OPD Articles / Keep complexity of mind in mind


Keep complexity of mind in mind

Dr Graham Little PhD AFNZIM MInstD MNZIC

In the previous articles we have established first that as a species a major causal factor shaping why we do what we do is how we think about things, and we discussed how the conscious thoughts people have about some circumstance are the contents of a 'frame' or 'transparency' we then drafted a key proposition about people as follows.

People 'see' any situation according to the transparency they use and will act according to that content of that transparency.

Frames or transparencies direct and otherwise orientate how we 'see' things, to the extent that if we are orientated some particular way, such as seeing a house to 'buy' it, then we will likely not see those aspects of a house related to burgling it. We then carried the argument further and applied it to work circumstances. Obviously the content of the transparency called let's say 'my job' will have a profound impact on how the person sees their job and so profoundly influence what they do at work. Now given the goal<=>action principle, namely that for every goal there are actions needed to ensure the goal is achieved - no point in setting the goal of writing a novel and then never putting pen to paper, or these days never tap keys on your computer - and since every job has outputs, call them key performance indicators, it must also have key actions. I call these key actions the 'ideal behaviours' in the job; 'ideal' in the sense that doing them with due commitment gives the best chance of the best result. Doing the ideals fully and thoroughly does not guarantee success, but not doing the ideals guarantees failure.

The leadership target is now very, very clear, namely to build in the mind of every person transparencies that give clear KPIs and clear ideals relative to those KPIs. What is then left is to get the caring and commitment to deliver the ideals to standard to enable the KPIs being achieved to standard.

It is not enough for people to 'see' their job as a written set of outputs and ideals; this is just not complex enough. It is up to the manager or team leader to discuss with the person how they will interpret the ideal and actually act out the behaviours needed. The transparency is embedded deeper into the person's psyche by linking the written set of ideals with actual images of behavior where the person 'sees' themselves doing the action needed. This argument results in the overall proposition as follows.

People 'see' any situation according to the transparency they use and will act according to that content of that transparency. In business this means that each person must be clear on what is expected of them (outputs or key performance indicators - KPIs) and the key actions that best enable the KPIs to be achieved. Also, it is not sufficient for the person to know the written sets of outputs and actions; they need to be able to visualize what to do and to 'see' themselves doing it.

The transparency and the images of the action needed become even more powerful if they are embedded further into the person psyche by becoming attached to positive emotions. The request on the person is to perform, that is to do the ideals as well as they are able. The first thing the leadership can do is to celebrate with the person when they do perform; there are many, many other ways for developing positive emotions and positive feel in a team, and I will not recite them here, rather make a list for yourself, or ask the OPD consultant to visit and help brainstorm a list for your business.

So far I have presented the model of the psyche as dominated by transparencies, images of self doing things, with emotions attached; but the psyche is in fact much more complicated than that. Transparencies do not or very seldom come single, or even in pairs. I suggested thinking of transparencies like 'buy and burgle" as in a box in the front of the brain, and so when we look or think of some situation, up pops the way we view it. The complexity is that when we think of some situation a whole box of transparencies pops up on that topic. Imagine it is like driving the car using heads up display of maps, but there is in place several maps of different routes all at once. How clear do you think the view is now…? How accurate do we see the direction…? I suggest that depending on the exact content of those transparencies the view can be very, very clouded with various conflicting messages. 'I want to do a good job, but it just makes the owner more money'; 'the KPIs are clear, but I don't really see the point of it at all'; 'I am expected to care, yet the company never cares about me'. And so on.

The first crucial acts of leadership is to build clear transparencies carrying the KPIs and the ideals and link both to images of the person doing it supported by positive emotions bought about by effective leader support. The quality of the content of the transparency will lift performance to a basic level. But to go beyond this you need then align all potential transparencies related to 'my job', 'work', 'business in society' and then also relate to other key transparencies which not formally related to work, but which will significantly influence people's behaviours, for example, transparencies on self esteem and self confidence and those on the extent people think they can manage their emotions and control their feelings to do a more professional job at work. We at OPD specialize in building and aligning transparencies, we have the best global model available, and we understand how to do this better than any other organization. We can and will make a difference.