February 18, 2014

Using E.T.F.B model with agile techniques – How to make a continues desirable behavior change?

“Research has now shown that it is not the event itself that causes the emotional reaction but the automatic thoughts that run through our head in immediate response to the event “(www.actionforhappiness.org). The way we interpret reality dictates the way we feel, behave and react. When for example we interpret an event as threatening we might attack or run away, we will experience fear or anxiety, while someone else going through the same event will not feel threatened at all. Our thinking is the Couse of our behavior and our feelings.

The E.T.F.B Model (as I prefer calling it) is a common model used for consulting, training, psychology, education and more. It is a behavioral change technique enabling us to mold an interpretation of events and examine alternative interpretations. By doing so, the model helps change perceptions, feelings and reactions related to the event. It helps regain positive perspectives and understands negative thinking causing us to react to events the way we do. However, we can add some additional simple agile tools to this model and take it one step forward into producing  a continues change and making the results into a habit. 

After few years of almost forgetting this model existence I ran into it again during one of my sun’s consulting sessions in grammar school. I admit, the method caught me again as it caught me few years earlier. But this time I felt that the way the consultant is using it does not exhaust the potential of change that this wonderful technique has to offer. I felt we were missing creating continues understanding and learning here. Using   E.T.F.B with just one event, identifying undesired behaviors here and there felt limited to me.
Before we get into explaining how we can use simple agile tools to elevate this model into creating continues learning of new behavioral patterns and reactions let's briefly review the E.T.F.B model itself.

So , the E.T.F.B model holds four main steps or stages : 

 1.       Understanding the event
a.       Event - Facts - What happened in reality? What was the sequence of events?
b.      Thought - What is the interpretation I gave to the event? What I said to myself during or after the event? Whether the event was good, bad or neutral?
c.       Feeling - What feelings arose during the event? How I felt after? How long I felt that after the event?
d.      Behavior - What did I do? How I acted? How the event affected my behavior?

It is important to notice that the source of the emotion is the interpretation I gave to the event - not the event itself. My interpretation is that created my emotions, and though my reaction (behavior). It is important to produce this distinction before we offer alternative interpretations to an event.

2.       Offering Alternative thoughts to the event – (interpretations) and what response (behavior, feeling) would it deliver.
It’s Not easy to change an interpretation or thoughts that are ingrained in our way of thinking, in the events of the past or within our values ​​or messages we received from our environment.
So what do we do to change the interpretation?
We ask questions.
- Why do you think this happened?
- Is this fact or interpretation?
- Will we be able to offer another interpretation?
And more…
For example:
A girl in my class said my shirt in ugly. So I hit her.
Another girl said my shirt is ugly, I gave her a kiss.
Why? What's the difference?
What I was I thinking about when she told me what she thought about my shirt?
What were my feelings in each event? 
Why did I feel different and I reacted differently from one event to another?
And more ...

Do we really expect a child, to know how to change patterns of thinking and behavior after they practicing one or few events using the model? Even with adults that will be difficult. I find it hard to believe in one timers ,or even in a few I find their value limited. How can we take the new thinking patterns into a continues thinking change and make the experience a habit.
If we take few agile tools into consideration when applying E.T.F.B method we can reach a wide range of alternative responses to events and though elevate the E.T.F.B  expected outcomes. The agile tools are so simple, and yet they provide us as parents or professionals the ability to make things happen. We are able to take Individual events into real and continuous learning, we are able to instill change and habits and make it stick. E.T.F.B  model and the agile methods both using cognitive terms and emphasize the need for change and the need to make things happen.

(E.T.F.B is just one example of the way we can use cognitive tools combined with agile tools and make the change a habit.)

So , how would E.T.F.B look using agile?

Instead of running the E.T.F.B model on a single event only, Our goal will be to relate to a series of small events over a period of time. Those events are real and are directly related to reality that the child faced, they are not imaginary events.
We will produce a visual “road of events” that contains a collection of many (preferred small) events, lightweight, tough, simple or complex events allowing simulating range of reactions.
Each of those events will be set to the frame using the E.T.F.B model

This continues visibility of analyzed events will allow identify different patterns of behaviors.
The intention is certainly not to highlight a problematic event but to be able to see a pattern of many deferent events (good or bad) that will allow dealing with. If necessary, we will focus on specific cases and produce learning and patterns. We would like to be able to see the whole picture, “walk” in the reality of events , experience events , learn from them , experience the next event, fix again and back again continuously . Though producing continuous learning and growing habits of reactions to events.

How? Let’s say you wish to exercise this model with my child…

1. Create visibility. Visualization is key! - Visibility has the power to make things happen. When I see things, there is a greater chance that I will bring them into my attention and response to changes in the desired direction. Therefore, visualize the event path for resolution using a simple task board.
When the task board holds the events, it’s easier to “break free” of them. I do not overload my memory with lots of events, resolutions, feelings, thought, rather I can relate to them in one place, my task board.  

So get your child a board and get him visualize the path of the event.

2. Active versus passive. The event owner  is the Child that is required to respond to an event, or to understand the event. The event owner should be active by identified the events (physically – not only respond to questions). Ask him to create the list of events he experienced on the board. He will be the one to actively tack and record the steps of  E.T.F.B and the expected behavior. Not the teacher, not a grownup but the one who is accountable and responsible for the change – meaning, the one that experienced the events. The control moves physically to the event owner.
3. Focused on events that occurred in the recent past. Last day for example.

4. A variety of options allows reference to diverse and varied learning. Make sure to have a verity of events on the board. Having variety of events on the board, won’t highlight a child as problematic in one area based on one event rather allow the child to experience positive reactions and positive feedback. Make sure to visualize good and ”bad” events on the board.

The board should records a collection of several events, collection of some interpretations and some comments.

5. Communication- selects 1-2events each day; 10 minute conversation and practice to analyze an event.

TIP : start with simple events then move to the more though ones. Gaining the ability to analyze using relatively simple events will elevate the ability to analyze more complex and controversial events and probably will add to the confidence of dealing with such more controversial behaviors or reactions. 

6. Continues improvement – when we have a bunch of events with feelings, reactions and behaviors all visible on the board, we can easily learn from all of them regarding our habits or patterns of behaviors. In addition, when we are dealing with events on a regular basis, we are able to learn from today’s event. Implement it right away tomorrow, learn again and then correct if necessary.

Application – Do not focus on the theory level of learning. Get out there and experience new events and new suggestions for changes. Implement the conclusions to the next event. Learning from a single event without the application on other events with a short period of time passes has limited and temporary value.

Set goals – at the end of a 10minute discussion, set short term goals, small steps of actions to take toward the next event, or the next day and then reexamine those goals against the new events or reactions and decide over the next actions to take. Reflect the change.
For example if you tease me I'm going to be a “wall” (wall = not responding, that wall cannot be offended, right?!) So I'll ask the owner of the event to set his target to the next day or to the next event, such as: How many times this week I think I can be a “wall”? 1, 2, 3? I will re-examine this behavioral goal and the related reaction.

7. learn from mistakes – small events, small steps of improvements allows making small mistakes which can easily be identified and dealt with. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, challenge those mistakes and learn new patterns of behaviors.

8.  And don’t forget to enjoy the journey

Further reading and references:

Richard Wiseman's "Rip It Up." - It is kind of an antithesis to "feelings form behaviour": Wiseman shows, based on good scientific research, that it is the other way round very often: "behaviour forms feelings". And he draws a lot of further conclusions and advice from that.

February 14, 2014

Size matters, and comparing sizes matters even more.

What will be the right size of a task so it will be easier to bring it into execution and action?  How can we size the effort needed to get it done And how do we know what is right for us compared to someone else performing the same task?

Kids (and adults) often mistaken their ability to get things done while getting right into action when encountering a problem or a task. Sometimes, they even are avoiding getting into action due to the fact that the task seems to be too big or too complicated to execute… I sometimes see kids getting to much homework that just looking on the size of their “homework” tasks can be frightening. Who wouldn’t prefer not to play outside instead of dealing with this giant homework assignment? Sizing those tasks has a lot to do with our ability to get them done. It allows us to better scope our attention, better control our activities related to a specific task and gain confident while getting those tasks done.

Much has been written concerning the efforts estimation of a task and its relation to ease our ability to execute it. As is commonly assumed (no matter if it is false or not) that when we know how long it will take to complete a task or what the effort entails it will be easier for us to understand when a group of tasks due to complete.  It is often assumed the same assumption about the size of a task or a problem.  

I say, When we know what’s the right size of a task according to our subjective ability to execute it, it will be easier to estimate a group of tasks and accordingly our ability to get them done.  

There are many methods that can be applied to understand a task size so it won’t be too big to deal with or too small to even consider doing it and accordingly to get it done.

If so, how do we balance the size of our tasks for ourselves or for a chield?
The answer, of courseIt depends.

Here are some tips which will help us better understand the subjective size of the task according to subjective personal ability .

One.      Create your task list and make sure it is visible and apparent.

Visibility makes things happenThe Task list should not stay in your head put it on the boardSo after seeing it, it gets easier to organize things and make decisions and certainly easier to understand what takes more time or less time comparing to other task.

Two.      Size your tasks by three types of sizes:
Extra large ** - Optional but not advisable

At this stage all we want to achieve is the ability to visualize tasks in deferent sizes. It is still one big wish lists of stuff we need to do or to achieve.  For better Visibility, create three columns on the board and place each task under the appropriate column, or perhaps even give a different color for each size. The main goal at this stage is that you will be able to see the differences between tasks sizes.

Three.      Listen and Learn
Remember when you were a child, places seemed bigger and greater probably more than they are today This is how a child sees tasksMuch larger than they appear to usThings that seem small and simple to us can be perceived as very large and complicated to childrenOften because they lack information or guidance, or just because that's how it is in their eyes. And yes, listening and asking questions to understand the enormity of the task in the eyes of the child is the next step we need to take.
What is a small task What is a big task What makes it large?

Four.      Once the most important tasks are on the task board, take the large tasks and split them into smaller ones. Remember only small or medium sized tasks will be executed – so make sure to split those tasks to an executable ones. Small task is one that can be completed in a relatively short period of time, defiantly not in a week or a day, and obviously appropriate for a child time frame.
As the following example.

Five.       While executing the tasks - stick to tasks that are small or medium-sized and arrange your tasks in order of action.

Six.      Select one  task at a time and start to perform Make sure to visualize your path to execution as well (To do – Doing – Done)  on the task board.

Seven.      When a task is too large to execute, do not be afraid to split I in to smaller ones.

Eight.      Not every task must be sizedIn fact, most tasks do not required sizing.
For example, let's say, the child has only two days to study for his next exam, then we can start by splitting the tasks in a very rough manner such as What to be studied today and what to be studied tomorrowWe can then discuss any task and understand it if it belongs to the first or second day and size only those tasks that seems too big to handle.
In short, let’s try to keep things simple.
Sizing a task should be "just enough" so we can get startedWe Do not need to dig too much in to the details of a tasks so we can assess accurately hours and minutes that it will take us to execute it.  Three sizes of 'small', 'medium' and 'large' can suffice.

Nine.      What will truly help get things done and understand the right size of a task for a child is parental involvement. Conversation. Children love that we talk to them, relate to what they need to do, help them understand thingsSo while this simple technique will help them better understand the task and may even reduce anxiety or focuses on what matters, what will make it really happen is the conversation with us, their parents.

Ten.    And do not forget to enjoy the ride.

February 09, 2014

Top Time Management Tips For Students

The time management skills and disciplines that you develop as a student can help you for the rest of your life. Those skills that we as parents help our children to develop as the same thing
Sometimes we get so many tips, as parents and as students, most of them are theory , using  simple task board , agile thinking and scrum framework will take those tips from idea to action.
Here are some tips and practices to help students (in various ages)  develop good time management skills.