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The colossal misunderstanding of our time is the assumption that insight will work with people who are unmotivated to change. – Edwin Friedman, A Failure of Nerve, p. ix

edwin-friedmanThis quote, with which I often open a speaking engagement, has had a profound impact on my career and, indeed, my life. Its application ubiquitous – to family, to colleagues, to church groups, to political parties, to international relations – and I encounter its effects daily and often multiple times in one day.

The name of this post is, maybe not so obviously, an acronym for this quote. In the past week I have used it, the acronym no less than four times in various on-line conversations. (One person, after just seeing the jumble of letters, asked me if I was alright. I think, perhaps, they thought I was having a stroke.)

Just yesterday I was in a conversation with a colleague about some folks who seemed to be caught up in the past. In a meeting he attended with them, they were unmoved by the mounting evidence he was presenting that the situation was, in fact, changing. This was clearly contrary to their belief and they refused to accept it.

He then asked how I might approach changing their minds. I was, yet again, reminded of Friedman’s great quote. I replied that it is futile to try to change their minds because, well, it is their mind, not his.

I did suggest that in the future when confronted with a similar situation he ask the following question, “Are you willing to admit that there is a possibility that the situation could improve in the future?”

I said that only if he gets an affirmative response to this question should he agree to continue the conversation. Anything other than a “Yes” response would mean it would be futile to continue. If an individual or group is unwilling to recognize this possibility, no amount of data, evidence, anecdotes or emotional appeals will change them. Continuing the conversation will only heighten your anxiety and theirs.

Which reminds me of another famous quote by Robert Heinlein, “Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig.”

What about you? Are you open to the possibility of a better future?

PS – If you are interested in learning more about the work of Edwin Friedman this video provides an good overview.

Your Vote Needed – Best Timesheet Video

Below is a list of videos I found on youtube that are related to the timesheet with a link to a playlist I created if you want to view them consecutively. Please view them and let me know which is your favorite.

  1. Do your timesheet by joebeegnish – This would be funny if it were not serious.
  2. Time Sheet Song by liltam21 – There is even a song about this…
  3. Time After Timesheets – by PaulDesRosiers – …and a cover/parody of a real song…
  4. Time sheet drama by pumpkin1017 – …and a cartoon version…
  • timesheet by manuviora – …and even one en Española!?
  • May Timesheet Reminder by tracywald – Yes, Godfather parody…
  • June Timesheet Reminder by tracywald – …and a Matrix parody. This is a whole series from one person. I wonder what she puts on her timesheet when producing these.
  • Gordon filling out his Timesheet by 94WYSP – An absurdist drama…
  • Saw Timesheets by hordeman70 – …and a horror flick.
  • How to Create Stickies Timesheet Reminders by tsgvids – Funny for its unintentional earnestness.
  • Workamajig Creative Management: Angry Men by workamijig – Because “creatives” love filling out timesheets online.
  • Timesheets by BereaCollegium – Finally, the truth!!!

    So which one is your favorite?

    Bonus question: If you fill out a timesheet, what did you code watching these to?

    Sage Partner Consulting Workshops

    Yesterday, in Atlanta, I delivered the first of many Consulting Workshops for partners of Sage North America. Here is what one participant, Fred Wright had to say about the experience:

     

    If you are a Sage partner and interested in attending one of these upcoming events, you can register by going to www.sagepartnerportal.com. Select the Build Knowledge tab, and then Academies and Boot Camps. You can also go to www.sageu.com.

    Current dates include:

    • January 26 in Tampa, FL
    • February 9 in Austin, TX
    • February 16 in Phoenix, AZ
    • March 9 in Irvine, CA
    • March 23 in Herndon, VA
    • April 6 in New York City
    • April 20 in Boston, MA

    Consulting Rule #3

    I often state a truism that I stole from someone I can’t remember – In consulting, as in medicine, prescription before diagnosis is malpractice. (If you are this person, I apologize, I owe you a beer.)

    In a recent conversation while on a walk with my wife, Christine, we concluded that there is a corollary to this rule – You can’t prescribe if the patient/customer will not let you diagnose.

    I hear about this problem more than a couple of times a week from Sage partners with whom I am speaking. It usually manifests itself like this, “Ed, I was trying to get an understanding of why the customer thought a request they had made was important, and they told me that they don’t reveal that information to outsider consultants. What can I do?”

    My initial response is a half-kidding, “Run away!”

    After explaining that I am kidding, sort of, I state, “Perhaps you should suggest to them that they reconsider and explain that while you understand their concern, it is not in their best interest to withhold this information. Consider this – if you go to a cardiac surgeon and just ask for a triple bypass operation, any ethical doctor will first insist on a few tests before performing the surgery. Certainly, they would want to take your blood pressure and heart rate. Would it make any sense to say, ‘Hmm, I don’t know, I don’t think I want to reveal that information to you.’? Clearly, it would not. I am in the same situation as the doctor, without a full understanding of the problem, it would be unethical for me to proceed. So, I ask you to reconsider and answer my questions. If not, I really don’t think I can help you.”

    Is this hardball? Maybe, but your only alternative is to violate your ethics and prescribe before diagnosing.

    What Do You Know – I Am Mainstream

    Yesterday, on the front page of the Wall Street Journal opposition to the billable hour went mainstream – Billable Hour’ Under Attack. The article begins, “With the recession crimping legal budgets, some big companies are fighting back against law firms’ longstanding practice of billing them by the hour.”

    In addition, the Journal also posted this accompanying video, in which the client (Pfizer) lays down the law (of economics that is) to her firms. While there is much here to agree with, she misses an important point. No billing by the hour can be financially beneficial to the firm as well. The question that I have for these firms is will you now eliminate the time sheet? Your customer has just told you that you have no reason to keep them. If anyone out there works for one of these firms, please let me know what the buzz is.