Viii) Not Understanding The Importance Of Timing

Not appreciating the importance of timing, ie psychological readiness. For example, if issues are raised before the organisation is ready to address them, an opportunity is created for both the issue and the person who raised it to be sidelined.

"...You need to wait until the issue is ripe, or ripen it yourself ..."

Ronald A Heifetz et al, 2002

Generally, patience is not a strong point of people who are passionate about what they are doing. On the other hand, holding off until the issue is ready may be critical in mobilising people's energy and getting yourself heard!!!!!

Many organisations have a whole spectrum of challenges confronting them at any given time. Generally, urgency and/or availability of resources will dictate priorities. However, psychological readiness is important, ie

"...has the psychological readiness spread across other factions in the provide a critical mass? An issue becomes ripe when there is widespread urgency to deal with it...... it is a matter of perspective.....what determines when, or whether, an issue becomes ripe? How does it take on a generalized urgency shared by not just one but many factions......although there are many factors, we have identified four key questions: what other concerns occupy the people who need to be engaged? How deeply are people affected by the problem? How much do people need to learn? And what are the senior authority figures saying about the issue..."

Ronald A Heifetz et al, 2002

Four questions about psychological readiness

i) What other concerns occupy the people who need to be engaged? Or what else is on the people's minds? If there is a current crisis, it will be difficult to get attention shifted to the issue that you think is important. Sometimes you can get a hearing by postponing your issue to a later date. Sometimes you need to watch for the best opportunity. However, if you notice that there is never a time for your issue, you may have to create the opportunity by developing strategies for generating urgency

ii) How deeply are people affected by the problem?

Unless people feel the need for it, they will not support it. Sometimes, fortuitous events ripen an issue by heightening the severity of the problem. Used properly, a crisis may provide a suitable opportunity

iii) How much do most people need to learn in order to make informed judgments?

"...the lack of knowledge on an issue is almost always in direct proportion to its lack of ripeness. A crisis can change quickly......because crises and tragedies generate the urgency to tackle issues, sometimes the only way to bring focus on an issue and move forward is to create a crisis......if you do not take into consideration how difficult the learning will be, the organisation or community will box you off as an outcast, impractical visionary, or worse. You may have to take baby steps. It may take years to ripen the issue in an organisation to the point that people understand what is at stake and can decide..."

Ronald A Heifetz et al, 2002

iv) What are people in authority saying and doing?

Their commitment is essential but not critical. In other words,

"...formal authority confers license and leverage to direct people's attention......the less ready a group is to resolve an issue, the more it may need to challenge authority.......People expect their authorities to persuade people to do what they should do. Furthermore, society has formal rules and procedures for authorities to take charge. The person running the meeting today has an agenda......if you are a person in authority, you are not only expected to set the agenda, but also to select the issues that warrant attention. You cannot keep your authority in an organisation if you insist on projects that your organisation opposes. In other words, those who have authority put it at risk by seeking to raise unripened issues. ... For people exercising leadership without or beyond their authority, ripening an issue becomes more difficult, requiring more dramatic and therefore risker steps..."

Ronald A Heifetz et al, 2002

Need to understand mindsets (yours and others), ie the way we see the world. Facts do not change but people's perceptions of them do, as they see them through their own mindsets and these perceptions become reality for them.


"...perceptions vary for a number of reasons: background; culture; values; or personal experience..."

Edward deBono, 2004

"...none of us actually see reality. A woman sees a different reality to a man. A Hispanic sees a different reality to an Australian. Our perception is a construction. We are not a camera, taking accurate pictures of the world. Most of us live our lives as naive realists - we think that what we see actually is..."

Peter Senge as quoted by Mike Hanley, 2005

"...When someone does something you do not like or with which you do not agree, it is easy to label that person as stupid, ignorant, malevolent. But that person may be acting 'logically' within his or her 'logic bubble'. The bubble is made up of perceptions, values, needs and experiences of that person. If you make a real effort to see inside that bubble and to see where the person is 'coming from', you usually see the logic of that person's position..."

Edward deBono, 2004


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