Reframing – April Newsletter (6-minute read)

 “Most people miss opportunity because it is
wearing overalls and looks like work.” 

– my Dad, to me a hundred times, quoting Thomas Edison, his hero. 

This month’s quote* is to honor my father, who was born April 2, 1931. My dad was a boy from Vienna who, as a child with his family, escaped the holocaust in Europe and became a doctor in the USA. He held Thomas Edison as his hero because he admired the unique combination of creativity and perseverance that Edison used to change the world.  He (actually, both Edison and my father) continue to remind me that the winners are the ones who stay in the game and make it through the tough times.

This month we include:

  • How to say “no” to your boss
  • The future of meetings is coming fast
  • One tip which will reduce zoom fatigue and increase collaboration at the same time
  • Inspiration from someone who really does do more with less
  • A cat rescue
  • Free book sample

I hope this message finds you safe and well.  I would love to hear from you!


*Runner up: “If you want to get something done give it to the busiest person you know.”  Dave Bennett, founder of Mollie Stone Markets and a fine piano player.

Missed last month’s very valuable newsletter?  Find it here.

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 See below for the story!

Leadership Strategy of the Month: Reframing (How to Say No to Your Boss)

I find the most successful leaders will see the bigger opportunity in difficult situations that most others fail to recognize. These leaders are able to “reframe” the problem or goal in a way that elevates it to a higher, more strategic level and therefor higher ROI, visibility and benefit. 

Here is a real-life example – a member of a senior leadership team is asked to “follow up on the engagement survey results for our BU.” This is important, her leaders say, because HR is asking everyone to work on their scores and be able to show what actions they are taking to change the results (for any questions which are below comparable organizations). Her manager asks her to take it on and reminds her we must continue to meet our current quarterly objectives, but this also needs to be taken care of.

The essential message is do a good job but please do not do so much that you impact any of your other day to day work – which is higher priority. It is the unfortunate way that too many organizations deal with surveys of this kind. This leader does care about the survey, but is already swamped and thinking of ways to decline to do it.

Make the Results Worth the Effort

Instead, rather than taking on the task as it was given to her, she used the “reframing strategy” and responded that she would agree to be accountable, but only if the project scope included making permanent changes in the organization that had been needed for some time, but so far had not been addressed.

In the early days of facilitation, we called this reframing technique “PAG vs.PAU.” Those odd initials (pronounced “pagg verses pow”) stand for “Problem As Given vs. Problem As Understood.” In this case, the problem as given was “fix the survey”, the problem as understood is “upgrade the culture.” This is a much more powerful frame, and leads to an outcome worth the leader and her team’s time.

Because she reframed the issue from “improving the responses to question 8” to “finally addressing the root cause issues in our culture” she is now actually excited to do the project, as are others on her team. “Sure I will do it, if there is a real benefit to it!”

Now, rather than another project on her plate that, even if done well will not advance her intended leadership brand, she has executive support to make a difference that will matter to her, her team and the entire BU.  This is ultimately what HR and the executives really want from the survey anyway: real change which leads to sustained improvements in performance and morale.  Everybody wins.

Leadership Discussion Questions:

  1. When your employees come to you with a problem, do you coach them to see the bigger picture? 
  2. Are you and your team missing opportunities to reframe? 
  3. Can you gain more stakeholder support by expanding the scope to solve more important problems?

Hey, Did Your Avatar Lose Weight?

Someday soon we will look back at the current state of virtual meeting tech and shake our heads. Mesh is a sample of the meeting of the future, which combines AR, VR, full size avatars, spatial rendering and shared holograms . Not sure what the last sentence meant? Once again, tech is running ahead while most of us are still catching up to the human impacts of the last big thing.
See what Mesh will look like here:

Tip of The Week: Hide Yourself to See Others

Tired of zoom fatigue? For your next video meeting turn off (or “hide”) your “self view.”  Most apps like zoom default to showing your video feed to yourself. This little pic of you divides your attention (subconsciously) between others and yourself.  Add the challenge that many people have a negative self-image, and you have zoom fatigue and people turning off their video – defeating the purpose of video to begin with.  I say leave your video on for others to see, but turn off your self view (that box of how you look). 

Those who try this are more relaxed, at ease and more able to “be themselves.” This way you get the benefits of seeing others without the cost of seeing yourself!

For more on the impact of seeing yourself, check these out:

Inspiration : The Best Never Blame Their Equipment 

This drummer does an amazing cover of a great song using a homemade drum kit!  As an amateur musician myself I was impressed by this work, but as a leadership consultant I was inspired by how he does so much with so little, when so many of us are struggling. Maybe we have more of what we need than we think?  Take a minute to give a listen!

As Promised – The Cat Rescue

You did not see the Thai Navy rescue those cats from the sinking ship? Here you go:
Download a free sample of my book here:

Attend my upcoming event about Kurt Lewin on April 21st, at the Organizational Development Network here.

Next Month: is “toxic positivity” causing harm to your team’s morale?

Are you, or someone you know looking for a Leadership Coach or Organizational Development consultant, and wondering if we should we work together?  Use this handy table to find out!

Let’s Not Work Together If… Let’s Work Together If…
You want someone to have interesting conversations with
You want a coach who will help you achieve new results based on new thinking and advanced skills
You are not ready for deeper self-awareness or an unvarnished examination of your leadership brand
You want to be able to see yourself and your leadership brand more clearly as others do, so you can change to the brand you need
You want someone without much business experience but trained in coaching methods
You want a consultant who knows what it’s like to accountable for a team and business results, and is effective using a wide range of coaching methods.
You want to learn abstract theories of change management or people leadership and try to figure out how they apply to your work on your own.
You want practical frameworks, offered with a systemic perspective, so you know how to improve your team culture and lead sustained change.
You want to check the box that you “have a coach.”
There are goals and challenges that are driving you to improve, and you are ready and motivated to go to  the next level.
You want a data and algorithm driven development experience appropriate for a beginning leader or first-time supervisor.
You want a highly customized and advanced development engagement, tailored to you and your team, so you can make a permanent shift in your leadership skills and team performance.

I am a high impact coach, facilitator and advisor to individual leaders, intact leadership teams and whole organizations.  If you or your team need to get your impact to the next level – and want to get there quickly – let’s talk.

Author Bio:

Michael Papanek – A Leadership Coach, Executive Advisor, OD Consultant, Author, and Team Facilitator

Michael Papanek, a professional
leadership coach and expert content writer from the past 10 years, has an interesting backstory. Brought up in a family of leadership experts, he has in-built leadership skills realm pretty well. He has the oddly satisfying approach to describing design principles by utilizing his creative flair and extensive knowledge.

Contact E-mail:

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