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Chapter 13. The reality > Inquire (clarify)

Inquire (clarify)

  • Head: At the heart of any diagnostic or inquiry process is the ability to separate the process from the content. As the rush of data starts to flow, there can be a tendency to be reactively driven by the content and start to lose sight of the overall methodology. This is not to suggest that you should formally separate context from content, just that you should retain the capability to rise above the situation and understand what is happening at any moment in the clarification stage. So many teams become distracted once their pet subject starts to emanate from the emergent data pile. Unless you are able to both recognize your pet bias and subordinate it during this phase, then an element of corruption might creep into the process, and at worst the diagnostics might be inaccurate and so steer the engagement in the wrong direction.

  • Heart: There are two key aspects in this stage, the extent to which you are in control of your own emotions and the extent to which you are sensitive to others. There is a real danger that the inquiry process can be severely damaged. Just one insensitive remark or a throwaway comment as you walk in the door can create emotional blockages that can never be overcome. You must be able to tune your emotional sixth sense into the surrounding areas and be sure that any action you take is in alignment with the situation. Second, it can be very difficult to prevent your emotions and flaws corrupting the data gathering and analysis. The best solution is to understand and map your own cultural bias before embarking on any type of clarification project and understand how your emotions might distort the diagnostic process.

  • Hands: The clarification stage is difficult and potentially damaging. It is where fears become exposed, demons unearthed and false idols displayed. Like David entering the lion's den, you must use all of your stealth and, more importantly, exhibit a behaviour that is non-threatening but assertive. However, take the assertion into aggression and you will push everyone back into the shadow world where the undiscussed becomes even more hidden. Alternatively, by behaving in a soft and flimsy way, you will not truly unearth any of the real problems that face the client or consumer. For an ideal role model consider Colombo, the television detective. This form of inquiry is one that is tenacious and focused but with the sufficient sensitivity to get behind what people are saying.


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