November 15, 2019
The Right Use of LCS

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Of all the techniques Idea Champions has invented and taught since 1987, there is one that continues to be acknowledged as numero uno -- LCS (Likes, Concerns and Suggestions).

LCS is a simple, effective, memorable, easy-to-use technique that has the power to build rapport, spark meaningful feedback, defuse negativity, spark creativity, and increase collaboration. But with one caveat: it needs to be used in the right way, at the right time, with the right people.


And while LCS has been known to work magic with many of our clients -- some of whom have used it for many years -- it is not a magic pill. Like any tool, technique, or method, it requires practice and a particular kind of sensitivity.

What I've noticed over the years as the co-creator of the method and a teacher of it, is that it's not uncommon for some LCS fans to misuse it. Not knowingly, of course. Unknowingly. Not unlike some tourists who find themselves giving directions to even newer tourists without enough experience or knowledge of the city they're just getting to know to skillfully direct others to their destination.

And so, if YOU have recently learned LCS in one of Idea Champions' trainings or workshops and are looking forward to using it on the job, please consider the following guidelines before doing so with your team, client, spouse, or the frowning State Trooper who just pulled you over to the side of the road:

1. PRACTICE IT IN LOW RISK SITUATIONS: Like any new skill or tool, LCS requires practice. While it is simple to use, it is not necessarily simple to use well. This requires practice. And the best way to do that, to build your confidence and fluidity, is to practice it in low risk situations -- with friends, people you trust, and others you are comfortable with. (Kind of like breaking in a new pair of shoes or jeans.)

2. USE IT SELECTIVELY: Even though LCS works in most situations, it doesn't necessarily work in all situations. For example, if the people you want to use LCS with have a lot of emotional charge about the topic at hand it is likely too soon to be taking them through the LCS process. Perhaps, first, they need to clear the air... or get the full back story from you... or ask a lot of their questions. Requiring them to go through an LCS process too early in the game may leave them feeling like you have put them into some kind of Procrustean bed and that there is not enough room for them to really stretch out.

3. INTRODUCE THE TECHNIQUE, BEFORE USING IT: You may see the value of LCS (because you saw it demonstrated in one of our workshops or had a chance to practice it with a workshop partner), but the people on your team who were NOT in the workshop have no context for it. If you just "spring it on them," it is likely they will feel a kind of "I-wasn't-at-the-same-workshop-you-were-at whiplash" and they will probably shut down or give you the evil eye.

The fix is a simple one. Before using LCS with a group, set the context. Explain that you are about to facilitate a feedback process you've seen work very well. Then explain how LCS works and that you are inviting them to participate it it.

4. LCS IS DESIGNED TO OPEN UP CONVERSATIONS, NOT SHUT THEM DOWN: One thing most people love about LCS is that it gives people an easy-to-follow process to give and receive feedback on a new idea, possibility, initiative, or organizational change. That's the good news. The not-so-good-news is that LCS can easily be used to put artificial constraints on a dialogue that needs more space and time than a quickie LCS session will allow.

5. ASK PEOPLE TO LCS LCS: In the spirit of continuous improvement, consider asking people you take through an LCS process to LCS LCS. In other words, give them a chance, at the end of their LCS experience, to use the technique to give YOU feedback about it. Begin by asking them what they like about it. Then ask them what their concerns are about it and, for each of their concerns, what suggestions they have for resolving their concern. This will not only help you refine your LCS facilitation skills, it will also provide an opportunity for LCS users to practice the technique. Win/Win.

Two things to keep in mind as you proceed:
First of all, if you are using LCS in response to a potentially difficult conversation or meeting, be sure to allow enough time for participants to speak their peace. And secondly, if you know ahead of time that the topic on the table is likely to evoke a lot of disagreement, emotion, complaint, or angst, reconsider whether or not LCS is the tool to use -- at least in the beginning of your team meeting.

In those situations, it may be advisable, for you to provide a bigger back story on the topic at hand and/or open up the floor to everyone's questions. Metaphorically speaking, this is like opening up the valve on a steam-heat radiator so it doesn't clank so loud... or hiss uncontrollably because of the backlog of pressure.

Once the pressure has been relieved and people are feeling more informed and relaxed, LCS will have a much better chance of being effective and everyone enjoying the experience (which, by the way, is one of the goals of the whole thing -- that a diverse group of highly opinionated people find higher ground in service to a collaborative venture.

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at November 15, 2019 03:42 PM

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