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Unblocking common blocks to Flow

Sometimes the blocks to Flow, facing an organisation or team, seem to be ‘floating about’.  No one wants to take accountability for unblocking them. In some cases, it can be simpler to ignore them or acknowledge them but still not unblock them!

If you want to take some time out to analyse some of the blocks (and create some solutions), here is an exercise we use regularly that you can incorporate into your weekly or monthly team meeting. This exercise can be run over 45 mins or up to a  whole day depending on the result you are looking to achieve.

The more frequently you use this exercise, the quicker you will find you identify blocks and solutions and therefore create more flow…

  1. Set the context and timings for this exercise with the team – it could be to discuss all blocks or one specific block that has been identified.
  2. Invite all team members to take a pile of post-it notes and a pen each and jot down on each post-it note, one word that describes the block (its important to use just one word at this stage).
  3. After everyone has finished writing on all of their post it notes, invite the team to stick them up on a flipchart or an area of wall where you are working.
  4. Ask the team (in silence if possible) to categorise the blocks or tag them into common ‘themes’ and give each a header eg communication, sales leads.
  5. Open out a discussion. You may find that a few people have written the same word, eg time, but this one word, means something completely different to each person. This is great to explore and ensures everyone gets the chance to contribute and share their thoughts. Take as long as you need for this section. (NB The aim isn’t, at this stage to discuss solutions but to understand what the blocks are and how they impact on the flow).
  6. Once you have explored the blocks, and the impact they are having, invite the team to prioritise the top three flow blocks that, if they found solutions to, would create the most flow and would impact the organisation and themselves, the most. They can mark with a dot or line, each, their top three. (At this stage, remember, we are still not even discussing solutions, just understanding what is important to everyone).
  7. This will give you the three most important blocks to unblock. Its a great way to get the team to buy into solution creating as well. Add up the dots and ensure everyone is in agreement with the top three. This is usually very easy to agree, as its done democratically and through frank and open discussion.
  8. Now you can focus on solutions!  If you know your team’s Talent Dynamics Profiles, it’s a good time to split them into specific groups to work on the unblocking solutions, groups which play to their natural talents and value delivery.
  9. Have each team feedback their suggestions and thoughts around how to unblock and create more flow and discuss in the main group to add to/question where appropriate.
  10. Ensure that accountability for action is agreed and a timescale for the team to review is set, a point where you can re-measure the level of flow created by this unblocking process.

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