18 May 2020: Using the better maps to chart the waters

In my first blog, Helping you navigate through these uncharted waters, I explored the three fundamental components we need to consider for change to be successful.

I then focused on the skills of how to change effectively, introducing the logical levels model as a powerful diagnostic tool which can help you prioritise energy and resources.

Today, I’d like to drill down a little deeper and look at how we can use the logical levels model to create a clear focus.

“We’re all in the same boat”

This analogy, “we’re all in the same boat”, has been used recently to describe the experiences we are going through during the global pandemic.

Whilst yes, we are all weathering the same storm, our boats will be decidedly different. A statement that is as true for organisations as it is for individuals.

Sailing in stormy waters

Some individuals are struggling with fear and anxiety, while others are enjoying life under lockdown with a real appetite for positive change. Some organisations have seen business boom, while others are fighting for survival.

But one thing is for sure: The better the instruments and maps we have at our disposal, the better our chances are at navigating the waters and bringing our boat and all its occupants to shore safely.

Using the logical levels model as our guide

I previously shared the logical levels model with you and posed simple questions to help you get clarity at each of the different levels. Now I would like to take you one step further. But first, a reminder of the model:

Logical Levels Model

As you become aware of your thinking at each of the logical levels, so you are in a better position to influence the process of personal or organisational alignment; by that I mean the degree to which each level is in line with the levels above and below it.

Alignment for individuals

From an individual’s perspective, the more the levels are aligned the more congruent that individual will feel. So, everything fits well together: The wider system or purpose they are connected to, their identity, their beliefs and values, their capabilities, their behaviour and where they do what they do (their environment).

When leaders are aligned through all the levels, the more congruent they are – and they may often be described as authentic, believable, charismatic, and more influential. They are also more powerful. This is not a negative attribute – take a moment to think about how you feel when you believe you are powerless to change something.

Martin Luther King Jr described power as ‘the ability to effect change. We all need power right now to bring about the change necessary for ourselves, our families and our teams.

Alignment for organisations

Meanwhile, organisations that have a clear sense of purpose, which is aligned to their identity, supported by their beliefs and values and capabilities, and expressed through their behaviours in their environment, have a much higher chance of being successful and weathering the storm.

Seagulls flying over the ocean

A key benefit to applying this model is your ability to identify where things are out of alignment.

Let me give you an example…

I used to work for a bank in Thailand. One evening, I called by one of the departments as I was leaving the office. I found the staff with piles of Thai Bhat cash on their desks as they re-distributed their bonus for the year to make sure everyone in the department received equal amounts - Thailand has a strongly collective culture.

The following day I was called into the CEO’s office and told to speak to the staff to get them to redistribute their bonuses back to the original values! What I was being asked to do (behaviour) did not fit in with what I thought was right (beliefs and values). My belief and the requested behaviour were out of alignment.

So how do check where you are out of alignment and what can you do about it? We have a simple sentence to help you determine which level you need to focus on:

“I can’t do that here”

Each word in the sentence connects to one of the levels in logical levels and we can use this to look at the options for change in the example above:

I  = Identity

I certainly did not want to give that message. There might have been someone else in the bank how would be happy to tell the staff to redistribute their money. Even if they did, I would still have felt uncomfortable with the message being delivered.

Can’t = Beliefs and Values

I clearly understood that this was very different to UK culture and it was not my place to interfere with that. If they wanted to share their money, well, that was up to them! I felt strongly about this and was not willing to change or compromise my belief.

Do = Capabilities

This was not a skills issue. Even if I had spoken fluent Thai, I would not have delivered the message.

That = Behaviour

This was worth exploring in terms of ‘was there a different message’ I would have been more willing to deliver. I was willing to check in with them about how they felt now they had shared out their bonuses and find out more about why they had come to this decision. That was as far as I was willing to go!

Here= Environment

Changing the environment, such as taking them out to a coffee shop would not have changed how I felt about the message I was being asked to deliver!

It’s often a tough call. As I saw it, my options (to stay in alignment) were to find someone else to deliver the message or refuse and explain to the CEO why I was not willing to do as he asked.

In the end, no one delivered the message. By explaining to my boss why I felt so uncomfortable, we had a great talk about Thai culture and how they were doing something that was really important to them. He got it!

I still think it is one of the most wonderful examples of cultural versus organisational behaviour I’ve witnessed and I went on to write my Master’s thesis on it!

Over to you

Working with emphasis on each of the words, I can’t do that here, in an individual, team or organisational context, take time to  work out which one doesn’t feel right or resonate with you.

You can use this simple exercise to guide you each time you wish to understand where things are out of step and you want to start to map out a clear way forward.

Sunset silhouette of a seagull

Keep an eye out for my next blog, where I’ll introduce the Extended Logical Levels model and we can explore how we can better balance your boat in these stormy waters.

Until then, please stay safe.

Hilary Barnett, co-founder, Logical Levels Inventory (lli)



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