The Primes: How Any Group Can Solve Any Problem

The Primes: How Any Group Can Solve Any Problem

by Chris McGoff

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Overview

The Primes: How Any Group Can Solve Any Problem by Chris McGoff

Discover fundamental principles of high-stakes change andorganizational transformation

The "primes" are universal and unavoidable patterns of groupbehavior that emerge whenever people attempt to transform systemsor collaborate to solve complex problems. Every change agent hasfelt their effect, but few can recognize, anticipate, and managethem. Unacknowledged, the primes can put any leadership agenda atrisk. Once mastered, the primes become a force that drives intendedoutcomes. The Primes is a field manual for anyone ready tostep up to serious challenges, predict and manage inevitableproblems, create a brighter future, and produce extraordinaryresults.

An essential guide for 21st century problem solvers and changeagents, The Primes unveils 46 universal secrets ofhow to:

  • Tackle complex problems successfully and deliver extraordinaryresults on time
  • Forge lasting consensus among competing interests and keepteams focused and productive
  • Recognize and eliminate the most destructive forces in anorganization
  • Establish cultures of integrity

The Primes gives leaders the edge they need to succeed.Once the primes are revealed, you'll see them everywhere!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781118173275
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 04/03/2012
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 718,580
Product dimensions: 7.90(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

CHRIS J. McGOFF is the founder of The Clearing, Inc., a Washington, DC–based management consulting firm dedicated to supporting change agents as they tackle the most daunting and complex problems facing organizations. For 30 years, Chris McGoff has been helping leaders in the private and public sector reach difficult consensus and solve problems of consequence—those involving the highest levels of stakeholder and technological complexity. Mr. McGoff's client list includes most of the agencies of the US federal government as well as a wide range of organizations such as IBM, AARP, Consol Energy, DuPont, the United Nations, and Boeing. He is also a sought-after public speaker, senior advisor, and professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy.

Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION xxv

PART 1: UNIVERSAL PATTERNS OF LEADING IN UNCERTAIN TIMES1

How do some people, organizations, and coalitions thrive inuncertain times? What enables them to appear so certain and takedecisive action amid ambiguity about the future?

CHAPTER 1 – BEING CLEAR ON WHAT’S REALLYIMPORTANT 3

How did you decide how you spent your time yesterday? Whatcriteria are you using to allocate your time tomorrow?

LEADING 5

Does being called a ‘‘leader’’ meanyou are ‘‘leading’’? What does‘‘leading’’ mean?

IN–ON 9

Are you seduced by working ‘‘in’’ thebusiness at the expense of ‘‘on’’it?

CHANGE VERSUS TRANSFORMATION   13

Are you fixing or creating?

CHAPTER 2 – BEING INTENTIONAL AND GOING FIRST 18

What are you committed to making happen and by when? Whatdoes ‘‘committed’’ mean? What does yourcommitment mean to others?

INTEGRITY 21

Does your ‘‘yes’’ really mean‘‘yes’’?

TRUST THE UNIVERSE   25

Is your vision limited to what you’ve alreadyseen?

DECLARATION 29

Are you willing to live unreasonably?

CHAPTER 3 – ENROLLING OTHERS 32

Can you call people, from disenfranchisement and merecompliance, to their highest level of commitment?

DYNAMIC INCOMPLETENESS   35

Can you create a vision that is compelling because of what itsays and at the same time inviting—for what it leaves yet tobe said?

ENNOBLEMENT   39

Does your vision elevate people in degree and excellence andrespect and inspire them to act boldly?

POWER 45

Do you know how to turn strangers, competitors, cautiousallies, and suspicious stakeholders into powerful, outcome-drivencoalitions?

PART 2: UNIVERSAL PATTERNS OF POWERFUL ALLIANCES 47

How do you generate unprecedented power within the group? Isthis question all that important to you?

CHAPTER 4 – GAINING SHARED PERSPECTIVE 49

Everyone claims to value diversity. Can maintaining diverseperspectives ever be a bad thing?

BLIND MEN AND THE ELEPHANT   51

How do you help people to see the ‘‘wholething’’?

LEVELS OF PERSPECTIVE   55

How do you help people to see the same ‘‘wholething’’?

S-CURVES   59

How do you lead people to a shared sense of now?

CHAPTER 5 – ESTABLISHING SHARED INTENT  62

How do you lead the group to be intentional?

CORE PRIME 65

How do you help the group to focus on the right things andfeel urgent about acting?

PARITY   73

What is the right ratio of analyzing versusimagining?

STAKE   77

How do you get the group ‘‘allin’’?

CHAPTER 6 – TAKING COORDINATED ACTION 80

How do you get the group to do everything persistently abouta few critical things versus doing a few things abouteverything?

COHESION   83

Cohesion is an unnatural state for a group. How good are youat establishing and sustaining it?

REDPOINT   85

A good question to ask is, ‘‘What is important todo?’’ A better question is, ‘‘Of all theimportant things we could do, what are the fewest, mostimportant?’’

MUDA   93

Can you distinguish ‘‘non-value-addedactivity’’? How much of your group’s resources isit consuming?

PART 3: UNIVERSAL PATTERNS OF OUTSTANDING GROUPPERFORMANCE 96

What do high-performance groups know and do thatlow-performance groups do not?

CHAPTER 7 – MAKING DECISIONS   98

What does the word ‘‘decision’’actually mean? How are decisions made?

LEADERSHIP SPECTRUM   101

Are you the kind of leader who likes to facilitate consensus'The right answer is, ‘‘Thatdepends.’’

CONSENSUS   105

Are you still using the traditional definition of consensus'Are you aware of how destructive the traditional definitionis?

OPEN–CLOSE–DECIDE   109

How do groups actually make decisions?

CHAPTER 8 – BUILDING AN INTENTIONAL CULTURE 113

Quick—what does ‘‘culture’’mean? There are consequences to using more than seven words todefine culture.

CULTURE 115

Culture happens. You shape it or it shapes you. How good areyou at shaping a culture?

CONGRUENCE   119

What is the dark side of a stated culture?

FEEDBACK AS CARING   123

How good are you at giving it? How good are you at gettingit? Why does it matter?

CHAPTER 9 – SOCIAL CONTRACTING AND ACCOUNTABILITYWITHIN THE GROUP   126

How do peers give each other commands?

REQUEST   129

Why saying ‘‘no’’ protects yoursaying ‘‘yes.’’

TRUST   133

We all say how important trust is. What is trust? How do yougenerate it and how do you destroy it?

BREACH   137

What do you do when your ‘‘yes’’turns out to be a ‘‘no’’?

CHAPTER 10 – SAYING AND NOT SAYING; LISTENINGAND NOT LISTENING   140

How do high-performance groups sound?

PERIMETER 143

How small a fence have you built around what can and cannotbe said?

FACTS, STORIES, AND BELIEFS   147

Can you distinguish facts from stories from beliefs? Do youuse facts the way a drunk uses a lamp post—for support versusillumination?

GOSSIP 151

What is it? What makes it so destructive? How do you stopit?

PART 4: UNIVERSAL PATTERNS OF GROUP FAILURE 153

How good are you at anticipating, avoiding, and slaying thedragons that inevitably show up and threaten your group and theoutcomes your group is standing for?

CHAPTER 11 – OVERCOMING RESISTANCE  155

Are you okay with favoring some people and ignoringothers?

LAGGARDS 157

Do you know how to starve ‘‘possibilitykillers’’?

FRAGMENTATION   161

How skilled are you at overcoming resistance from thepowerful middle?

SAME–DIFFERENT   165

Everybody’s special. Really?

CHAPTER 12 – MANAGING INTRACTABLE DILEMMAS  168

How do you end a never-ending argument?

BIG HAT–LITTLE HAT 171

What do you do when the needs of the many conflict with theneeds of the few?

RIGHT VERSUS RIGHT   175

Resolving conflicts about right and wrong is child’splay. How skilled are you at resolving matters of right versusright?

RESOLUTION PRINCIPLES   179

Right versus right arguments have been going on forever. Whatcan we  learn from our ancestors?

CHAPTER 13 – AVOIDING TRIPPING HAZARDS 181

Tripping hazards are easier to avoid when you know where theyare. When it comes to working in groups, can you see themcoming?

CHASE–LOSE   183

Chase teamwork, leadership, morale, and culture and you willsurely lose them all.

PROCESS–CONTENT   189

You can run the process. You can contribute to content. Pickone.

SHAPE SHIFTING 191

How to destroy your power in groups.

CHAPTER 14 – REFUSING TO HIDE OUT 194

We all live our lives trying to avoid embarrassment. Can yourecognize when you and your group are hiding out and playingsafe?

VICTIM–LEADER   197

What does ‘‘going victim’’ soundlike?

COURT–LOCKER ROOM   199

Do you find planning to be a near-death experience?

CONFUSION   203

Why is confusion such a wonderful way of being?

PART 5: UNIVERSAL PATTERNS OF THRIVING IN AMBIGUITY 205

How do you stay healthy when the world is sick?

CHAPTER 15 – AVOIDING BRIGHT AND SHINY OBJECTS ANDSQUIRRELS 206

How do you manage distractions?

A CLEARING 209

How skilled are you at creating nothing?

ISSUES FORWARD   213

Looking behind and looking ahead are both important. What isthe right ratio?

CHAPTER 16 – TAKING GREAT CARE OF YOURSELF  216

Can you give up coming from ‘‘something iswrong’’?

COMMITMENT VERSUS ATTACHMENT   219

Why saying ‘‘This project makes me sofrustrated’’ is irrational.

BE   223

How good are you at cutting grass when you are cuttinggrass?

CONCLUSION: NOWWHAT? 226

NOTES  228

INDEX OF THE PRIMES  237

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 239

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