Saturday 24 November 2018

The Idiot's Guide...

Many years ago, before the days of the internet, I compiled a set of notes for myself which I kept in my filofax (remember those) which were essentially an aide memoire of all the various models and theories to which I referred in my training (again, this was before I was coaching... dim and distant days...).  The idea was that occasionally I would say something like 'remember Maslow's hierarchy' and then my mind would go blank and I'd forget one of the levels; or similarly, 'there are four key points in Harvard's model of negotiation' and then I'd struggle to remember one of them; in which case I could flip to the guide and relieve my distress.  I jokingly titled these notes 'An idiot's guide to training jargon' - self-deprecation being the house style at that time. And I was fascinated to find that other trainers, seeing me use the Idiot's Guide, were keen to own a copy.  For a short while, I produced and sold a few hundred.

After last week's session on Ikigai, Jane and I found ourselves talking about it on a long walk over the weekend, and reflected on the way in which having a new model to think about provoked new and interesting insights on old and well-worn themes. That then led us to talk about the value of re-visiting old (but not-recently-contemplated) models in search of similar stimulation - and that reminded me of the existence of my old Idiot's Guide. It was fascinating to re-visit it, and remind myself of theories and models that clearly seemed important to me twenty years ago, but which I have not re-visited for a long time (when did I last think about Vroom's Expectancy Theory, for example?)  So we are currently putting all this into electronic format, so that it is readily available on the phone that has replaced my filofax as the lodestar of my business life.  

And of course it is fascinating to see what I want to add: there are so many things that I have learned since then, and which seem to me to have more utility and more accuracy than many of the models I used to use. Out goes NLP, in comes the Thinking Environment; out goes MBTI, in come the Big Five and the Hogan Assessments; and so on.

And of course, reflecting on utility and accuracy reminded me of that four-box model I devised about stories, and blogged about on the Shifting Stories blog a while ago. So I decided to develop a four box model to categorise all these models, as follows:

All fairly self-explanatory (though I leave it to you to decide which models fit where) with the possible exception of the label 'Bohr's Horseshoe.' That refers to an anecdote I often use when introducing a useful but perhaps not robustly-researched model to academics.  The story goes that the great physicist, Niels Bohr, had a horseshoe over his back door for good luck.  When challenged by his friends, 'Niels, surely you, of all people, don't believe in that superstitious rubbish!' the great rationalist replied: 'No, of course not! But I'm told that it works, even if you don't believe in it...'

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