Energy flows where
focus goes … and questions are a great way to direct focus.
Planning is one
thing, “real life” is another. So, how do
you give stakeholders a clear picture of what’s happening, the relevant business
terrain, and the best path for them to navigate given their daily challenges
15Five is a
management tool that can help with those issues. It consists of a few simple questions that
each of your direct reports has an opportunity to fill out each week.
The name, “15Five”, comes
from the concept that it should take someone 15 minutes to think about and fill
out their answers to these questions; while it should take you about five
minutes (per person) to review those answers and give feedback. These responses
can be public or private, as you see fit.
The good news is that
15Five is simple and usable. You’ve
probably heard the phrase “Garbage in, garbage out.” More importantly, though, “Nothing in,
nothing out.” If people don’t use a
tool, it is tough to benefit from it, regardless of how “good” it is.
So, How Did Our Team Respond to This New
Predictably, after a
week or two of using it, several members of the team approached me to ask how
long they'd have to do this. However, just a few weeks later, some of those
same people shared how much they're enjoying the process.
recognize that it's helping them raise their focus from the immediate to a
chunk higher. They also recognize that it's a chance to have a one-on-one
conversation with their boss about what they want to talk about … without
taking time away from their work or interrupting their focus time.
The 15Five process
also gives respondents a chance to think about and prepare worthy answers
(rather than to feel tongue-tied or regretful that they failed to mention
something when they had the chance). The
result is something they are likely to be proud of – and something to build
For the manager, it
is a chance to give individual attention to each respondent. It also provides
an easy way to comment (or ask for additional information) about specific
ideas. Just click a button and write your note. The other party gets an email
that they can respond to directly, or they can see it in the conversation
thread for that week’s report.
Where Is Value Added?
15Five helps people
think about the business (rather than simply working through their daily grind).
It helps them recognize why what they are doing matters, and how what they are
doing helps move things in the right direction.
As a result, using the tool builds confidence and momentum. Ultimately,
15Five helps people steer themselves to take appropriate actions and make
As a trader, I
understand that price is the primary indicator of the market. However, to get a
better understanding, many traders use secondary indicators (like sentiment,
momentum, rate of change, or even the response to good or bad news). Beyond a direct communication tool, these are
the types of insights that the 15Five feedback mechanism makes possible.
For example, don't
just look at one week's set of responses in a vacuum. Instead, notice the tone
and the amount of care that someone uses when they send you their information.
Here is another
example. If someone typically writes
three or four sentences to respond to a particular question, but this week they
only responded with three words, that might be an important thing to pay
attention to and note.
non-answer is important. Last week one of the questions was “What
challenges are you facing? How are you going to fix it, and where do you need
help?” Someone answered that
they were not facing any new challenges that week. Great, right? Or, is that really an opportunity for
In that situation, my
response was: “There are always challenges. Sometimes they are easy to spot
because they clearly present themselves as problems. Other times they can show up as opportunities
or choices … Sometimes, however, they are harder to identify because they could
stem from something as subtle as conflicting desires. Remember that the goal of the question to look above the
day-to-day activities to focus on your higher level intent and purpose.”
The point is that 15Five
gives you great opportunities to add value – and the time to notice coachable
moments. Here are some examples:
somebody telling you what they “don't
want” rather than what they
intend to do?
they so focused on the obstacles and challenge that they forget to recognize the opportunity or potential
there opportunities to include other
people to create a unique ability team rather than a solo effort?
there things that you can express
gratitude about or help the other person to feel proud about?
they focused on the forest for the trees? If so, what is a quick compass check to ensure that we are moving in the
they focused on the right part of the problem; and have they right-sized it into chunks small enough to work on
- What does this
accomplishment make possible? And
how can we continue to build confidence and momentum?
From my perspective, the
thought process and preparation may be more important than the answers
So, Is It Worth Paying For?
15Five helps avoid
communication problems by creating and preserving appropriate context for
decision-making. In addition, it is a
tool you can use to effectively direct focus and “steer” the company.
It is also worth
noting that 15Five feels like a separate tool.
Because of that, I suspect people respond differently to it than they would
to a simple email or a discussion thread on the corporation’s private intranet.
Bottom Line: It
clearly adds value. Give it a try.