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Sorry, I Don’t Handle That

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ROI by Frank J. Rich

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Frank J. Rich

 

Few of us need to recount the times we heard a service worker bellow that unforgivable phrase that either tickles the sardonic side of our funny bone or curies the ire that maddens. You’ve heard them, and if you’re anything like me, twice the first time. The rude, the crass, the indifferent. The cashier, who seems to have much to do besides checking out the goods of those waiting on line; the waiter who blithely chats in the corner of the restaurant as though attending to you was a tertiary function of his job; those who treat your questions as though guns and knives were the choice of weapon, should they be on hand. And, not least, those policy-bound lemmings that can devise no solution, nor even lend themselves to the idea, but who are the artifices of policy—the “I cant’s” following with lockstep precision.

 
Many have spoken of them, but the need to do so pales by comparison to the need to do something about them. Why? Because they can destroy your business. These unfortunate “representatives” of your organization are slaying sales and driving customers away. As with the jawbone of an ass, every day millions of dollars in sales and goodwill are slain by it. And, it seems to be growing worse by the increasing dependency on service workers in America. Hell itself has delivered them it seems; will none among the duty bound to the principles of best practices do anything about it? Alas, the excuses for inaction are as familiar as the nocuous cause for them. “I can’t find good people in a booming economy. Schools have done a poor job of preparing a solutions ethic in people. We are training but people don’t seem to get it. I haven’t the time to worry about what my people say to customers; I can’t even keep up with demand. If it weren’t for the customers, this would be a great business.”

 

Let’s take a look at the literature on the subject. As part of The Wall Street Journal’s 1999 centennial survey, pollster Peter Hart asked 1,034 consumers what irked them most about service people. The number one complaint, chosen by 40 percent of respondents, was sales and delivery people who say they’ll be at your home or office at a certain time but never show up. Other complaints on the list revolved around face-to-face encounters:  “poorly informed salespeople” (37 percent); “sales clerks who are on the phone while waiting on you” (25 percent); “sales clerks who say, ‘It’s not my department.’” (25 percent); “salespeople who talk down to you” (1 percent); “sales clerks who can’t describe how a product works” (16 percent). My nemesis is the service worker who will say anything, and with authority, as though “it” were truth simply by the expression of it. They not only don’t know what they are talking about, but also don’t have any idea that the customer is on to them.

 

In his book At America’s Service, San Diego-based consultant Karl Albrecht (a favorite business behaviorist of mine) contends that service workers exhibit seven categories or types of behavior to return.
•  Apathy: an attitude that tells you the server could not care less about serving you. One distinguishing feature is what comedian George Carlin called the DILLIGAD look:  the one that says, “Do I Look Like I Give A Damn?”
•  Brush-off: trying to get rid of the customer by brushing off his problem. Practitioners try to “slam dunk” the customer with some standard procedure that doesn’t solve the problem but lets the service person off the hook in doing anything special.
•  Coldness: hostility, curtness, unfriendliness, and thoughtlessness–any behavior that says to the customer, “You’re a nuisance; please go away.”
•  Condescension: a patronizing attitude toward the customer. Nurses, for instance, are notorious for this. They call the physician “Dr. Jones,” but they call you by your first name and talk to you as if you were four years old. They check your blood pressure but don’t believe you are intelligent or mature enough to be told the result:  “Dr. Jones will tell you if he thinks you need to know.”
•  Robotism: the unfocused stare, the pasted-on smile that tells you nobody’s home upstairs. The fully mechanized worker puts every customer through the same pale routine, with no trace of warmth or individuality:  “Thank-you-for-shopping-with-us-have-a-nice-day. Next”
•  Rulebook: the service worker trapped by (or hiding behind) a set of company policies that leave no room for discretion in the name of customer satisfaction or even common sense. Any customer problem with more than one moving part confounds the system.
•  Runaround: “Sorry, you’ll have to speak to so-and-so. We don’t handle that here.”  The airlines have turned this into an art form. The ticket agent tells you the gate people will take care of it; the gate people tell you to see the ticket agent when you get to your destination; the agent at your destination tells you to talk to your travel agent. Ever had a computer problem? The hardware manufacturer tells you it’s a software problem, so you call Microsoft. You can guess where they tell you to go—back to the hardware manufacturer.
However you see them, service workers from hell are every bit as real and challenging as customers from hell. In fact, it’s likely that if you have the former you also have the latter. It just works that way. The good news—there are ways to break the cycle of madness for any organization that is willing. And, you have a lot more power to change the behavior of your own people than that of your customers.

 

Frank Rich is founder and CEO of Encore Príst International, an organizational development company that helps individuals
and organizations reach their full potential through the practice of effective business fundamentals. You may reach him at
fjrepi@gmail.com, or by phone at 866/858-4EPI.

January 17, 2020 |

The Finish

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ROI by Frank J. Rich

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Frank J. Rich

 

When focused on the completion of a skillful act, Allen Iverson of NBA fame watched every shot attempt to the very end of its flight, as though an electronic guidance system were directing its course. Tennis champions patiently approach their shots with the concentration of a cat after prey, riveted on the small spherical missile headed their way, calculating the backswing that will measure pace, distance, trajectory, placement, and spin, while watching the ball into and through the racket. Decision leaders carefully consider the views and experience of others, the moment’s dynamics, and the ROI in decision making with the focus and aplomb of the uniquely self-assured.

 

Finish is defined as the effective completion of something—and which most often contributes to a planned result. Though very similar to the definition of success—the achievement of a planned goal—the finish (in all things) is that moment of accomplishment that meets the goal, apart from all else that is going on around it.

 

Inexorably tied to focus, the finish requires concentration on something until it is done. This applies most to accomplishments achieved in short moments—the accurate shooting of a basketball, summarizing the views of many to reduce the ardor in re-examining each in detail, evenly slicing bread, or managing the ingredients of a recipe coming together. Longer-reach accomplishments are best achieved after several breaks to refresh the mind and clarify base understandings such as task goals and the motivation in achieving them.

 

The finish is so uniquely qualifying that the success of a task is largely dependent on it. One may spend hours on a project that is late against its deadline only to discover that the direction of the initiative has changed without benefit of that work. Every writer must come to a conclusion that both restates the theme and summarizes the meaning in the work. Airline passengers don’t applaud a successful flight, but rather, a successful landing. Rewards follow the finish, which is why when asked if he was happy with the scoring of 40 points in a game, Allen Iverson would typically say that he missed too many shots.

 

Perhaps the greatest obstacle to finishing what we start is ultimately us—our fears, anxieties, and doubts. This does not count the pause to consider one’s experience or the approach of others known for successful behavior. It isn’t about making it the best that it can be. It is most often our fears that keep us from the finish line.

 

We learn most from our failures—this, largely because judgment suffers most when we succeed at something, when the adulation of others washes us with an overactive sense of ourselves. Success seldom reveals improvements. It too often suggests that we have no growth to achieve. This seldom is the case for any endeavor. There is always more to learn. Even a perfect score on a test can be undone by questions of historicity—how we know what we know. In the end, the longer it takes us to get to the finish of things, the longer it takes us to improve and to move the indicative along.

 

A fundamental part of the finish is giving one’s work over to another. This most often grows perspective on the work and its approach, nuance, clarity, and completeness. Every writer needs an editor, as the saying goes. This fundamental adds accountability and a deeper sense of commitment to the work, usually an interdependent collaborative. Giving the work over to review aids a better result. It eases the fear of exposure by valuing others. This most often increases the desire for team members to be helpful, and less competitive. Ultimately, review reduces risks and criticism, replacing it with encouragement and constructive alternative views.

 

Many are known for their ideation ways; more still believe this is the contribution necessary to organizational endeavors. The well-known TV commercial about how consultants pop in, drop their ideas, then disappear, leaving the work to others, rings true, though not the method of serious consultants. Nonetheless, we are too often the victims of a low self-esteem, grasping at “home run” models, while others do the plodding. The best practice hard and perfect the finish.

 

When things don’t work out we feel it, especially if we prepared hard and invested heavily in the outcome, only to have failed to deliver on the promise. This reality encourages a drive-by ethic that hits hard but stays little. Clearly, it’s easier to come up with ideas than to finish what we start, but the results are seldom equally rewarded, at least in real terms. This is why our real identity needs a secure foundation before tying it to one thing alone, such as our roles. When the goal eludes us we are best to consider the elements of the next try, and not our self-worth. Allen Iverson never stopped believing in himself, that he could make every shot he took. He did not think of himself as less for failing to achieve that goal despite his failure to do so. Very few NBA players shoot better than 50 percent.

 

In the end, we mean to make a difference, however small. Remember, the definition of success is the accomplishment of a planned goal. At times it requires that we go at it again and again. We might all be reading by candlelight had not Thomas Edison performed 10,000 experiments before his light bulb succeeded.

 

Frank Rich is founder and CEO of Encore Príst International, an organizational development company that helps individuals
and organizations reach their full potential through the practice of effective business fundamentals. You may reach him at
fjrepi@gmail.com, or by phone at 866/858-4EPI.

January 17, 2020 |

People

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ROI by Frank J. Rich

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Frank J. Rich

 

In her signature song by the same name, Barbra Streisand, the extraordinary vocalist and actress, uncovered an essential condition in us — our child-like nature.

 

    People who need people,
    Are the luckiest people in
    the world.
    We’re children, needing
    other children,
    And yet letting a
    grown-up pride,
    Hide all the need inside,
    Acting more like children than children.

 

The opening line in the celebrated book by Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, “Happy families are all alike, every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” is testimony to the dysfunction common to man, and a poignant view of the fundamental workings of the human condition. Tolstoy, in this engaging novel, positions the crises of family life with his desire to find the meaning in life and social justice.

 
People, as we have all discovered, are the single most important and influential “others” in our lives. Yet, though we are social beings by nature, living with each other in harmony may be the most difficult thing we humans accomplish. Historians, international business persons, teachers, politicians, poets and novelists alike, and even our pets, know all too well the difficulty in accomplishing a “single organizing idea” among a group of people. Frankly, not even the almighty God — for all that people of faith believe He has done — has, yet to join the world in peaceful coexistence. People, it would appear, are loath to be, well, “people.”

 
A defining theme in the book, Anna Karenina, is the idea that predestination is an incontrovertible fact. It means to suggest, as the philosopher and theologian John Calvin offered, that God (in His omniscience) both knows and preordains all that will happen to us here on Earth. The idea that we have anything to do with the ultimate outcome of things is antipodal to this view, and divides the Church in a theological rift between predestination and free will, itself a fundamental tenet of world faiths and behavioral science. Calvin was, perhaps driven to this “legalistic” view by his formal training as a lawyer. Tolstoy, on the other hand, in proposing the same view, found it impossible to reconcile it by his actual experience with people; thus, he proposed that while “predestination” was a known fact, one could only attain the hope in harmony with others by imagining “free will.”

 
Why the psychology lesson under the guise of Return On Investment (ROI)? Ms. Streisand, for all of her artistic prowess, is legend for her absolute requirement that she control all aspects of her work and its results. And while we might agree that the result justifies her means, it is by her own admission that deep insecurities are what had driven her to perfectionism. Each of the individuals above, it seems, has formed a method in which to make decisions, that which is at the root of our behavior as humans. In fact, according to some: “We all do exactly what we decide to do; we are the sum of our decisions.” Decision making, then, may determine who and what we are more than anything we do. Decisions are sometimes quick, and others may take years. Yet, for the influence they prove to be in our lives, the process remains mysterious and wizardry or art.

 
Stogdill’s Handbook of Leadership: A Survey of Theory and Research, lists over 5,000 studies and monographs on executive decision making. But when asked to reveal the common thread that qualifies an effective leader, its editor was unable to do so. The confusion over the practice is enlightened by the comment of former Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, who divined: Once — many, many years ago — I thought I made a wrong decision. Of course, it turned out that I had been right all along. But, I was wrong to have thought I was wrong.
The process of business can seem chaotic at times. Indeed, some have concluded that accepting the condition may be the only hope of success within it; adding that control over the chaos is the only hope in successfully managing it. As former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski revealed: “… much of what happens is the product of chaotic conditions and a great deal of personal struggle and ambiguity.” Virtually all of our problems, then, may trace to poor decisions — those made by a process that is poorly understood.

 
Clearly, managers spend more time making “people decisions” than on anything they do. Most would agree that it is time well spent since people are the single most valuable asset of organizations. They are, however, unique in their ways, quirky, unpredictable, and possessed of more power and grace than most organizations (even they themselves) can use to productive ends. How then do we unlock the power of people to grow our organizations to the level of our aspirations for them, especially when studies show that selection of the right people is, at best, a 30 percent proposition? This may be good for a baseball player, but is the single largest and most uncontrollable cost to growth organizations.

 
Organizations whose people are productively engaged, and see growth and opportunity in their work, are usually the leaders in their market segment. Somehow, they have found the secret to tapping the energy and productive juices of their people; they have learned to understand them and how they turn to productive ends. Sometimes understanding people is more than an organization is capable of doing in the normal course of business. Few have the talent and internal organization to grow capable people into a majority of its workforce. More expedient and simpler is to transition those that reveal themselves as “holes in the boat.” This too, may seem costly, but increasingly, organizations opt for it as a cost effective methodology. Many of us are aware of General Electric’s practice of vetting the bottom 10 percent of their workforce annually, in favor of higher producers.

 
In his telling of the success of CrossCheck, Inc, the third largest transactions-guarantee company in the U.S., Tim LaBadie, founder and chairman, confronts the conventional wisdom. Like most entrepreneurs, Mr. LaBadie claims to be different. So, when he started his company he said he wanted to create a home for “strange” people like himself; “people who won’t accept mediocrity, who won’t take no for an answer, who love pushing themselves to the limit, who thrive on change, and who will ‘do windows.’” It is, he continues, “… not a place for everyone. The survival rate is low, the casualty rate is high, and we love it.”

 
Mr. LaBadie is saying, “ … that there are not many places that CrossCheck people could thrive (tolerate).” Such places were likely to stifle the imaginations and productivity of their people and stunt their growth and enthusiasm for personal achievement. Apparently, it worked for CrossCheck, though most organizations could only have conversations about achieving such a workplace. People, it would appear to some, are worth the trouble.

 

Frank Rich is founder and CEO of Encore Príst International, an organizational development company that helps individuals
and organizations reach their full potential through the practice of effective business fundamentals. You may reach him at
fjrepi@gmail.com, or by phone at 866/858-4EPI.

January 17, 2020 |

Tools That Make Us More Effective

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ROI by Frank J. Rich

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Frank J. Rich

 

Wanna’ be your best, but just need to practice a little longer to get it right? Well, maybe. When was the last time you tried to solve the Rubik’s Cube? And how many hours of “practice” did it take… before you gave up? Along comes a far too clever person to be breathing the same air, with a critical tip on the solution, and you whip through it as though it were child’s play. Right?

 
Have you ever tried to learn something fairly simple, yet failed to grasp the key ideas? Or tried to teach people and found that some were overwhelmed or confused by what you said, though quite basic to you?

 
If so, you may have experienced a colliding of learning styles. In this case, the learning styles of your instructor or audience may have been misaligned. This is not only frustrating, but also learning fails. Once you’ve discovered your own natural learning preference, you can work on expanding the way you learn to include other styles.

 
And, by understanding learning styles, you can create an environment in which everyone can learn from you, not just those with your preferred style.

 
Index of Learning Styles
The Index of Learning Styles developed by Richard Felder and Linda Silverman in the late 1980s models four dimensions of learning styles. Think of these dimensions as a continuum with one learning preference on the far left and the other on the far right.

 
Learning Styles Index
Sensory  —  Sensory learners prefer concrete, practical, and procedural information. They look for the facts.
Intuitive  — Intuitive learners prefer conceptual, innovative, and theoretical information. They look for the meaning.
Visual —  Visual learners prefer graphs, pictures, and diagrams. They look for visual representations of information.

 
Verbal  — Verbal learners prefer to hear or read information. They look for explanations with words.
Active  — Active learners prefer to manipulate objects, do physical experiments, and learn by trying. They enjoy working in groups to figure out problems.
Reflective  — Reflective learners prefer to think things through, to evaluate options, and learn by analysis. They enjoy figuring out a problem on their own.
Sequential  — Sequential learners prefer to have information presented linearly and in an orderly manner. They put together the details in order to understand the big picture emerging.
Global  — Global learners prefer a holistic and systematic approach. They see the big picture first, then fill in the blanks.

 
What To Do Next
Sensory Learners — If you rely too much on sensing you can tend to prefer what is familiar and concentrate on facts you know instead of being innovative and adapting to new situations. Seek out opportunities to learn theoretical information and then bring in facts to support or negate these theories.
Intuitive Learners — If you rely too much on intuition you risk missing important details that can lead to poor decision making and problem solving. Force yourself to learn facts or memorize data that will help you defend or criticize a theory or procedure you are working with. You may need to slow down and look at detail you would otherwise typically skim.
Visual Learners — If you concentrate more on pictorial or graphical information than on words, you put yourself at a distinct disadvantage because verbal and written information is still the preferred choice for delivery of information. Practice your note taking and seek out opportunities to explain information to others using words.
Verbal Learners — When information is presented in diagrams, sketches, flow charts, and so on, it is designed to be understood quickly. If you can develop your skills in this area you can significantly reduce time spent learning and absorbing information. Look for opportunities to learn through audio-visual presentations (such as CD-ROM and Webcasts.) When making notes, group information according to concepts and then create visual links with arrows going to and from them. Take every opportunity to create charts and tables and diagrams.
Active Learners — If you act before you think, you are apt to make hasty and potentially ill-informed judgments. Concentrate on summarizing situations and taking time to sit by yourself to digest information you have been given before jumping into a discussion with others about it.
Reflective Learners — If you think too much, you risk doing nothing … ever! There comes a time when a decision has to be made or an action taken. Involve yourself in group decision making (objectifying your views) whenever possible and apply the information you have in practical ways.
Sequential Learners — When you break things down into small components you are often able to dive right into problem solving. This seems to be advantageous but can often be unproductive. Force yourself to slow down and understand why you are doing something and how it is connected to the overall purpose or objective. Ask yourself how your actions are going to help you in the long run. If you can’t think of a practical application for what you are doing then stop and do some more “big picture” thinking.
Global Learners — If grasping the big picture is easy for you, you risk the tendency to run before you walk. You see what is needed but may not take the time to learn how best to accomplish it. Take the time to ask for explanations, and force yourself to complete a problem-solving methodology before coming to a conclusion or making a decision. If you can’t explain what you have done and why, then you may have missed critical details.

 
Once you know where your preferences lie on each of these dimensions, you can begin to stretch beyond them and develop a more balanced approach to learning. Your learning effectiveness will improve immediately, and you’ll open up a new world in the process.
Balance is key. You don’t want to get too far on any one side of the learning dimensions. When you do, you limit your ability to take in new information and make sense of it quickly, accurately, and effectively.

 
Using The Learning Style Index

You can use the learning style index to develop your own learning skills and also to help you create a rounded learning experience for other people.
(I)    Step One: 
Identify your learning preferences for each learning dimension. Read through the explanations of each learning preference and choose the one that best reflects your style. Alternatively, use an Index of Learning Styles Questionnaire like the one at http://www.engr.ncsu.edu/learning styles/ilsweb.html.
(II)    Step Two: 
Analyze your results and identify those dimensions where you are “out of balance,” meaning you have a very strong preference for one style and dislike for another.
(III)    Step Three: 
For each “out of balance” area, use the descriptive information above to improve your skills.
By developing the skills that help you learn in a variety of ways, you make the most of your learning potential. And because you’re better able to learn and gather information, you’ll make better decisions.
Understanding that other people can have quite different learning preferences helps to communicate your message effectively in a way that more people can understand. Take time to identify how you prefer to learn and then force yourself to break out of your comfort zone. Once you start learning in new ways you’ll be amazed at how much more (of everything) you’ll be able to figure out and make sense of.

 

Frank Rich is founder and CEO of Encore Príst International, an organizational development company that helps individuals
and organizations reach their full potential through the practice of effective business fundamentals. You may reach him at
fjrepi@gmail.com, or by phone at 866/858-4EPI.

January 17, 2020 |

An Experiment in Hope

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ROI by Frank J. Rich

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Frank J. Rich

 

It is impossible in the midst of the season’s reflective locus to miss the opportunity that formed in us in that fateful moment 18 years ago as we watched in disbelief. The transferring of the energy that naturally rises in us, enmities for this greatest of offenses, found a more contented place to rest, and as though waiting for just the right moment filled the air with its fragrance. The sky may have darkened in the fulminations of the attack revealed, but its liminal quality rose from the ash to prove us more than our pre-existing condition might have suggested. We are truly transcendent beings, a nation formed of its people, managed by its people, and for the greater good of those people, remains the best hope in forming that the world has ever known.

 
In the moments after that storm, this nation and its people did something so extraordinary that its reflection in the calm waters of the Hudson and East Rivers that day loomed larger than even the tall trees of concrete and steel nearby could obscure. They came together.
“It wasn’t until I actually went to New York City a week after the attacks that I understood how empty and inappropriate an emotion anger was to bring to the circumstances,” wrote this astute observer in the Wall Street Journal this past weekend. “… New Yorkers, who had been so profoundly wounded, had not given in to rage; what they were, mostly, was sad.

 
It was not only a ghastly time; it was also a beautiful time, in the same way that a friend’s funeral can be beautiful. New Yorkers seemed to have had their shells torn off, the gelid stuff of their inner selves exposed and flinching at the air. Jealously tended hierarchies temporarily evaporated, and the worthless currency of human decency reacquired street value.”

 
Eighteen years later we can be grateful for escaping a repeat performance on the part of those sworn to force such a diet of mayhem upon us. We can count, as well, some lessons learned, no doubt the contributors to our good fortune these many years. But have we learned how to practice the difference that transforms us from strong and resilient to the strength of oneness that precedes the “of, by, and for” words above–to wit, one nation? Have we learned how to come together?

 
The mind of the Organization
It’s no stretch for one so often listing by the ballast of business and organizational development to consider a parallel of sorts in the daily ritual we call work. For most, we attempt each day with the hope of a better tomorrow, tree-lined paths providing the shade of relief from interminable ardor by the fruits of the labor that preceded it, the connections of commerce having worked their magic to secure it. We construct silos of order meant to clear our view of the future we plan to build, bending resources along the way to fit our models of redemption. And we stop periodically to celebrate our victories, though sadly returning to the recidivism that informs the next day—independent and free of the neighbors around us.

 
Organizations live and perform by a code of execution. Throw creativity and innovation into the mix and some live to count ardor free days ahead. We work hard to serve the appetite for belonging—Maslow’s third level of achievement on the Hierarchy of Needs, though few see themselves for the fragile state that defines us when absent the selfless devotion to the success of others. This is the antipodal thought that rises from the ashes of both “ground zero” and the oft-errant bodies of purpose we call organizations.

 
In his efforts to balance the scale of strife and joy, perhaps to brush aside empty hopes of preparing a better world out of mere mortal hopes for one, the bishop from Numidia spoke these lasting words.

 
“I no longer wished for a better world, because I was thinking of the whole of creation, and in the light of this clearer discernment I have come to see that, though the higher things are better than the lower, the sum of all creation is better than the higher things alone.”

 

Frank Rich is founder and CEO of Encore Príst International, an organizational development company that helps individuals
and organizations reach their full potential through the practice of effective business fundamentals. You may reach him at
fjrepi@gmail.com, or by phone at 866/858-4EPI.

January 17, 2020 |

Critical Thinking

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ROI by Frank J. Rich

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Frank J. Rich

 
In all areas of endeavor it is easy to form expectations of the benefits to target groups. We expect students to learn, customers to appreciate the value in our products, societies to live by moral standards, and so on, but we seldom teach them “how” to do it. We are a society given to information transfer, but have little patience for the “process” that is necessary to learning. We are so invested in telling others “what to think” that we fail to teach them “how to think.”

 
This is a failing of advertising in general. It is, perhaps, with purpose that we avoid this critical element of the “sell” for fear that it will get in the way. For instance, why would an advertiser want to compare your desire for something with your need for it? The logic in such analysis would alter the sensitive math between seller and buyer. It might also better inform the rhetoric of politics.

 
Typically, we do two things when educating others: (1) we transmit content, and (2) we equip the object group with ways to understand and use it. Here, we are addressing “what to think” and “how to think,” the twin pedals of the learning process. The second of these is called critical thinking, and it is what singularly makes the difference in learning. Yet, it is a skill that is lacking not only in education but also in marketplace organizations.

 
In its landmark report A Nation at Risk, the National Commission on Excellence in Education concluded: Many 17-year-olds do not possess the ‘higher-order’ intellectual skills we should expect of them. Nearly 40 percent cannot draw inferences from written material; only one-fifth can write a persuasive essay; and only one-third can solve a mathematics problem requiring several steps.

 
Exposing the Method of Critical Thinking
What does critical thinking look like and how might we tie it inextricably to the information gathering and use model? The first to gain is the “mindset” that aids critical thinking. Let’s begin with “thinking” itself, which we are encouraged to in organizations, but allowed little time for.

 
Though a key problem-solving technique, critical thinking is hard to find among managers who are generally more comfortable with the traditional plan, organize, coordinate, and control. In truth, critical thinking is a simple method of self-questioning that reveals the logical path to productive ends and the winnowing of the subjective influence in most decision making. To use it requires that we adopt a mindset of critical thinking and then learn the simple tools that aid the practice of it. Simply, critical thinking may be described as “ … reasonable, reflective, responsible, and skillful thinking that is focused on deciding what to believe or do.” Through critical thinking we are better able to ask useful questions, gather good data, analyze them effectively and form conclusions that serve agreed-upon goals.

 
The following are a number of the skills we might apply in critical thinking, as outlined by Raymond S. Nickerson, an expert of critical thinking. In each is the method of critical analysis that delivers the critical thinking model.

 
• Uses evidence skillfully and impartially
• Organizes thoughts and articulates them concisely and coherently
• Distinguishes between logically valid and invalid inferences
• Suspends judgment in the absence of sufficient evidence to support a decision
• Understands the difference between reasoning and rationalizing
• Attempts to anticipate the probable consequences of alternative actions
• Understands the idea of degrees of belief
• Sees similarities and analogies that are not superficially apparent
• Can learn independently and has an abiding interest in doing so
• Applies problem-solving techniques in domains other than those in which learned
• Can structure informally represented problems in such a way that formal techniques, such as mathematics, can be used to solve them
• Can strip a verbal argument of irrelevancies and phrase it in its essential terms
• Habitually questions one’s own views and attempts to understand both the assumptions that are critical to those views and the implications of the views
• Is sensitive to the difference between the validity of a belief and the intensity with which it is held
• Is aware of the fact that one’s understanding is always limited, often much more so than would be apparent to one with a non-inquiring attitude
• Recognizes the fallibility of one’s own opinions, the probability of bias in those opinions, and the danger of weighting evidence according to personal preferences

 
If the skills above are recognizable and familiar practice, you have discovered the power within. Make them your daily bread and you’ll increase your contribution to any organization and society.

 

Frank Rich is founder and CEO of Encore Príst International, an organizational development company that helps individuals and organizations reach their full potential through the practice of effective business fundamentals. You may reach him at fjrepi@gmail.com, or by phone at 866/858-4EPI.

January 17, 2020 |

America’s Bounty

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ROI by Frank J. Rich

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Frank J. Rich

 

Cross America and what do you see–small business, over 28 million of them. Their prodigious energy for enterprise is apparent by their variety and style. Each unto itself a jewel of uniqueness—a sign above the door, the décor inside, the watchful eye of the shopkeeper as you enter, he hoping to engage you in commerce, the very point in enterprise. They are everywhere—a service, a product, the least of both among the giant timbers that hide in marble cathedrals, and the most significant force when counted together.

 

What don’t you see “big business”? Oh, they’re evident, their stone and glass monuments imposing on the landscape, but you don’t really see them. Try it. Walk into a Microsoft office and ask a simple question … of the gatekeeper, a security guard. Despite the simple substance in the question you are likely to feel his quizzical stare, a look as though through you to discover the motive in your inquiry.

 

“What do you do here, you ask?”

 

“This is Microsoft,” comes the answer. It followed by a brochure to inform you, a URL address and an offer: “This should answer all your questions.” It doesn’t.

 

“May I speak to the owner, you ask?” unknowingly, he may be you, or your parents, whose portfolio makes you such.

 

“This is Microsoft; no owners work here,” he returns. Right again, just workers at this place, no one you can learn of their products from, or to present an opportunity. This is not a business you can feel, one can only see it, and from a distance.

 

Armed with research, made possible by similar behemoths whose share prices and profits have soared some 145 percent during The Great Recession, while you have scraped along battling rising costs and unable to raise your prices, you arch for battle.

 

You discover that your brethren of Main Street enterprises are a collective giant, accounting for ninety-nine percent of all businesses in America, and which employ more than 40 percent of all high-tech workers and create more than 60 percent of the non-farm GDP. You learn that 60-80 percent of all new jobs are created by small business, and that this is more by up to four times than big business adds.

 

You learn that small businesses develop 13 times more patents per employee than large firms. And these patents are twice as likely to be among the one percent most cited. That they are organizationally flat and able to move quickly and incisively in and out of markets, taking advantage of changes and innovation more nimbly than their distant cousins, big business.

 

You wonder aloud over their disrespect of you, thinking that small business is really the engine that drives the American economy, providing jobs for many who might otherwise be denied employment because of disability, discrimination, and credential. And, that businesses with 19 or fewer employees account for the majority of the country’s total businesses.

 

Why, you ask, has America turned its back on small business; that which grows communities and opportunity for all Americans? Big business has grown the value of the stock market 145 percent in the last 4-years. This, while small business has been burdened with luxury taxes for those earning $250,000 or more. They who work to create jobs, innovate better than large companies, move quickly and prodigiously to market having learned the art of “failing smart,” and who fail to see color, race, creed, or credential as obstacles—by a decision to join as brothers under the skin, and not by the force of the law that prohibits such profiling.

 

Will we wake to a new age in the years ahead, when America returns to its roots? Will enterprise well in us as it did in those before, for each according to his desire to make something from nothing? Perhaps, as spoken in a simple limerick, we will have put our confusion to rest and returned to a favored soul.

 

Frank Rich is founder and CEO of Encore Príst International, an organizational development company that helps individuals
and organizations reach their full potential through the practice of effective business fundamentals. You may reach him at
fjrepi@gmail.com, or by phone at 866/858-4EPI.

October 7, 2019 |
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