How did Ken Kec do it?

How did Ken Kec do it? (got 4 minutes? Here it is)


Last week, I asked if you were Ken Kec, metaphorically. Are you the person in the room to whom everyone listened?

The person who put his/her finger on the essence of the issue that was non-arguable. Ken had command presence, not in ordering people around, but he had command over the issues – including the customer issues and political issues inside the company.


So how did Ken Kec do it? Was Ken simply smart or was there a secret sauce? If you recall I said that it wasn’t just that Ken was a sharp guy, it was the nature of his intelligence, in particular, his shift intelligence that mattered. Ken shifted. He shifted the questions, he shifted time, he shifted interactions, he shifted perception and he shifted structures. Its easier to remember the acronym QTIPS (question, time, interaction, perception, structure) for each shift.


Let’s pull back the curtain and see behind the scenes what really went on.

Here’s how he did it.

He removed 2 mistakes people make and added 5 shifts that create advantage, and he did it in every situation.

Let me tell you what he didn’t do and you shouldn’t either.

On the don’t do list,

1) He didn’t obsess about unnecessary details, and

2) He didn’t wax platitudes about abstract white space.

If you think this is marginally important, listen to the discussions at your next meeting and you will find time wasted toggling back and forth between obsessive details or abstract pontificating. If you are doing this it won’t help you get to the essence fast.


This ability to shift to the right content level, that is, what is relevant, can make a huge difference in your meetings and in your approach. During one strategy session, we made signs that people held up when the group got off target. The signs said, Obsessive Detail, Abstract and Very Obsessive Detail. It made for both an amusing and informative strategy session. The meeting accelerated.


What Ken did (on the to do list):

1) The first task in his mind was creating a strategic framework to understand and solve the issue. To do this, to get to the essence he focused his mind on patterns, repeated tendencies. And the patterns he was looking for were the patterns of interaction – between people, between the customer and company. You could say he was looking at the ecology of interactions, a supply chain of interactions. What worked and what didn’t. The relationships between key elements and people. And what kept repeating itself. Ken was intent on determining the real forces at play, and shifting interactions to change the game.


2) Next Ken established a hierarchy of importance. What mattered in this specific situation?When people say you need to be more strategic, that actually means you have to think hierarchically. Not who’s who in the office hierarchy but what’s most important relative to the stuff that people care about. For example, which is more important in this situation, profits now or long-term business relations. And if both are important which is more important or what percentage of each? Ken made structural calculations.


3) Now Ken did not just accept the givens, he questioned the givens. That’s the basic Shifting the Question aspect of those who have high shift IQ’s. This can be tricky because we live in an assumptive world. It’s like water to a fish; it only realizes when it is out of water. We can be better than fish on most days. Most of our solutions are too small, we can play bigger by penetrating questions that lift us out of the existing sea of expectation. We can frame the issue in a new light. By noticing the patterns we also can begin to question the recalcitrant patterns as Ken did.


4) Having questioned the givens he began to think about the options, not a laundry list. He knew what the variables were and could be both creative and practical. For example, if the variables were price, quality, technology and time to market he would move those around in terms of where the big win was for them. As a result he could determine the tendencies for movement and more significantly the momentum tactic. Ken thought both inside the box and out of the box. That’s tactical shifting.


5) And finally, knowing the patterns of interactions, the hierarchy of importance he shifted perceptions to influence the outcome. Ken penetrated into the decision triggers of his ‘target audience’ and delivered a non-arguable case. Ken was not just a good sales guy, he was someone who really put on his thinking cap while others were making noise, thinking they were thinking. And he delivered the message just at the right time.


So quick review, Ken set a strategic framework; spotted the patterns, established a hierarchy of importance, questioned the givens, generated options, influenced perception and at the right time.


Are you similar to Ken Kec? I hope. If not, you can learn to think, perceive and influence like Ken Kec by improving your shift IQ. Ken wasn’t born with these habits; he acquired them and refined them. Ken studied how to shift the odds in his favor. If you want to shift the odds in your favor you can too.


There is no time like the present to create the future.

Next time, you might be the person in the room to whom everyone listens.