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Finding an expert to solve your problems

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Trainers often work in isolation within a business, or on their own as independants. We all have to solve challenges and it can be great to have colleagues, or better still an expert, to help. But who are the experts and how do you know which ones to choose and how do you avoid it costing an arm and a leg?

One way is to start a Mastermind group. Napoleon Hill defined a Mastermind group as:‘An alliance of two or more minds blended in a spirit of perfect harmony and co- operating for the attainment of a definite purpose.’ The minds don’t even have to be in perfect harmony because often diversity of thought leads to better solutions.

How do you set up a mastermind group?
Look for 3 to 4 other people who you think are successful in their own field, that you are comfortable working with and may have different ideas to yours. Block out a couple of hours, agree some ground rules about sharing ideas, confidentiality, openness and collaboration. Work on one challenge at a time and experiment.

You may be worried about competitors who will steal your ideas but many successful trainers acknowledge that great things have come from collaboration and partnerships.

We use this concept in our ‘clinic sessions’ at the Brain Friendly Learning Group and have generated some novel, realistic and helpful answers for puzzles with no obvious or immediate resolution.

We use the expert process based on our experience of what works.

E for elicit issues – decide on the outcome you’re looking for. Make it concise and precise and focus on feeling inspired by the outcome. Don’t be tempted into describing the problem in detail at this point – concentrate on what you want people to be doing, feeling, saying or the results you expect when it’s achieved. Ask the rest of the group to help you clarify the outcome and then write it down so everyone can see it.

X for eXpert identification – everyone has some kind of expertise they bring to the Mastermind group, even if it’s not immediately apparent how it will be applied. Expertise will range from industry specific knowledge to generic skills like listening, asking questions, or coming up with crazy, off the wall notions. Make sure everyone clearly states their expertise to the rest of the group – this gives everyone a reason to be there and is usually a fantastic confidence boost as you discover you have a talent that everyone else values.

P for probe the issue – the group asks open questions to really delve into the problem; questions beginning with who, why, what, where, when, how to elicit comprehensive answers. Encourage the group to ask tough but non-critical questions. It may be you don’t have all the answers at this point which is fine so long as it stimulates you to go back and find the answers later.

E for Exhibit expertise – based on the information they now have your Mastermind group of experts start to suggest solutions. Accept them all at this point rather than find reasons why they won’t work. The more potential solutions you have available the more likely you are to find the right one.

Reveal more – the person with the challenge can choose to reveal any number of things at this point; which is the preferred solution, more about the challenge, other ideas that have occurred. You may choose to quickly go through parts of the process again if that will help. However, research demonstrates that sleeping on an idea really does make things become clearer so do not be tempted to get stuck in the process – it’s far better to move on for now and if you still need ideas the next time you meet then start the process again.

Take action – commit publicly in the group to what you are going to do to tackle the challenge and then go and do it!
Finally, take the time to thank your Mastermind group for their help and do update them on progress.

For more ideas about Mastermind groups call us on 0118 983 6339 or visit http://www.stellarlearning.co.uk

Stella Collins

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