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The Diagnostic Funnel

This video delves into the intricate dynamics of decision-making and its impact on personal development and organizational growth. It explores the swift process individuals undergo when confronted with situations, emphasizing the significance of conscious choices and intentions. The author sheds light on the role of alternatives in decision-making, urging readers to consider options beyond their comfort zones. Furthermore, the video touches upon the concept of mental models and how they influence one’s perception of the world. With insightful examples, it navigates through the layers of interpretation, intention, and ultimately, the narrowing funnel of options. A compelling read for those interested in communication, conflict resolution, change management, leadership, and teamwork.


The diagnostic funnel, why you do what you do and how to change it. All day long you go around making decisions, taking action. Something happens. You almost immediately do something. Action is like what happens all day long. You’re taking action now, now, now. Phone calls, meetings over and over and over again. And you may not be aware of it, but the reason that you take the action that you do happens in a nanosecond. Sometimes you stop and you think about it very, very carefully. Most of the time something happens. Boom, you know exactly what to do. I want to slow down that process and open it up. And let’s take a look at what actually happens in that nanosecond, that you know what to do and why that might get you in trouble. Here we go. So here’s the action that you take. Something happens. It’s what you choose to do. You may not realize that you’re choosing to do it, but you actually are. There are alternatives that you think of. Maybe I could do this. I could do that. These are different options that are available to me. Sometimes when something happens, you don’t even think. You just boom, you know right away what to do. But the fact is that there are always options that you could choose to do. These are alternatives. Now this is a choice, but above that, there is an intention.

Like it may be an intention that you carry into the meeting or into the phone call, or into the relationship or into the job. You have this overall intention. This is the result that you would like to see happen in this situation or that situation. Usually it’s just automatic. It’s not something you stop and think, okay, sometimes I find myself thinking, okay, on this phone call or in this meeting, I’d like to come out with this having happened, but during the day it’s just bang, bang, bang like that. Behind or upstream from that intention is some interpretation of what’s happening in the world. This is what you see and what it means to you. This happens very, very quickly. As you’ll see, this is conscious. If I ask you what’s your intention and what did you make out of what was happening in front of you? What’s your interpretation? You could probably tell me that. But the next step, which is really underneath it all, is not conscious. These, however, are your mental models. You can talk to me about them. You can just kind of like your philosophy, your principles of management or leadership or parenting or being in a partnership or whatever. These you can talk about, these are your mental models upstream from this. There’s stuff that’s not quite so accessible.

First of all, this is what you notice, like how the world occurs for you when you look out at the world. I like to use the example of the carpet salesman. Like if a carpet salesman walked into the room where you are right now, assuming it has a carpet, what could the carpet salesman tell you immediately without even thinking about it? They could probably tell you what the square footage in the room, the quality of the carpet, the age of the carpet, the thread count, the cost. Maybe even, maybe even where you got it. Who the manufacturer was. Hundreds of things about the carpet. If an electrician walked into the room where you are right now, what could they tell you without even thinking about it? Yeah, they could tell you about the lights and the electric outlets and so forth. What might the electrician miss completely? The carpet. Okay. By this time in our lives, we have learned to notice things. And we notice what we notice. And we don’t notice what we don’t notice. This is where a lot of mischief, a lot of difficulty occurs in a relationship or in life when we see something, but we don’t see something else that’s also there. So we notice what we notice. This is how the world occurs for us. It’s virtually automatic.

And upstream from that way down in there is what I call the operating system, like the black box. This is deep programming in us about life. This goes back to, you know, little Johnny, little Susie, little Agnieszka, little you know, who the little person and how we were trained, how we were brought up. There’s another video on that, but I don’t want to get into that. This is pre conscious. It doesn’t mean unconscious because with some training, which is part of the training that we do with leaders is to help them access this, help them find out something about their operating system so they can begin to tweak it, make make slight changes in the operating system. But what happens here is there’s a kind of a funnel this results in, which is a narrowing down. I hope you can see this, that the way you see the world determines what you notice, determines your interpretation, determines your intention determines, and so forth. Until each of these kind of narrows down your options, until you’re only considering these. Alternatives as you confront a particular situation. Now, the truth is, and this is what people discover in our leadership intensive is and life will show you this as well, is that there are actually other options. I call them breakthrough options because it requires you to break through some kind of a membrane into something maybe that’s not comfortable or familiar to you.

There actually were other options available to you. For instance, in the intensive, let’s say we’re working with a leader who’s tough and hard and clear and decisive. Fabulous. It works great until it doesn’t work. Then what do you do? Well, they try to be even harder and clearer and more decisive. It may be that what’s needed in that moment is to ask for help, or to be vulnerable, or to say, let’s talk about this. Something that would just not be comfortable. It would not be normal or ordinary, but would actually be an alternative. Like, there’s nothing wrong with saying to a group of people, hey, here’s a major problem, folks. I’ve got some ideas, let’s talk about it. But if that’s not the way your funnel operates, if that’s outside, if that’s not in your comfort zone, you’re just not even going to think about it. It will never occur to you to do the thing that you actually should do in that situation. So these are breakthrough options that are outside your thought process and outside your comfort zone. So what we’re after here is, is expanding, expanding your comfort zone so that what we call personal development, when you when you do personal development as a leader, what happens is you actually expand and you uncover more of these options that you that you didn’t know were available.

So why do we do what we do? Because we have an operating system. And that that determines what we notice when we look out at the world. Secondly, we then immediately have an interpretation and some intention. This happens instantly. And then we have some alternatives that occur to us and then we choose one. The point here is, among the options that we normally think of may not be the thing that’s needed in that situation. So when you don’t know what to do, what you need to do is to consider options outside your comfort zone. The great leaders know how to what we call stretch into something that would not be usual. Maybe you’re a consensus type of manager. Was working last week with a manager who wanted to make every decision by consensus, make sure we’re all in agreement. The organization was floundering. They needed they needed that executive to say, okay, this time we’re going to do this right or wrong. Let’s go. So you need to know that when you look out at the world, you’re seeing the world in a narrowing way, which you need to do is expand your options and learn to stretch into leadership behaviors that might not be exactly what you’re used to doing, but are exactly what’s needed.


This insightful video delves into essential survival skills for navigating today’s workplace challenges. Covering skills seven to ten, it emphasizes the importance of developing courage to face challenges (symbolized by “tigers”), mastering cross-functional teamwork, adapting to rapid change, and finding purpose beyond routine tasks. The author encourages readers to view their work as contributing to a larger purpose, urging them to quit a mundane job and discover work that aligns with personal passions and makes a meaningful impact. With a focus on personal development, organizational growth, and effective teamwork, the video provides practical advice for thriving in the dynamic modern workplace.

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