Friday, February 24, 2006

Starting From Scratch

That hardly describes Facilitated Systems, now in its seventh year (although that pales compared to many a company, I know). In this case, it's the title of a new book by Wes Moss. For those of us starting companies or still relatively new at running our companies, his stories of multiple startups can be inspiring. His "HUNT" process can lend structure to our efforts, too (read the book to find out about HUNT).

I'm writing today to say that I read Wes' book because I won it from inBubbleWrap, the generous and fun-loving folk at 800ceoread. More importantly for me, I also won a phone interview with Wes. Wes gave me several good ideas, and he verified a few conjectures I had.

Hopefully you'll begin to see changes over the next few months as a result of our conversation. He didn't really change my direction so much as the way I think about and communicate it. For those of you who may be curious, here are my evolving thoughts:

  • Companies and managers—that's you and me—are inclined to take action when they (we) are facing significant change (or when they or we suddenly realize that the current situation is not tenable over the longer term).

    • For example, a new manager in one organization realized that the decisions and recommendations they were chartered to make might tax the capabilities of their current decision-making processes, and she looked for decision-support resources to help them both make better decisions and communicate those decisions to others.
    • In her search, she knew she wanted processes to help her and her organization make better decisions. She didn't want someone to make her decisions for her.

  • Facilitated Systems (that's me) offered three skills that manager found helpful:

    • I had applied system dynamics, a particular form of computer modeling, to helping people make sense of complex issues, and that increased understanding had helped them change for the better.

      • In one case, I helped an organization understand why it couldn't control its spending, and that led to changes that reduced spending problems by 95%.
      • Those models don't claim to deliver truth out of a black box; they aim to shed light on the implications of the insights you have about your situation. It's all transparent, and you remain in control.

    • I had facilitated group discussions covering tough, disputed issues and helped people get important information out in the open so they could make better decisions.
    • I do this both in-person and remotely, so you don't get slowed by unnecessary travel and schedule delays.

  • Perhaps you're facing such a transition:

    • Are you a new manager to your organization, facing complex issues or challenging problems?
    • Have you just been given responsibility for a larger group?
    • Has your group been facing results that are worse than you can stand, and people have just become sensitized to the issue?
    • Has your world become more complex? Are you concerned that your current approaches might not be up to the task?

If you recognize yourself in any of those snippets, let's talk. If you're not there now, but you think this approach clarifies (or especially if you think this approach confuses) why someone might want to talk with me, let's talk.

And thanks, Wes and 800ceoread!


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