Gestalt Protocol

Back in 2008 I attended a new member forum training class for the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO). Being a little arrogant, and completely clueless, I thought it was crazy to go to a six hour training event just to join a group of entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are smart. Entrepreneurs are fearless. Entrepreneurs don’t need training. Naturally, I was wrong.

Turns out, the training class was really a leadership and communication program, and was worth every bit of the six hours. One of my favorite takeaways was the Gestalt Protocol. With Gestalt, relevant first-hand experiences are shared in an effort to offer what worked, and didn’t work, in a manner that’s fact-based, as opposed to opinion-based.

Often, entrepreneurs, when working with team members, provide advice and direction, regardless of whether or not it’s based on prior experience. From there, the team members, wanting to be supportive, run off and do it, even if they don’t have buy-in or context. Over time, the team members become less likely to offer their own suggestions, and rely more and more on the entrepreneur to make decisions. Not good.

Instead, with Gestalt Protocol, the entrepreneur shares experiences, including what worked, and didn’t work, about a similar situation in the past. If no relevant experience is available, the entrepreneur simply says, “I don’t have any relevant experience. What do you think we should do?” Now, the team member will provide ideas and suggestions, thereby increasing buy-in and creating a culture of independent thinkers.

If, when providing advice, the word “you” is used instead of “I”, think twice, and ask if that’s the best way to give the advice. Statements like “I found x when I did y” are much more powerful compared to “You should do x.” Gestalt Protocol works and is effective.

What else? What are some more thoughts on the Gestalt Protocol?

One thought on “Gestalt Protocol

  1. Interesting, helpful framework for providing feedback. Data-driven decisions/ advisement tend to be far more compelling than “I think” advice even if the experience/ data is not directly related but can be applied at a broader level. (Thinking about how this applies even in the “corporate” world of consulting.)

    Thanks for the share.

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