Out of their MINDS and into MOTION

Hi, Everyone!

As you all learned during your ChangeWorks Practitioner training, ANY activity beginning with ANY verb can be explored and plotted on the ChangeGrid.  That being said, not all verbs are created equally — and determining the right verb can be the difference between an OK activity and the perfect activity.

One suggestion I’ve found myself offering to more and more ChangeWorkers (<— still not sure about that!) is to favor activities that focus on external behaviors over internal processes.

For example, the activity “Understanding the organization’s mission” can certainly be used, but does it really get to the core of the what the client wants to explore? If a client wants to establish whether or not an employee truly understands the organization’s mission, focusing on the internal verb “understand” reveals very little.  But if we ask the client HOW they would determine whether or not the employee genuinely understands the mission, we’re likely to hear a different set of verbs, like “articulate” or “explain” — verbs that focus on external, observable behaviors.

I would also predict that “understand” and “articulate” would plot very differently on the ChangeGrid.  Think about it — it’s pretty easy for someone to SAY that they understand something — but ask them to EXPLAIN what they said they understood and you might just watch their level of productive tension skyrocket!

There are many occasions when the exploration of internal activities can be very valuable, so I’m certainly not suggesting a hard and fast rule here — but I am encouraging all of you to NOTICE when you’re adding an internal activity and ASK yourself if a different, more external verb might serve your client better. Since our clients, more often than not, have asked us to support them in a process leading to specific behavioral changes in their lives, it can be very powerful to get them out of their MINDS and into MOTION.

“Understand” is a very common verb found on activity lists. What other internal verbs can you think of — and what external verb would you suggest as a replacement?



4 Responses to Out of their MINDS and into MOTION

  1. As a professional instructional designer (I design formal training experiences), I face a similar challenge with behavioral verbs vs cognitive (internal) verbs. Instead of the internal verb “know,” you could use demonstrate, articulate, or explain (or many others, of course, depending on what the person is wanting to do).

  2. Bryan Dilts says:

    Let’s take “articulate” further and feed on common fears. The fear of PUBLIC speaking. I’m thinking out loud here.

    “Present to your board…”
    “Teach your team…”
    “Persuade your management team…”
    “Lecture in the “C” suite…”
    “Preach to stakeholders…”
    “Harangue in team meetings…”
    “Dress-down poorly performing groups”
    “Reprimand publicly…”

    I’m still working on how to get fear of the dark and fear of the dentist into these activities.

  3. John Hadley says:

    “Apply” might be a good choice.

    In the grid I use as my primary tool, the verbs I use are:
    Deliver, Craft, Create, Write, Secure, Gain, Schedule, Interview and Negotiate

  4. Susan says:

    The first one that first comes to mind for me is “accept.” Better behavioral verbs that demonstrate acceptance include “Implement” and “complete.”

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