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I am a localization manager/translator and intercultural consultant living in Berlin (Germany), passionate about languages, cultures, diversity management, body art, dancing, self-empowerment, coaching, effective communication and, last but not least, vegan gluten-free food and good movies.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Between the Pareto principle and the butterfly effect, or how to use 15% solutions for taking ownership of your goals and ideas

Are you stuck while dealing with a project that matters to you and yet it looks like you are getting nowhere with it?
No matter how much you would love it, you can't see some progress with your next goal?
Every time that you think about your big idea, procrastination and excuses check in and say hello?

What if a special mix between the Pareto principle and the famous butterfly effect could help you creating a virtuous cycle for all this and making it easier for you to improve your career, work out more, eat helthier, learning a new language, achieve what you are up to?

[Butterfly Effect by Xzibit (2015)
sorry guys, Ashton Kutcher was too busy 
with his children for coming by]

Last week I had the pleasure to be the facilitator for one of the Liberating Structures offered during the monthly Meetup of the Liberating Structure Lab Berlin and it has been not only hilarious but also very useful for the people attending the Meetup, so I've decided to share the same structure with you today.

The structure is called 15% solutions and it is one of the 33 Liberating Structures developed by Henri Lipmanowicz and Keith McCandless for creating a culture of innovation that can apply to every aspect of life while including and unleashing everyone, as they state.

The difference between who you are now and who you were five years ago is largely due to how you've spent your time along the way.
The habits we groove become who we are, one minute at a time. A small thing, repeated, is not a small thing.

According to the famous - and sometimes infamous... -  Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, for the vast majority of events, about 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.
Even if we tend to think that we need to do 120% or even 150% of something for achieving it, nothing more than 20% would be enough to get some results, and often no less than 80% of the outcome.

And yet it is sometimes hard to believe: we experience excruciating analysis paralysis, we struggle with our own perfectionism or tendency to procrastinate, we believe that we need to have everything already figured out otherwise we can't start, or we just want to wait until the moment feels right.
Unfortunately, most of the time, it will never feel right. 

This is where the 15% solutions structure can be very motivating: the goal here is to "discover and focus on what each person has the freedom and resources to do now".
Thanks to a simple and intuitive call to action, it makes possible to empower people and brings them to see small and doable actions and solutions often underestimated or ignored: you don't need to have everything figured out to start. Most often than not, it is enough to have one small first step figured out, in order to keep the ball rolling and to get some "action".

[Working harder is not always the answer...
Working smarter sounds so much better!
Image source: Iso Republic]

Starting small, and working with what we have available at the moment, can have a big impact and create an incredible "butterfly effect", a positive cycle that allows us to start working on something even if we felt stuck just a minute ago, to ask for help if needed and to think about some baby steps that can have an impact both in the short and in the long run.

Furthermore, it support everyone to consider their own power in creating momentum forward using what they already have - 15% of the possible bigger solution. Everyone can do something, even small, to support movement forward.

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
Arthur Robert Ashe, Jr.
better known as Arthur Ashe [1943-1993]

Ready to start?

#1. Take a minute to think about one to three challenges, topics or projects that matter to you and for which you could also need some help, and write them down on a piece of paper. Yes, manually, in the good old way.
Sky is the limit here, and you can list way more than three items, but I would suggest you to start small and to create a longer list in a second time.

#2. As soon as you have your list of challenges, feel free to write on a separate piece of paper how motivated and in charge you feel about each of your items on the list, from 1 to 10, where 1 is "Gosh, not at all, please don't let me think about it!" and 10 is "I am the king of the world!". 
Keep this second piece of paper separate: you will need it later.

[How do you feel about your list, right now?]

#3. Create a list of your 15% solutions for each items on your list. 15% solutions are the things that you can do right now for making progress about your goals, projects and ideas.
For each of your topics, write down one sentence about:

What is your 15%, right now?
Where can you have or find freedom to act, regarding it?
What can you do, without more resources or authority at your disposal?
Who is going to get help with this? You? Your team? Your family? Your friends? Someone else?
How are you going to take care of and implement this 15% solutions?


The sentences you write about your 15% solutions should:
- be phrased in a positive way. 
- start with "I" or "We". 
- include something that can be done immediately, without further ado or new resources or skills to be acquired. 

Even better if:
- in your solutions you can "recycle" something that you are not using for the topics right now but it already available to you!
- you can think about solutions that will "add up" and create a positive circle of influence, for you and for others! (This is the butterfly effect we were talking about: for example it could be that you will start with a project and while doing it, you will help someone else starting with her own project or idea, and so on)

What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.
Ralph Marston

Now there are two options available:

A. If you are in a group of people, find another person or make a group of 3-4 people and each of you will share his/her 15% solutions within the group.

In the first round, each person will have a couple of minutes to share her solutions and the other person/the rest of the group will actively listen, then the next person will do the same until all group members will have had a chance to share her own ideas with the group.
In the second round, each person will get "consulting", advice and constructive feedback from their group members about her own list, for a couple of minutes. 
Here again, each person can share her list and get precious input, one after the other. 

[Taking ownership of your thoughts
and starting small for achieving your goals
is absolutely empowering, and incredibly sexy]


B. If you are doing this on your own, now it is the moment of reading your 15% solutions once again and to write down on a new piece of paper how motivated and in charge you feel about each of your items on the list right now, from 1 to 10, after having completed your list.

Now you can compare both scores and see how small, doable and tiny solutions can impact your sense of ownership when it comes to your projects, goals and ideas.

How can you make a habit of using the 15% solutions in your meetings, in your weekly work flow, in your new projects, in your private life?

Tags: Liberating Structures, 15% solutions, Motivation, Taking ownership, Pareto principle, Virtuous cycle, Quotes

What to read next:

Where you can find all Liberating Structures: