If you have ever missed an opportunity because a “people” problem could not be resolved, then you know the frustration. If you have ever watched crucial resources lost because of “personality” problems, then you understand the feeling of waste. It’s devastating to watch a person, team, or even an entire company, fumble resources because behaviors block crucial change. Not having the skills to confront and work through problems to resolve underlying causes is even more frustrating. Unresolved problems become a constant thread of tension that is never relieved. We become so accustomed to them that working around them becomes a way of life. We learn what not to say and what not to do to flare up a conflict and become highly skilled at the dance of avoidance.
On the other hand, if you’ve ever confronted and resolved a problem, you know the sense of relief, confidence, and motivation that follows. When an individual gets to that point, a strong sense of pride and personal fulfillment develops. He or she owns the problem and the solution. When a team gets there, team members find new strength in mutual support and respect. Even if the end results are less than expected, people are not consumed with all the “what ifs” because they embraced the challenge and are ready to try again. When an entire company gets there, there is no limit to what it can accomplish.
The Grid® gives you the power to experience sound resolution by opening a new door in communication. The Grid skills give you a way to have the crucial and sometimes difficult conversations that deal with sensitive issues of human behavior. These conversations are often difficult as they carry all the history, fears, intentions, and emotions that people share. All this baggage makes the discussions feel personal, even out of place. It’s easier just to get back to work and leave it alone. These issues and moments, however, are the most critical discussions for motivating change in you and others. These discussions are where change really happens and so they need to be done “right.” The problem is that “right” means ten different things to ten different people. Most people share no common standards or structure to establish an objective focus on behavior.
The Grid provides both a language and structure, making behavior objective, relevant, and focused on productivity. The skills show you how to describe the impact of personal behavior rather than evaluating people as “good” or “bad.” This approach provides people with experience and practice in the use of candor, openness, and honesty—the most important skills of communication.
Problem solving results from acting based on full awareness with a clear goal in mind. This is common sense in any setting, but behaviors are often not considered. Instead of addressing unsound behavior head-on, people often ignore obvious problems and move on, hoping they will go away. People rarely set out to block progress with their behaviors but do so because they don’t see how their behavior impacts the problem. The result may be a leader who exerts too much control, making people angry, or a manager who crumbles in the face of conflict, or an entire division consumed with indifference. Behaviors are deeply rooted and resistant to most change efforts. People stand back and watch these kinds of behaviors every day without realizing they have the power to bring about lasting change.
Grid doesn’t make problems or fears go away, but it gives you the ability to address them with skill and confidence in the perspective or context of common goals. Teams learn how to integrate awareness and candor into every aspect of work. They learn to talk about reservations, doubts, and concerns in structured and measurable ways that promote progress. Something amazing happens when these discussions occur in teams previously constrained by fear. People start having fun! Awareness leads to understanding and a genuine desire to help rather than compete. Team members start calling the controlling leader on his or her behavior, so others don’t get angry. Colleagues help the manager work through the conflict with confidence. People previously consumed with indifference begin to feel alive with commitment and enthusiasm.
The Grid concepts and skills are common sense and can be put to immediate use in any relationship. They show you how to change from the inside out by going below surface behaviors to examine the values and attitudes that motivate behavior. No one can argue with mutual trust, respect, and candor as a sound strategy for teamwork. Where sound strategy and logic appeal to people at an intellectual level, the Grid appeals to people at a physical and emotional level. As co-founder Dr. Robert R. Blake puts it, “9,9 grabs people by the heart because it feels right.” Embracing this ideal is the beginning of The Power to Change.