In my previous blog post I introduced an acronym: SIMPLE.
Each letter of the word SIMPLE stands for an approach, point or principle.
S= Success story or just story
I = Intelligence
M = Mission-driven
P = Passion
L = Love & Leadership
E = Energy-giving, empowerment
These words are carefully chosen and not just because the first letter of each word, together form the word SIMPLE. Yet the word SIMPLE has been my most important starting point. As promised in my previous blog, I will get more practical about SIMPLE, letter by letter. I’ll start today at the beginning and thus with the letter S. In an attempt to keep your attention, let me first tell you about the practical side and then my thoughts behind this.
S for success story
To draw op a successful and a compelling success story, your intent or question behind an idea must be very clear. It cannot be a loose baggy or ukase some managers like to ‘deposit’. When there is a fire, you can shout: ”FIRE, everybody leave the building!” or write what to do in emergency situations. For short term economic emergencies it is sufficient to sent out a decree of a temporary nature. But a success story contains more than just a fix for the short term. It describes a non-trivial problem and a way to solve it. There are several ways how we (together) can draw up a success story. The following three are the ones I like and have sufficient capacity/content to be successful.
The first way of making a success story that I would like to mention is based on a practice called storytelling. Storytelling is intended to send a message. A good story structures and organizes all chaos around us, informs everyone to the same level and makes your intentions clear.
It must be a story that has a head & tail and runs from start to finish, so to speak.
A good practice is to start with your conclusion and then tell how you got there. At the end you can tell what made you write the story in the first place.
After finishing your story you can ask what it means to the other person(s) en whether it appeals or not. A link to a video of a real storyteller can be found here: http://vimeo.com/14806071
You can find a method that can help you in a book by Barbara Minto: ‘the pyramid writing principle’, which is translated in English, Chinese, German and several other languages.
Solution based thinking
The second way to make a successful and activating story is based on a thinking technique, that came from the Milwaukee’s Brief Family Therapy Center, called: “solution-based thinking”. This way of thinking (which is a way of coaching as well), I have seen being presented and explained two times by Pierluigi Pugliese. This way of thinking is a very inspiring activity. In many ways I often do that when I take a long soak in my bath. More information can be found from this URL: http://connexxo.com/downloads/agilece2010/handout.pdf
Actually you start by thinking what your preferred solution looks like when you have realized it and then think what actions preceded that. Or what happened just before that. You do that by taking little steps backwards until you reach the point where you faced your problem. It is almost like the movie: “Back to the future”. Here you also begin with the end of your success in mind and with each step back you take, you get closer to your original starting point.
My opinion is that, before you start thinking solution based, you should have some idea about what the problem is to serve as an impetus to apply this technique. So you should attend to the problem first. I will address this in my next blog, when we talk about the “I” of intelligent in this SIMPLE story.
The third way is from the book "Made to Stick" by Chip and Dan Heath. They give you practical tips on how to make a message stick. The Dutch title of the book is : “De plakfactor”. You can read the first chapter for free here: http://heathbrothers.com/madetostick/chapterone.php
It’s primarily a marketing-oriented approach to send the right message / for branding, but definitely a good way to create a success story. Especially if you create this message together.
There are 6 principles to make a message stick. You have to give the story:
S -> SIMPLICITY -> Don’t make it too complex and limit yourself to the heart of the matter.
U -> Unexpectedness -> Say something unexpected, surprising.
C -> Concreteness -> Talk about tangible things / examples, do not make it too abstract.
C -> Credibility -> Say credible things. Tell something you know as an expert in your field.
E -> Emotion -> Tell what moves you. Describe an appealing example. Tell it as ß ??
S -> Stories -> Tell a complete story from start to finish and make sure to include the experienced struggle to reach the solution. Formulate it in such a way that it invites the reader or listener to take action.
Again: Begin with the end in mind "(Steven Covey," 7 Habits of Highly Effective People ")
If I’ve succeeded to take you along in my story or if my story was sticky enough you have seen that the six principles lead to the word SUCCES(S) and end with the word STORY. So success. You may also have noticed that this story is a "loop". It is circular. We begin at the end and end at the beginning.
There are some important considerations that led to my story. Too many people - many managers and some people who imagine that they are leaders - abuse the complexity of the things in our life for their own good. By making things look as complicated as they possible can – by using big words like complex & raplex - they lure us into following their frame of mind. They want to position themselves as - know it all’s, experts, the ones that easily survive in this world.
Note that they do - often more conscious than unconscious- provide you with an aura that they themselves create to let us and all the other people know that we are just ordinary mortals. The ones who are in awe of them and should crave to be like them. Their knowledge, experience and ability to perform political maneuvers at the right time give them influence and plain power.
They love for you to follow them with your eyes closed, looking in the direction they point out and fitting their plans. The moment you think: “Well there's really something to that, I want to contribute to this", their true intent reveals itself and then you’re hooked on their rods. The Dutch saying: “De aap komt uit de mouw” is very appropriate in this case.
Because with SMART formulated KPIs you get away from the core of the message. The one you thought was broadcasted. Their pressing appeal to your commitment and by demanding flexibility, your freedom and creativity is whittled down. Before you know you put your signature under a contract written in blood. Eventually it turns out that you are following a joyless edition of what you thought to be that beautiful thing. A beautiful thing you wanted to commit yourself to.
Keep it SIMPLE
Dear managers and executives you should act quite differently. If you want to win people (me for sure) for you, you must involve them with respect. Then they will love to contribute. It all starts by inspiring people with your success story. Or better yet: Making that success story happen together!
The next time I will unveil the meaning of the letter “I” in SIMPLE.
If you have any feedback, or want to supplement my story? I would really like you to Call or email me or comment on this blog