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The model listener

Graham Drew

Aug 23, 2022

We're all familiar with using a business model to help us with a new concept. But how about a model for something we do every day...such as listening?

The age of the business model

Whenever you begin to delve deeper into any aspect of pretty much any industry, it won’t be long before you come across a model or methodology associated with it. SPIN, Challenger, MEDDIC, ADKAR, 7S, Waterfall, Agile – business models are everywhere. And rightly so. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I love a model! They consolidate years of experience that enables newcomers to apply best practice in a consistent and controlled way to yield optimum results.

Knowing my enthusiasm for the subject, a few years ago, a good friend of mine sent me a copy of “Key Management Models” by Gerben van den Berg, Paul Pietersma, and Marcel van Assen. It’s a great read for anyone (not just a model geek like me). It describes 77 different models used by every business function you can shake a stick at…corporate strategy, finance, sales, marketing, innovation, HR.

Reading the book set me thinking about what prompts us to use a model. What are we looking for from them? Could they be of even more use than we realise?

Modelling the everyday

Take another look at the final sentence of my opening paragraph. See the word “newcomers”? This is the most common motivation to reach for a model – when you are trying your hand at something new. If you’ve not tackled something before it makes eminent sense to look for some expert guidance before you begin. And if it can help break down a complex problem into manageable steps, so much the better.

But what about something you’ve always done and you still do all the time? You don’t need help from a model or methodology in this instance, surely?

A model for listening

We all know that listening in business (and in life) is important. And the business gurus agree: “Listening is the way to build trust and common ground in business”, said Simon Sinek. Depending on your role, you may spend most of your day listening to others, and much of your professional success may depend on eliciting information, and understanding the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of others. Yet research tells us that typically, people only absorb around 25% of what is said to them.

So given its importance, could it be worth using a listening model to understand more about best practice, and to help provide structure and robustness to our methods?

When we set out on Cognis’ journey into the world of listening and realised quite how much depth and complexity there is to such a seemingly simple activity, we spent some time looking at the listening models that are out there. I was surprised at quite how many have been developed. They are rich and varied, focusing on different areas of listening, and on different applications.

A beneficial framework for listening in business

After our research, we settled on a listening model for Cognis that we felt was most useful, relevant, and applicable to business in practically any function or role. It does all the things you would expect from a model – a finite number of steps, a clear and robust framework, and prompts thinking about a familiar subject in an unfamiliar way.

We like that it is easy to understand, simple to apply, yet highly effective. Anyone can learn it and start using it within hours, and it can quickly become the foundation for every engagement you make. We have found it particularly effective at reducing the barriers to listening that all of us wrestle with in one way or another.

A complementary immersion

“But hang on”, I hear you say. “You told us that book you read described 77 different models. Surely you can’t model everything – you can have too much of a good thing, you know.”

And of course, you’d be right. But here’s the genius aspect of our listening model. Perhaps its most useful benefit is that it sits neatly alongside any other model in a complementary way. It doesn’t duplicate or contradict other methodologies. Its purpose is to enable you to develop the listening elements more deeply, while still allowing focus on the main task at hand. Think of the listening model as something that enhances other models, enabling them to work even better.

We love to share the listening model in its entirety. We think it’s a game-changer when it comes to effectiveness at engaging with customers and third parties. We’ve seen how it can transform results.

If you’d like to find out more about the listening model and our listening development programmes, please get in touch.

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