Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Fierce Conversations IV--Digging Deep: "Mineral Rights" Conversations

Continuing summary/analysis of Susan Scott's Fierce Conversations.

"Mineral Rights" Conversations

A summary of "mineral rights" conversations--which, as Scott notes (p. 39), are conversations that "interrogate reality" by "mining for increased clarity, improved understanding, and impetus for change." The name comes from the insight that, "If you're drilling for water, it's better to drill one hundred-foot well than [a] hundred one-foot wells."

pp. 112-113:

The general content of these conversations involves seven questions or areas:

  1. "What is the most important thing you and I should be talking about?"

  2. "Describe the issue."

  3. "How is this currently impacting you?" . . . The emphasis is on the word current; keep focused on current impact and results. Ask "What else?" at least three times. Probe feelings: "When you consider these impacts, what do you feel?"

  4. "If nothing changes, what are the implications? Imagine it is a year later and nothing has changed: What is likely to happen?" Ask "What else?" at least three times. Probe feelings: "When you consider those possible outcomes, what do you feel?"

  5. "How have you helped create this issue or situation?" --Don't comment on the response other than to say, "That's useful to recognize." Move on.

  6. "What is the ideal outcome, in your opinion? When this is resolved, what difference will it make?" Ask "What else?" at least three times. Probe feelings: "When you contemplate these possibilities, what do you feel?"

  7. "What's the most potent step you can take to begin to resolve this issue? What exactly are you committed to do and when? . . . When should I follow up with you?"
pp. 114-115: Some additional good questions

3. What is currently impossible to do that, if it were possible, would change everything?

5. What's the most important decision you're facing? What's keeping you from making it?

6. What topic are you hoping I won't bring up?

9. Who are your strongest employees? What are you doing to ensure that they're happy and motivated?

10. Who are your weakest employees? What is your plan for them?

15. If you were competing against our company, what would you do?

A "secret rule" for these conversations: "Until the person I am with has answered the question in Step 7--What do you see as the next most potent step you need to take?--I do not allow myself to make a declarative statement. No cheating. No leading questions such as, 'Have you considered trying _____?'"
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