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June 2009
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July 2009

STATES AND TRAITS

One of the most interesting questions we get asked in Motivational Maps is how is our product – the Map – different from psychometric tests and personality profiles? In fact, are they different at all? Is it all the ‘same’ (but with a different name)? The question is interesting not only in itself – forcing one to become very specific about one’s product – but interesting from a marketing point of view. Does one actually have a ‘unique selling proposition’, or are Maps a ‘me-too’ product?

My friend Steve Jones - www.skillsforbusinesstraining.co.uk/profile.htm - has an interesting take on this which I have often used. Basically, Steve says no-one gets up on a Monday morning to go to work because of the personality profile; however, they do go to work because of their motivations. And one could add – if they go to work without their motivations being satisfied, the result for the organisation is not going to be very comfortable.

My favourite analogy as to what Motivational Maps is like is Chinese medicine: people become ill, according to Chinese medicine, when their flow of energy, called Chi, is blocked. Chi flows primarily along 14 meridian lines – and acupuncture is one of the major practices used in Chinese medicine to ‘unblock’ the energy blockage. Motivation, too, flows through us – the Maps diagnose which of the ‘9’ channels is flowing, and which are not.

I was explaining this to a real high flying MD of a major management consultancy in London recently. This particular MD was highly creative and highly experienced in psychometrics – qualified I counted in at least 4 of them. As I went through my explanation, his eyes lit up and he said, Ah, States and Traits. We developed this further – but exactly!

Psychometrics, Strength-inventories and the like are basically telling us what our traits are – almost like what our character is. And character is a rock on which we sit. We need to know our self, understand our self, and be self aware. Transference of this – through the models – to other people can give us valuable insights, and enable us to modify our behaviours so that we can work more effectively together.

States, on the other hand, are constantly changing – think of emotions – we are angry, we are happy, we are giving and kind, and then may be moody and resentful. Motivational Maps ‘map’ this fluid energy state that is in flux. It is unlikely that two Maps for the same person are likely to be exactly the same even within a short time span. But the importance from the work place perspective is that Motivational Maps tell Directors just where the energy of the people and the teams is/are going, and just how positive or not that energy is. If the psychometrics are the Balance Sheets of human business, then Maps are the Cash Flow or the Profit and Loss!

So the question for you, as an organisational leader might be: do you currently need to know the type of people assets you are currently sitting on, or would you want to know how much energy you have and where that energy is going?

James Sale


SEEING THROUGH LISTENING

One of my closest friends, David Orme (http://www.magic-nation.com/), told me a fascinating story the other night in a pub in Lyndhurst. The story seems to me to be relevant to all consultants, coaches, mentors and educators, but no matter how many times we tell it, people don’t get it. Perhaps sometimes we don’t get it ourselves.

David does Writer in School visits. He has over 200 books published with all the major publishing houses and many of the minor ones too. He is an expert on writing and on how to get children to write more effectively and more creatively too.

Recently he had been at a school where he was invited to take a group of children of low ability to develop their skills. David has written a series of books specifically designed for this purpose – the Boffin Boy series (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Boffin-Invaders-Space-David-Orme/dp/1841676136). The thing about the series is, the text is exciting but minimal – space invaders, sci-fi stuff, with brilliant and bright graphics. So that children can feel that they are not reading some dull textbook, but a book akin to a comic. The children at the school he visited were using this series.

The class itself was truly multicultural, and this meant many were recent immigrants who first language was not English. Within the class which were considered by the teachers to be not academic were a subset of downright ‘difficult’ children who were perceived as not only difficult but not very bright at all.

As the lesson progressed David had an opportunity to talk to one of these ‘difficult’ children. He was Eastern European and from an impoverished background. David opened the book and was about to begin when the child smiled and proffered an opinion: the book wasn’t very good. David asked, why? And then he listened to the answer.

Because there were too many pictures. So what was the problem with that?

Because the pictures stopped you imagining yourself what was happening! When you only had the words you had to ‘see’ for yourself what was happening, and that was much better.

What insight! David was amazed. Here was a truly bright – insightful – child. He got up and went over to one of the teachers in the room. He pointed out the child, and said, I think he’s really bright – and has ability.

Has he? She said.

And the other teacher being informed of David’s opinion said, Oh?

A complete surprise to them – and they worked with the child Monday to Friday most days.

But then, they are professionals – they are paid to listen, as consultants, coaches, doctors, nurses, and let’s extend the list – civil servants and politicians – are all expected to listen. In fact, say they are listening. Parents, too, say they are listening. And we know they’re not: how? Because … they see nothing.

They carry on working, drudging in reality, waiting for holidays to take them out of all this, and all the while the universe – the one song – continues its sounds, and reveals its genius, and its geniuses, and they see – nothing.

If we could listen, then perhaps we would see.

James Sale


LEONARD COHEN MOTIVATES

If Leonard Cohen were a company or a corporation he would certainly show many of the current contenders how to do it. What showmanship, what quality, what teamwork – and what innovation (or creativity in music/poetry-speak).

Last Saturday (11/7/09) I went to see his World Tour at the Mercedes-Benz World (http://www.leonardcohen.com/community.html). Unfortunately, the open concert became open, as the name suggests it might, to the elements: winds and rain. But it didn’t seem to balk the enthusiasm of thousands who gathered to see him.

The first lesson that corporations can perhaps learn is that not everything has to be perfect, so long as the core offering exceeds expectations. Yes, I was not that enamoured of the parking arrangements and the fact that it took 90 minutes to leave the car-park after the concert finished at 10.30 – meaning that one was stuck in the queue till midnight. Further, though recommended by the organisers we turn up early – refreshments available and all that – turning up early only suited the organisers: to box in the cars. In fact hundreds had to wait at least an hour or more before anything like refreshments were opened.

That said, though, what then happened when the concert opened was sensational. Suzanne Vega (http://www.suzannevega.com/tour/) kicked off – powerful and confident and an extremely good set. Musicianship was excellent – a tight band.

After a break, Cohen came on at 7.00. Then what was truly extraordinary kicked off. I have to say at the start I have never been a huge fan of Cohen, though I am now. First, his abundant humility and pleasure in being there: he projected a complete appreciation of his audience, thanking them, incorporating even material about them into his song. His favourite address word was, Friend.

This appreciation apparently extended to his band, and at the end to everyone involved in the project, including the catering crew! Usually, these encomiums to all sundry at corporation dos prove tedious and insincere. Not so with Cohen – he projected an amazing an amount of empathy.

Further, the selection of his band was clearly inspired: the singers, the players, were all top rank technically, and further they all seemed to be inspired by the soul of music. They were ‘in’ the music as they played it – for the duration of the playing or the singing they seemed like angels. And the virtuosity seemed a delight to Cohen himself rather than a source of competitive envy as the spotlight switched to them.

Clearly, the time spent in rehearsals had produced something extraordinarily musical, accurate, tight and moving. His songs are probably as near to poetry as it gets. Dylan is wonderful, but sometimes flabbily verbose; all the songs by Cohen seem fully crafted, as if nothing spare, second rate, gets through his filtering system. There were times, sitting on the hard uncomfortable seats, in the wind and driving rain, when one became completely oblivious – the music, the performance transported one somewhere else.

Perhaps for me, the defining moment was when he simply recited his poem, If It Be your Will, and then allowed the Webb sisters to sing it. Spell-binding – I felt one could almost hear a pin drop in an audience of thousands.

So, corporations, remember this: team work, personal qualities of humility and praise, innovation, and quality performance and expertise in the area of key competence. When you customers experience that, then they will, like I was with Leonard, motivated to buy more!

Thank you Leonard – and all your team.

James Sale

 


PATRIOTIC MOTIVATION

Recently I seem to be on a literary bent so far as my Blogs are concerned. Last weekend I spent the time in Stratford upon Avon with my wife and son, Joe. Joe had a training event on at the King Edward VI Grammar School in Stratford

(http://www.kes-stratford.org.uk/) , which incidentally is considered to be where Shakespeare was educated. Whilst he was training, my wife and I visited Shakespeare’s birthplace in Henley Street, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Holy Trinity Church where Shakespeare is buried, and Nash’s Place, next to where Shakespeare spent his final years (http://www.shakespeare.org.uk/content/view/12/12/).

We had a wonderful time and it makes one sort of proud to be English – to think the great Shakespeare was one of us. There were so many nationalities there – all photographing every aspect of where Shakespeare had been.

And this is why the incident that occurred the same week, but before we went to Stratford, is so disturbing.

As some of you may know from my book, The Little Book of Big Inspiration, I am a great believer in the wisdom of Barbers! Well, I was getting my hair cut at Elio’s last week and we were chatting as he cut my hair. As you can imagine, Elio is Italian. This month he is about to do what he does every year: shut up shop for five weeks and visit relatives back in Italy.

We were talking about his visit and the beauties of Italy – of which he is very proud – and the apparent fact that Italy is ranked the number 1 country in the world in terms of its cultural heritage and artefacts. Elio positively as we referred to its architecture, art, music, historical sites and all the rest.

I casually mentioned I was going to Stratford and would be experiencing our own great Shakespeare. He looked very serious, and then told me he had read a book about Shakespeare: had I noticed that Shakespeare seemed to know an awful lot about Italy ? So many of his plays were set in Italy – Verona, Venice and more?

Yes, I said, he did seem to have a great knowledge.

Yes, replied Elio, Shakespeare even seems to understand how the weather is there.

Hmm, I said.

You know what it is? He said.

What? I said.

You know really Shakespeare was an Italian – he was born in Italy and later moved to England. I froze for a moment and then recollected myself.

Let me get this straight, Elio. What you are saying is, not only does Italy

have the greatest cultural heritage in the world, a heritage including Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelango, Palestrina, Verdi, Dante, and so many more besides, but you also have Shakespeare as well?

He nodded enthusiastically. At last someone in his barber shop had fully understood the significance of being Italian. I was dumbfounded – I sat admiring his enthusiasm and his patriotism.

And Stratford was wonderful – only, I kept thinking – they’ve got it all wrong!

James Sale