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What is working, and how can we do more of it? — Universal Principles

What is working, and how can we do more of it?

Moleskine Retro PDA Part1, by Stephen TicehurstIn the What matters now essay Change, Chip and Dan Heath provides the following story.

A troubled teenager named Bobby was sent to see his high-school counselor, John Murphy. Bobby had been in trouble so many times that he was in danger of being shipped off to a special facility for kids with behavioral problems.

Most counselors would have discussed Bobby’s problems with him, but Murphy didn’t.

MURPHY: Bobby, are there classes where you don’t get in trouble?

BOBBY: I don’t get in trouble much in Ms. Smith’s class.

MURPHY: What’s different about Ms. Smith’s class?

Soon Murphy had some concrete answers: 1. Ms. Smith greeted him at the door. 2. She checked to make sure he understood his assignments. 3. She gave him easier work to complete. (His other teachers did none of the three.)

Now Murphy had a roadmap for change. He advised Bobby’s other teachers to try these three techniques. And suddenly, Bobby started behaving better.

The moral of the story is, in their words:

You’re probably trying to change things at home or at work. Stop agonizing about what’s not working. Instead, ask yourself, “What’s working well, right now, and how can I do more of it?”

2 comments

1 Karin { February 11, 2010 at 11:40 }

More coffee breaks with “semlor”! Those works really well ;)

2 Henrik Jernevad { February 11, 2010 at 11:51 }

Then you should definitely keep those up! :-)

Let’s spread the word! ;-)