What’s your Passion #4 – the Aha! Curve

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It never ceases to amaze me how something so simple and powerful is routinely misunderstood. But, then again, the predecessor to this was a bell-curve distribution.

The Aha! Curve emerged from a conversation I was having with a management consultant (seven years ago in Stockholm) that clearly couldn’t grasp what was being communicated with (what I thought) something so simple as a bell-curve. I was stunned and almost speechless.

Half-amused, half-annoyed, I walked up to the white board and, in order to make it even more simple, drew four clouds ascending in a line upwards, drew a vertical line in the middle between them (with the word “Aha!” at the top of the vertical line) and then wrote one word in each cloud: fail, motions, perform, high-perform. 

This was the birth of the Aha! Curve:

Since Scandinavians reacted negatively to the word “fail,” I eventually switched it to “struggle.” 

Over time I also added in the concept of “hands-on” for the left two items and “hands-off” for the right two. As you can imagine, the Agile purists jumped all over that and claimed I was advocating “command-and-control.” Nothing could have been further from the Truth:

  • In reality, I define hands-on as “train, coach and mentor.”
  • Hands-off is just continuing with “coaching and mentoring.”

People don’t like to change their minds.

That’s why transformations fail routinely. The level of organizational resistance to change is always stunning. People get comfortable and get stuck in ruts (a rut is just a grave with the ends knocked out of it).

But, I have discovered that most reasonable people are willing to make a new decision based on new information. This is the simple, yet profoundly powerful, way to transition people from where they are at to where they need to be. 

Everyone is chortling about having the right “mindset” these days without understanding the fundamentals of how to instill and breathe life into the mindset that is desired in order for your teams, products, programs and portfolios to succeed. 

Teaching people to mindlessly follow preset (and in some cases very rigid) delivery models, methodologies and frameworks will NOT change people’s minds. It will have the opposite effect.

In the Flow Leadership Framework we train, coach and mentor leaders on how to successfully guide people into the right way of thinking. 

Btw, the real “Aha!” in all of this is that you don’t need everyone to actually move up the Aha! Curve in order to more than double the performance of and value-add to your organization. 

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