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Business Training Might Not Help – Try Personal Agency

A woman discovering the power of personal agency

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Business Training Might Not Help - Try Personal Agency

Because…Information is nothing without Personal Agency

Yes…Information is a powerful tool…kinda.

It can appear to dictate the course of events by shaping our understanding of the world and can guide our actions.

However, without agency, without the ability to act on that information and make decisions based on it, information is essentially useless. Like leaving your phone/laptop/vibrator in a drawer – it is useless until you start to apply it in the ‘real world’ –

neil simpson describing the power of personal agency

Yes, I am quoting myself!

So what is ‘Personal Agency’?

Personal agency refers to an individual’s capacity to make decisions and act independently, to control their actions and the course of their life. It involves the ability to act on information, make decisions based on it, and effect change through those actions.

In a world of infinitely available information – one thing is for certain,

neil simpson describing the power of personal agency

Yes I am quoting myself again!

Doing can be scary, especially when the things we need to do, are things we haven’t done before.

Now, as a grown ass adult, we have three ways of dealing with things that scare us, psychologists call it the F3 response:

Freeze – We do nothing. (For extra points we blame it on a ‘lack of confidence’)

Flight – We deliberately avoid (Wow! – look at all those emails that need organising, like now!)

Fight – We tackle the thing head-on.

(Side note about confidence. Confidence is a skill, not a personal characteristic, otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to build confidence over time. Expecting to be confident before you do something is exactly the opposite of how confidence works. Confidence IS NOT fearlessness. Confidence is having faith in yourself in being able to get yourself out of the shit your inexperience gets you into. At first, you are going to be shit. And you have to be OK with that. Confidence is built on experience).

Here is the thing about personal agency, it’s a pretty rigged game (but you can learn to win).

If I ask you the question – In your life, how powerful are you? What score would you give yourself out of a hundred?

(The answer to your answer is at the bottom of the page*).

Full disclosure, many people in the UK, where I am writing this, are psychologically coded with limiting beliefs around personal agency.

Some of it is cultural (we aren’t allowed to be proud of our achievements – it is often seen as vulgar).

But most negative coding is straight-up discriminatory. Women and people from diverse communities, especially, are taught from a very young age, to put others first, not take up space, and not make a fuss.

If you want to improve your sense of agency, you may need to change your beliefs in those areas. You can be as magnificent as you want to be, but to quote my favourite TV show of all time

lydia grant describing the power of personal agency

So, new things are hard – yup, we mentioned that.

As with most new things, having a simple system to use helps build new learning, experience, and confidence. Even learning something as simple as tying your shoelaces had systems. Did you learn ‘Bunny Ears’ or ‘Loop, Swoosh and Pull”?

The loopy swooshy one here.

So we designed a simple system- POST – to help you apply more of the things you already know or learn new things.

POST - A Technique for Applying Knowledge

The concept of “POST” involves the following, clearly genius, cluster of ideas.

POST, is an acronym for People, Objectives, Strategy, and Technology, it’s a framework that emphasizes the importance of personal agency in your ability to use information.

Think of POST like a brief checklist – the things you need to consider before you even think about putting any new information into that glorious noggin of yours.

Like most things in life, passivity takes all the fun out of everything unless there are the requisite rules and safewords involved.

POST is about making sure that you actively consume information, constructively digest it and then most importantly – USE IT!.

POST is about ensuring you have the personal agency and muscle power to practically use information to achieve your objectives.

Without personal agency, information becomes nothing more than intellectual onanism (look it up).

HOWEVER! If you add even a modest sprinkling of agency then information magically transforms into a powerful catalyst for change and progress.

POST - Turning Learning into Action

People,

The most essential component in any learning for your business is to know who will use the new learnings. If the wrong person is the learner, then the information is wasted, if the right person is you – marvellous!

But if it isn’t, there is no point sending someone on training who doesn’t have the power to implement what they have learned.

So…

  • Who has the problem the new information is going to fix?
  • Who has the power to deploy the new stuff?
  • Who is the owner/champion of the project?
  • Who else is involved?

Decide whom, and then give them the power to make real changes.

lisa su describing the power of personal agency

Objectives.

NOBODY should be going on training courses, for training’s sake. Business learning should be done to acquire a specific objective.

Objectives are the obverse of problems. Yes… really.

Problems are the challenging things that happen to us and objectives are how we define the solution.

Let me explain…consider diminishing sales.

If you think not enough sales are the problem – then you are wrong (not enough sales is the symptom of the problem)

You need to find the root cause of the problem.

What is causing it?, Maybe your sales system doesn’t work? Maybe you don’t have a sales system? Maybe you don’t apply your sales system often enough. Is there something else?

So let’s say you do not have a sales system, then the solution might be the answer to the question “How do I design an effective sales system?” – which is the opposite of the problem

…and is an excellent objective for a course of learning.

wissam ben yedder describing the power of personal agency

So, which specific result do we want to create by learning something new?

  • What are the targets?
  • What is the timescale?

Setting clear objectives is crucial as it provides direction and purpose. You wouldn’t set off on a journey without a clear idea of the destination…would you?

Strategy

What’s the plan, Stan?

So we have a fired-up team. They know what the target is….

How will they apply the new information to make it all happen?

You know what a strategy is…ask yourself

  • Whats the best way of implementing the new learning?
  • How much time can we allocate to this?
  • How much resource?
  • What’s the best way of making the project visible? (both internally… and externally for marketing purposes)
  • How do we measure progress?

michael e porter describing the power of personal agency

Technology,

What tools do we have that will make the whole project easier?

I mean that we already have. Don’t go buying new applications, I absolutely guarantee that the stuff you already own can do a decent job of whatever you need, you just don’t use it properly.

You are not alone!

“80% of the features in software applications are never used” Pendo, Software Company (2019)

This could be anything from software tools for data analysis to communication platforms for information dissemination. The choice of technology can significantly influence the efficiency and effectiveness of information use.

Remember:

  • Meetings are a technology
  • Internal newsletters are a technology
  • Creating an ‘IN-Crowd’ list of your friendliest customers is a technology.

What do you need to support your team, deploy your strategy, and achieve your objectives?

matt mullenweg describing the power of personal agency

It’s not about size. It’s what you do with it that counts

(ahem….honest!)

So, to wrap this up…

Information is most certainly potential energy, potential value, and potential power.

Potential…

Unless you use it, it is worthless and becomes even more worthless-er over time.

By all means, learn new things

But learn …

  • To create action
  • To solve real and defined problems
  • To achieve SPECIFIC objectives
  • To empower your people (yes, including you).

Use the checklist ideas above to focus your attention and generate focused action.

Man, information is everywhere and free…do you think acquiring more of it will make a scintilla of difference?

The POST framework helps you turn information from a passive entity into an active energy.

Active Energy = Personal Agency.

Personal Agency can be used to bring about massive transformation and progress.

Or you could just collect information like an old man collects regrets…and do nothing.

If you need some help…

Drop us a message any time

 

 

 

 

*Your Agency Score

If you scored yourself any less that 100 – you have a little work to do on your personal agency. You are as potent a force in your life – as you accept.

If you are now saying ‘A score of 100 is impossible because…..’ – you really need to do the work, as if you are not the ultimate power in your life, who is?

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Running a business is really bloody hard.

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