Transcript How to ask Questions to get to the Best Solutions

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Mitch Simon 0:10
Welcome to another episode of team anywhere where CEOs, leaders and experts are building teams, companies, organizations, and amazing cultures

Ginnie Bianca-Mathis 0:22
share how to lead from anywhere in the world. I’m your co host on the East Coast chicken Bianca Mathis,

Mitch Simon 0:27
and I’m your co host on the West Coast. Mitch Simon. And we invite you to join us, team anywhere.

On today’s podcast, we interview Steven Shapiro Hall of Fame speaker, innovator, instigator, author and advisor at 24 seven innovation. I was really excited to have Stephen use his latest book invisible solutions 25 lenses that reframe and help solve difficult business problems to help us come to better solutions for today’s dispersed workforce. The pandemic has caused fear, uncertainty and isolation and Stephen shares that the only way to find solutions in this unprecedented time is to learn how to ask the right questions. Hello, and welcome to another episode of team anywhere. I’m in the studio with Dr. Jenny Mathis. And our special guest. Stephen Shapiro’s is just about to say Dr. Steven Shapiro, but we’ll just leave it at that. Stephen Shapiro is a Hall of Fame speaker, innovation, instigator, author, and advisor at 24. Seven innovation. He’s written a lot of books, but he recently launched the book, invisible solutions, 25 lenses that reframe and help solve difficult business problems. But not only that, I love him for his great luck. But I love him because he’s the creator of personality poker, which is probably the most fun, interactive and transformational. high performing innovation team tool and it’s a card game. And so I want to just Hey, Steven, welcome to the show. excited to have you here we go back a few years. Where are you in? What’s going on with your life right now?

Stephen Shapiro 2:23
Yeah, well, fantastic to be here. Thanks for having me. Right now. I’m in Orlando, Florida, as is the case with most people, you know, not traveling, not getting on planes. And quite honestly, I don’t have a problem with that. Because I’ve been enjoying connecting with people virtually. And all the goodness that comes from being able to talk to people all over the world.

Mitch Simon 2:45
Great. Well, you know, I am so excited to have you on the show. I think I’ve said that already. And the reason why is is you and I work together with a major client here based in San Diego, a couple months back, and we use your lenses, which were your book from from the book, invisible solutions. And I just had a feeling that in the current economy with with Corona being around for six, seven, I think it may be eight months already. And for us looking at most likely a vaccine not coming for another 12 months, at least to the to the general population, that people are, are asking questions, but I have a sense that they’re not asking the right questions. And and I wanted to go through a couple of these questions. And have you help the listeners, perhaps ask a better question or get to what they’re really asking. So I’m going to ask these questions, which I think are pretty simple questions. And I wanted you to challenge the questions and perhaps have us look through a different lens. On on how to really look at our current situation and the future Sound good?

Stephen Shapiro 3:55
Sure. Absolutely.

Mitch Simon 3:57
Great. So the the biggest question that everybody has is, when will we go back? Like when are we going back? Let’s just the question, Stephen. And I’m just wondering when you hear that question, when are we going back? You know, what are you thinking?

Stephen Shapiro 4:12
Well, first of all, then going back to what? I’m not sure. We’re going back to anything that’s going to be anything that’s familiar to us. And when are we going back to work? Are we where are we going back to life as it was? When are we going back to traveling? I for me, I always find questions like that which are sort of like very closed in some respects to be limiting. Because I’m always interested in more question questions that are like, how can we because that at least gives us some action. It gives us some ability to make some change. A win is very passive. It assumes that somebody else is going to figure it out for us, as opposed to if I’m a leader in an organization, how can we get back to collaborating face to face? So it’s a different question. So to me, it’s The words become very important. But I think, you know, when we ask when we can go back or how, you know, I just, I don’t think we are ever going to go back to the way things were. And I think that’s actually good, quite honestly, because I’m not sure things were working the way they were before. Mm hmm. Right.

Mitch Simon 5:18
That’s great.

Ginnie Bianca-Mathis 5:19

Mitch Simon 5:20
So when when, when we when we reframe the question, then Steve is, you know, how we how can we get back to what are some of the one of the some of the things that that we should be asking that would have us look in the right direction?

Stephen Shapiro 5:38
Yeah, I think it’s gonna be different from for company to company, because each company has a different set of challenges, depending on your industry and your current situation. And there’s so there’s, I don’t think there’s like a correct question that works across the board for everybody. I think it’s going to be very situational. And, you know, so I think in some cases, it’s going to be, you know, how can we get back to the same level of productivity that we had before, maybe, in some cases where companies are at like, ridiculous levels of productivity? Some consumer goods, companies? I mean, remember the toilet paper shortages? Okay. Well, they were, you know, if you’re in the the hand sanitizer business, okay, you were keeping pretty busy. I don’t know whether you were innovating, but you were certainly productive. So I think it’s going to vary, because now if you’re in the oil and gas industry, well, you got a completely different set of questions that you’re going to be trying to solve because well, let’s face it, with, you know, oil prices being practically close to zero, that requires you just think very differently.

Mitch Simon 6:39
That’s great. Jenny, and I just got off a call, which would be I’m sure this would be the podcast that’s gonna launch before this podcast, Steve. And what we learned was that things are actually changing for the better. And perhaps the question will be in addition to, how can we go back to another question would be, what are we approaching? Or what are we learning? or what have we, what have we improved? That we want? would want to bring forward? I don’t know if you have any comment on that, given, given some of the the insights, and let’s say, the bright lights that are coming out of improvements that companies are making through this pandemic?

Stephen Shapiro 7:20
Yeah, I mean, I will say, look, if we put aside the economic concerns, and the health concerns, and all of that, this is going to be upon reflection, I think, some of the greatest greatest times of innovation we’ve ever seen, because when, when things are working, well, you become a little complacent. And so what ends up happening is most of the changes we make inside of organizations are really extrapolations of the past. They’re there, in some respects, incremental changes, and I think what we’re really seeing is some really radical shifts in the way things are done. And so I think, you know, coming back to the lenses that you mentioned earlier, you know, I think a lot of companies are starting to use, like, one of the lenses is the eliminate lens, and the eliminate lens says, Okay, why improve something that we should not be doing anyway? So how do we eliminate it? Or what aspects of it do we eliminate? So if you think about a lot of people, what they’ve been doing is they’ve been saying, you know, how can I take the in person experience in, move it virtually, that assumes that we should have been doing it in person in the first place? Most meetings, for example, don’t need to be meetings. I don’t know how many meetings you’ve been to where you sit there, and you have status report, status report, status report, status report, 45 minutes later, it’s just been a series of monologues? Well, if that’s the case, don’t have every person sit there at the same time, send out those status reports via video beforehand, and then only come together for the last 15 minutes when you’re actually going to do some real work and have some conversation. So let’s eliminate the things that aren’t working. Let’s try to improve from a blank sheet of paper almost.


Ginnie Bianca-Mathis 9:00
Let me ask a question. Sorry. Something that seems to be trending and I certainly have always had it in my work. And it sounds like you do. Also Steven from asking the right question. Of course, this is what this is all about. is why. So don’t ask how are we going to get a meeting now remote? Why are we having that meeting? And then come up with the best way to come up with different methods. Whereas at first during this transition, people seem to be focusing more on the what the what, take this and and make it remote versus women. Why are we having the meeting? Why do we want to have brainstorming?

Stephen Shapiro 9:59
Yeah, I mean, That’s so that’s a different lens. That’s the result lens. And the result lens basically says, What’s the purpose? What’s the outcome? What does this make possible? So if we’re having a meeting, the way I would think about is like, well, what’s the purpose of the meeting? What’s the outcome? What does the meeting make possible? What’s our goal that we’re looking to have for it? And then we reverse engineer from that. It will give us a and one thing, which I want to say is that I don’t think they’re necessarily bad questions or good questions. They’re just questions that are gonna yield different results. And so the best questions will be the ones that yield the best results, the best solutions, the best answers, with the least amount of energy trying to get through and finding that. So we tend to ask questions that fall into two categories, we tend to ask questions that are very, very big, broad and abstract, like, how do I improve revenues? How do I increase margins? How do I improve productivity? How do I improve engagement? And the problem is when we ask questions like that, there’s 1000 different answers. So we want to break those down. And then there’s some questions we ask that are too specific. And they might be solutions masquerading as questions or they’re very narrowly defined, we need to make them less so. And so it’s not so much that those are necessarily bad, but it’s that they just don’t necessarily yield efficient range of solutions or good solutions.

Mitch Simon 11:17
Great. I was wondering if you have any comments or experience on the eliminate question, because I think a lot of people will, will be afraid to eliminate things that they’ve had in the past that really haven’t worked. And I was wondering if there’s in the work that you’ve been doing, if you’ve seen a lot of companies who are, are feeling challenged, eliminating, eliminating things that have been around for so long. But because COVID has exposed it, they just don’t work.

Stephen Shapiro 11:50
I think right now, companies are having no problem eliminating things if they do it consciously. Because here’s what I think is happening is I think that companies recognize the need to change. And fortunately, they’re using everything that’s going on right now as a catalyst for driving that change. And it doesn’t. What I’m hoping most companies aren’t doing though, is eliminating things that actually create value, because then you’re just cutting muscle. So let’s figure out how do we cut the things that don’t add value? Or how do we do them in a different way? And I think that’s really what it comes down to is, you know, I’ve got clients who had hold meetings and things of that nature. And then they’re saying, well, we don’t need to meet. Why are we meeting coming back to the question before, like, why are we meeting? What’s our goal? What’s our outcome? And in fact, I was working with one client, and they used the eliminate lens, and the result lens, the two lenses, we talked about to come up with a fundamentally different design for how they would acknowledge their employee. So instead of having a big banquet, like they would normally do, they tried a different approach. So there’s, there’s just so many different strategies. And it’s going to be so dependent on the culture and the context as to which questions are going to be best?

Mitch Simon 13:03
Yeah, I love the way you use two lenses at the same time, what are the results that we’re looking for? And what might we eliminate to get to those results? I think that’s a great, a great, two lenses to use at the same time. Okay, I’ve got another question for you, Steve. This is a this is one that that Judy and I are hearing all the time. And the question is, how do I mean? How do I maintain my culture? How do I maintain the culture?

Stephen Shapiro 13:29
So I’ll use the result lens on this one again, as I think, you know, we use the word culture a lot, without even knowing what it really means. And so I would say, you know, what, what is the result of the culture? What are you looking to achieve with the culture? Why do you have a culture? Why do you care about your culture? And then I think you you work back from there. So the good thing with culture, in some respects is cultures hard to change. So if you had a good culture to begin with, you’ll probably have a good culture. In the end, if you have a culture of entrepreneurship, and people being able to take risks and people being able to, you know, be autonomous and self motivated. Well, let me tell you, you’ve hit the jackpot with your culture right now, because that’s what you need from all of your employees. Whereas if you have a culture of, you can’t do anything till I tell you what to do. Well, guess what? First of all, did you really need that culture? Was that the right culture to begin with, but also that culture is going to struggle right now. And so we’re going to see some cultures that survive and some that are just going to collapse but it’s because the culture problem is the wrong culture anyway.

Mitch Simon 14:36
Great, yes, I’m seeing I think you have another lens where you then pick apart which parts of the culture you would want to look at. So for instance, there would be there would be we have we have strong relationships from strong friendships with a culture let’s let’s look at that piece and keep that will be interesting. That would be Steve, I challenge you and he said, you know, part of our culture is we all get together a lot. And we can’t do that anymore. How would you help someone? Because I’m sure a lot of companies are going through this. How would you help a company who is used to spending lots of time together? Look at that part of their culture in and want to maintain it when, of course that we can’t for the next year.

Stephen Shapiro 15:23
So and I would question whether or not meeting frequently is a cultural attribute. Or if it’s just a behavioral attribute, which to me, they’re not necessarily the same thing. I always look at culture from what people say, what people say to themselves, what they say to others, what they believe. So it’s, that’s that’s really To me, it’s it’s more of a conversational tool, not an activity tool. Now, I guess you could argue that people say that we meet a lot. But that’s not the conversation. I think. So I would argue that if meeting a lot meeting together a lot is important. Well, first of all, you can still maybe you can’t meet in person, but you meet virtually, I know a lot of companies that have opted to, first of all, do frequent check ins. So instead of trying to meet, like on zoom, what they might do is they might use video, and using video chat tools to be able to say, okay, hey, this is Steve, just doing a quick check in, here’s how things are going, things are great, or, hey, I’m struggling with this, I could use a little help with this. And that is another way of staying connected, which to me is really the point of all those meetings is to have a good understanding of where people are, where they’re struggling and where they’re doing well, and where they need help. So I think we need to get clear on definitions at times. And I don’t think culture necessarily is activities, its beliefs and conversations.

Mitch Simon 16:49
Oh, that’s great. That’s great. Because I think for a lot of companies, they are struggling with the definitions of culture. And I also think that if you would, if you would say, well, culture is your conversations, then how would we forward those conversations in this new way? And we would maintain the culture? So I love that. Got another question?

Stephen Shapiro 17:10
And can I just stop you for just one? Because you did you did bring up one of the other lenses without mentioning explicitly because I think in a conversation like this, a really great lens to to think about is the leverage lens. And the leverage lens, ask the question, if I can only solve for one aspect of this prong, because coming back to where I started, before we ask broad questions or specific questions. Culture is a broad question. So how do we break it down? We could break it down into smaller parts in a number of different ways. But one might be the leverage lens, which says, What is the area of our culture that gives us the greatest return? If I could only focus on one aspect of our culture? What would it be, and if we go for that, now all of a sudden, we have some of the smaller and probably more likely to be solved, as opposed to just try to solve, okay, let’s deal with culture, which there’s 1001 things that we’re gonna start dealing with, if we’re dealing at that level.

Mitch Simon 18:00
That’s great, you know, an example of that I’m leading a retreat tomorrow, it’s actually my second outdoor retreat given COVID. And the conversation we’re going to put on the board is wellness. And, you know, using that lens, the leverage lens, there’s, there’s so many different parts of wellness, right. And so I think, in the conversation that I’m gonna have, with this team is, here’s the, here’s eight parts of wellness, which, which is the one part of wellness that if we hit that part, we would actually have the most, we would have the biggest impact on the wellness overall lover. Great, here’s another question. How do I keep my people inspired and connected?

Stephen Shapiro 18:42
I think that I mean, we’ve talked about this a little bit already, just in terms of, first of all, we need a clear definition. So one of the one of the problems that I have a lot of times when it comes to problem reframing or asking better questions, is that we are loosey goosey with the words. So we don’t take the time to really deeply understand what are we truly talking about? What does it mean? So in linguistics, there’s something called the deep structure. And the deep structure is the meaning behind the words, the surface structure is the configuration of the words. And we often sort of are very loosey goosey with all of that we don’t understand what the words are. And we don’t even take the time to come up with the right surface structure. So for example, we can we can change one word in a problem statement and get a completely different range of results. So if we’re talking about keeping people, you know, connected, okay, well, what does that mean? What you know, and again, it comes back to that result list. Why do we care if people are connected? And then we can, but if connected is really the right word? Well, then we can say, well, let’s talk about the sequence lens, which is about when do people get connected? It’s about timing. Okay, well, do people get connected all the time? Do people get connected synchronously? Or do we connect people asynchronously one of the challenges right now is that you Have a lot of parents where the kids are home. And so for a parent to work, a nine to five job when their kid is there, and they need attention is difficult. So maybe we need to change the timing, the sequencing of things, so that the connections don’t always happen nine to five, but maybe the timing of these connections, is it two o’clock in the morning, because that’s when it works for the parents. And I think the more we open up that flexibility of timing, the more we start to create satisfaction, happiness, whatever word you want to use, because now all of a sudden people are, are able to do what works for them, rather than being forced into a shoe box. And one

Mitch Simon 20:43
for those parents who are waking up at two at 2am. It’s because of Steve, I just gotta, you know, put point that out, and you’re gonna save money.

Ginnie Bianca-Mathis 20:52
But I’m the, for me, it all comes to language. That’s just my shtick. Mitch knows that dialogue and learning the language of dialogue is at the essence of how real business happens.

Mitch Simon 21:17
We’d like to take this brief interruption to thank our sponsors, they get back to our program. We’d like to thank Marymount University, Arlington, Virginia School of Business and Technology, innovative solutions upskilling for what’s next oyster organizational development dedicated to higher performance business success and leveraging teams at oyster And we jungo a strategic people process consulting firm at we Joe You know, the next question is, you know, how do I keep my team connected when they’re dispersed? And it seems to me that the way I would use your lenses would be to say, Okay, what is it about the teams that I had before COVID that really made them strong? It really made them capable, that really enhanced motivation and engagement and productivity? And then if I’m, if I’m looking down at that, then I could say, Okay, so what can I do now to either get back to what we had or to enhance the current situation? And if you have a comment on that, and what lens I might be utilizing by, by diving down and making more specific,

Stephen Shapiro 22:27
well, I do like that, and it would be one of the reduce abstraction lenses, okay, it might be some form of the reduced lens, which is really just trying to, you know, reduce things down into the essence of what matters most. But you know, there’s another lens that comes up for me with that question, which is a little different, slightly different direction is the variations lens. And I think what the various variations lens says is that we need to move away quite often from a one size fits all strategy, different situations, different people, different environments require different solutions. And I think what we will, what we are seeing is that companies have almost always traditionally used a one size fits all strategy for pretty much everything, whether it’s performance reviews, whether it is the way people you know, they measure engagement, what everything has been pretty much vanilla standard across the company. And I think the opportunity we have is the variations lens says, okay, we need to treat different people different situations differently. We need to acknowledge that and design around that. And I think that when it comes to together by keeping people connected, well, what does that mean? Maybe some people will be connected in person, because that works for them. Maybe other people will be connected virtually, because that works for them. Maybe some people will be connected virtually asynchronously, because that works for them. And this is several different lenses all in one. One conversation around one question, I think that’s really the point to make is that you don’t use just one lens. And then you’re done. I mean, there’s multiple lenses, any problem that you have, you can take and you can flip it around 20 different ways if you wanted, and get completely different answers. And just the process, you can see even just spending three minutes taking a problem and just flying it through a handful of different lenses. It doesn’t have to be analysis paralysis, it can just be an exercise in thoughtful, you know, thoughtful processing of the question before you start moving forward trying to find solutions.

Ginnie Bianca-Mathis 24:31
Yeah, fabulous.

Mitch Simon 24:33
You know, it’s great, because, you know, it’s been spoken a lot on the podcast. Before COVID. A lot of a lot of managers, CEOs, entrepreneurs assumed that, that to lead a great company, great culture, there was a one size fits all, which is everyone comes to work. And now that we’ve seen that, by everyone coming to work that leads to more productivity, and what we’re learning and the data We learned in our last in our last podcast was, in fact, no people are dispersed and the productivity is actually going up. So be interesting when we, when we go, when we do return to some semblance of what was before, I don’t want to call it normal that CEOs and managers would be best served by being open to variation, which is there might be people that come in office every day, there might be people who’ve never come to the office, and something in between. And I do think that that’s where we’re going. And if you have any comment on that, Steve,

Stephen Shapiro 25:36
yeah, and I think we can take the variations a lot of different ways. So the variations lens doesn’t even have to just be about individuals, it can be about scenarios. So for example, all employees who are doing individual work, stay home, you know, when we are doing a collaborative conversation type of environment, well, that’s when we get together. So it can be scenario based, it can be situation based, it’s so the context matters. It’s not about just necessarily individuals. And I think that’s to me, what’s actually most exciting about what’s going to happen down the line, is we’re going to get a lot smarter. So we’ll optimize around scenarios, rather than just trying to do this one size fits all, which is always always the least efficient strategy.

Ginnie Bianca-Mathis 26:21
Right. And another factor and not you can comment or not another factor is of course, now the whole push of, of the diversity and inclusion on it’s another lens to look at that that is it’s being the environment is forcing us to include that in our different questions with the lenses.

Stephen Shapiro 26:49
Absolutely, absolutely. That That, to me is definitely another lens to look at this. I mean, you know, even MIT, you mentioned earlier about personality poker. I mean, that’s a variation of diversity, which is diversity of thought people think differently. You know, people have different experiences, different areas of expertise. And then there’s the other, you know, more traditional areas of diversity, each of those are so fundamentally important to the performance of an organization, because if you treat everybody like they are the same, you will get the least amount of value out of them. But if you recognize what somebody’s strength is, what their style is, what their personality is, what their experiences are, and you tap into that what makes them unique and special. And then you have them amplify their areas where they’re special, and then have others amplify where they’re special. Now, collaboration. So coming back to an earlier question, the whole conversation on collaboration changes, because in the past, we might have generalists handling a lot of different activities, whereas now, maybe we’ll get down to specialists doing what they do best based on whatever, you know, areas of definition you get for that. And then now collaboration becomes important because we have more players in the mix, because each person is bringing their unique gifts.

Mitch Simon 28:06
Great, great, Steve, I’m going to move on to some more personal questions. And this is really to help those listeners who I suspect are going through, let’s say personal obstacles, which are kind of new. And I was wanting to see how you might use a better lens to ask personal questions. personal coaching. So So Steve, here I am, and I’m feeling you know, frustrated, I’m feeling lonely. I’m fit, I’m feeling separated. And, and I’m, I’m personally feeling like, I don’t know if I can go through this for another 12 months. Right? Because I have been, I as many listeners have been forced to be at home, some of us have been forced to be at home with with the, with the people that we’ve chosen to live the rest of our lives with, and are all at home. And so many of us are thinking I’m not so sure I could do this for another 12 months. Help me find a lens here. Dr. Steven Shapiro, you, too, to help me better handle my own uncomfortability and, and perhaps fear?

Stephen Shapiro 29:17
Yeah, so and just I think it’s important just to say that I am, you know, I’m an expert in business. So when it comes to personal things, this is, you know, I think that it’s, you know, always important to talk to experts and specialists in that area. One lens would just sort of, as you were talking sort of pops into my head, and maybe we just have a conversation around it, because maybe it’ll work maybe it won’t work. But that’s the great thing with lenses. You don’t know if they’re going to work till you actually give them a try. And then which comes to my mind is the performance paradox. And the performance paradox says that, paradoxically, the more you focus on a goal, the less likely you are to achieve that goal. And so you know, if you are So focused on for example, in the workplace trying to make a sale and it’s about the sale and it’s the sale, then you become desperate and you smell desperate and, and nobody wants to do business with somebody who’s really desperate. So instead of focusing on the sale, if you focus on serving the customer, making sure they have what they need, actually truly have their interests at heart. One of the things we found is that in those situations, people actually will sell more, because it comes from a place of service rather than a place of sale. And I would think that, you know, what ends up happening is we’re focusing on the goal of eliminating the loneliness, eliminating the separation, eliminating the frustration, but maybe there’s something else to focus on in the present moment that would deal with that. So I’m just gonna throw that back to you, Mitch, and see, you know, what, what resonates with you?

Mitch Simon 30:41
You know, I love that. And I love that challenge. And I love being absolutely not ready for the question. What I what I’m thinking of what what what it brings up is that, that question, as I stated, it is focused on myself. Hmm. And using this lens called the performance paradox, is what I, what I would need to do is stop focusing on myself. Yes, My issue is I’m focused on let’s say, frustration, loneliness, separation. Focus on myself. So I would say I would see move the lens and say, Well, let me focus on other people, you know, how could I serve others? What could we What can I do with others that would would pull other people with me? Well, conversations would actually have me feel engaged. Excited. Right? So I’m really, I don’t know if I’m going to have his glass full, which I’ve been, you know, I’m that type of a guy glasses have full? And having said that, that that would be probably the places to go to turn to. Yeah, right.

Ginnie Bianca-Mathis 31:52
Yeah. And let me jump in on that. Perfect. actually goes back to something I mentioned before, which is the why. What is the essence of what I’m trying to be right now? Am I really trying to be lonely? frustrated? or How can I reframe that? How would I like to be we can eliminate use the eliminating lens to say, Well, I don’t want the loneliness. What’s my poll? My poll might be reframing it to helping others because that makes me feel more joyful, listening to music that makes me feel more joyful on and it’s what we use. And Mitch, of course, in regular executive coaching, you can be running away from something, or you can be embracing something. And the more powerful one is the one you choose to embrace.

Stephen Shapiro 32:53
Yeah, I love that it fits actually nicely with another lens, which is the emotion lens. And what ends up happening is, well, in the world of business, we actually tend to ask questions that have no emotion, how can I increase revenues? And you sound like a robot? Yes. How can we improve product? How can we improve employee satisfaction is like, okay, so the emotional end says, Well, how do we add a little emotion to it? That’s, that’s the first level of it is okay. But then the second level of it is, how do we move away from fixing or improving, which is what we tend to do is like, how do I, you know, improve productivity? How do we improve morale? Well, that implies there’s a problem with morale, maybe there’s no proper route. So maybe it’s completely different. So what we would do in that situation is instead of saying, Well, how do we improve engagement, we might say, Well, how do we, you know, have employees smile when they think of our company? Or how do we have people feel at home? When they come into the officer? How do they feel? How do we have it so that when they’re on a zoom call, they’re excited to be with the other people? So those so that’s sort of a reframe So even with this question here about loneliness and separation? Well, that’s, that’s sort of that coming back to what you were saying, Mitch, that glass half empty type of thing. You know, how do we make it more on the positive side thing? Like you were talking about the pool? So what would be a really emotion like, how can I feel totally engaged and excited? Every day? Right? And that might seem like a stretch for someone. But then here’s the great thing with the lenses if you shift there, maybe that’s too abstract. Okay, well, now let’s use the deconstruct lens or the leverage lenses. Okay, well, if I’m trying to create, you know, instead of trying to solve the problem of loneliness, how do I create an environment where I’m passionate about what I’m doing? Well, now the next question might be, well, what am I passionate about?

Ginnie Bianca-Mathis 34:41
Yep. What could I

Stephen Shapiro 34:42
focus on what are the things I love to do? connection doesn’t even have to necessarily be to another person, you could have a connection to an activity you can be to something that you actually love. So connection comes in meaning and purpose all comes in a lot of different ways. And so when you dance around with the different lenses, as you just saw from the performance parents Dogs lends to the emotion lens to back to the leverage lens, we end up with just sort of a very interesting take on the whole thing.

Mitch Simon 35:06
Yeah, I love. I love, obviously, as I got in the podcast, but I love the way we fluidly morphed through these different lenses. And it was really not that hard.

Ginnie Bianca-Mathis 35:18
No, this was beautiful.

Mitch Simon 35:20
Yeah. And it really it really provides insight because, as you know, and this is I know why you designed the book, though you did it. It really prevents stuckness because we get so stuck in our thinking. And the lens just goes oh my gosh, you know, there’s there’s some freedom around it.

Ginnie Bianca-Mathis 35:38
Yes frees you up. It’s beautiful.

Mitch Simon 35:41
So I’m going to ask you another question. Because this one, this one seems to be the one that’s really coming up. And I know we we mentioned a little bit on our podcast last week, which is overwork. What’s coming up right now for a lot of companies is okay, they’re engaged. They’re excited. We got to meet, you know, we got them in the game. They’re enjoying working from home. And now here’s my question. How do I deal with overwork? And I’m sure that that would be a question both from an employer standpoint. Oh my god, they’re overworking which have a good you know, it’s short term. Good news, long term bad news. And I’m just wondering how you might apply the lens to how do I deal with overwork as an employer, and then maybe provide the lenses? How do I deal with overwork as an employee? Because we’re all in this together?

Stephen Shapiro 36:31
Yeah, I would say first of all, when we look at overwork, overwork, is in some respects a state of mind so that we can go on down that pathway, because there are some people who are workaholics and they actually get energized, the more they work. So yeah, they get a high from it. So I would say that it’s not so much overwork as it’s doing work that’s not energizing them, which is a different question. And so then the question might be, how do we get people focused on work that energizes them. And then what we can start doing is maybe the reduced lens as well. Let’s take a look at what everybody’s doing and make sure that they’re focused on where they can create the greatest impact. And then we might start looking at productivity. If I’m looking at productivity, then I want to look at bottlenecks. So maybe the question is, well, where’s the greatest bottleneck in all of our processes right now, that if we solve those would free up time. Because we sort of view time as a mean, it is limited, obviously, we all have the same amount of time each day. But we don’t tend to think about the activities we do as being a project providing different levels of value. And so if I go off the leverage point for each person, if each individual says, Okay, this is what I do best, this is where I create the greatest value. This is, this is what I love to do. And I’ve always thought about those three things, the passion skills, value equation, is always how I think about work. Passion says I gotta love it. Skill says I have to be able to do it. Value says it has to create value for others, knowing that ultimately will create value for me. And if I focus, if each person in an organization only does the work that falls into those three categories, with a large enough organization, clearly, you’ll be able to cover pretty much any activity that takes place. And it comes back to something we talked about before, which is how do we really get people working on where they can have the greatest, the greatest flow, the greatest impact, the greatest value, however you wanted to find it?

Mitch Simon 38:33
Thank you for that. Now, for some personal questions. There are many people, many listeners who lived a life on the road. One of them included Stephen. Mm hmm. Your your life really was a living on the road life. And I know that you have not been on the road. What with with the changes in the way things are going? And with your old life of being someone who traveled a lot? How are you viewing this current situation in the future situation? psychological psychologically, and also financially? Are you Are you frightened? Are you excited? I’m just wondering where you are in it. And if you could, you know, share your, your emotions with it with your listeners.

Stephen Shapiro 39:28
Sure. So my wife and I moved down to Orlando, Florida five years ago. And one of the things that I wanted to do, part of the reason for being here is we love, we love the warm weather, and it’s just great place, but it’s also the second largest convention city in the country. And so every year I’ll set a theme for the next year 2019. I had two themes. Theme number one was local, which meant less playing travel, more driving to events, and the second one was virtual. So for me, I’ve sort of getting One of the two right now just by default. And you know that there’s an upside and a downside to all of it the the upside is more people are open to virtual than would have been had this not happen. So it’s actually accelerating my move to virtual. The downside is it looks like I’m doing what everybody else is doing where this was actually a purposely, I’ve been working on this for the past 18 months to go virtual. So it looks like I’m a Me too. But you know, the good thing is I’ve had a head start on it, so I should be in a better position than others.

Mitch Simon 40:31
Great. Is there anything else about the lenses that we might have missed on this call that you see as a great tool for, for other companies to utilize to really enhance their experience through going through COVID for another 12 months?

Stephen Shapiro 40:51
So I mean, there’s the lenses, which is sort of a left brained analytical approach. But I think there’s a couple of things, which I’d like to move beyond the lens just for a moment. I think there’s a few behavioral attributes that will get in the way of people finding better solutions. I think one of them is I’ve just labeled as ego, like, if you think you have the answers, you’re in trouble. Having the answers is not the answer. It’s all about better questions. And especially as a leader, your your role, your purpose as a leader, is actually to ask better questions of people that have them ask better questions. And once you get into that mindset, now you have not just one person at the top thinking in dictating, but rather you have an entire organization that’s, that’s thinking and embracing and moving forward. The second thing that I’ll say and really what the lenses help with, in general, is assumptions. So the whole point of the lens is to change the question to almost uncover an assumption. But there’s ways you can do that without lenses, you can just ask yourself, what do we believe to be true? What don’t we believe to be true? What have we always done? What have we never done? Very simple questions like that will then start to uncover beliefs that people have, which might be faulty. And then the third thing that I’ll say is that confirmation bias is one of the biggest enemies of change. And the reason for that is once you think you have a great idea, you will only see evidence that supports your belief that it’s a great idea, even if it’s a terrible idea. And so, anytime you’re moving forward with change, anytime you have a new idea or a new solution, make sure you take the time to ask, well, what’s wrong with this? Or have somebody else do it have somebody in a devil’s advocates team who’s going to look at and say, you know, we’re going to prove that this is a bad idea. And we’re gonna go through that process. So I think in addition to the lenses, it’s a combination of all of that.

Mitch Simon 42:41
Great, thanks, Jimmy. Any final questions received?

Ginnie Bianca-Mathis 42:44
No, except I need to get a copy of this personality poker.

Mitch Simon 42:51
So that’s our last question, Steve is how do people reach you? How would they be able to learn more about personality poker? More about the lenses?

Stephen Shapiro 42:59
Sure. So to learn about me, it’s just Steve Shapiro calm, that’s simple. Personality poker B personality Very, very crazy name. And to learn about invisible solutions, you go to invisible solutions So there’s simple names for everything there. That’s probably the best way to find out about each of them.

Mitch Simon 43:23
Great. And I just wanted to share that you do have a online version of personality poker in your in your stream of being virtual, which is just amazing. And it’s a great thing for, for me as a team facilitator, to be able to use that tool. Of course, the cards are even more powerful, because you get to throw them all over the floor. I just wanted to say, Wow, Steve, this is an incredible, incredible podcast. Want to thank you for your time, your knowledge, your wisdom. And we look forward to talking to you soon.

Stephen Shapiro 43:53
Yeah, it was my pleasure. Thanks so much.

Mitch Simon 43:54
Thank you. And thank you all for listening to another episode of team anywhere.

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