Ideas Public Speaking

Wojtek the Soldier Bear – The story so far

Krakow (Cracow) City Council to vote on historic Wojtek statue decision in Krakow ‘s historic Park Jordana


On Wednesday 24th April 2013 Krakow voted to give permission for a statue in Park Jordana and the next day an event was held in Krakow Town Hall with Professor Wojtek Narebski and Professor Norman Davies to publicize this fact.


Kazimierz Cholewa, the director of Park Jordana, has prepared a plan of how to proceed.


This article summarises the “Wojtek the soldier bear” project as I see it –  the story so far – the mistakes I’ve made the lessons I’ve learned. In an article of this length there will be omissions and mistakes. If someone somewhere feels unfairly treated, or inappropriately described, I am sorry and will make corrections, or publish their commentary.  At the end of the article I will copy paste the “about us” from the Wojtek group on Facebook, as this summarises the objectives that I set out years back.


There are some individuals I want to draw attention to who have distinguished themselves through repeated effort and commitment. Dorota Kulawiak and Angela Ricommi in Imola, Italy,  Wioletta Sosnowska in Żagań Poland and Wojtek Narebski in Krakow who have again and again tirelessly led projects, provided support and led initiatives.


Aileen Orr’s initiative to build a statue in Scotland inspired me. She has made speeches, written a book, hosted events, travelled, lobbied and fund raised for a statue of Wojtek in Edinburgh, set up the Wojtek Memorial Trust and has done a lot to celebrate Wojtek’s memory.


I had some bad experiences during this project: some unpleasant and unfair allegations about my behaviour and motivation. I’d like to thank and recognise the support I received from Edward Lucas, Kamil Tchorek and Michalina Ziemba who all sympathised with the difficulty of dealing with anonymous attacks, and unsubstantiated allegations. I decided not to fight back. If anyone reading this anywhere heard anything bad about what I was doing please give me the opportunity to defend myself, as until today, I never had that opportunity.


For the past four years I’ve been running a part time on line global volunteer movement to popularize memories of Wojtek the Soldier Bear. No one to my knowledge ever got paid anything by anybody for their work on these projects.  By doing “Wojtek” projects we make people, young and old, aware of the extraordinary history of:

– The illegal and unjust deportations from Eastern Poland to Siberian labour camps by Soviet Communist authorities

–  the trek from the camps to Iran,

–  the formation of the Anders Army

–  the journey through the Middle East to Italy and on to the UK. In the case of other civilians to camps in Africa, India, Australia and New Zealand.

The idea of statue for Wojtek the Soldier Bear was inspired by Aileen Orr’s initiative in Scotland who set up the “Wojtek Memorial Trust” I heard of her project years ago, researched it, made contact with her, was invited to an event in the Scottish Assembly, made suggestions as to who to invite, and thought “if a statue is possible in the UK, why not in Krakow?”

Early investigations of the possibilities led me to set up the Wojtek the Soldier Bear group on Facebook,  which now has more than 2000 followers all over the world.  As soon as I started talking to people about the statute idea I came across two issues that led me to change direction for a while.

-some people were more interested in using Wojtek as a means of making large amounts of money. I felt and feel that low cost /no cost is far better both because in times of economic stress the last thing we need is extra government spending on something that is not absolutely necessary, and also because the beauty of the Wojtek project is that he and the people he travelled and fought we were motivated by things other than money,

– I was not convinced that a well funded statue project would be the best way to popularize the history, which was more important to me that the statue itself.

I postponed my original idea of a statue, and started supporting and encouraging Wojtek projects all over the world using low cost social media tools. A statue can be a long, complex and expensive process (the one in Scotland is reported in the media of having a budget of GBP250,000).  Schools and other bodies can organise Wojtek related events at low or no cost with significant impact. Because bears are so magically attractive to children, Wojtek represented a great opportunity to get the attention of younger people. Once you have got their attention, through Wojtek, it is inevitable that some start asking and understanding how it came to be that there were hundreds of thousands of Poles in Iran in 1942.  Getting to understand where Wojtek was first found, and came into contact with Poles who had been deported to Soviet camps, and later released once the USSR stopped being an ally of the Nazis.

I stumbled across this when  Number 72 Primary School in Krakow we did a Wojtek themed school fair. I approached the school director, she asked to present to the staff, I did and they all agreed right away to do dedicate their school “festyn” to Wojtek. Through doing this several hundred children, their teachers and parents got to hear about Wojtek and the Anders history. Professor Wojtek Narebski who remembers Wojtek from his time in the Anders Army came to the school too.

Ryszard Antolak a resident of Scotland and school teacher who writes about Iran and Polish history them hosted a visit to Deanburn Primary School at the same time as  the event in the Scottish Parliament organised by Aileen Orr. Ryszard Antolak also wrote about the project here  and other articles about the deportations and history

I was struck by the fact that while the events I was involved in cost effort, the budgetary cost was trivial. I was and am a strong supporter of the organisation and had seen the famous Derek Sivers talk about starting a movement  Schools organise fairs and events anyway. I realised that if no money was needed it was going to be possible to do something on a large scale.. The fact that I and others working on these projects were volunteers also seemed to make it more feasible to get other people to work for free. I was lucky enough to be able to afford the time and occasional travel costs for myself and others that were sometimes necessary.

Paul Klipp of TEDxKrakow gave me the opportunity to promote the message here . Ewa Spohn –  the curator of TEDxKrakow from 2011 to now, heard my rehearse the talk and gave me feedback  The process by which the project worked and works is by using the power of the internet to

1  find and make contact with people who are organising or want to organise Wojtek projects

2. Offer publicity, support, contacts, and ideas

3. Distribute information about events as examples of good practice both via the Facebook page and through conventional media.

Other notable points about the project are.


It is internationalist. Wojtek travelled through the Arab world. Palestine (now Israel), Italy and Scotland, fighting in an army made up of Poles and Jews.  Wojtek never visited Poland. Wojtek projects have happened and can happen anywhere in the world.

It is not just “non profit” but completely for free. No one gets paid anything for being involved. My talk at the first ever TEDxKrakow conference in 2010 was called “Organising a global movement without funding”.   It is important and remarkable for me that this project is done by people who are really committed. If we do get a statue built I want it not to be paid for out of Polish or European taxes but from private funds, and as at low a cost as possible provided it looks OK.  Even the fund raising can be a way to spread awareness.

Even thought people give me a a lot of credit for things that have happened and I have made a significant investment of time, energy, and some money, my role is a small one.  I aimed to be a catalyst and supporter, For every project that happens someone else has to be in charge.  It was not just modesty when I said my role was a small one. It really was.

Many of the projects below would have happened anyway,. I was not the leader or organiser. If what I did was significant it was to spread the idea and show the world that motivated individuals and groups could easily make Wojtek projects happen if they wanted to.

Wojtek Narebski in Krakow, Dorota Kulawiak and Angela Riccomi in Imola Italy and   Wioletta Sosnowska from Zagan Poland organised many events and projects including this  And this and this and this   and many many more. They also translated the Lasocki  book into Italian. These individuals are anything but typical and deserve statues of their own.

Simon Daley, a Scottish Police office made a war memorial in memory of the Poles and Wojtek.

Aleksandra Wójcik wrote an article (maybe more) and helped with translation

Krystyna Ivell organised an exhibition in London in the Sikorski Institute – and gave GBP1000 to the Park Jordana Statue

Strzałka Krzysztof  Polish Consul in Milan, attended events/ exhibitions in Imola and Bologna.

Artur Kula Agata Foryciarz and Agnieszka Giś offered help as pupils from Liceum No 5 in Krakow

Agnieszka Gis  a Polish School girl gave a talk at a high school in Israel  including references to Wojtek

Jonathan Ornstein Director of Krakow’s Jewish Community Centre asked me and Wojtek Narebski to give a talk about the project as part of the Jewish Cultural Festival

My brother the journalist and author Edward Lucas wrote articles about Wojtek for various newspapers including here

Professor Norman Davies willingly agreed to support the project, and came to the event in Krakow Town Hall here

Kazimiera Cholewa Director of Park Jordana agreed to file an application for planning permission fro the Statue, and is pushing ahead with the project

Marusia Bucknall Kowalyszyn gave a talk at an old age people’s home in Australia about Wojtek
Joanna Berdyn – of Wydawnictwa Pointa – published a book by Łukasz Wierzbicki  about Wojtek and organised a competition which resulted in thousands of children doing paintings of Wojtek.

Łukasz Wierzbicki   tells the story of Wojtek to Polish kids every single day. he has about 250 meetings in schools and libraries all over the Poland per year – and also the story was told in Netherlands, Switzerland and Australia He will have two meetings in Polish School and Polish Institute in Rome on May 2013, his book Dziadek i niedźwiadek  published by Pointa in Poland, will be pubished in Italy in September with the title is Nonno e l’orsetto

Vic Baczor  set up a web site about Wojtek

Patryk Polec set up a web site here

Garry Paulin wrote and published a book

Vivian Glenn  and Adam Irski sent me original photos and memories of learning to swim with Wojtek

Will Hood Kat Mansoor and the Animal Monday team made a film, The Bear that Went to War

Raymond  Ross wrote a play called Wojtek the Bear performed at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Andy Traverse (Szawlugo) set up a web site
Christine Bojen organised the building of a statue in Weelsby Wood near Grimsby With  Anglo-Polish Society (N.E. Lincolnshire)

Mike Levy organisied a play perfomed in Ely and London “Invisible Army” about the Anders Army

Brendan Foley wants to make a film

There are so many activities in Zagan led by Wioletta Sosnowska that merit a separate article. A comic book verified by Wojtek Narebski, illustrated by Anna Kret a school pupils for historical accuracy, events,  a statue and tireless commitment and activity.

Richard lucas 29th April 2013

from the Facebook Wojtek page  “about”

Wojtek the Soldier Bear was a 3 month old Syrian bear cub rescued by Polish soldiers of 22nd Artillery Supply Company during World War II in British occupied Iran (now Iran).

This group on Facebook aims to use Wojtek’s charisma to promote non profit international co-operation between people everywhere, especially in countries where Wojtek lived, visited, or is connected to while raising awareness and promoting his story.

The objectives of this non profit group are to

– Raise awareness of both Wojtek’s history, and the forgotten history of deportations and survival associated with his life.

Encourage viewings of

– organise competitions (among children, students and adults) for paintings, drawing. singing and or composing “bear/Wpjtek” songs, statues, writing stories, doing research, interviewing people who knew him and uploading their histories onto the web. Through doing Wojtek projects we want to make people aware of the wider historical context.

– building one or more statues in Cracow or elsewhere in his memory, probably through a competition for the best design.

– support groups in other parts of the world with which there is a link that want to do “Wojtek” related activities

This group is decentralised and as its leader I rely completely on the contributions in terms of actions of those members who want to support its objectives.

Sometimes people post about their books, politics, and animal welfare related topics. I tend not to delete these, but if it is excessive from one person then I reserve the right to form a judgement about.

An interesting feature of this project is how it uses the internet to make things happen with no budget or legal existence. I gave a talk about it here  Hundreds if not thousands of children and dozens of adults have taken part in events

If you want to help its time and energy we need – not cash. in the long run, time is more valuable than money and this project proves it.
just get in touch, or post on the wall what you are doing or want to do

He thought he was a human, lived in a tent, drank beer, ate cigarettes, wrestled with them, went for long walks and loved swimming. He was enrolled as a soldier, travelled to Italy, carried supplies during the battle of Monte Cassino, went with the soldiers to Britain after WWII and ended his days in Edinburgh zoo in Scotland.

if you want to help with this project, fill in this form

His story is one of survival against all odds. He was rescued by Poles and Polish Jews who who suffered together and survived Soviet terror, who fought together. he is a symbol of friendship, loyalty, patriotism, the bond between people and an animal, the need to love and be loved

Professor Norman Davies and Anne Applebaum have given their support to our objectives.

Through Wojtek children and others

– become aware of this dark period in human history

– are inspired by the thought that even people suffering terrible adversity can be loving and caring

– Some “Wojtek” countries (Egypt Iran, Iraq, Israeli, Italy Syria, Palestine, and the UK) are bitter enemies at a political level, others are friends. Doing school projects about the bear and his history can help people especially children in those countries discover that they have things in common

Of course any communities anywhere on the planet may have an interest. If you can make something to do with organising an event happen anywhere we will support you.




Wojtek the Bear to raise awareness of Polish WW II history


Poland’s Panda? – the Scottish statue project and Trust historical site site promoting Wojtek book and with  accounts of people’s war time experiences Social networking sites



Artykuly po polsku






community building

The first ever joint meeting of Couchsurfers and and TEDx Fans in Krakow

The first ever joint meeting of Couchsurfers and and TEDx Fans in Krakow

The TED and TEDx fans travel and meet up club, which I announced as a community announcement at TEDxWarsaw, is having a joint meet up with Couchsurfers on 23rd April in Atekfakt fron 1830

What is the big idea ?

Bringing the world of Couchsurfing and TED/TEDx together.

People who are into and TEDx are pretty cool. The goal of TED and TEDx is spreading great ideas. More than a billion TED talks have been viewed on the internet since TED went viral, and some famous TED talks are about Couchsurfing and similar movements. If you have never seen a TED talk then watch and listen to Amanda Palmer – The Art of Asking

I want to acknowledge Ralph Talmont, Paul Klipp, Ewa Spohn and Krystian Aparta and hundreds of other volunteers who have got the TEDx and TED movement going in Poland, and put in a huge amount of work in organising the first TEDx events and Open Translation project.

People who are into Couchsurfing are pretty cool too. There are over 17,000 Couchsurfers in Krakow, and 6 million people belong world wide. Couchsurfers hang out and stay with each other for free when they travel, and organise regular meet ups.

Both groups are early adopters of the new world order of trust, giving and co-operation and The and TEDx Fans Travel and Meetup Club aims to bring the good things in these communities together.

This meetup will be a chance to watch TED talks, learn share and integrate. Will it turn into a regular event, will it spawn spin offs and copies. It’s very much in your hands.

If this works you can be anywhere on planet earth and get to hang out with people who have the values of Couchsurfing and the optimism and mission of TED This group was launched on Couchsurfing in January here went public in March with a launch on the TEDxWarsaw stage.

We are using the registration system of Open Coffee Krakow but if you are not a Linkedin member, or don’t want to use this, please just register on the Couchsurfing or Facebook events.

Neither TEDx nor Couchsurfers tend to be shy but we will be organising ice breaker and introductions.
If anyone attending the meeting wants to make a non commercial community announcement, we will try to make it possible. here is the programme
Tuesday 23rd April from 18:30
Where Artefakt-cafe Cellar Dajwór 3 31-506 Kraków
19:00-19:45 Informal Networking ice-breakers
20:00-21:30 TED talks and discussion in English/Polish subtitles
21:30 Calls to action/Summary
21:30 AFTERPARTY til whenever
Price: Free
Door Policy: Positive Mental Attitude

More information about the groups from the From the “about us” on Couchsurfing and on Facecbook

It is important to understand that this is not a TEDx event or a TED licensed event.. Anyone can show TED and TEDx talks under their Creative Commons license. I’ve checked with TED and provided it is non-commercial, not promoting a commercial agenda, and it is clear that this is not a TED or TEDx they are happy.

TED and TEDx are non profit, and have careful and strict rules about their brand and logo, which I support and respect. I don’t want this group to be taken over by corproate interests or do anything that TED and TEDx-ers would disapprove of “en mass”. If in the future TED start asking or requesting changes that I can comply with I certainly will do so.

TED has a community section here
and a conversations section here
an official Facebook page here

community building

Please rip my idea to pieces, or “the importance of getting feedback” from Proseed

This article first appeared in Proseed Magazine in Polish here and here and is about the importance of soliciting feedback

The English source is below

“Please rip my idea to pieces’, or ‘why feedback matters’

Imagine a British family where arguments are civilized, respectful and
logical (welcome to the Lucas family). If you think this is weird, talk to some family or friend who lives among the Brits.

“Dear Parent

I am getting annoyed with the criticism that I get from you and others. I am happy with things the way I do things, and they work for me. I am encouraged by you, and others to be self-confident and make my own choices. I don’t ask for your feedback – please stop telling me what you think about what I do”
Loyal Daughter”

“Dear Daughter

In family and private life, as in the world of work, you will get some feedback whether you like it or not.

Any business should encourage feedback from users of  their products and services, potential clients, and visitors/users of their web site (as well as their partners, suppliers, and employees).

Anyone reading this article should map this onto their own business world, ideas and plans and projects.

The feedback you solicit can be constructive or destructive. Ask what they think about:

You: your feelings, behaviour, performance and contribution to the world in which you live, the degree to which you are achieving your goals, and the impact your behaviour has on others.

Others.: What others think and feel about you and your behaviour

Events: over which you or others either do or don’t have control.

It is best to see feedback as a source of potentially valuable information.

A well managed feedback process gives you more information which increases the chances of you achieving your goals. By process I mean developing habits/routines, (ask once a day, week, or after particular events). It’s what a well run business does. Think how a waiter asks “how is the meal going, is everything OK?”

In his international bestseller “Emotional Intelligence,” Daniel Goleman wrote about why people who were not intellectually smart were sometime more successful and happier than those who had higher IQ but lacked what he described as emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence includes self-awareness, self-control, and the ability to see things from other people’s point of view, and empathy.

In order to see things from other people’s point of view you need to know what their points of view are, and encourage them to tell you how things seem to them, listen and focus on what they really mean. If you care about the person from whom you are soliciting feedback, it is obvious why you should take notice of what they think and feel. You shouldn’t take for granted that just because you care about them (and they care about you) they will tell you.

It is tempting but wrong to think, “if I’m doing anything wrong and it matters someone will tell me”. People often don’t give critical feedback without being encouraged for reasons that are simple to understand. Many people react so badly to criticism that people may assume you don’t want it and stay quiet. People give much less constructive feedback much less often than they would do if you encouraged them. And in business a dissatisfied employee may quietly look for another job, or a client look for a better vendor, rather than tell you they don’t like the way you run your meetings, or that your web site is inconvenient.

But maybe you think you just “know what they are going to say” so you don’t need to ask, or you “know what they are going to say, and you don’t care” or “you know what they are going to say and you don’t want to hear it”.

Even in the most extreme case, if  you really don’t care what other people have to say about how you are for them, it is useful and productive for you to realise that other people’s perspectives will contain valuable information.

Even if you don’t care some of the time, by asking open questions “what do you think I am getting wrong?” “how can I improve?” you give yourself useful information to use if you want to improve things on other occasions. A business may “know“ that some staff don’t always like training and social events in the evening or at weekends, but it is still good to check how widespread that feeling is. Maybe your best employees appreciate the training, and it is only the moaners who complain.

If the reasons for not asking for feedback is that you are worried that it might very negative, bear in mind that people tend to be pleased to have their views taken into consideration. When Ryanair asked me what I thought of their service,  I disliked them less for the fact that they let me tell them how much I disliked their ticket buying process. Additionally, if you ask what other people expect from you they may well tell you things that you weren’t expecting that were positive, and they will appreciate the fact that they you are showing an interest in them.

As a younger businessman I used to hate it when I heard negative things about my ideas, and avoided such conversations. It was a  mistake. I know now that it is a sign of self-confidence to ask people for their feedback and an opportunity to gain information than can be used to improve things.

It’s important to bear in mind that even big companies with millions of clients regularly get feedback from their clients and potential clients in the form of market research. It’s so much more important than that to get feedback from the most important people in your life , your family and friends

By initiating feedback you have control of the process. If people are giving the opportunity to give feedback it also can be a safety valve letting off pressure before a row occurs. A sister, brother or parent who is getting more and more annoyed with you may finally explode when it doesn’t suit you and say and do things that are so annoying that you don’t really get to hear how you could have fixed the problem that caused the explosion. By having a regular feedback sessions you take control of the timing, give yourself the opportunity to deal with issues that arise in your own time, and in the place that suits you.

It’s good to develop a set of questions that stimulate constructive criticism as opposed to negativity. The constructive criticism framework is just four questions.
1 What is the problem ?
2 What are the causes of the problem
3 What are the potential solutions ?
4 Which one is best?

In the context of a business or a project these questions are important. but in family life a statement like “what was good and bad about the way I did things this weekend and is there anything I can do to improve also makes a huge difference to the quality of family life.

A badly run and led business will most probably die. A badly functioning family does not disintegrate, it just limps on.

If you are finding it hard to talk about “tough stuff” a great book is “Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most”. The authors argue that a difficult conversation can be broken down into three conversations: about “What Happened”, about “How each party feels” and  “what was each parties contribution to what happened and how they each feel”. It’s very useful as often one side is raging about how they feel while the other is arguing about what really happened (for example).    

If you have a business idea, start conversations with “please tear my idea apart”. It’s the start of getting control of your feedback process.

Above all, remember that getting feedback does not mean that you have to act on it. You are still responsible for what you say and do.

community building

Proszę rozerwij mój pomysł na strzępy Published in Proseed Magazine April 2013

This article first appeared in Proseed Magazine here and here and is about the importance of soliciting feedback

Proszę rozerwij mój pomysł na strzępy
11 kwietnia 2013 Polecane przez redakcję

“Drogi Rodzicu

Czuję się poirytowana krytyką, której udzielasz mi często Ty, oraz inne osoby. Jestem zadowolona ze sposobu w jaki układam sobie życie i załatwiam swoje sprawy. Jestem przez Ciebie i innych zachęcana do bycia pewną siebie i dokonywania własnych wyborów. Nie proszę o Twoją opinię, więc bardzo proszę przestań mówić mi co myślisz o moich poczynaniach.
Z miłością
Oddana Córka”

Taką korespondencję mógłby otrzymać tylko brytyjski rodzic. Tak, w brytyjskiej rodzinie spory rozstrzygane są w sposób cywilizowany, logiczny i z poszanowaniem drugiej strony (witaj w rodzinie Lucasów). Nie wierzysz? Zapytaj Brytyjczyka. Zapytaj jakby odpowiedział. Prawdopodobnie w poniższy sposób:

“Droga Córko

Tak w życiu rodzinnym i osobistym, jak również w zawodowym, ludzie będą informować Cię co myślą na temat Twoich działań, niezależnie od tego, czy Ci się to podoba, czy nie.

Kochający Rodzic”

Każda firma powinna starać się pozyskać opinie ludzi kupujących i używających jej produktów oraz usług, potencjalnych klientów, a także osób odwiedzających jej stronę internetową i z niej korzystających (jak również ich partnerów, dostawców i pracowników). Analogie do własnej działalności, koncepcji świata i planów powinny być jasne.

Otrzymywana informacja zwrotna może być konstruktywna lub destruktywna i odnosić się do:

Ciebie. Twoich uczuć, zachowania, wyników pracy i przyczyniania się do kształtowania Twojego otoczenia, stopnia w jakim osiągasz swoje cele, oraz wpływu, jaki twoje zachowanie ma na innych.
Innych. Co inni myślą o Tobie i Twoim zachowaniu, oraz jakie uczucia w nich wzbudzasz.
Wydarzeń. Wydarzeń, których ani Ty, ani inni nie jesteście w stanie kontrolować.

Informacja zwrotna jest źródłem potencjalnie cennych wiadomości. Dobrze zarządzany proces pozyskiwania informacji zwrotnej pozwala uzyskiwać więcej danych, co z kolei zwiększa Twoje szanse na osiągnięcie swoich celów. Przez słowo proces mam na myśli wykształcenie nawyków i procedur (pytać raz dziennie, na tydzień, lub po konkretnych wydarzeniach). Tak robią dobrze zarządzane firmy. Pomyśl o standardowym pytaniu kelnera „Jak smakuje, czy wszystko w porządku?”

W swoim światowym bestsellerze „Inteligencja emocjonalna”, Daniel Goleman tłumaczy dlaczego ludzie o nieznacznych możliwościach intelektualnych odnoszą czasem większe sukcesy i są szczęśliwsi niż ci, którzy mają wyższe IQ, ale brakuje im cechy, którą nazwał inteligencją emocjonalną. Na inteligencję emocjonalną składa się samoświadomość, samokontrola, empatia i zdolność do przyjmowania punktu widzenia drugiej osoby.

Aby móc zobaczyć świat z punktu widzenia innej osoby, trzeba wiedzieć gdzie ten punkt się znajduje. Zachęcając kogoś do podzielenia się jego percepcją zdarzeń należy go słuchać i skupiać się na tym, co chce przekazać. Jeśli zależy Ci na osobie od której chcesz uzyskać informację zwrotną, oczywistym jest dlaczego należy zwracać uwagę na to co myśli i jak się czuje, ale nie można zakładać, że powie Ci wszystko tylko dlatego, że Ci na niej zależy (a jej na tobie).
Kuszące, lecz błędne jest myślenie, że „jeśli robię coś źle i ma to znaczenie, na pewno ktoś mi o tym powie”. Ludzie często nie udzielają krytycznej informacji zwrotnej bez zachęty, z łatwych do zrozumienia przyczyn, wszak na krytykę reagujemy źle. Ludzie przekazują dużo mniej konstruktywnych informacji zwrotnych i robią to dużo rzadziej, niż mogliby, gdybyśmy ich do tego zachęcili. Zamiast powiedzieć Ci, że nie podoba mu się sposób prowadzenia spotkań służbowych, niezadowolony pracownik może po cichu szukać innej pracy. Klient, zamiast powiedzieć Ci, że twoja strona jest niewygodna w użyciu, może poszukać lepszego dostawcy.

Może po prostu zdaje Ci się, że „wiesz co chcą powiedzieć i nie musisz pytać” lub „wiesz co powiedzą i masz to gdzieś”, lub „ wiesz co powiedzą i nie chcesz tego słuchać”, więc po co się męczyć?

Nawet w najbardziej ekstremalnym przypadku, gdy naprawdę nie obchodzi Cię co inni mają do powiedzenia na temat sposobu w jaki Cię widzą, jest dla Ciebie użytecznym i produktywnym, by zdać sobie sprawę, że punkt widzenia innych ludzi zawiera cenne informacje.

Nawet jeśli czasem nie obchodzą Cię opinie, poprzez zadawanie pytań otwartych „co według Ciebie u mnie szwankuje”, „jak mogę się poprawić” zdobywasz cenne informacje, które możesz wykorzystać do poprawienia swoich działań w innych przypadkach. Firma może „wiedzieć”, że pracownicy nie zawsze lubią szkolenia i imprezy integracyjne odbywające się wieczorami lub w weekendy.

Jeśli powody braku zabiegania o informację zwrotną są związane z obawami, że może ona być bardzo negatywna, pamiętaj, że ludzie zwykle są zadowoleni, gdy bierze się pod uwagę ich opinie. Gdy Ryanair spytał mnie co myślę o jego usługach, moja antypatia do nich zelżała nieco, gdyż mogłem powiedzieć im jak bardzo nie podobał mi się proces kupowania biletów. Dodatkowo,zapytanie czego inni od Ciebie oczekują, może dać Ci obraz rzeczy, którego się nie spodziewałeś, (możesz się doweidzieć także o pozytywach). Nie bez znaczenia będzie fakt, że zapytani docenią okazane im zainteresowanie.

Będąc młodszym biznesmenem, nie znosiłem słuchać negatywnych opinii o moich pomysłach i unikałem takich rozmów. Był to ogromny błąd. Teraz wiem, że proszenie innych o informację zwrotną świadczy o pewności siebie i daje okazję uzyskania wiadomości, których można użyć do usprawnienia działań.

Ważne jest, by pamiętać, że nawet duże spółki obsługujące miliony osób regularnie proszą o informacje zwrotne swoich klientów i potencjalnych klientów poprzez badania rynku. O wiele ważniejsze jest otrzymywanie takich informacji od najważniejszych ludzi w Twoim życiu, rodziny i przyjaciół.

Inicjując udzielanie informacji zwrotnej kontrolujesz ten proces. Jeśli ludziom daje się okazje do przekazywania informacji zwrotnej, działa to jak wentyl bezpieczeństwa i pozwala unikać konfliktów. Siostra lub rodzic, który jest coraz bardziej zirytowany Twoim zachowaniem może w końcu wybuchnąć w nieodpowiednim momencie robiąc i mówiąc tak denerwujące rzeczy, że nawet nie będzie Ci dane usłyszeć jak możesz naprawić problem, który ten wybuch spowodował. Przeprowadzając regularne sesje pozyskiwania informacji zwrotnej przejmujesz kontrolę nad ich terminem, dajesz sobie okazję do mierzenia się z problemami w swoim tempie i w wybranym przez siebie miejscu.

Dobrze jest wypracować zestaw pytań stymulujących konstruktywną krytykę w przeciwieństwie do negowania. Ramy konstruktywnej krytyki zawierają się w jedynie czterech pytaniach.
1 Jaki jest problem?
2 Jakie są przyczyny problemu?
3 Jakie są potencjalne rozwiązania?
4 Które z nich jest najlepsze?

W kontekście biznesowym lub projektowym te pytania są ważne, ale w życiu rodzinnym wypowiedź w stylu „co było dobre, a co złe w moim zachowaniu w ten weekend i czy jest coś co mogę poprawić” również znacznie poprawia jakość relacji między domownikami.

Źle zarządzana i kierowana firma najprawdopodobniej upadnie. Źle funkcjonująca rodzina nie znika, tylko kuleje dalej.

Jeśli masz pomysł na biznes, zaczynaj rozmowy od prośby „rozerwij mój pomysł na strzępy”. Taki jest początek kontrolowania Twojego procesu pozyskiwania informacji zwrotnej.

Przede wszystkim pamiętaj, że otrzymanie informacji zwrotnej nie oznacza, że musisz się do niej zastosować. Cała odpowiedzialność za Twoje czyny i słowa spoczywa na Tobie.

Ludzie przekazują dużo mniej konstruktywnych informacji zwrotnych i robią to dużo rzadziej, niż mogliby, gdyby ich do tego zachęcić.

Autor: Richard Lucas – przedsiębiorca i anioł biznesu. 6 firm, 400 pracowników. Od 20 lat mieszka w Polsce. Absolwent ekonomii na Cambridge University. Wspiera środowisko start-up jako coach i mentor oraz inwestor w projektach, które pozwalają robić rzeczy lepiej, szybciej, efektywniej i ciekawiej. Mówca na TEDxKraków.