I get “pitched” a lot of ideas from prospective new clients during our early conversations. They want to do “something” that will make a difference in their business, with their team, in their lives. Usually, economy of time and money is on their mind, superseding their reason for doing anything, or doing something that will actually make a positive difference. They forget to make a business case for change and that’s OK – I am here to help.
So I ask questions
. Simple ones, but as most of my clients come to acknowledge, these “simple” questions are the big ones – the important ones that seldom get asked, or at least not answered. What do you want to be different as a result of working with me?
No one knows your business better than you do. But sometimes we are too close to what we do, which keeps us from remembering why we do it, from reviewing how we do it, and from considering what might improve if we tried something new and practiced it long enough to master the improvements.
I also have a responsibility to inform the client about what I believe might be going on in their situation and what is really needed for positive change. This is exactly what Chris McGoff’s book The Primes: How Any Group Can Solve Any Problem
seeks to address.
“Michael’s little sketches, made in the heat of battle and just in time, enabled me to visualize and understand important principles that I didn’t previously.” Prologue, The Primes
My first obligation to a client is to help them visualize and understand important principles, even before I say “yes” to working with them; of course, even more become relevant after we agree to work together. Because I seek never to tell anyone something I could ask them instead, I ask questions about core principles that might be at work in their situation. What questions are we seeking to answer here? How are things now? How do you want to be? Some principles have proven true so many times that they help me to discern issues that lie beneath the surface of the basic idea the prospect is proposing to me on that first call.
is now on my PDNcoach Recommends
reading list on Amazon.com and I highly recommend business leaders and other professionals read it; read it like a handbook that you’ll return to often. I will explore some of the 32 Primes that McGoff identifies in coming months, just as I continue to explore some of my own. Let’s get started with the Rule of Parity.
The Rule of Parity
McGoff introduces The Rule of Parity in his Prologue and again in Chapter 2. It’s a rule that I see ignored almost universally by individuals, as well as by teams and organizational leaders.
People need approximately as much space to talk about the problem as they do the solution. They need balance between analyzing the As Is and imagining the To Be.
People naturally want to solve their problems, get past their problems, rise to their challenges, innovate and create new things for a better world. But we have tendencies to “jump in” too quickly, or analyze too much for too long. They not only skip over the As Is, they let the What If (usually negative) cloud and even prevent the desired To Be before it is ever conceived.
The truth in the Rule of Parity shows up often. People find it more difficult to decide and act in the moment when they haven’t already considered long-term aims, deep values or noble purpose. To properly address our challenges, we need to think about the outside world, our dreams, and work through something like the proverbial – yet all-to-clinical – SWOT analysis.
People never arrive at The Intersection of Purpose and Now without the Rule of Parity. They become paralyzed. Without the Rule of Parity they tend to look through “rose-colored glasses” or see the “glass as half empty” – in fact, the glass has a leak. Without the Rule of Parity, all kinds of things blur intent, process and desired outcomes. They get lost. They even panic.
The Rule of Parity requires us to seek deep agreement on the As Is and deep understanding of an inspiring To Be, in order to identify a Noble Purpose, clarify Strategy and follow-through with Action.
I advise, as does the author: Violate the Rule of Parity at your peril.