a relationship. And now the plot thickens! Communications are complex, multi-channeled, multi-contextual activities. Look at the simple joke:

Take my wife…please!

How many layers (contexts) does that joke have? It has at least two. The joke is in the collision of those contexts. Unfortunately, when that collision of contexts occurs on the job it is more of a tragedy than a comedy. The folly occurs in this collision. It puts very sharp teeth in the bite of “no good deed shall go unpunished.” So, what does this have to do with audits and reports? Plenty. It has to do with context and expectations.

Context and Expectations

So when do audits and reports go haywire?

Audits and reports go haywire when they are laden with expectations that fail to map to the reality of what it takes to get the job done or the reports project an inaccurate balance between all the contexts present.

Looking at the cause of all this will help.

The Devil Is In The Dynamics

There’s an old saying, “The devil is in the details.” There is truth in it. However, it doesn’t cover all situations.

For complex projects the devil is in the dynamics. The failures and flaws are not with the individual person or component. Rather, they exist in the dynamics between the organization and operations.

Most reports are designed to address what senior management believes are the policies and procedures, which are based on management’s expectations. Typically, this is all laid out at the concept and design phase. When a system goes into operations, though, a new element comes into play – reality. Think of the Mars rovers and all that has been done to keep them operational. Unforeseen problems had to be solved. This has led to a much longer life expectancy for the rovers than was ever anticipated. No one is going around blaming scientists and engineers for the problems encountered per the original plan. Instead they are being recognized for throwing themselves into the problems and coming up with solutions. Some work, some don’t. Looks like one rover is down for the count. Overall, though, the program has been a great success.

Listen For The Solution

A chapter can be taken from the Mars situation in generating a solution to poor audits.

The solution to poor audits is in listening; listening for how people work to get things done in spite of the system.

Again, reports are distillates of relationships. This means communication, which is a two-way street. Yes, senior management needs to determine the direction the company needs to go but this should be tempered by and informed from the wisdom and experience of those in the trenches, unless, of course, the managers are clairvoyant. My recollection, though, is years ago Madam Cleo tried that on her cable channel and went bankrupt.

Selling when you’re not there

by Wayne Turmel on December 18, 2009

selling when not thereThere’s been a lot of research done about how customers- especially B2B customers- buy online.  The difference could mean a lot of money to your company and make your sales force’s jobs easier.  The good news is it means less work for you and your sales people if you do it right.

The problem is that many companies are still locked in last century’s sales thinking. That model was: hook them early in the sales cycle and get them to commit to a demo as early as possible. This webinar, usually delivered by a Subject Matter Expert, assumed they were starting at Square One. This doesn’t fit the way they want to buy from you now. They want to meet you armed with research and get their questions answered by someone (your sales person) who can help them buy.

Not surprisingly, companies are acting much like you and I do when we shop. CFOs and Purchasers (well, actually their underpaid and overworked assistants) are spending a lot of time cruising websites and shortening their list of prospective vendors. Only when they have a pretty good idea of the features they’re looking for- not to mention the approximate price and how you compare to the competition- will they  ask for a demo or to speak to a sales rep.

The implications of this are pretty profound:

  • Metrics matter Take a good look at your website’s analytics. When are people visiting your site? (if it’s a lot of after hours, you’re getting shopped out).What are they looking at? How long do they stay? How many take the next step to ask for contact with your reps?
  • Make sure you have something to measure If they’re not staying long, they aren’t finding what they are looking for, which is enough information to qualify you as a prospective vendor. The more information you provide (video demos, pre-recorded webinars, articles and industry research) the more they will look at you as an expert and a resource. This can only help.
  • You’d better know what your customers think they know Just because they’ve clicked the “schedule a demo” button doesn’t mean that’s what they need.  It’s critical that whoever they talk to next ask questions about what they have already read or seen (they don’t want to sit through redundant information) and where they are in the sales process (are you talking to the buyer who will need different information than someone doing the screening for them?). All of this means…
  • The people who demo need to be (or at least think and present like) sales people Many companies use “sales engineers” or Subject Matter Experts to do the demos to customers, which is fine (obviously you need someone who knows what they’re doing, and that isn’t always the sales person of record) but their job is not solely to demonstrate functions and features. They need to ask the questions that qualify the prospect, identify where they are in the sales process and move them through the sales cycle.  What are you doing to help prepare them for that role?

Does your website reflect this new buying reality? What are you doing to help customers move themselves as far along the sales cycle as possible, and what are you doing to help your SMEs and sales people bring them the rest of the way?


Get Out of the Forest, Onto the Hill

by Guy Ralfe on October 14, 2009

Tallest Tree in the forestHimanshu wrote on the blinding effects of Task Orientation earlier and it led me to think a little further regarding this on Projects. I have just been immersed into a project that has been running for a few months in a European office. Like everywhere in the world, it feels like they too are trying to achieve more with less resources and still expecting consistent satisfactory results.

Entering afresh in to the project mix and not having being part of the stories that the project team have been living in up to that point, I came on board with a different perspective on the project, entirely. However, it became apparent to me very quickly that the project situation was dire after only a few hours of orientation. The reasons for my assessment aren’t relevant to this article but what I found fascinating was how people were waking up every day and just kept trudging on. When I challenged the project decisions the response was mostly met with “I am glad you see that, I have tried to …<insert concern>… with no success/response/ownership” etc. While I assessed that the poor situation I saw in the project could be resolved – those in the project had resigned themselves to the situation and saw no opportunity to change the course.

I don’t want to appear critical, but rather sympathetic to this situation as I know exactly what it is like to be in the trenches – to be battling along, working harder and harder every day just to hope you are going to power through this mountain, out the other side… only to be met by another mountain and the disaster repeats itself.  I am sure this T-Shirt is sold out!

The paradox here is that from the outside there were issues, but none that couldn’t be addressed. For those deep in the project, that have traveled the project road over the last few months, there was just a mess around them and to them, it was  a case of survival. They did not see any opportunity to challenge how they got to where they were and continued living in the mess until they could get out the other side – OR what was probably thought but never spoken, that the project just dies and the mess goes away with it! The paradox is that we are not talking about two similar projects, these are two views of the exact same project.

It is only human to get into this situation and to try and power our way through. We have been brought up in a tradition that is deeply rooted in the virtue called “hard work” where we are taught that hard work and hard work alone is enough to be successful. This might have been true in the industrial revolution where productivity was a direct measure of the output of the power driven machines but today, with the advent and accessibility of computers, productivity is as much a measure of “knowledge” as it is of “hard work”.

What happens on projects is that we become attached to the strongest story at any time and we interpret that as a reality from which we build up perceived truths about what can and can’t be done. These truths build up on top of each other and become like walls that start to channel our thoughts into a narrow passage of possibilities (like blinkers on a horse) when in reality all the possibilities still exist (everything was a possibility as a new project team member).

This was once described to me like this:

“when you are in the forest it is impossible to see which tree is the tallest, but from the hill overlooking the forest it is easy to spot the tallest tree”.

In today’s knowledge age we need to manage ourselves to make sure we survey the landscape from the hill and not from within the forest – this is not just for projects but everything that we direct our energies towards. We have to constantly notice our “vantage point” and rigorously challenge the perceived truths we create for ourselves that limit our opportunities.

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I would like to acknowledge Steen Andersen who has had to take me out of the forest more than once, thanks – you can’t believe how clear it is from up here on the hill!