The Successful Elusiveness of Success
or Why A Bigger Hammer isn't the Answer
While the principles, practices and benefits of Solution-Centered
Support are easily described and even quite
readily understood, actually supporting the materialization of
the benefits seems to be a much more daunting task. The following
is an attempt to provide a basis for understanding why success
is so elusive along with some specific actions intended to track
down the so desirable yet elusive success.
The root cause for the successful elusiveness of success can
be described in a single word -- complexity. And complexity without
the requisite level of understanding simply masquerades as complicated
and confusing. There are so many simultaneous influencing interactions
within the environment which are the foundation for success, or
failure when not understood and acted upon, that it is difficult
to understand where it is most appropriate to apply the organization's
most precious resource, i.e., time.
From a first glimpse the situation should be a very straight
forward virtuous reinforcing cycle.
The Creation of Solutions should promote the Use
of Solutions and the Use of Solutions should then promote
the Creation of Solutions. Oh if reality were only this
Even thought Solution-Centered support by its definition stands
to provide benefits to Employees, to Customers, and to the Business,
its adoption is a fragile endeavor which needs to be promoted
appropriately. The following diagram presents a sense of the required
This diagram depicts most of the additional interacts which
actually happen within the midst of the previous diagram. The
question now is how to make sense of this picture that's apt to
create migraines for most. Let's just take it piece by piece from
the Creation of Solutions and Use of Solutions and see how it
- Creation of Solutions.
The Creation of Solutions seems like a sensible starting
point since if solutions aren't created there won't be any to
use and nothing happens. The Creation of Solutions is
promoted by the Use of Solutions, Engineer's Perceived
Value of Creating Solutions, in conjunction with Engineer
Skills and Leadership. All four of these contributors
are believed to be essential for the promotion of the Creation
of Solutions. While any one or more of them will result in
some level of creation all of them are necessary to achieve the
- Use of Solutions. The
Use of Solutions is promoted by the Creation of Solutions
because it results in more solutions to draw on which improves
the Perceived Value thus further promoting the Use
of Solutions. Leadership is also a key factor in promoting
the Use of Solutions as it is through Leadership
that Engineers determine that the Use of Solutions is
important. This doesn't mean that Leadership is through a focus
on the Use of Solutions yet simply more visible attention
to appropriate behaviors members of the organization should demonstrate
on an ongoing basis.
- Perceived Value. The
Perceived Value from the Use of Solutions is derived
from their being solutions available which actually aid in the
solution of customer problems. Solution Quality figures
predominantly into the Perceived Value as the solutions
used need to be perceived to be both Findable and Usable by the
Engineers and Customers that need them. Perceived Value
then promotes the further Creation of Solutions, Use
of Solutions, Engineer Skills, and Leadership.
What is perceived as valuable and important to the organization
is what gets attention and subsequently gets done. As such Leadership
is the continual verbalizing of what's important to the organization
and why, along with attention to the behaviors which create value
by progressing the organization toward its objectives.
- Solution Quality. Coaching
review of content and the development of Engineer Skills
both promote Solution Quality. The Use of Solutions
in conjunction with Engineer Skills also promotes the
continued development of Solution Quality. Solution
Quality in conjunction with the Use of Solutions then
provides a basis for Perceived Value by those that employ
the solutions to solve customer problems.
- Engineer Skills. Engineer
Skills development begins when they attend initial workshops
yet the real development of their skills continues for some time
through Coaching interactions. Engineer Skills
are essential for unless they are comfortable with the integrated
problem solving process and Creation of Solutions they
will shy away from using this system, a reality which actually
hinders the development of Engineer Skills. Engineer
Skills continue to develop when engineers actually believe
that it is important for them to work on the development of their
skills. Engineers determine this importance somewhat from the
Perceived Value derived from the Use of Solutions
yet primarily from the extent of demonstrated Leadership.
It is from where management actually invests its time that the
rest of the organization determines what's really important and
what members of the organization should pay attention to. As
Engineer Skills develop it actually promotes more extensive
Creation of Solutions as well as Solution Quality.
- Coaching. Coaching
serves to promote both Solution Quality and Engineer
Skills development. We have repeatedly found that without
Leadership, i.e., attention to learning, alignment, and
process, coaches don't consider Coaching very important
so it simply doesn't get attended to, with the subsequent suffering
of both Engineer Skills development and Solution Quality.
For Coaching to accomplish what it needs to accomplish
continued Coach Development is an activity well worth
- Coach Development. Coach
Development is something best supported by a consulting organization
with a broad experience base unless there is a resource within
the organization with an equivalent experience base and the requisite
level of interpersonal skills to support Coach Development.
- Leadership. Leadership,
i.e., attention to learning, alignment, and process, serves to
promote several aspects of this environment. With continued emphasis
on, and support of, Engineer Skills development and Coaching
the organization determines that these activities are important
so they progress. In conjunction with this a continued monitoring
of metrics trends the Creation of Solutions and the Use
of Solutions continued to progress. Leadership essentially
serves as an example from which the rest of the organization
determines what's important.
- Flawed Mental Models.
All the interactions in the environment to this point have been
supportive and reinforcing yet Flawed Mental Models is
the foundation of several viscous reinforcing structures which
have the potential to negate all the reinforcing structures in
the environment. Flawed Mental Models tend to detract
from Leadership which decreases the influence on everything
else. The development of Perceived Value tends to reduce
the impact of the Flawed Mental Models.
The viscous reinforcing structures associated with Flawed
Mental Models is more explicitly depicted in the following
The foundation of the Flawed Mental Models is lack of,
or inappropriate perception of, the nature of its Leadership which
is essential to support the potential evolution of the environment.
And this is not the only Flawed Mental Model.
Leadership should promote ongoing Engineer Skills
development and Coaching along with the Use of Solutions.
Coaching and Engineer Skills development serves
to continue to enhance Solution Quality. Then both Solution
Quality and the Use of Solutions add to the Perceived
Value which should promote even more Leadership.
Flawed Mental Models come into play in two specific
- One of the most prevalent Flawed Mental Models is
that Leadership isn't really that important to the success
of the potential evolution of the environment. The lack of Leadership
detracts from both Engineer Skills development and the
Use of Solutions. As such the Perceived Value doesn't
materialize and even further detracts from Leadership.
The situation evolves over time until at some point management
assesses the situation and discovers that Solution-Centered Support
simply hasn't delivered the return on investment expected. At
this time the whole program is likely to be scrapped in favor
of some other approach, which will probably also most likely
fail because the real root cause of the situation is not being
addressed, i.e., Leadership.
- When Leadership is a fundamental part of the adoption
of Solution-Centered Support the adoption tends to develop well
and the Perceived Value is rapidly evident. At this point
the second of the most prevalent Flawed Mental Models
general comes into play. This Flawed Mental Model is that
Leadership isn't required for something that is going
well. The ultimate outcome is that anything not paid attention
will eventually become a problem which warrants Leadership.
The garden which isn't tended seldom grows anything but weeds.
The ultimate truth is that nothing motivates like attention,
and nothing demotivates like too much attention. People need to
know that what they are doing is important and members of the
orgnization determine importance based on what management continually
pays attention to. Thus Leadership is essential for the
successful adoption of Solution-Centered Support.
The next question to be addressed is the nature of this involvement
which is most appropriate. For perspectives on this question please
see the article on Performance
Livia's Comments from 11/7 to Integrate
I am not sure that perceived value drives Leadership. It seems
that that there are a lot of things that are valuable to the users
that management does not get involved in. In fact its almost the
opposite. It either has to be important to management or it has
to be a problem that generates their involvement. So there has
to be a system for quantifying the value and aligning it to business
objectives in order for management to know t be involved.
Leadership I think should stress and UNmanagement process.
As long as the managers focus on management instead of leading
people, they aren't doing the right things. They promote keeping
things within the current boundaries and maintaining, rather than
breaking down what is and moving to a higher platform for performance.
Their involvement does not mean they "support" it has
to mean they actually lead. They should not be focusing on the
outcome indicators like creation and reuse. They should be focusing
on the leading indicators like training feedback and a 360 management
performance survey. I told the compaq group that if they started
out not measuring any individual performance metrics and just
measured the leading stuff they would be off to a better start.
This leads them to define involvement as paying attention to the
numbers. Is that what we want to tell them? I know it says not
to use raw numbers but what it points them to is in fact the numbers.
The document that describes performance is not representative
of what we are using at other accounts What concerns me are the
things we discussed initially - the cost per resolution being
a top indicators, that with this proficiency is not first, and
the implied linear connection between the elements - I am not
sure how they are being mapped into the GPS model that show the
phases. I am not saying that is wrong - but that it is a different
SO what is really the "flaw" in the mental model?
I believe it is that are in the business of managing the support
costs by focusing on transaction throughput. And, they need to
move to leading the customer value by focusing on learning. Very
different areas. If they want to become proactive, they have to
start leading, if they want to be in a position to avoid the cost
structure that puts them in a no win proposition and take the
rightful place as the age of the customer merges, and if they
want to be able to keep up with technology and the market they
have to become good processors of learning. And, that should take
them to a whole other way of managing things. Perhaps that is
too far from this discussion. But it was interesting the way that
people at compaq were positioning management - still in the victim
role. And, they were now looking for the coaches to create the
new value and lead the effort - inappropriate use of coaches in
my book - I showed them a little picture of the relationship between
coaches manager and the employee that they thought was a real
key - I would like to talk about it with our team.
theWay of Systems
Copyright © 2004 Gene Bellinger