The Lowest Common Denominator Theory
, United States
The Lowest Common Denominator Theory was exciting to me because it allowed me to depict a concept that was rumbling around in my mind, and that I was having difficulty articulating.
In addition, I was excited by the side effects. First, I found that I could use this concept to hold difficult conversations without a negative emotion, thereby resolving them much more quickly. Also, the diagram received great acclaim in large and small businesses. Many executives used this in their companies and reported back unexpected successes.
Best of all, it brought me into a working relationship that is exceptionally satisfying, and has continued for seventeen years. I hope it lasts many more.
I live to extract insights and implement innovations that solve a problem, solidify a decision, or give form to an idea.
I was born with oversized pool of curiosity, creativity, and synthesis.
I have a mixture of one bachelors degree and two masters degrees in the sciences (Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics), Camp Administration, and Organization Development.
My experience is as broad as my education. I have been able to combine my innate skills and my education and apply them to a broad set of circumstances and industries.
In those circumstances, I have had the privilege of looking into and interacting in situations with individuals, groups, and companies while grappling with endless distractions.
My roles have been those of convincing, influencing, changing, healing, awakening, calming, and connecting with both insiders and outsiders.
I have become adept at such modes of communication as speaking, teaching, writing, illustrating, so I can choose which is best in nearly any state of affairs.
Finally, I have developed the ability to perceive the best way, the best time, and the best place to deliver (or know when I am not and to not take myself too seriously).
As a result, it is a complete pleasure to call into play, the unique perspectives that I have gained from performing at various levels of responsibility in such a wide range of realms and disciplines.
I quickly draw (sometimes unrelated) insights, synthesize them, and come up with fresh innovations that solve problems, make decisions sustainable, or make an idea actionable.
The most interesting, innovative, exciting, clever thing I always do is to think in circles. Circles have endless capacity. They have no beginning and no end, no up and no down. The end is the beginning, the beginning is the end, and up and down take turns. By means of circles I build coherence of disparate elements and concepts, which enables me to build ideas and to communicate.
Back in 1993, a question was wildly swimming about in my mind. I wondered why some people relentlessly tried so hard, and others shamelessly held them back. Neither group seemed to deter the other. The successes of the try-hards didn’t deter the holders-back, and the holders-back didn’t stop the try-hards from succeeding. What was troubling was that the group who held people back wasted so much public time, space, and energy. What was that about? I was driven to answer my question, make a point, and find a course of action.
I noticed the following. 1) Each group demonstrated a unique set universal characteristics; 2) Time, money, and humans are necessary to operate a business and deliver services and goods; 3) All humans in the business need energy, space, and purpose; 4) Everyone has all three; 5) The difference is in how each expends his or her energy, defines his or her space, and fulfills his or her purpose.
What results from humans gathering to jointly operate in order to deliver goods and services depends on how many groups are interacting. I realized that productivity depends on the lowest common denominator, not the highest. The holders-back have a great negative impact on the output, its speed, and its ease. The negative impact occurs because the lowest common denominator requires a high amount of maintenance. Maintenance is done by the try-hards, which usurps their energy, space, and purpose. I concluded that the lowest common denominator is one reason that fire fighting is prominent in most businesses. Firefighting is counterproductive in many ways.
With these assumptions in mind, I enthusiastically set out to depict my thoughts and formulate action by means of circles. What was born is “The Lowest Common Denominator Theory.” You can see it attached with this document.
Once I portrayed “The Lowest Common Denominator Theory,” I could easily determine proper action, whether it be coaching, eliminating, or another means of reducing the expense of high maintenance.
When I showed my colleagues “The Lowest Common Denominator Theory,” they instantly perceived the idea. They could identify themselves and their situation. The diagram traveled through many businesses and ended up enlarged on the wall of a Chicago bank. The diagram became a means for holding non-emotional conversations and for finding ways to upgrade workforces.
The most exciting result occurred after I faxed it to a prominent Chicagoan. At the time, he was providing job mentoring to people new to the advertising business. His mission was to help people who were not accustomed to working, to persist and remain on the job. I thought the diagram would help him fulfill this mission.
I was surprised when he called and wanted to meet me. We met, and now, seventeen years later, I continue to work with him. I started by illustrating concepts in his forthcoming book, and I continue to this day as his thought partner, instructional designer, idea tester, writer, and researcher.
This continues to be the most exciting work I have ever done, and it is a great privilege to know and serve this person in his growing venture to bring out people’s innate skills, talents, and confidence. “The Lowest Common Denominator Theory” certainly is one of the most interesting, innovative, exciting, clever things I have ever done, and it continues to deliver dividends.
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