How to Strategically Propose Partner Solutions with Clarity
Business Relationship Managers (BRMs) exist to help others. But what does ‘helping others’ look like? And is there a strategic method BRMs can apply to help solve any problem?
Luca Gambetti, Master Trainer and coach GTD® (Getting Things Done®) *, taught BRMConnect Virtual attendees how to execute on any outcome in any situation. The Natural Planning Model® offers a repeatable process to clarify what is in the mind of your business partner and immediately translate it into action.
Start with Tension.
Imagine you are in a planning meeting with your team. When discussing a particular problem, the leader suddenly asks, “does anyone have any ideas for how we can solve this?”
The question hangs in the air. An awkward silence unfolds as nobody steps up to offer a solution. What went wrong?
First, the group did a great job of identifying the tension – a sensation indicating their organization can perform better. However, the energy created by addressing that tension had no structure and no vision to guide it. The familiar, unpleasant feeling of awkwardness resulted because there was no cultivated space for creativity or inspiration.
Rather than jumping immediately into action mode, people first need to step back and understand the greater context of their tensions. Then, they need to identify the purpose and vision for a solution before opening space to brainstorm and organize their next steps.
Tension results when your business partner feels either a loss of control or a loss of perspective regarding a problem. Importantly, they need both to arrive at a solution and drive value in their role.
The Natural Planning Model
The Natural Planning Model provides five specific steps you can implement to help your business partner regain both control and perspective with minimal effort. When walking your partner through this model, use your Navigator abilities to guide them out of a tension state into an actionable solution.
The steps follow a logical process with each one accompanied by practical considerations in your BRM role.
Determine together why your partner feels tension.
- Start with the tension and ask your partner why they feel that tension.
- Learn their principles – what do they stand for? What are important values for their organization? Which ones apply to this situation?
- What standards do they need to meet to resolve their tension.
Purpose provides the context for positive work relationships. If your partner can identify the purpose related to their tension, then they can move on to the next step of evolving purpose into vision.
Encourage your partner to understand how the world might look once their tension is resolved.
- Start with a real intention. What problem do they want to solve?
- Put them in a creative mode. This is important for imagining an improved future state.
- Ask them to imagine a scene of wild success. What would their ideal world look like if the tension was not there?
When establishing a vision, it is important for the scenery to be about 50% believable. If it is 100% believable, then it is too easy. The tension really is not a tension if they already know how to solve it. Once they have a vision, your partner is ready to ideate possible solutions.
Help your partner generate ideas that might help them resolve their tension.
- This is the HOW – part A of the method.
- Ask them to list everything that might be relevant to fulfill the vision.
- Capture ideas in a physical space with an external tool, such as:
- Mind Maps
- bulleted lists
- BRM Tool
While brainstorming, remember that any idea is a good idea, no matter how simple or imaginative it may be!
Put the brainstormed ideas together in a structural plan.
- Consider this the How – part B of the method.
- Organize their thought processes to match the brainstorming ideas with vision.
- This can involve other people from your organization, so use your Connector abilities as a BRM.
Your structured plan should include a list of action items that will help your partner resolve their tension.
Identify small sprints and tasks that your partner can start immediately to help resolve their tension.
- Separate the action items into two categories: next actions and future actions.
- Next actions are the tasks your partner can start immediately.
- Future actions are actions that cannot be immediately activated and should be left for the future.
The Natural Planning Model provides a structured process to identify a tension and easily translate it into practical activities to start immediately. It can be applied to any situation and Luca provides a personal example of how he helped his partner resolve a tension.
The Model in Action.
Recently, Luca was coaching the general manager for a chain of supermarkets in Northern Italy. The business partner identified a long list of problems, and Luca noticed one tension in particular – “hire a new warehouse manager”.
Luca started by asking why the GM felt tension and the need to hire a warehouse manager.
His business partner mentioned they noticed dirty warehouse facilities, abandoned forklifts awaiting repair, and too much being spent on maintenance. Consequently, the GM worried about customers losing trust in their organization upon seeing the poor warehouse conditions.
Luca used active listening to learn about his partner’s purpose, through understanding their:
- Why – poor warehouse conditions needed to be rectified.
- Principles – the GM values trust and wants customers to trust their organization.
- Standards – the GM had a clear idea of how much maintenance should cost.
When Luca asked his business partner to imagine the tension being resolved, they replied, “the problem will be resolved when I receive a weekly report with a status full of warehouse processes, and a report for the status of warehouse maintenance.” Notice this exceeded the original problem of hiring a new manager. As you explore with your partners, recognize the vision might uncover deeper problems than the original perception. This is a good thing!
Luca brainstormed a list of 100 potential solutions with his business partner. Together, they narrowed the list to three items. Identifying requirements for the manager position, for training, and for a new financial system to fulfill the vision.
Luca and his partner established and ordered the most important steps for finding a manger, developing training, and selecting a financial system.
Identify Next Actions.
Luca’s business partner performed two next actions during the meeting:
- Immediately planned a meeting with the People manager to discuss new hire requirements.
- Immediately planned a meeting with the finance manager to discuss a financial system.
As you practice the Natural Planning Model with your business partners, remember the aim is to transform a tension into practical next actions which can be completed immediately. If your partners act, they are more likely to reach value-driven solutions.
* GTD®, Getting Things Done® and the Natural Planning Model® are copyright of the David Allen Company.
If you were unable to attend this year’s 2020 BRMConnect Virtual, you can still access the valuable recorded sessions and live Q&A with BRMConnect On-Demand until September 30th.
This may be a brand new way of experiencing a conference, so BRM Institute wants to make sure you have the tools to make your virtual experience the best it can be!
Luca Gambetti was called to be part of the team Strategies and Methodologies in Olivetti, led by Piergiorgio Perotto, the inventor of Program 101, the first Personal Computer in the world. In this period, he learns to love methodologies and organization and begins to do training. In 1993, after the Olivetti crisis, he was hired by Gruppo Formula S.p.A., where he worked on quality and organization.
From 2000 to 2006 he was appointed Assessor for the European Quality Award; during this activity, he came into contact with the top management of the most prestigious European companies and had the opportunity to critically discuss their strengths and areas for improvement.
In 2006 he decided to commit himself directly to transmit to people and organizations all that he had learned and founded with his wife Alessandra E-quality, a training and consulting firm that soon became a small and prestigious partner of the largest Italian companies.
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