Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Defensiveness Metric


In the May 2004 Harvard Business Review Kate Ludeman and Eddie Erlandson of  Worth Ethic Corporation authored an excellent article "Coaching the Alpha Male".  One very useful sidebar was a metric of defensiveness, which I found very helpful in evaluating how I respond to change and how others respond. 


The scale runs from +10 (highly open to the other person) through zero and down to -10 (highly defensive).  Importantly, the zero point marks the level where one shifts from "choosing curiosity" to "being right".


Here's the scale





+10     Plan the change, engage others, set milestones and implement.

+9       Communicate genuine enthusiasm about making a change

+8      Think out loud, making new associations about the problem.

+7     Take full responsibility for the problem and its ramifications

+6     Request information and examples about the problem

+5     Openly wonder about your role in creating the problem

+4     Express genuine curiosity about the issue and how to resolve it.

+3     Express appreciation for the messenger, regardless of delivery.

+2     Summarize key points without interjecting your own thoughts.

+1     Look interested, breathe, demonstrate an open posture.


BREAKTHROUGH:  choosing curiosity over being right


-1    Show polite interest while inwardly preparing your rebuttal

-2    Provide a detailed explanation of your point of view

-3    Justify actions with compelling logic and an interpretation of events

-4    Interrupt to give your perspective

-5    Interpret comments as attacks and feel misunderstood

-6    Convince them that you're right and they're wrong

-7    Make snippy replies and show your irritation nonverbally

-8    Blame or complain about someone who's not present

-9    Intimidate or attack the messenger

-10  Appear to comply, with no intention of doing what you say you'll do.





I've mulled on this for a couple of weeks now...I think the authors have something here.  In particular, their definition of the breakthrough point, of going from demanding to be right to choosing to be curious, is very profound. 


Think about this...when I choose to be curious, I listen better.  I focus on the other person.  I seek to learn.  If I demand to be right, I am focused on myself, my needs, my position.  I can't see the customer, whether internal or external, if I have to be right. 


This is a challenge to my own behavior.  It also gives me a less-threatening tool to assess others' reactions.  A lean transformation involves, of necessity, change.  Change is threatening.  If you and I model curiosity rather than defensiveness, however, we help the process a lot.  After all, Lean is about people much more than kanban and andon. 


I hope you find this concept helpful as well.



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