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Over the past couple of months I was asked (a lot!) how I went about working at the edge (see blog post here), and how I worked with change & transformation initiatives. My answer is consistent: I prepare. I prepare myself to be uncomfortable, prepare to be challenged, prepare myself for that initial jolt of adrenaline and run-away-as-fast-as-you-can hormone. And yes, even if it happens in a split second, I prepare.

Inspired by the Kolb Learning Cycle, “I PREPARE” serves as a reminder to prepare oneself but also serves as a mnemonic aimed to inform the steps of a process.

In list format, I PREPARE looks as follows:

  • I: Innovate / Implement
  • P: Perform
    • ARE:
    o A: Aware of how I am
    o R: Real time feedback
    o E: Emotions
  • R: Reflect
  • E: Evaluate
  • P: Plan & Plot way forward
    • ARE:
    o A: Aware of how I am
    o R: Real time feedback
    o E: Emotions

The I PREPARE process is a powerful reminder that helps me learn while leading, or doing, or planning. Below is short example of how I use it.

While planning a workshop I want to try out a new game to augment facilitation – to do this I used an INNOVATIVE approach that challenged the status quo, was applicable to the current times, used the resources around me, and met the initial requirement to begin with: a fun tool to encourage teamwork while also highlighting the influence of pressure on performance.

The ‘new game’ came in the form of a doorbell: I made contraption that required one person to slide a metal ring over a curved metal wire – if the ring touched the wire then the doorbell would chime and you had to start again. One person was in control of the ring and another in control of the wire.

Although I knew what I wanted to achieve, I had no idea how the game would be received in a group setting. The only way to know was to actually introduce the game in a workshop – the game had to PERFORMED for me to see if it actually worked. As the participants participated in the game, I paused a little to collect information to the question “how ARE you”.

I was noticing how I felt in that moment and therefore received real-time feedback, and I was aware of feeling – emotionally – a little afraid of the experiment failing. I was able to use this knowledge to remain calm during the experiment and was also able to use the knowledge to guide later reflection. REFLECTING on how I felt and receiving feedback about how others experienced the game, I was able to draw some conclusions on the success of the game.

Using this information and some behavioural theory, I was able to EVALUATE what I could change or what I could keep the same. This evaluation phase was also where I decided that I would use the game again once I made some small changes.

Once I knew what adjustments I wanted to make, I was now able to PLAN my the way forward – during the PLANNING phase I also used “how ARE you” to evaluate which emotions / feelings were influencing the plan – in this case, the changes that I was making to the game was based on being comfortable with a bit of uncertainty and a with lot of curiosity.

Once I knew that “good” emotions / feelings motivated the plan, I was able to INNOVATE and IMPLEMENT another iteration of the game. The next step is to play the game again.

In a diagram format the process looks like this:


As an experiment in itself, and as part of my PhD research, I am introducing the I PREPARE process during workshops and client contact sessions in order to assist with Organisational & Behavioural Change, and Leadership- & Team Development Initiatives. The I PREPARE process is not an exclusive tool aimed at a quick fix, but is rather a very helpful method to help navigate the messy nature of change and transformation.

By Niel Stander






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