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Ian Dodds Consulting’s (IDC) Monthly Best Practice: Nov 2012

Innovative, high quality, problem solving requires teams which are skilled in interactive behaviour

In recent weeks I have spoken at several conferences about how diversity can be leveraged to generate innovative, high quality solutions to complex business problems.  The key to this is that the diverse problem solvers need to be skilled in listening to each other and exploring each other’s ideas and differing points of view. In fact, organisations tend to put effort into becoming proficient at formulating business strategy and the execution of it. However, there is a third component which is just as vital and that is being proficient in effective interaction management and this is mostly overlooked.


Terry Morgan (an IDC consultant) and Neil Rackham showed in the 1970s that any dialogue can be broken down into around 12 different interactive behaviours. Some of these are ‘telling’ behaviours, e.g. ‘giving information’, ‘making suggestions’, ‘disclosing’, etc. The other group is the ‘seeking’ behaviours’, e.g. ‘seeking information’, ‘seeking suggestions’, ‘bring-ins’, ‘developing suggestions’, etc. Many of IDC’s consultants are experienced interactive behaviour analysts. This enables them to sit in on meetings and profile the interactive behaviours being used in discussions. They then give the meeting members feedback and coaching in how they can improve the quality of their discussions by being more versatile in their use of the different behaviours. We have found that this is a very powerful intervention. The interactive behaviours’ methodology is highly practical and is well researched and people easily recognise its relevance and significance.


Another reason why it is important arises from the work that IDC has done in leadership behaviour. Readers will recall from previous best practice blogs that Prof Ed Schein has demonstrated that 80% to 90% of the behaviour in any organisation is influenced by that of its leaders. We have coached many top teams in their practice of leadership behaviours that will be aligned with their strategy and drive its delivery. We have found from this work that one of the behavioural areas that leaders tend to be least able in is listening. This involves checking understanding, summarising, developing suggestions and acknowledging what they have heard or the feelings behind it. Shadowing these leaders at meetings they are leading and profiling the interactive behaviours they are using and then providing them with feedback and coaching about those they could use more often and in what situations is a powerful way of enabling them to develop into effective leadership role models in interactive behaviour.


In fact, interactive behaviour proficiency is a key competency in being inclusive because it enables individuals to have effective dialogue with people who are different to them irrespective of what that difference is.


In summary, effective interaction management is mostly overlooked by organisations in the development and execution of their strategies. This limits their ability to find innovative and longer lasting solutions to complex problems that have to be addressed in the successful formulation of their strategies and their delivery. If you would like to know more about this vital organisational success topic please do get in touch with me or my colleagues.


Dr Ian Dodds,

31 Oct 2012,


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