This is a video of a talk I give to groups of CEOs about how to lead a team through change during challenging times.
This leadership framework is based on the method I describe in Teamwork 9.0. Specifically, check out chapter 2 of the book.
Here is a transcript of the talk:
A global pandemic sweeps across the earth killing hundreds of thousands of people in its wake.
Economies are wracked by recession, with no end in sight.
40 million people are thrown out of work in the US alone.
People are fearing for their lives to simply go to work or go shopping for groceries.
Nationwide, protests erupt-against police violence, and the police respond with …. more violence.
2020 has killed hyperbole.
In normal times, a CEO faces existential threats to their business, every day.
Your organization has a mission and you’ve grown a team to deliver on that mission with ever more effectiveness and efficiency. Your team excels at operating in-the-business.
They know how to respond well to all known threats—HR with employment issues, your safety team with worker safety and compliance issues, your sales team with the competition. They’re expert at dealing with these threats.
But what happens when the threat comes from outside the normal course of business? When the normal patterns of behavior no longer apply? How do you and your team agree on the nature of the problems and coalesce around solutions that will lead to new behavioral patterns, behaviors that will allow your team to survive and even thrive in the new environment?
How do you create a-new-normal?
It was with this type of challenge in mind that I wrote my book Teamwork 9.0. I developed a problem-solving framework that organizes teams to solve big, challenging problems with maximal buy in from all stakeholders.
[Slide 2 – Enneagram]
I developed this framework based on a powerful tool called the Enneagram. The Enneagram is commonly used as a personality dynamics system. It’s extremely useful and valuable for understanding yourself, your friends, family and team members, and the interpersonal dynamics that occur.
Not only can it be used in this way, I discovered that it can also be used as a problem-solving-framework for teams.
I had a question: Why is the Enneagram Type 1 the 1, why is Type 2 the 2, and so on. Why couldn’t Type 1 be the 7, or Type 5 be the 3?
It turns out that the number assignment is not arbitrary. There’s a specific reason for the order. The numbers represent the order of a process. If fact, it’s the order in which humans–solve–problems.
[Slide 3 – The Circle]
The problem-solving nature of the Enneagram is described by the outer circle. Each of the nine Enneagram dynamics describes a specific step in problem solving. This use of the Enneagram is not commonly known or understood, which is why I was compelled to write my book, Teamwork 9.0, and share my discovery with you today. Let me briefly go through each step
[Slide 4 – Step 1]
What’s the first step in problem solving? It’s realizing that you have a problem. Enneagram Type 1 is often called the Perfectionist. They are often the first type to point out that things aren’t right, aren’t as they should be.
They also have a clear vision of how things should be.
In problem solving, describing how things shouldn’t and should be corresponds to problem definition and goal. Problems and goals are two sides of the same coin, and the-first-step in problem solving.
[Slide 5 – Step 2]
So, who cares about the problem? Step 2 is where you identify the people who have an emotional connection to the problem. Enneagram Type 2 is often called the Helper. They understand the emotional desire to solve problems and want to chip in and help.
In Step 2, you establish your team of committed stakeholders – those that will help solve the problem. This is your problem-solving team.
[Slide 6 – Step 3]
Your team will have many ideas for how to solve the problem. Step 3 is when you capture all the ideas. Enneagram Type 3 is called the Achiever. They are constantly looking for ideas that will lead to success.
Each team member may have a different idea of what success looks like. You’ll want to understand each member’s perspective. It’s important in this step not to react negatively to any idea. You want to create a positive environment, encourage everyone to contribute, and capture all ideas.
[Slide 7 – Step 4]
Anytime anyone expresses an idea, you’ll have a reaction. That idea’s great! Or, that idea sucks! You can’t help yourself; it happens naturally and instantaneously. Enneagram Type 4 is sometimes called the Artist—they are the type most in tune with the emotional impact of any idea.
In Step 4 you want to determine the set of ideas that are most favorable to the team. These are ideas that have the most positive emotional energy, energy your team will need to carry the project through to successful completion. I usually use a simple vote on each idea to make this determination.
The combination of the Idea Step 3 and Reaction Step 4 reminds me of the saying, “throwing spaghetti against the wall and seeing what sticks.” It’s this combination that allows your team to come up with the ideas that they want to pursue.
[Slide 8 – Step 5]
Having a handful of positive ideas to explore, it’s now time to turn to the left-brain activities starting with analyzing each idea for feasibility. Enneagram Type 5 is often called the Analyzer, and in Step 5 of problem solving you perform pro/con and cost-benefit analysis of each idea. Out of this step comes the top 1, maybe 2, ideas to solve each problem that the team is pursuing.
[Slide 9 – Step 6]
Step 6 is where your team takes the most promising idea and builds a project plan that gets you all the way to the goal – who does what and when. Type 6 is often called the Questioner. Their brain is constantly asking questions—what if this happens; what if that happens? They’re constantly on the lookout for pitfalls and developing strategies to avoid them.
In Step 6 of problem solving, you’ll want the team to build a low risk plan that gets to the goal; the plan can include risk mitigation strategies and contingency plans.
[Slide 10 – Step 7]
Now that you have your plan, the team needs to take it back to the broader set of stakeholders for buy in. Enneagram Type 7 is often called The Enthusiast. They are the ones who get people excited to try something new.
In Step 7, you socialize the plan with your organization. You remind everyone of the problems they face and show how the plan will solve those problems. Done well, this socialization will lower barriers and resistance during implementation.
[Slide 11 – Step 8]
In steps 1 through 7, what have you done? Talk, Talk, Talk. Step 8 is the time for action. Enneagram Type 8 loves to get to action. They will be the type that is most frustrated as the team works through the first seven steps. You will want to coach the Type 8s on your team to have patience during these early steps.
But, in Step 8, the team gets action! With the approved plan in hand, your team’s now ready to march ahead, solve the problem, and achieve the goals!
[Slide 12 – Step 9]
YAY! –you’re DONE! The team finished the project. How did they do? Whenever you undergo a transformation, some toes will be stepped on and feathers will be ruffled. Enneagram Type 9 is called the Harmonizer, and in Step 9 you want to debrief the project and listen to feedback from the stakeholders. If you have your detailed list of problems and goals from Step 1, now is the time to review that and score the project.
As you have these conversations with the stakeholders, you’ll uncover that there may be lingering problems and perhaps new problems that need to be addressed. And, this is why….
[Slide 13 – Process + People = Purpose]
…the Enneagram is a circle, not a line. Step 9 leads right back to Step 1 and illustrates the human desire for continuous improvement.
The aspect I love about this problem-solving framework is that there’s a direct link between each step in problem solving to a specific personality dynamic that is particularly suited for that step.
Now more than ever, organizations are being challenged with threats that require everyone in the organization to collaborate and find new ways to survive and thrive—working ON the business not just IN the business.
Using a step-by-step-approach-to-problem-solving can get your team to focus on the challenge and invent a new path forward.