GPS Worked Example

This is a very rough and ready example, to give you a feel for the concept.

Scenario

The scenario we've chosen is a common working environment one - because we think that the insights will be of most value to you - although we don't know what those insights will be as we write this!

Process for finding the Goal Pattern in the given scenario

  1. Record your pre-exercise guess at what the Goal Pattern might be in your situation.
  2. List as many outcomes as you can think of.
    1. Get everything that I need to do done.
    2. Make a difference within my department and organisation.
    3. Advance my career.
    4. Grow my capability.
    5. Win people's respect.
    6. Make fewer mistakes.
    7. Be more available.
    8. Fewer meetings.
    9. Arrive home with some energy left in the tank.
    10. Bring other people to play their roles properly
    11. Exceed customer expectations
  3. Surface the Goal Themes across the outcomes.

    Here are some common Goal Themes:

    Have a positive impact

    a. Get everything that I need to do done.
    b. Make a difference within my department and organisation.
    c. Advance my career.
    f.  Make fewer mistakes.
    j.  Bring other people to play their roles properly

    Be a positive influence

    b. Make a difference within my department and organisation.
    c. Advance my career.
    d. Grow my capability.
    e. Win people's respect.
    g. Be more available.
    j. Bring other people to play their roles properly

    Grow in mastery

    c. Advance my career.
    d. Grow my capability.
    f. Make fewer mistakes.
    i. Arrive home with some energy left in the tank.
    j. Bring other people to play their roles properly

  4. Find the repeating pattern across the common themes.

    The goal pattern we've come up with is:

    Get better and better at making a difference

    Here, once again, are the common problem themes we derived the pattern from:

    • Have a positive impact
    • Be a positive impact
    • Grow in mastery

Compare the above - or whatever you came up with if it's different or better than ours - with your pre-Pattern-Thinking view on things. Notice any difference?

The next step is to test the pattern and see if it "fits" the original set of elements. If not, make modifications, as required.

The value in the exercise so far

The value in this exercise, so far, is that, once you realise that everyting you are engageing in search of a single, worthwhile outcome, it makes things a lot simpler, more attractive and easier to measure progress towards - as well as make decisions against.

Process for finding the Problem Pattern in the given scenario

  1. Record your pre-exercise guess at what the Problem Pattern might be in your situation.
  2. List as many issues within the situation as you can think of.
    1. Not enough time in the day to do everything I have to do
    2. Some aspects of my work are very tedious
    3. Other people hold up the progress of my work
    4. IT systems are not optimised for what we need
    5. It never rains but it pours
    6. Constant interruptions make it difficult to stay focused
    7. I don't feel as if I'm really making a difference to the planet
    8. I arrive at home exhausted
    9. I am stressed about the growing backlog
    10. Some customers are very unreasonable
  3. Surface common themes across the elements.

    Here are the common problem themes we surfaced within 5 minutes:

    Work overload

    a. Not enough time in the day to do everything I have to do
    e. It never rains but it pours
    h. I arrive at home exhausted
    i. I am stressed by the growing backlog

    Meaninglessness

    b. Some aspects of my work are very tedious
    g. I don't feel as if I'm really making a difference to the planet

    Other people impact on my enjoyment

    c. Other people hold up the progress of my work
    d. IT systems are not optimised for what we need (IT people and decision makers)
    f. Constant interruptions make it difficult to stay focused
    j. Some customers are very unreasonable

    Inadequate business systems

    b. Some aspects of my work are very tedious
    d. IT systems are not optimised for what we need

  4. Find the repeating pattern across the common themes.

    The problem pattern we've come up with, on our first pass is:

    Too much is outside of my control or, perhaps, Insufficient control and influence

    Here, once again, are the common problem themes we derived the pattern from:

    • Work overload
    • Meaninglessness
    • Other people impact on my enjoyment
    • Inadequate business systems

Compare the above - or whatever you came up with if it's different or better than ours - with your pre-Pattern-Thinking view on things. Notice any difference?

The next step is to test the pattern and see if it "fits" the original set of elements. If not, make modifications as required.

The value in the exercise so far

The value in this exercise, so far, is that, once you realise that all the issues you are facing all follow a common pattern, you can actively engage to overcome them, in concert, by developing a solution pattern for the problem pattern.

In this case, we know that we need to find a technique, approach or solution that will grant us more control over our circumstances. If we find a simple technique that will put us more in control, we know that every single one of the problems we're experiencing will be reduced significantly.

Check for yourself!

Process for finding the Solution Pattern in the given scenario

  1. List as many elements of the situation as you can think of.

    Once again, it's worth taking a stab at it before you do the exercise, so that you can assess the value in the technique. The problem with insights is that once you have them you have them and it's difficult to remember what it was like to be in ignorance!

    The problem we are trying to solve is the problem of:

    "Too much is outside of my control" or "Insufficient control and influence".

    Here is a list of off-the-top-of-the-head solutions:

    1. Focus on things that are within my control - don't worry about anything else.
    2. Try to extend my control.
    3. Get good at influencing things that are beyond my control, but within someone else's control.
    4. Give up: Don't worry be happy!
    5. Become a control freak.
    6. Target specific things that I want to be in control of.
    7. Get promoted so that I am more in control.

      A good way of generating solutions is to go through the problem list and problem themes list and force out as many solutions you can think of for each of them. We've restricted ourselves to one or two per problem.

    8. Get someone to share my workload.
    9. Reduce or get my workload reduced in some way.
    10. Create a simple "production-line" for doing the tedious stuff - and churn through it.
    11. Automate the boring stuff in some way.
    12. Work with others whose delivery impacts on mine to help them deliver on time.
    13. Optimise my use of the IT systems - working around the constraints they create.
    14. Do everything possible to bring workload forward or push it back when the busy time hits.
    15. Accept the interruption but don't do the work immediately - schedule it for when you've finished the current task.
    16. Come in early or late to get work done when people can't interrupt me - take time off when they're there for personal stuff or exercise that I would normally do after hours.
    17. Identify what areas at work are most in need of improvement and make time to create improvements - even small incremental ones.
    18. Get more sleep, exercise, relaxation, healthy food.
    19. Refuse to let stress get to you.
    20. Take frequent breaks during work time.
    21. Organise a personal or team Working Bee to nuke the backlog.
    22. Schedule time to find a smart way of catching up - there is always a way.
    23. Script responses to unreasonable customers in advance.

      Whew! What a long list - and this is a just a first-cut!

      Under normal circumstances, one might feel overwhelmed by the length of the list - there are so many options and none is clearly the winner. If one's using Pattern Thinking, however, there is no need to worry, because the process will take care of it. The next step is to surface common themes - which make things a little clearer.

  2. Surface common themes across the elements

    Here are the common solution themes we surfaced within 12 minutes:

    Get focused

    a. Focus on things that are within my control - don't worry about anything else.
    c. Get good at influencing things that are beyond my control, but within someone else's control.
    f. Target specific things that I want to be in control of.
    o. Accept the interruption but don't do the work immediately - schedule it for when you've finished the current task.
    p. Come in early or late to get work done when people can't interrupt me - take time off when they're there for personal stuff or exercise that I would normally do after hours.
    q. Identify what areas at work are most in need of improvement and make time to create improvements - even small incremental ones.
    u. Organise a personal or team Working Bee to nuke the backlog.

    Shield myself

    a. Focus on things that are within my control - don't worry about anything else.
    h. Get someone to share my workload.
    i. Reduce or get my workload reduced in some way.
    n. Do everything possible to bring workload forward or push it back when the busy time hits.
    o. Accept the interruption but don't do the work immediately - schedule it for when you've finished the current task.
    p. Come in early or late to get work done when people can't interrupt me - take time off when they're there for personal stuff or exercise that I would normally do after hours.
    s. Refuse to let stress get to me.

    Develop systems

    j. Create a simple "production-line" for doing the tedious stuff - and churn through it.
    k. Automate the boring stuff in some way.
    l. Work with others whose delivery impacts on mine to help them deliver on time.
    m. Optimise my use of the IT systems - working around the constraints they create.
    o. Accept the interruption but don't do the work immediately - schedule it for when you've finished the current task.
    q. Identify what areas at work are most in need of improvement and make time to create improvements - even small incremental ones.
    v. Schedule time to find a smart way of catching up - there is always a way.
    w. Script responses to unreasonable customers in advance.

    Be intentional

    a. Focus on things that are within my control - don't worry about anything else.
    b. Try to extend my control.
    c. Get good at influencing things that are beyond my control, but within someone else's control.
    f. Target specific things that I want to be in control of.
    g. Get promoted so that I am more in control.
    h. Get someone to share my workload.
    i. Reduce or get my workload reduced in some way.
    n. Do everything possible to bring workload forward or push it back when the busy time hits.
    v. Schedule time to find a smart way of catching up - there is always a way.
    w. Script responses to unreasonable customers in advance.

    Protect my attitude and energies

    d. Give up: Don't worry be happy!
    r. Get more sleep, exercise, relaxation, healthy food.
    s. Refuse to let stress get to me.
    t. Take frequent breaks during work time.

    Optimise the use of my time

    j. Create a simple "production-line" for doing the tedious stuff - and churn through it.
    k. Automate the boring stuff in some way.
    l. Work with others whose delivery impacts on mine to help them deliver on time.
    m. Optimise my use of the IT systems - working around the constraints they create.
    n. Do everything possible to bring workload forward or push it back when the busy time hits.
    o. Accept the interruption but don't do the work immediately - schedule it for when you've finished the current task.
    p. Come in early or late to get work done when people can't interrupt me - take time off when they're there for personal stuff or exercise that I would normally do after hours.
    q. Identify what areas at work are most in need of improvement and make time to create improvements - even small incremental ones.
    t. Take frequent breaks during work time.
    v. Schedule time to find a smart way of catching up - there is always a way.

    Schedule things

    l. Work with others whose delivery impacts on mine to help them deliver on time.
    o. Accept the interruption but don't do the work immediately - schedule it for when you've finished the current task.
    p. Come in early or late to get work done when people can't interrupt me - take time off when they're there for personal stuff or exercise that I would normally do after hours.
    q. Identify what areas at work are most in need of improvement and make time to create improvements - even small incremental ones.
    t. Take frequent breaks during work time.
    v. Schedule time to find a smart way of catching up - there is always a way.

  3. Find the repeating pattern across the common themes

    The repeating pattern we found across the common themes is:

    Deliberately program my attitudes, responses, time and approach to ensure that I become more and more in control of my working environment.

    Here are the common solution themes we deduced the repeating pattern from:

    • Get focused
    • Shield myself
    • Develop systems
    • Be intentional
    • Protect my attitude and energies
    • Optimise the use of my time
    • Schedule things

Compare what you've come up with, with what you started with. Notice the difference in the level of your insight - pretty cool, huh?

Solution assessment

This solution pattern might not be perfect, but it seems to be an effective one because programming will enable me to:

  1. Gain ever-increasing control over my time, because it will enable me to ensure an appropriate balance of effort between the important and the urgent, between working in my role and working on my role and between work and leisure.
  2. Limit wasted effort on things beyond my control.
  3. Cull the trivial, automate the mundane and structure the critical.
  4. Enable me to exercise greater control over people who's delivery mine depends upon, by bringing me to develop and negotiate an appropriate delivery schedule and communication mechanism.
  5. Engage intentionally in bringing the most valuable outcomes about.
  6. Engage intentionally in improving my competence.
  7. Engage with others in an ever-increasingly more effective way.

Please note that this is merely a first-cut - we've deliberately resisted refining it further, to provide an accurate reflection of the level of quality required. In the real world, one would continue to refine things as greater clarity and insight allowed.

Here is the full GPS:

  1. Goal: Get better and better at making a difference
  2. Problem: Too much is outside of my control
  3. Solution: Deliberately program my attitudes, responses, time and approach to ensure that I become more and more in control of my working environment.

Using Pattern Thinking with other people

Individuals

One can bring individuals to gain deeper, pattern-level insights into complex problems and challenging situations, by getting them to think of an alternative to the solution they're pushing (or a few alternatives) and then asking them "What do those alternatives have in common?"

Groups

Pattern Thinking is a very powerful technique in a group situation, because it gives one the freedom - and motivation - to seek diverse perspectives on a topic issue or situation and then ask the proponents of each point of view to identify elements of other points of view that are in common with their own point of view - or elements of their own point of view that are in common with other people's points of view. This brings about a very different engagement from the conventional one of defending one's own point of view so vehemently that all one can see in anyone else's point of view is how it conflicts with one's own.

Click here to see common GPS building traps to avoid...

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