Engaging people for Change – by Christina Fee

Recently, I attended a Herman Miller networking event entitled, “Engaging people for Change”. The session was led by Graeme Rainbird, Senior Consultant at the leadership development/organisational change/employee engagement organisation Questions of Difference.


Grame kicked off the session by asking us to engage in three rounds of ‘speed dating’, asking for, and listening to, each other’s responses to key questions such as, “What value do you get from attending networking events such as these?”, “What benefits can be gained from going through change?” and “How would previous or current colleagues describe you in one word/quality regarding what you bring to your work?”.  He then used this as a lead in to get us to focus on what type of questions he had asked us and how they had determined, or influenced the vibe of the discussion. Our observations about the conversations being positively reflective were then used to explain the concept of Questions of Difference’s concept of the ’70/30 rule’, i.e. the fact that by focusing on understanding the 70, or what is working, you can get a better outcome. 70/30 helps to assess and extract learnings with heightened clarity about what needs to be retained or repeated to achieve massively enhanced performance.


I found it immensely useful to hear Graeme bring 70/30 to life by sharing his personal and professional experiences and having thought provoking conversations with other participants. A few attendees addressed the elephant in the room by asking “Does 70/30 mean that we only have to focus on the positive and ignore mistakes?” and “Does this mean we can’t examine or acknowledge when things go wrong?”. Graeme candidly assured the group that this is not at all the case. However, although it’s in our cultural DNA to zoom in on what has gone horribly wrong and beat ourselves up about having to learn from errors. 70/30 is about doing something we have not been ‘trained’ to intuitively do, but something that can be/feel immediately transformative if we persevere and give it a try. It’s essentially about re-training ourselves to look at things through a different lens in order to get the best out of people and situations, while at the same time recognising the issues and seeing how you can change them into opportunities. Graeme summed it up beautifully when he said “The 70/30 rule challenges us to think about where we start the conversation”.


I came away buzzing, knowing that I had in my hand a really practical tool to fuel the strategies I come up with for clients, one which will allow me to factor in the detail of my real experience (warts and all) while shifting my perspective on how to create more opportunities and value in the work I do. Graeme reminded us that we need to be deliberate in our intention to create mental space and time to tap into the positive energy created by scrutinising what works really well, and that in doing so, we are choosing to consciously focus on success. This in turn allows us to consider the challenges we need to individually take on to new stuff, hopefully growing in the process of doing so.


So, I’m planning to give it a whirl and consciously practice honing in on the 70 and observing the difference in what I achieve and the impact I make.  I’m feeling optimistic and excited about seeing how I can apply it to all kinds of conversations and situations, whether work or personal. I see this as a great tool to help harvest the best of what works for us, both as individuals and businesses – and take how we operate and our results, to the next level.