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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Simple Rules and Tools - Ask for Help

Asking for Help even when you (think you) don't need it.

I just cleaned out one of the eves-troughs on our house. It seems hardly worth a blog post to announce that. Nor was it particularly remarkable in any way:
  • it wasn't higher than the reach of our standard ladder
  • it was above the deck at the back of the house so the footing for the ladder was solid
  • the blockage was ordinary – just some accumulated leaves
  • and the spot requiring attention was self evident because that's where the water was overflowing the lip of the trough on to my feet on the deck
On the other hand, yes, it was pouring rain at the time. (After all a hole in the roof only leaks when it is raining.)

So why did I go out in the rain, in a rain slicker and boots, scramble up a wet ladder with the slicker's hood blocking my vision, reach over backwards to grope blindly in the eves-trough, in very cold water, to find the blockage of soggy leaves, to deal with this problem?

Well; the point of the eves-trough is to direct water away from the basement wall so it doesn't end up in the cellar, and that clearly wasn't working very well. And the waterfall from the trough onto the deck made this disconcerting “water-is-running-into-the-house-and-all-is-lost” sound.

But, of course, the underlying reason is that I hadn't cleared the leaves away during the lovely warm sunny weather this past weekend. In fact I hadn't even checked to see if there might be leaves in the trough, even though I have to do that for my Mum almost every time I visit her at her house.

Aren't humans fascinating? We have the capability and resources to plan in advance the most outrageously complicated stuff, but we still wait until its raining to fix the roof – or eves-trough.

We see this effect when it comes to Asking for Help. It's startling clear when there's a problem and a solution is needed that asking someone else for thoughts or advice is a good idea. In our Simple Rules and Tools for Great Teams Immersion session that becomes obvious, particularly when we tell folks at the start of the session that the tool “Ask for Help” is the single most important and valuable one to learn.

But it's trickier to appreciate that Asking for Help is even more valuable when it is not raining problems. Because the steps in the tool aren't simply ones to get answers, but are also ways to open oneself to others – their knowledge, insights, experience, and contributions. And that helps us to put our own knowledge into perspective, take ourselves a little less seriously perhaps, and forge a stronger more meaningful connection with that other person.

And you don't have to wait until it's raining to do that.

Find out more about the Simple Rules and Tools for Great Teams at and get a free copy of all the rules and tools known as The Core Protocols at

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Simple Rules and Tools - Perfection Game

Making something better and better

The other night at the Aikido dojo some members were tested and successfully achieved their next level of ranking. Immediately before the tests all of us worked through a regular class which usually has us start with practicing a very basic and simple technique and build on it towards a pretty startling movement.

To the casual bystander this approach can seem odd. If I am learning to spin my opponent around me almost horizontally, force them to the mat, and then secure them immobile, why should I spend time practicing having them grab my wrist over and over... and over?

Where's the cool drag them one way, clothes line them across the neck in the other direction, take them off their feet using their own momentum, and have them slam down on the mat, all with a flick of the wrist, twist of the hips, hardly needing a deep breath?

Well, of course, Aikido isn't about being “cool”, or slamming your opponent, who is actually more your partner in an intricate dance than a real threat. At least in the dojo.

And the whole development of these intricate moves occurs step by step, just like learning to fly an aircraft, or any other criteria-based instruction. When one can demonstrate satisfactory performance of one task or movement, then one can progress to the next step.

In particular, at each step one can review, evaluate, and improve to develop a firmer foundation for the next step.

This continuous building and adding to achieve a startling amazing result is one thing Great Teams practice doing during the the Simple Rules and Tools of Great Teams Immersion. The Tool is called the Perfection Game. The initial “movement” is simply whatever idea or proposal is suggested for the team to consider from one of the team members. That person asks one or more of the others to “Perfect” it, and the protocol begins.

It's a very special, structured, and positive form of feedback:
  • it only occurs at the requestor's asking
  • it indicates how much value the responder is hoping to provide to improve the suggestion
  • it covers the aspects of the suggestion the responder likes with only positive comments
  • it indicates any improvements the responder would like to see to make the suggestion as close to perfect for them as it might be – the value the responder is adding
That last step is where the continual building, improvement, and adding value occurs, particularly when the whole team is involved – either at the same time or in stages.

So if you like the opportunity for continuous improvement – kaizen – in your martial art, your flying, driving,... whatever, or are just looking to make an idea better in any situation the simple tool the Perfection Game protocol is ideal.

Find out more about the Simple Rules and Tools for Great Teams at

Get a free copy of all the rules and tools known as The Core Protocols at

See our example of the Perfection Game at