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Make Your Group Work Better

Discussion in 'General Entrepreneur Discussion' started by Diane Kennedy, Sep 5, 2007.

  1. Diane Kennedy
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    Diane Kennedy Bronze Contributor

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    Is your group a committee or a mastermind?

    Mastermind: A group of 2 or more people who get together in a focused manner to create something bigger than any of them individually could.

    Committee: A group of 2 or more people who get together to find someone to blame for their problems

    Okay, I know that’s not the Webster’s definition, but it seems pretty true to me.

    Just calling a group a mastermind won’t make it become a mastermind. All too often groups denigrate into something less than they were supposed to be.

    One of the secrets that I found to keep a group working at its highest and best purpose is based on some great work by Edward deBonno. If you haven’t read him yet, do so. He’s considered one of the best critical thinkers alive today.

    He had a theory of something called “the hats.†We expanded it and to be honest, have changed it so much that it’s hard exactly to say what started off as his ideas and were molded into ours, but I want to always give him as a reference because we’d never have come up with this if it weren’t for his work.

    In a group, people take on different roles. Too often we get stuck in those definitions – the optimist, the pessimist, etc… In fact, we take on labels that we are always an “optimist†etc.

    Use of the “hats†lets everyone in the group take on a different role for a period of time and just like a hat, you can take it off and put on a different hat. This is figurative, by the way. We don’t usually actually have hats sitting there.

    The hats are:

    Red hat: Emotion
    White hat: A reporter, “just the factsâ€
    Blue hat: Organizer, action lists
    Green hat: Creative, outside of the box thinker
    Yellow hat: Taking an idea and making it better
    Black hat: Bodyguard, what could go wrong?

    In general, our society teaches us how to use the black hat really well, to avoid the red hat and that green and yellow hats are flakey. We’ve found that if everyone in the mastermind groups tries new roles you get amazing results. By the way a mastermind group can be formed from your friends, competitors, co-workers, employees – anywhere you can get people who want to be part of something bigger.

    Here’s how we might use the hats in a creative mastermind session of business owners:

    Everyone starts with a 30-60 sec red hat check-in. Just say how you feel. Don’t explain or complain. This is also a great way to start a business meeting. It gets everyone present very quickly as it lets them acknowledge whatever is going on for them.

    One person becomes the blue hat organizer for the meeting – directing it and taking notes.

    Then one by one, each person asks a power question. (Power questions are questions that are open-ended and allow for a lot of creativity in the answers.)

    For example: “How can I get more people to visit my website in a way that improves my business and is fun and ethical?†(I throw the “ethical†in there because I wouldn’t want to spam to do it.)

    Then for 5 min (or whatever you all agree on) everyone puts their green hats on and comes up with every creative idea they can. The blue hat organizer keeps track of the ideas. Don’t argue or justify – just listen at this point. Later you can go back and figure out what might work.

    Then the next person asks their power question and everyone else gives them green hat ideas.

    After everyone has had their chance, everyone takes another red hat moment to say where they are then.

    We use the hats in my business on a regular basis and we use them at home for our family meetings.

    A note on the red hat: If you don’t take a moment for the red hat, I’ve found it always shows up. All decisions are ultimately red hat decisions. If you don’t acknowledge that, it’s just like throwing a red sock in with the white laundry – the red tints everything. And that’s when you start making business and financial decisions based on deep seated fears, instead of smart analysis.

    This has become such an integral part of my businesses that I sometimes forget that everyone else doesn't know what I'm talking about when I say "Let's green hat that" or "What's going on 'red hat' for you" (typically said to my 16 y.o. son)

    So what do you think? Helpful? Do-able? Something you'd try?
     
    kwerner and Allthingznew like this.
  2. andviv
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    andviv Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

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    Diane, thanks for this information. It is something I've been thinking for some time now... how to put together people with the same mindset.

    Some of the challenges I'm currently facing are:

    Geographically dispersed groups:
    The people I know I would like to share ideas with are not located in the area where I live. I've meet them through forums like this and RD. Have you experienced these meetings using teleconference or other media to make them happen?

    Different levels of knowledge/experience:
    The people I want to hear from are usually way advanced for me, and I don't know that many people that relate to the current stage I am in. I feel I have some limitations that others don't have, and I know that I need to overcome that, but how do you create your mastermind group so you can also provide something back to those that you want to get knowledge from?

    I googled the mastermind concept last night after reading your story and some websites mentioned that you need to be in a group with the same level of expertise. Is this your same perception? Is the concept of mentoring not part of this groups?

    I already am working with some people that want to learn more about what I am doing and where I am going, but I do notice that I am way ahead of them in knowledge and experience. I try to mentor them in any way I can but I get the feeling of just giving and not receiving, so I want to also get information from the people I network with. That has been something valuable I've found in this forum.

    Thanks in advance for any input you can provide to my questions.
     
  3. Diane Kennedy
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    Diane Kennedy Bronze Contributor

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    GEOGRAPHIC CHALLENGE:
    My husband Richard is in a mastermind group that meet via phone every two weeks. They try to get together for a face to face once a year - kind of a reunion! A couple of tips if you do it via phone - get a conference call line (globalcrossing is one I think of off the top of my head) or even better one of the call lines that are free and everyone pays the long distance fee.

    Keep the calls under one hour. People phase out after awhile on the phone.

    DIFFERENT EXPERIENCE
    I like having a group with different levels of experience. One of the issues that I run into is that I get around people just like me and lose touch with the rest of the people. Usually if I think a book topic (for example) is good, it won't sell. It's actually become a joke in our circle - if Diane likes it, run!

    One secret: Everyone in the mastermind group must benefit. You don't want to set up a group where one person just asks everyone else questions and never gives back to the others. It's not just about experience as much as mindset that makes the difference.

    I'm curious if it would be possible to do a mastermind meeting via a forum. I have no idea how that would work, or even if it would work...but as i was typing up the part about the green hat mastermind session (with power questions) I was thinking that it might be a fun experiment. As long as we all agree to allow each other to make whatever kind of crazy suggestions we come up with - and let the creativity flow - it might work.
     
  4. Starsky
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    Starsky New Contributor

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    Great post,
    I have acknowledged in my mind for some time that I would like to add a small circle of people that i could brainstorm and bounce ideas off, however im kinda concerned with stolen concepts of my business system.. Perhaps a non compete clause would be needed?
     
  5. andviv
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    andviv Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass Summit Attendee

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    OK, I'm in for that experiment.

    Thanks a lot for the feedback.
     
  6. Diane Kennedy
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    Diane Kennedy Bronze Contributor

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    All I can do is give my perspective here, please don't rely on it other than that.

    For me, I know I'm an innovator. I come up with a million ideas a day. Someone is always going to rip me off, I know that and accept it. And what they take, by the time they get it implemented will be stale and outdated. (Part of this is due to the fact that I deal in a subject matter - taxes - that changes every single day)

    It wouldn't feel open to me if there was a non compete or NDA in a mastermind group.

    About every couple of months someone comes up with an idea that they want to partner with me about. Some of them are amazing and I go ahead, but way too many of them are exactly the same: they have the idea, I have the money and platform to make it happen...and they want a 50/50 split. But first I have to sign a NDA and non compete. I respectfully decline. My concern is that I might have an idea similar to theirs that I'm working on already and by signing it I just opened myself up for a whole mess.

    That said - I wouldn't be as open if I was in a mastermind with my direct competitors with my CPA practice or TaxLoopholes. But, say I went into one with a bunch of real estate investors - I'd be totally fine sharing everything I know in a free exchange. There's a whole world out there to invest in - I think there's room enough for 5-8 people playing at a high level.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2007
  7. NerdSmasher
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    NerdSmasher New Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    I'd be interested to see how something like this could work, as it seems that a great deal of my own business concepts and ideas are dealing with the internet; and I personally don't have any group of people that I know in person that I could even bounce ideas off of.

    Though, at the same time, isn't that almost exactly what this forum is? We come here with out successes, problems, ideas, and knowledge; share it with everyone, ask our questions, and get help in response, etc. ? I've never been in a mastermind group, so I can't say I know this for sure, but it certainly seems to have similarities.
     
  8. Allthingznew
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    Allthingznew Contributor

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    Maybe using a chat room type feature. It gets the conversation into more of a real time feel for when the ideas start popping. It would seem like a moderator would be an advantage too so ideas can be pursued that might otherwise be lost in the popcorn.
     
  9. yveskleinsky
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    yveskleinsky Bronze Contributor Speedway Pass

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    When I was in my early 20's my mom gave me a great book called Wishcraft. The book is about finding your direction in life. One of the exercises in teh book is to create a mastermind group with both real people that you can meet with, and another group comprised of people either living or dead, real or fictional. Then you pose whatever question it is to both groups and see what they say. ...With the fictional/created group, you just give the answers that you think those people would give. ...Some of my people were Jean Luc Picard, (from Star Trek) Mark Twain, the performer "Divine" (over-the-top drag queen of John Waters film fame). Having all these drastictically different personalities give advice was funny and enlightening.

    ...This forum is really the closest thing that I have to a mastermind group, and it has been wonderful. I have so much more confidence in moving forward, because I know that even though I don't know all the answers, I bet between everyone here- we do. That's awesome!
     
  10. Russ H
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    Russ H Gold Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Bumping up some classic Diane Kennedy posts today. :)

    -Russ H.
     

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