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Change Management

Consulting is our passion.


Alexandra Postolache

This is a second post of a series of blogs talking about how your daily meetings can be made more participative and efficient. You can find the first one here.

Picture yourself when you were in the first years of school, in the class of a more or less scary teacher. You would have wanted to say something, to give an answer or to come with an idea, but the fear to be judged by the teacher or even by your colleagues was bigger than your wish? Remember the anxiety of having to stand up in front of the class and say something? Do you recognize yourself even in few situations? I do.

We all have fears or phobias to do something. When we were little, we were sometimes scared to speak in front of our classmates, now as adults, we are afraid to speak in public, to explore new possibilities in our job, to challenge our limits. In fact, surveys say that our fear of standing up in front of a group and talking is so great that most of us actually rank it higher on our fear list than death (Stand up comedian Jerry Seinfeld made a joke about it saying “In a funeral, instead of giving the eulogy, would most of us then prefer to be in the coffin?”:)

But we can cure ourselves. The mastermind behind the phobia cure is the psychologist Albert Bandura, a Stanford professor and researcher, who had a profound impact on the world of social learning and has been called the greatest living psychologist.

Bandura calls the methodology he uses to cure phobias “guided mastery”. The process of guided mastery incorporates psychology tools like vicarious learning, social persuasion and graduated tasks. And in line with these, we consider that also the P phase from the OPERA process it is a step which can help people to cure their phobia to speak in front of a group. Now: Imagine a common meeting when the leader asks for some ideas or some solutions. Usually the most extroverted persons, the most experienced or the most highlystated ones answer. But what about the others? Are we interested to hear also the opinions and ideas of the ones who are introverted, quiet and maybe who have some fears of expressing themselves?

If yes, they should discuss and work in pairs. In OPERA process, after the O phase (discussed in the previous post), we give space and time to the participants to create pairs and to discuss their own thoughts and ideas. Being two it is easier! You have more courage to tell your ideas to only one person in a secure environment, you are listened by your pair and you feel that you have the possibility to influence the solution by presenting your own thoughts. In addition, in a pair discussion, it will be easier to find ideas you share with you pair, starting the psychological process of the ideas being “our” ideas instead of “my ideas”.

So, in our work, we see P phase as a step to overcome phobia while upgrading mathematics: 1+1 = 2,3 ideas .

You can read more of Innotiimi-ICG’s OPERA method in an ebook “Opera - Guide for more efficient meetings”, available at https://itunes.apple.com/fi/book/opera/id871050555

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