Dr. Misner brought up the concept of EGBOK at the recent national conference in Rhode Island as part of a discussion about change, leadership, and solutions. The idea, introduced by Mark McKergow, is that you need to focus on what’s working, not what’s wrong.
If you focus on solutions, you can get almost anything done. Panic shifts responsibility away from ourselves. It reinforces counterproductive impulses.
So take a deep breath and remember EGBOK. Everything’s Gonna Be OK. It’s going to be okay because you do the hard work to make the vision a reality, because of your adaptability. The commitment and shared vision of the people in BNI mean that Everything’s Gonna Be OK in spite of challenges, technology problems, and personality conflicts.
Dr. Misner even handed out EGBOK buttons at the national conference. If you think the buttons are a good idea, say so here in the comments, and BNI will make more.
Brought to you by Networking Now.
Complete Transcript of Episode 207 –
Hello everyone and welcome back to The Official BNI Podcast brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. I am Priscilla Rice, and I am coming to you from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkeley, CA. I am joined on the phone today by the Founder and Chairman of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner. Hello, Ivan. How are you and what in the heck is EGBOK?
Hi Priscilla. I am doing great and I’m not going to tell you what it is yet. I want everyone to wait for it for a minute and want to build up to it a little bit. I will tell you that I started talking about this at our recent national conference in the U.S., the conference that was done in Rhode Island. I brought up the concept of EGBOK as a result of a conversation on change leadership and focus on solutions. I had a good friend come out to do a presentation in the CA region. His name is Mark McKurgow.
Mark wrote a book called The Solutions Focus. I talked to him at length about being solutions focused and dealing with change and the chaos that comes with change. He teaches a concept called rutenso, which is the art of thriving in times of constant change. If nobody has noticed, we are in times of constant change. He talked about, in his presentations and discussions we me- he and his wife stayed with us and we had conversations about change. We are going through change with BNI and online technologies. There is a lot of change, but also members, week to week, members change or leadership teams change. We have to be able to deal with change.
He talks about the standard process of change is hard and unnatural. You have to set goals and targets and identify and analyze the problem. Eliminate uncertaintly. With rutenso, he talks about the fact that change is happening all the time and that you want to identify the direction that you want to go and what’s working, not what’s wrong. If all you look at is problems, then you become an expert at problems, not solutions. He talks about the fact that small actions start things quickly. Just little things can make a big difference. He also has a whole concept that he is going to be doing which is leader as host, which I think is beautiful with BNI with how we talk about visitor hosts and supporting one another and givers gain. It will be interesting to see what he comes up with that.
So rutenso is how to deal with change. One of the things that I asked directors when I spoke to them recently, and let me throw this by you, Priscilla. Here’s the question or statement. True or false: we’ve changed a lot as an organization over the last 26 years, haven’t we?
The answer is no. Not really so much. You look at the change and go, BNI has changed a lot over the last 26 years. Even the name of the organization. I talk about this in Givers Gain. We started as The Dawn Network but we couldn’t trademark that so we had to change the name. So we changed it, but here’s the thing. They have been incremental changes. We have experienced ongoing incremental change, layer upon layer of nuance, new ideas, continuous improvement. But not monumental change. Monumental change, overnight, rock your boat, monumental change.
The example that I used when I spoke at the conference was Motorola. Motorola is a great example of a company with monumental change. They started manufacturing car radios. Then they did the first portable FM radios. A lot of people don’t know this, but I said this to some people, the millenials and genXers that Motorola was one of the world’s biggest television manufacturers. Really? Motorola TVs? Yeah. Motorola TVs were really big. They did 8 track cassettes for about five minutes before that business went under. Then Motorola was known for the Bravo pagers. I don’t know anybody who was in business in the 80’s and 90’s who didn’t have a Bravo pager. Now, of course, what is it? Digital mobile devices and many other things.
There’s a company that has gone through monumental change. BNI has kind of gotten a little comfortable, I think, because we have lived for 26 years in incremental change. Now, not long after I heard Dr. McKurdow speak, I heard Dr. Warren Bettis talk at an event and I had a chance to go out to dinner with him.
He talked about something that I thought was really amazing. Now, I studied under Dr. Warren Bettis at USCE, if you don’t know who he is, listeners, look up any book on leadership. He has either written it or quoted in it- any major book on leadership. He’s really the world’s leading expert on the subject. He talked to me about adaptive capacity and our ability to adapt and change in a chaotic environment and how important contextual intelligence is to ability to understand the context of the challenges that we live in.
I sit on the Board of Trustees at the University of Laverne, and he asked the audience when he spoke at the university event. He said, “You have a new president here. And you’ve gone through a long process to select her. She has really done her homework and she’s going to be ready on day one, isn’t she?” And they all said yeah, she was going to be ready. He said, “Are you all crazy? She’s not going to be ready on Day 1. You are crazy if you think she is going to be able to start on the job and understand all of the potential problems that exist. We can never conceive of all the potential problems in any given situation.”
This means that our ability to truly adapt to the context of the problem and focus on the solutions is, as McKergow said, will make a difference between our success and our failure as leaders and I submit to you that same thing applies to chapters, that it will make or break our ability to address and be successful as an organization. BNI Connect is a great example. I talked about all the challenges and issues we were having in the creation process. They system going down, the reports were not exactly what we wanted. The system went down and you don’t know what to do and the group function isn’t what you want. It’s not really easy, and the system went down. The sky is falling. You get all of this stuff.
Everybody, take a deep breath. Take a deep breath. Take two or three deep breaths because everything’s going to be okay. And that’s EGBOK. Everything’s going to be okay. It’s not going to be okay just because someone says it’s going to be okay but because they do the hard work necessary for that vision to become a reality. So you know, it’s going to be okay because of one’s ability to adapt, one’s adaptive capacity.
I am here in this organization with people who know how to work hard. I am here in an organization with people who are committed to the philosophy of BNI. I am here in an organization with people who are committed to what we are doing and have a shared vision of where we are going as an organization. That’s why I can say everything is going to be okay.
Although this came to me and I had this realization because of a technology issue this is something that I think applies to every chapter in every country in every city all around the world. Chapters have challenges and problems and controversies and chaos and change. If the chapter focus on looking for solutions, and taking a deep breath and understanding there is a system with people who are committed both regionally and nationally with national directors and internally with HQ, that there are people who will help make this process work and will help you get through the process. I even handed out buttons at the conference that said EGBOK.
So I tell you what. If you are listening to the podcast and you think the button is a great idea, post a message for me. Let me know. I read your messages. When you post stuff, I read them. If we get enough people who say they want an EGBOK button, we’ll start producing them. I just made enough for the conference, but we’ll start producing enough for members all around the world. I really believe that if people really focus on the solutions to a problem, that you can get almost anything done.
See, what happens is people start to get into this sort of panic mode. Right? Panic is contagious. Panic is easy. Panic shifts responsibility away from ourselves. Leaders know that panic reinforces counterproductive impulses. What we need to do instead at a local level, at a national level, at an international level, is when there are challenges, focus on the solutions that exist out there because there are many solutions that people can apply. We try to be as transparent of an organization as possible, particularly with all levels of the organization, particularly with directors and what is going on and why we’re doing certain things.
Connect with your directors if you have questions. One of the things that I’ve learned is if you don’t tell people as much as possible, if they don’t feel involved, they have a tendency towards quietly criticizing and passively resisting. That’s an important concept and especially at the chapter level. It’s very important to be open at the chapter level with where you’re going, why you’re doing it, why it’s important, because if they don’t feel involved, they will have a tendency towards quietly criticizing and passively resisting. It’s one of the reasons why we have an international board of advisers. We get members from all around the world involved and issues to help think through the problems and challenges that we have.
So BNI has gone through incremental changes off and on over the years. By that I mean little tweaks, modifications, how we manage ourselves. We have never experienced the monumental change that we are going through wight now with the technology. We are in the middle of that monumental change. Big stuff. Earth shaking stuff. I get it 100%. Change makes me uncomfortable. You have no idea how strongly I hate change. We are all human. I know very few people who can honestly say that they thrive on change. Very few people do. We like the predictability of knowing that we can depend on our work to produce the same kinds of results. The beauty in BNI is that the system is still a system.
So don’t worry about all the stuff that is going on around you, particularly with things like technology. Focus on the fundamentals. Focus on the fundamentals. Focus on what is going on in your chapter. Focus on doing things right. Remember that panic is easy and it reinforces a counterproductive impulse.
Leaders need to learn that real life is messy. It’s full of changing circumstances. It’s full of challenges. Leaders learn to tolerate anxiety, both theirs and others’. That’s my tough one. I can tolerate my own anxiety, but other people’s anxiety is where I start to get frustrated. Leaders understand the importance of all that.
I know I need to wrap up, but I ready Michael Grouper’s material for years. Michael Grouper wrote this and over the last year or so I have gotten to know him personally and we’ve become friends. He recently told me that the real hallmark of a high performance organization is its ability to see change as a resource, as an opportunity to test assumptions and systems, to add to the collective knowledge and to grow the business. Change creates opportunities to see things in ways that you don’t ordinarily see them and to do things in ways that you don’t ordinarily try. If you can use change to your advantage, it can fuel your company’s growth in ways that are amazing because it removes everybody from their comfort zones and forces them to take a fresh look at the business.
We can’t take our high performance for granted. We have 26 consecutive years of growth. We are working on our 27th consecutive year of growth. We have a core system that works and works really well. From the top down, there are times when there will be change and our ability to adapt to that change and to focus on the fundamentals and calm people down- if you can calm a room down and let them understand that everything is going to be okay. EGBOK. If we all focus on fundamentals and focus on solutions, we are going to get through this because the difference between successful people and others is not a lack of strength. It’s not a lack of knowledge. It’s generally a lack of will because the ultimate measure of us as leaders is not really where we stand in moments in comfort but where we stand in times of challenge, chaos, and controversy.
This podcast was meant for members. Not just the BNI Connect that is being implemented with technology, but the next time that you have a challenge or you have chaos going on in your chapter, come back and listen to this podcast. Take it to your members and understand that if everyone calmly focuses on solutions, you can get through almost any challenge if you learn to have an adaptive capacity. And that is my message for today.
That’s a very good message. I think the main point is that BNI is so big and there are so many different types of personalities, countries, cultures, and so forth. I just think it is apt to be difficult to make change, but you put it out there really well.
Thank you. And it’s an organization of leaders. Everybody in the organization is an owner or salesperson or manager. There’s no factory line worker person in the organization, right? So when you have an organization of leaders, it’s like herding cats. I think first we have to understand that and secondly, we have to understand that by everyone working together you are going to achieve the kinds of success that you want to achieve as long as everyone keeps a clear head and focuses on the solutions, which is McKergow’s concept. Focus on solutions, not problems and Bettis’ concept of being willing to adapt, having a strong adaptive capacity.
Those two things and EGBOK in a chapter can get through almost anything. Thanks Priscilla.
Okay. That was great. I think that’s it for this week. I would just like to remind the listeners that this podcast has been brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. Thank you so much for listening. This is Priscilla Rice and we hope you will join us next week for another exciting episode of The Official BNI Podcast.