Episode 89: GTD And Promise-Based Management With Michael Dolan

In this week’s episode, Michael Dolan and I show you how to bring about the results you want in life by combining two powerful action frameworks: Getting Things Done (GTD) and promise-based management.

GTD, also known as workflow coaching, helps you manage agreements with yourself. David Allen, my guest on episode 13, outlined this model in his mega bestselling book, Getting Things Done. Michael has been bringing this approach to executives and senior professionals for many years.

Promise-based management helps you manage commitments with others. I heard about it 20 years ago, gave my first talk about it in 2003, and enjoy introducing it to clients. It has been one of the principal themes of this podcast. Many of you heard the integral mashup I did on this topic several months ago.

The question Michael and I explore today is this: what happens when you integrate both frameworks into your day-to-day work life? What becomes possible when you become adept at managing agreements with yourself using GTD and skilled at managing commitments with others using promise-based management?

Neither of us promises you will become superhuman or super-happy.

Then again, nor do we claim these are out of reach!

But seriously, I enjoyed rolling up my sleeves with Michael. Join us as we dig in below the level of concepts to explore specific behaviors you can start practicing today when you combine these powerful frameworks.

Highlights

  • 12:00 How can promises from a 1-on-1 meeting end up in your inbox?
  • 18:00 Processing items at your desk when you’re confused about who promised what
  • 24:00 It’s easier to process (“What is this?”) when you’ve already discussed this with others
  • 30:00 Check your “delegated project” list at the end of a meeting
  • 37:00 Asking the other person to promise to bring up a topic in three months
  • 41:00 You saying “no” to me could help me renegotiate agreements with myself!
  • 47:00 You thought they were going to produce a brochure. They thought they agreed to get it approved.
  • 52:00 What if you don’t trust others to manage their promises?
  • 59:00 Why Michael is in awe of the volume of work his clients manage

Listen to the Podcast

Explore Additional Resources

Guaranteed Miscoordination of Action [Drawing]

This is the second in a series of drawings that illustrate key principles from my podcast and writings.

In this case, “miscoordination” is a shorter way of saying “everything gets screwed up.” Which, sometimes, it does. Now, wouldn’t it be nice if you could make this happen less often—if things could consistently go smoothly?

What else do you want to know about this topic?

Episode 79: Integral Mashup On Managing Promises [The Amiel Show]

Introducing… the first integral mashup on managing promises.

I’ve pulled short audio clips from five past interviews and added my own commentary—all on the topic of how we get things done in life through conversation.

This is my favorite topic in leadership development, particularly when meshed with other valuable frames, like the idea that we are all in over our heads in complexity, so why not grow a little bit?

Joining us on this journey are Bob Dunham, Lisa Marshall, Chris Chittenden, Elizabeth Doty, and Susanne Cook-Greuter.

All together in one place for the first time…sort of!

This episode is an experiment. It was both fun and challenging to unpack different guests’ ideas and then place them in a slightly larger context. This stretched my brain!

I’d love your help. Please shoot me a 1-2 line email and let me know what you think.

  • What worked for you?
  • What was missing?
  • Any topics you suggest for future Integral Mashups? Looking at the podcast archives gives me ideas…

Listen to the Podcast

Listen in new window

Explore Additional Resources

New to Podcasts?

Get started here

Subscribe to the Show on iTunes (It’s Easy!)

  1. Sign into iTunes using your ID and password
  2. Search the iTunes store for “Amiel Show”
  3. If you get a screen without a Subscribe button (a screen that looks like this), click on the show logo in the lower left corner
  4. Click on the Subscribe button. It’s in the upper left corner of the screen.

Give Me a Rating or Review on iTunes (It’s Also Easy!)

  1. Sign into iTunes using your ID and password
  2. Search the iTunes store for “Amiel Show”
  3. If you get a screen without “Ratings and Reviews” (a screen that looks like this), click on the show logo in the lower left corner
  4. Click on “Ratings and Reviews”
  5. Give it a rating. Bonus for a review

 

The Year Ahead [New Post]

Thank you all for listening to my podcast, reading my posts, and sending kudos, queries, and quirky questions. As we close out 2017 and step into 2018, I want to share a few words about what you can expect from staying in conversation with me.

  • Growing as a leader and human being in organizations. This remains the primary focus of my podcast, blog, and client work. What can we learn about this process from different teachers, studies, experts, traditions, and organizations?
  • In-depth interviews. I’m committed to providing high-quality, in-depth interviews that make you think. I pick guests whose work I admire and ask them to dive deeply. These folks have a lot to say, so I give them the spotlight and challenge them to stretch their own thinking an extra inch.
  • Accomplishing work together by managing promises. My clients are reporting a great deal of benefit from an approach to collaborative work that I call “managing promises.” I’m using it with teams and individuals to produce better results with fewer headaches. (If you’d like to talk about using this with your team, send me a note). You may recognize this theme from past interviews with Elizabeth Doty about making only promises you can keep, Bob Dunham on listening for commitment and executives’ new promises, and Chris Chittenden on real accountability. Why do so many handoffs between people go awry? Why is it frustrating when people don’t give you what you ask for and yet so challenging to talk with them about this in a way that improves future results? What happens when you make more powerful offers in your organization, and what specific steps are needed to do this? How can you raise the performance of your entire team by learning the real anatomy of action? I’ve taken many of these ideas (originally from Fernando Flores’s “conversation for action”) and fleshed them out into a comprehensive model called the “promise cycle”. I’ve written a short yet fairly technical playbook about this called Reliable Results. In the coming year, I’ll be doing more interviews and Jedi Leadership Tricks on this topic, posting more diagrams like Fuzzy Promises, Fuzzy Mittens, and continuing to share it with teams. I think there is great potential to do for managing promises with others what David Allen has done with managing agreements with yourself.
  • The American experience with race—a new series. Most conversation about race in the United States is simplistic, polemical, and poorly grounded in history. We are arguing past each other rather than listening to each other, focusing only on the latest outrages, and not sufficiently integrating different perspectives. To me, it’s a huge leadership topic, something that can inform how we understand ourselves and the people we work with even when the topic at hand is not about race. That’s because to talk with wisdom about race is to talk about what it means to be human beings in all our beautiful complexity. I’ll be asking podcast guests to explore this topic with me in an integral way. We’ll delve into individual beliefs and behaviors, culture, and societal structures.
  • Synthesizing key concepts. Several listeners have recently challenged me to share my own understanding on the many ideas I explore with guests. To synthesize and illuminate what I’ve been learning. Expect to see at least a couple forays in this direction in the coming year.

Once again, thank you for walking with me on this journey. Anything in this note strike you as particularly important? Have any other suggestions for me. I welcome your emails!

 

Stop Agreeing To Unclear Requests [New Post]

Unclear requests wreak havoc in organizations, families, friendships, and civic life.

This is particularly true when the one receiving the request blindly says “yes.”

What is an unclear request? It’s when you ask me to do something but are vague about what you want.

Scenario A: Omission of the “What.”

Imagine that you are the design manager for a team creating a new product for the home refrigerator. When attached to the fridge, it senses when the door isn’t closed all the way and emits a sound. When Henry Homeowner hears this sound, he knows to go back and find out what’s blocking the door.

I’m your lead designer, and we have a preliminary conversation about the product and what it will do. You close by saying to me, “Give me something by Thursday at 5pm.”

I think to myself, Hmm, I don’t really know what “something” means, but that’s what they pay me to do, and I don’t want to look stupid by asking a question. So I say, “You got it, boss.”

I work hard on this for three days, and on Thursday afternoon give you what you asked for. Ten minutes later, the phone rings. “That is not what I asked for” you say with audible frustration. I feel dejected and angry. What a waste of time!

Scenario B: Omission of the “When.” 

Same product, people, and situation. But this time, you say, “Give me a 3D prototype with basic specs next week.”

When I hear this, I understand what will satisfy you and know that it’s urgent. So I shift my schedule around to allow me to get you the prototype by next Friday at noon, five hours before your deadline.

On Wednesday morning, you knock on my door. “Where’s the prototype?” you ask.

My throat tightens, and pressure mounts in my forehead. In a low apologetic voice, I reply, “I’m working on it.”

The frown on your face tells me that this isn’t the answer you were looking for. “I told you I needed it this week. We’re already halfway through the week.”

Oops.

Scenario C: Omission of the “What” and the “When.” 

Same product, people, and situation. This time, you say, “Give me something ASAP.”

Although I don’t know what will satisfy you or when you want it, I agree to the request.

What happens next: as the saying goes, I get my just dessert.

Who messed up? 

When it’s time for the team’s annual Broken Trust Awards, which one of us gets to walk away with a medal?

The answer, of course, is both. You receive the Fuzzy Duddy Award for making the unclear request. I get the Dummy Award for accepting it.

What can I do differently?

The obvious answer is to resent you for being so unclear. You’re the manager. You’re supposed to know what you’re talking about. Stop jerking me around!

Or, I can own up to my part of the situation. The next time you make an unclear request, I choose to do one of the following:

  • Ask for clarification. “I get what you’re looking for and want to make sure I understand when exactly you want it. You said ‘next week.’ When during the week did you have in mind?”
  • Propose something more specific. “OK, so you want something by Thursday at 5pm. I want to make sure that we are on the same page in terms of what you want. If I gave you a table of features and benefits, will this work for you, or did you have something else in mind?”
  • Promise to propose something more specific. “I’ve got the timeframe and understand that it may not be clear exactly what you’re looking for. What I’d like to do is take two hours and come back to you with a proposal for what I’ll have for you by Thursday at 5pm. Will this work for you?”

 

Episode 58: My Stand On Trump and Clinton [The Amiel Show]

Last week’s post, Executive coaches are normalizing a demagogue: It’s time to stop, created quite a stir.

Thank you for your comments, questions, and encouragement.

I’m taking a risk using my professional platform to discuss politics, so I’m grateful the message has landed for so many of you.

This week, I have more to say. I recorded a solo riff yesterday so you could hear it during the week when we all are making sense of the first Clinton/Trump debate.

After you listen, drop me a short note and tell me what you think, OK? And if you choose to respond to my call to action, let me know what you do.

Highlights

  • 1:00 I read excerpts from the post
  • 9:00 What’s the point of developing leaders if we don’t speak up now?
  • 15:00 Imagining a choice that truly would be challenging
  • 17:00 My call to action for leadership coaches, trusted advisors, and leaders
  • 23:30 None of us have clean hands
  • 26:00 Our country has not gone mad, and a liberal Berkeley sociologist visits Trump country

Listen to the Podcast

Tweet a Quote

“Why devote my life to developing leaders if I’m not going to speak up now about Trump?”

–Amiel Handelsman   Tweet this quote

Explore Additional Resources

New to Podcasts?

Get started here

Subscribe to the Show on iTunes (It’s Easy!)

  1. Sign into iTunes using your ID and password
  2. Search the iTunes store for “Amiel Show”
  3. If you get a screen without a Subscribe button (a screen that looks like this), click on the show logo in the lower left corner
  4. Click on the Subscribe button. It’s in the upper left corner of the screen.

Give Me a Rating or Review on iTunes (It’s Also Easy!)

  1. Sign into iTunes using your ID and password
  2. Search the iTunes store for “Amiel Show”
  3. If you get a screen without “Ratings and Reviews” (a screen that looks like this), click on the show logo in the lower left corner
  4. Click on “Ratings and Reviews”
  5. Give it a rating. Bonus for a review