Is that late already for a New Year resolution!!! Well, I hope not, it’s still January; besides, if we are willing to push own self for continuous improvement, new year is just as important as any new morning. They say you eat an elephant only bit by bit; for the pillars are the important element of a temple as they hold the whole construction together, so, I guess a daily/weekly plan is more important than an overall yearly plan. I think, we can actually have a monthly resolution for every month.
Okay, if you are still reading this, it means we were able to draw your attention. No, we are not going to tell what this acronym, LLSA, stands for, not yet.
Recently we formed a company*called THE BRAINSTORM COMPANY; well, it’s not a company, company. This is a study circle that we formed for young ICT professionals like me and what we do is collect problems or issues or recent business trends and study them and try to relate with our real world experiences and methodologies, whichever fits them closely.
Now, in the process of study, when we started looking at our surroundings to formulate an organized approach of interaction, we came across some interesting facts. Be aware by learning interaction or study we are not referring to some sort of schooling or how a youngster learns or interacts, rather we are referring to the professional world and the way professionals learns and act in ICT industry every day .
Let’s start with some common facts:
Would you believe that even the best of us have problem in listening?
Would you agree if we say that we as efficient professional tend to act more (than listening & learning)?
We have smart people who have answers always ready on their lips regardless what you were actually asking for and we have people who take a decade before they open their mouth; now, for this discussion we are not interested on how a person speak or his vocabulary, we would rather try if we can a build a theory that accommodate the complete process of interaction which in general starts with listening and ends in acting.
Like we do in real world, we will stay focused on reality, so, let’s bring an IT professional into the picture and see what he is doing.
Always agree with customer:
Say, Mr X, who is at the centre of our interest now, is going to meet the CIO (or a customer) and they are going to have a general discussion on the performance of operation. The customer, we will use this term to refer to the peer end of that conversation, says the current post implementation notice of a change has some improvement scopes; he believes it doesn’t create the feeling that “everything was covered” to ensure the operation was a success and business following day, as the operation was done at night, could run without any interruption or risk of losing anything. Now our friend Mr X listened carefully, asked few question and made an agreement about some changes to the notice. When he came back to his team and started working on the changes he just agreed to make, he found out that the changes appear to lead towards generating a new report and it needs to be delivered after every changes made in the network which clearly adds significant work load but almost no value.
What went wrong?
He stopped for a few minutes and relooked at the conversation he had with the customer and realized that he missed some minor detail to clarify.
We must tell you that, he was not a bad performer or manager, yet it happened and we know that it does happen in the real world with almost all of us.
The BOSS speaks:
Mr Morison, the new COO of the company, came to work for this company with almost 30 years of prior working experience; he handled project as big as 10 times of the current one and rumor has it that he likes to be referred as the “walking dictionary” when it comes to service management.
Morison recently ordered the middle management to execute a task that they were very reluctant to do. Days will be spent on doing that which will at the end make everyone unhappy and finally he would cancel this because it didn’t create the result he was expecting.
What went wrong?
We spoke with some people from the middle management and asked for their opinion on the failure of that particular program; interesting answers came out:
- 1. The program was replicating some activities that they already have in practice
- 2. A detail analysis was not done before setting the action plan
- 3. As the COO sits at the top and all are equal to him, middle management lets him decide who will do what, which didn’t guarantee that people were doing what they were best at
We take it as lack of listening and learning at the COO’s side and lack of speaking and acting at the middle management’s side.
Ah! We’ve got a Fixer:
Top management hired a consultant to do an assessment and alignment of current processes and activities done by different teams, who, at this moment meeting the operational managers and threw some concerns on the table. As it happens, people were reluctant to speak at the beginning but once the talk started, it turned into a chaos. At one point the meeting finished and everyone went back to their cubicles and the consultant started looking at the action plans he just wrote down from the meeting. To his surprise, the direction moved far away from the expected outcome and mostly not because new concerns came in but because while the individual interview was taken and findings were put down, he read some of the messages in complete different meaning.
We say he was skipping or not paying enough attention to some of the important steps before acting.
We have lot more experiences like these in our bucket but for keeping the discussion simple and straight, let’s try to put these learning now into a procedural method.
What would be the first step to interact? We say, Listen.
Okay I pay maximum attention to my peer and listen, what do I do next? We say, Learn. A friend of ours says NO; I paid maximum attention and listened very carefully, so, now it is my turn to speak.
We say NO, you listened which was very good because it seems we are losing this quality day by day but it is not enough; before you open your mouth you must learn what you just listened. In other words process the information you were just fed in. Let’s go back to our first case where the customer wanted some changes in the post implementation notification of changes. Mr X did listen and then asked few questions but we say he was skipping or not paying enough attention to the LEARN part. He asked questions, recorded what changes customer wanted but it wasn’t enough.
We say LEARN means process the information plus something extra.
LEARN = Process the info + something extra (Wisdom)
Maybe here we can use the concept of DIKW from ITIL. ITIL says the data will at some point become information and finally wisdom. We are saying, those macro moments that you have before saying anything to your peer, you must pay enough attention to convert that data into wisdom; otherwise when it is time to deliver you will end up with an agreement that you haven’t “seen through” before signing it.
So, we say, before we even start speaking, acting of course out of question at this point, we must listen and learn. We have serious difficulties in listening across the industry. The likings that we have for speaking probably 1000 times greater than that we have for listening and learning.
In our second case, the situation was a bit more complex; there the COO wasn’t listening effectively enough and the middle management wasn’t learning and speaking to the degree that was required.
With the consultant in our third case, the problem was once again learning and speaking. He wasn’t paying “enough” attention to those stages. But then he was a consultant and consultant makes living out of chaos (!!!), even if it requires creating one. (No offence, this is a joke, please laugh)
Now, in one line we say the proper interaction process must have these four steps: Listen > Learn > Speak > Act.
The Sad part:
As we live and breathe in IT world, more specifically with computing devices, a major contribution into this is actually coming from the devices. How long does a device take before it shows the output of a command, few macro seconds or may be seconds in the worst, has this been making us habitual on quick act?
The last words:
The industry frame works don’t talk much about making the learning and interaction processes effective; yes, there are motivational theories and ways of tempting the people entity by quick wins but we believe as a supporting process we also need to talk about the learning & interaction process. The success of an industry framework and technology largely depend on how we learn and act with it.
Please keep in mind, by listen and learn we never meant only to use our ears and books or research works; we tend to give it a bigger meaning, in fact, as big as limitless. We consider speaking and acting as serious as any act that are capable of damaging the whole business, thus, it is very important that we listen and learn first to make the interaction effective. It is imperative that the order is followed exactly as it is.
Okay, now we can say what the acronym LLSA stands for; it stands for LISTEN LEARN SPEAK ACT (LLSA).
We set this as our resolution for this year with the objective of making ourselves better, more effective and as we experienced just in few weeks, it actually works.
* By the time we were done writing this blog, we closed down our company; we found ourselves too lazy to study and spent time on industry problem. (Ah, life is already full of problems you know, who want more!)
** We never meant to offend anyone, if it did, please be informed it just because of our limited stock of vocabulary.