We’ve been talking about problems. Most problems have three states.
Technically, if you perceive you have a problem then NOW is what you have right now, currently. And what you have right now is an upside down rocket. This is called the State A or the Presenting Problem or the Current Situation (CS) or simply, Now.
Ideally, what do you want instead? What would the problem look like fixed? Where do you want the problem to go? In our space shuttle example, the rocket is pointing upwards. This is what you could label State B, the Target Behaviour or the Preferred Outcome (PO) or simply, Where.
Basically most problems are viewed as a Now to Where transformation because you want to transform where you are now to where you’d prefer to be instead. Something is one way … and you want it a better way.
David is currently overweight (now) but prefers to be his ideal target weight (where). Ron’s got late paying customers (now) but he wants customers who pay on time (where). Kevin currently yells at his staff (now) but he’d prefer to be calm and patient (where) when they make mistakes.
We know that whenever you try and make the transition from Now to Where, and its not happening easily or at all, then somewhere between Now and Where there is an obstacle. You’ve hit a brick wall There is something impeding that transformation..
In the rocket example we need to rotate the rocket from pointing down to pointing up. And as you’d imagine it will not be easy task nor quick to manoeuvre something as large and as heavy as a rocket!
Almost all change will encounter some obstacle even if it’s the time taken to make the change.
If you have a broken arm (now) and you want it mended (where), the obstacle you will encounter is the time it takes for the arm to heal and mend.
Real or Made up
Here’s the thing. Some obstacles are real and therefore legitimate; and some are self-imposed, imagined and even made up. You need to identify the difference.
If you break your arm it actually does take time to heal a broken bone. It’s a legitimate obstacle. If you want to rotate something the size and weight of a space shuttle is a legitimate obstacle. For starters changing it from State A to B will involve – at the very least – time, and resources; and maybe money.
In many cases your behaviour is governed by laws. For example, in the financial industry, in the UK, you are governed by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Often something is possible but you say ‘you can’t’. “I can’t sell.” “I can’t ask customers to pay their bills on time.” “I’m no good as a manager (basically, I can’t manage others).” Usually it is a self-imposed obstacle where you are actually arguing for the limitation. Other people seem to be able to do what seemingly you can’t.
The trick, therefore, is deciding if your obstacles are real or self-imposed.
For example, Ron says he can’t get his customers to pay on time but what do you think? Is that real or self imposed?
A plan of action (How)
Getting from State A to B may require some planning and action. Rotating a heavy space shuttle is going to be a major logistical undertaking. You’ll need a workable plan. So the plan of action is the How part of Now, Where and How.
If you have a broken arm the how involves seeing a doctor, having an x-ray, resetting the bone, setting it in plaster cast and immobilising it in a sling. Let’s say Ron decides he wants to get customers paying on time. How will he get that to happen? He needs a plan.
And he needs to take action.
This doesn’t need explaining. Plans are useless unless you execute them. I would make one point, though. You might need to execute several plans of action. Sometimes Plan A doesn’t work, so you try Plan B or C.
Feedback and Review
In any case, once you start taking action you need to assess whether your plan is working, or not. A powerful coaching question is: how will you know your plan is working? How exactly will you know?
It may require close monitoring of that action to determine if your plan is actually working. For example, if you have a broken arm you will visit the doctor every 10 days and you might have additional x-rays and maybe physiotherapy.
But you need to know if your plan is working or not.
In Ron’s case, he might decided to review all his clients trade accounts terms, phone them up and chase payment and then get them back onto on-time payment schedules. But the litmus test will be customers start paying their overdue accounts. He will need to review that closely to see if in fact his plan is working.
Termination seems an ugly, threatening word but it technically means the project has concluded. OK, once the rocket is pointed upwards you need to stop! You have reached your Target state. We mention it because some people don’t know when to stop.
If you have a broken arm and the X-ray shows that it is all mended and the physiotherapist says you are all good it would be silly to keep wearing a plaster cast and a sling.
In Ron’s case, if his clients are paying on-time then he needs to stop sending reminder invoices.
The NOW, WHERE, HOW Model
This is the basic Now-Where-How Change Model. Once again:
1. Now: The ‘upside down rocket’ is what you’ve got NOW (we call this State A).
2. Where: What’s your preferred ideal outcome? The result you want? What does success look like? The rocket is pointed right way up, perhaps? This is called WHERE (or State B).
3. Obstacle: What is preventing you achieving State B? What are the obstacles or limitations? In this case rotating the rocket will be an engineering feat and a major challenge. We call this State C or the OBSTACLES. Some obstacles are legitimate and real; and some are plain made up, self-imposed and imagined.
4. How: What’s your workable plan to fix this issue? We call this State D or HOW. The workable plan is how you intend to get around the obstacles so you get what you want. We call this the NOW, WHERE, NOW model.
5. Action: You take the action, or maybe you attempt several plans of action.
6. Feedback. You check if its working, or not.
7. Termination. If you have achieved the target state then maybe you need to stop taking action.
So Ron has late paying customers. He wants them to pay on time. His plan is to get a full list of customers that owe him outstanding payments and contact them. He will know if that’s working if they start paying their overdue bills. He then needs to review current terms and billing cycles to ensure customer KEEP paying their bills on time. Maybe incorporate a Stop, Start, Continue plan. Get the idea? All problems go through this cycle.
OK, YOUR TURN
Your job today is to choose one of your smallest and easiest problems and play with the NOW, WHERE, HOW concept. See if you can come up with a plan to get from where you are now to where you want to be.
Remember, pick something small and easy.
Andrew Priestley is a qualified business leadership coach with clients worldwide. He is the author of The Money Chimp, Starting and How Money Flows Through Your Business. You can contact him through www.andrewpriestley.com
Please feel free to share the link and please leave feedback and constructive comments.
It goes without saying that this is for information only and The Author cannot be held responsible for any losses or damages that occur as a result of reading this material.
© 2017 Andrew Priestley/TCE Ltd