Sunday, 8 November 2009

The Magic 100%

I went to a seminar over the weekend- a team building exercise given by a professor and former hostage negotiator, George Kohlrieser. I learned a lot about how to approach people (something I almost never had reflected upon), and a little about some of the weaknesses (call them character traits) that I have which may prevent me from winning as much as I would like. Then I returned home, and got an email this AM from a friend which put a different spin on the whole thing.

First the seminar. There were about 50 or so people. Multicultural, multilingual, varying ages. All were bankers, but upon closer examination some had unusual backgrounds. A national ballroom dancing champion. Marathoners. Musicians. Someone who wanted to run a hotel, or be a chef. Working mothers.

The point of the exercise was to understand a bit more how you interact with people, your colleagues and customers, within the organisation and outside. This was done with a mix of a lecture, slides, some videos, discussion, and role plays.

If I had to sum up what I learn it would be the following:

1. Listen.  MY BAD
2. Remember the question. MY BAD
3. Think before you speak. MY BAD
4. Stick to 4 sentences. MY BAD 
5. Cut to the chase.
6. Find common ground with whomever you are engaging with.
7. Learn to control your emotions.

and something which, oddly enough, was not mentioned but is perhaps one of the most important factors in all interpersonal relationships:

8. Laugh at yourself. MY GOOD

I used to come up with all sorts of what might charitably be called psycho-babble when I ran a company, trying to distill many ideas into simple thoughts, and a lot of those ideas resonated within me while I thought what I learned at this seminar. In fact, the exercise dredged up a lot of feelings and thoughts which had long been submerged.

Then I returned home and got the following email. I'll call it the Magic 100%, and it is mathematical proof of what we were talking about.....perhaps in a cynical way. Unfortunate, my friend Liam Leckie who sent it to me did not attribute it to anybody, so I cannot give credit where credit is due. So kudos to the anonymous cynic. 


What Makes 100%? What does it mean to give MORE than 100%? Ever wonder about those people who say they are giving more than 100%? We have all been to those meetings where someone wants you to give over 100%. How about achieving 103%? What makes up 100% in life?

Here's a little mathematical formula that might help you answer these questions:
is represented as:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 (%).

H-A-R-D-W-O-R-K  =
8+1+18+4+23+15+18+11 = 98%

K-N-O-W-L-E-D-G-E  =
11+14+15+23+12+5+4+7+5 = 96%


A-T-T-I-T-U-D-E  =
1+20+20+9+20+21+4+5 = 100%

B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T =
2+21+12+12+19+8+9+20 = 103%

AND, perhaps most surprisingly.
A-S-S-K-I-S-S-I-N-G =
1+19+19+11+9+19+19+9+14+7 = 118%

So, one can conclude with mathematical certainty, that while

Hard Work and Knowledge will get you close, and
Attitude will get you there...
It's the
Bullshit and Ass Kissing
that will put you over the top.

Har har har. Good one, eh?

This is certainly the attitude of many of the footsoldiers who have to put up with the pronouncements of the generals who are far from the action and don't understand what is needed every day to achieve the results the generals want. I am not sure whether George would have approved of this (hostage negotiation not really being a laughing matter) but what the hey?

But back to the team concept.

I remember a situation in the company I ran where selfish and irresponsible behavior had threatened the makeup of the team, and I wrote the following. As I said it resonated within me listening to the people speak at this seminar (as time goes on we forget even the things we said or did), and I went back and read what I wrote those many years ago and found it just as applicable today, tomorrow or whenever.

T is for Talent and Trust

E is for Enthusiasm and Empathy

A is for Attitude and Appreciation

M is for Motivation and Membership.

Every individual on the team must HAVE the Talent to make a difference, the Enthusiasm to make it happen, the Attitude to overcome obstacles, and the Motivation to persevere, and every individual must FEEL a Trust in his teammates that they can be counted on and will deliver, Empathy for their situation, their point of view and their weaknesses, Appreciation for their accomplishments, and a feeling of Membership no matter how great or seemingly insignificant the role.

A Team is never eternal; it is a holy creation of the Moment.
So thanks to George for giving my psyche a nudge, and to some of the exceptional people (like Daniel and Charles and many others) whom I met there.