Applications of NLP Part 8: Collapsing Anchor

A public talk by Ms Rukmini Iyer (Director, Exult! Solutions) on the Applications of NLP Part 8: Collapsing Anchor.

Collapsing anchor us a simple NLP technique that can be used on self or with a client in order to overcome negative emotions/feelings. The great thing about this technique is that it not only gets rid of the negative state, but also replaces it with a resourceful state, that puts us in a positive frame.

A Concept Note on Training Need Analysis

Methods of TNA

Training Need Analysis (TNA) is the systematic process of determining and ordering training goals, measuring training needs and deciding on priorities for training action. We identify a gap as a training need when there is a difference between the actual and required human performance in some specific areas of operations and where improved training is the most economical way of eliminating the difference.

Not every performance gap qualifies as a training need. The gaps could be due to:

  • Business environment: Where the changes in the business, such as recession or retrenchment lead to lower performance
  • Motivational needs: Which is caused due to lack of morale in employees or inaccurate recruitment
  • Work environment issues: When the work environment does not facilitate performance owing to factors such as inadequate resources, poor leadership, adverse policies, etc.

Benefits of TNA

Here are the benefits of doing a systematic TNA:

  • It demonstrates the organizational focus on p
  • It clearly identifies the routes to close organizational performance g
  • Through involvement, it builds internal commitment to achieve organizational targets.
  • It throws light on non-training issues, thus falsifying the assumption that training can fix all performance gaps, and in the process saving costs for the organization.

Common methods of TNA

Competency based assessments

These involve identifying competencies relevant to the roles in question through multiple methods including reference to the key result areas, interview with the incumbents, job diaries, focus groups, etc. After identifying the key competencies that enable the person to do well in a role, there are the following steps:

  • Create the competency dictionary that describes every competency and the observable levels of performance therein
  • Develop an assessment process to check for presence of the identified competencies (through assessment centre, online assessments, hybrid assessments, etc.)
  • Run the competency assessment process
  • Map the results to the competency dictionary and identify the gaps between demonstrated performance and desired performance
  • Outline the training needs based on the gaps derived through the assessment process

Advantage of this process is that it is a scientific method to approach TNA and gives credible performance-oriented results. The online or hybrid model of assessments also makes it feasible in terms of time.

360-degree feedback

These is a powerful way of deriving training needs based on a system of comprehensive feedback. Every person whose training needs have to be derived is identified and a feedback mechanism is designed to capture responses about functional and behavioural performance. A comprehensive 360 degree feedback would include responses from a person’s superior, peer, subordinate, customer (internal/external) and any other person directly affected by the incumbent’s performance at work.

These responses are compiled and viewed in the context of the person’s role and career path in the organisation, after which training gaps are identified. An interview with the person is also a part of the process to understand if there is a gap between the self-image and the perceptions of the person by others. This gap can be corrected through coaching and dialogue.

This approach is advantageous because it gives a balanced view and a fair analysis of every person and can lead to correction of conflicts, if any, within teams. If this is being implemented for a large group, it can be relatively time-consuming. People will also need to be educated on the scope of feedback using the 360-degree approach.

Performance management system

A popular way of deriving TNA is through the performance management system. During appraisals, the performance gaps can be identified through discussions between the supervisors and subordinates. It is possible to integrate a questionnaire focussed on training needs in the appraisal process, which gives a structure to the discussion and ensures that both subjective and objective inputs are captured.

This method is widely used since it is logistically feasible and does not consume too much time. However, depending upon the relationship between the supervisors and subordinates, the data captured may sometimes be too subjective. Also, the training needs gathered through this process may not necessarily align with the growth needs of the organisation since it may include personal aspirations of the people involved.

TNA questionnaires

This method is useful if the organisation is clear about the general areas of training needs. For example, if everyone in the organisation needs to undergo training on core competencies, this method is useful to identify the levels of needs. TNA questionnaires can be designed to capture data about what employees think are their learning needs, how these trainings or other interventions can improve their performance on the job and benefit the organisation.

TNA questionnaires work well if the questions are focussed on a particular area or competency. If the questionnaire is too broad-based and allows respondents to think of learning needs in any area, then the responses are likely to be extremely varied and hence not very helpful to derive specific needs.

SWOT Analysis

This method is an alternative when an organisation does have a competency framework in place. The L&D department or a consultant can facilitate a SWOT analysis of a team/department/unit that has performance issues and help to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats related to that area. The leaders can then focus on areas of weaknesses and threats and develop learning interventions to mitigate them.

Johari Window

This tool can be used for TNA when a small group of people (team/department) have a performance issue. The facilitator can ask the group to look at the team/department as a person and then use the Johari Window as a tool to identify the areas of strengths and improvements. The blind spots in the Window can also point towards human capital readiness in the organisation.

(Rukmini Iyer is the Director of Exult! Solutions. She has worked extensively around Asia in the areas of organization transformation and training. She actively practices Non-Violent Communication, NLP and Appreciative Inquiry and is a trained expert in conflict resolution. Know more about Exult! Solutions at

Goal Setting in a VUCA World

April is goal setting time for most Indian corporations. As professionals mull over what targets to commit to for the next one year, and perhaps even ponder over their investment and personal finance commitments, it is important to align with the environment first.

While the business environment always tends to be dynamic, in the last few years, it has become increasingly VUCA. While ‘VUCA World’ has been a trendy acronym for a while now, here’s a quick reference for those who have not come across the term yet:


Given these times, goal setting can no longer follow the traditional annual process. Reviews and recalibrations will be far more frequent. Let us address goal setting in the VUCA World from two perspectives – that of you, the individual and that of your organization.

Individual Goal Setting

Roger Martin said, in his 2013 HBR blog: “Don’t let strategy become planning.” This is the crux of goal setting in the current times. Here are a few things that can help us adapt:

Outline aspirations: By all means, have long term aspirations and clarify those for yourself. Whether it is about becoming the head of your business unit or buying a dream home, acknowledge your goals and let them motivate you.

Identify tasks: Break down your goals into smaller objectives and identify the tasks that could help to finish those objectives. However, plan for tasks only for the short term. In the VUCA World, we often do not know what the next three months bring. Therefore, even as there is a strategy, let your plans take cognizance of the changing reality and adapt. Do not waste time planning every detail about your goal; only identify tasks that are fairly immediate. The long term tasks will take shape as the times change.

Stay present and listen: Presence is about being tuned in – read what is happening in your industry, use analytics to your advantage and keep track of your performance, listen to what is buzzing in the office and the world, acknowledge your gut feelings about what is to come and most importantly, connect these dots.

Collaborate: Competition belonged in the past. Whatever your goals are, learn to collaborate. Owing to high interconnectedness of things, interdependency is high in the business as well as personal environment and this can be used to propel us forward. The sales function can deliver only if operations does well, one salesman can sell better if another colleague has built a good brand image of the product in the market, and so on. We can capitalise on each other’s capabilities well if we are open to collaborating.

Organizational Goal Setting

In a 2014 article, Canadian leadership consultant Brian Brittain said “Making business or organizational progress in a VUCA world requires travel by sail, rather than rail.” He used a very apt analogy to explain that laying out a linear track towards a destination will no longer work for organizations. Companies need to establish a general horizon and sail towards it, while dealing with the unpredictable winds and waves as they come. Here’s what organizations can do to deal with the times:

Move from vision to presence: About three decades ago, visioning was in vogue. A lot of organizations formed long term visions and worked ‘from’ it, given that the business environment was fairly predictable. Now, we can only work ‘into’ a long term vision, not ‘from’ it, given that market realities change very rapidly. Organizational leaders need to stay tuned in to overt and subtle aspects of all areas of business – people, processes, products, price and market – and act very quickly to capitalise on opportunities, regardless of whether these were anticipated or not.

Use individual capabilities: While job descriptions and KPIs will continue to be present for operational efficiency, organizations need to acknowledge that individuals have far more options beyond employment now. Therefore, it is important to acknowledge individual capabilities and aspirations and give them opportunities to perform, sometimes beyond their defined roles, if they demonstrate interest and competence.

Practice consilience: Consilience is the order or the day. Departments and divisions cannot afford to operate in silos. Engagement with each other is key to a concerted effort at delivering your product or service. Therefore, review your organizational design and make sure that the structures and processes allow for high engagement and collaboration.

Stay open to transformation: Change management is passé. In most cases, decisions will be quick and intuitive, while taking cognizance of data derived through constant analytics. Do not expect too much time for planning and review. Identify the right leaders and empower them to execute quick decisions that may sometimes challenge traditional ways of working.

The VUCA times are challenging, but present us with a huge opportunity to shed traditional ways and adopt truly contemporary practices, which of course, are also subject to transformation. There is great scope for personal and organizational growth, that can lead to a stronger, sustainable future, if we collectively stay present and true to the times.

(Rukmini Iyer is the Director of Exult! Solutions. She has worked extensively around Asia in the areas of organization development and training. She actively practices Non-Violent Communication, NLP and Appreciative Inquiry and is a trained expert in conflict resolution. Know more about Exult! Solutions at

Cultivating Innovation

Innovation is one of the most commonly encouraged competencies in corporations these days. It is challenging to develop because it entails absolute participation and willingness of the learner, who has to or wants to develop the competency. It cannot be enforced through a policy or a process.

One of the most common comments I come across while coaching/training on innovation is “I am not creative, so innovation is difficult for me.” While I believe each one of us is creative and only need to open up to it, that is a discussion for another day.

Creativity versus Innovation

For the moment, let me clarify what I mean by the two terms. Creativity operates in a boundary-free context while innovation has a defined context. To expand, creativity is like painting on a blank canvas; there are no rules or regulations about how the canvas needs to get painted. Creativity is the way children are, in their natural state. A child can be in a playroom and play doctor, believing all the while that he is in a hospital. There is no pressure to create anything specific, no deliverables and usually, no economic impact.

In the corporate context, innovation has a defined context. The context could be about the existing products/services, competition, upcoming launches, etc. So when a company expects employees to be innovative, they expect ideas that have not been used so far. Thus, innovation begins with a capacity for ideation.

Of course, a lot of corporate innovations have happened by accident (such as the creation of post-it notes, Ivory soap, etc.). And sometimes, creativity plays a role too. That does not mean all of us cannot be innovative.

The Problem Solving Process

Regardless of who we are, all of us engage in problem solving. A child needs to solve mathematical problems at school. A homemaker needs to maintain a clean, efficient house. A professional needs to cater to customers’ issues. A businessperson needs to manage cash-flow. A beggar needs to feed his hungry stomach. Typically, the process we follow is this:

Problem solving process

While this is an efficient process, the results thus generated are often guided by habit and judgments. In the process of generating solutions using the limited knowledge we have, we usually fall prey to repetitive patterns of thoughts and opinions, not allowing for presence and originality.

Turning on the Innovation Switch

Innovation requires inquiry into ideas, not advocacy of positions. In other words, we need to drop existing or pre-conceived notions and a fixation for immediate solutions, if we aspire for innovation. It does not mean innovation takes a huge amount of time, but it can be a quick only if we change our habitual pattern of thoughts.

Compared to problem solving, the innovation process has one key additional step. It can be illustrated thus:

Insights process

The key to innovation is insight – reasons that help us understand the real need in question. The process of gaining insights requires us to momentarily stop generating solutions and simply dwell in the existing situation. The beauty of this process is that it stops us from engaging with habitual patterns of thought and allows us to explore newer layers of the situation at hand, leading to the real need that mandates a response.

Tools for Innovation

Here are a couple of ways in which we can gain insights into a situation:

5-Why Analysis

The 5-Why analysis is an iterative questioning technique used to explore cause and effect relationships in a given situation, till a point that you arrive at the root cause of the problem. It was developed by Sakichi Toyoda and used originally in the Toyota Motor Corporation. Here is an example:


As we can see, while traditional problem solving offers a quick-fix, such solutions are not sustainable. Innovation allows us a newer, richer perspective that generates sustainable alternatives. It rattles us out of the belief that there can only be one way of dealing with a certain problem, just because that way has been in use for a long time.


This technique was created by Bob Eberle and is derived from Alex Osborn’s famed Checklist. SCAMPER is an acronym for Substitute – Combine – Adapt – Modify – Put to another use – Eliminate – Reverse/Rearrange. Here is an example using this technique:


So here we have innovation supplying us with multiple alternatives instead of a routine solution that will not be effective.

Allowing Innovation

Cultivating the competency and culture of innovation requires that we allow innovation. This means, we conscious pause between a problem and a solution and really explore the possibilities, much the way a child explores his/her environment without any pre-conceived notions. So does that mean innovation is time-consuming? No. Practical implementation of the tools of innovation such as the ones mentioned in this article take barely a few minutes. However, consistent innovation needs a commitment to allow the child in us to play from time to time. Now that’s a fun proposition, is it not?

(Rukmini Iyer is the Director of Exult! Solutions. She has worked extensively around Asia in the areas of organization development and training. She actively practices Non-Violent Communication, NLP and Appreciative Inquiry and is a trained expert in conflict resolution.)

Applications of NLP Part 5: The Milton Model

A public talk by Ms Rukmini Iyer (Director, Exult! Solutions) on The Applications of NLP Part 5: The Milton Model.

The Milton Model of NLP is names after Milton Erickson, considered the founder of clinical hypnotherapy. The model was created in a pursuit to replicate Erickson’s excellence in his work. Milton Model is conversational hypnosis, in that it does not use ritual inductions. But it creates trance states where unconscious resources and choices can be found.

Applications of NLP Part 4: Meta Model

A public talk by Ms Rukmini Iyer (Director, Exult! Solutions) on The Applications of NLP Part 4: Meta Model.

The Meta Model, NLP’s first formal model, was published in 1975 by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in their ground breaking book, The Structure of Magic, Vol. 1. Meta Model explains how the language we use can delete, distort and generalise our thinking and communication. It gives us a richly defined set of linguistic patterns that can either facilitate change or create obstacles in a person’s mental maps of himself and the world.

Applications of NLP Part 3: The Swish Pattern

A public talk by Ms Rukmini Iyer (Director, Exult! Solutions) on The Applications of NLP Part 3: The Swish Pattern

NLP Patterns are tools that help us understand how we understand the world, and more importantly, a way of changing that understanding if it is not working well for us. In this talk, we will explore the Swish Pattern, which can help you replace your undesired response (such as a habit you wish to change) with a positive and empowering one. This is one of the many patterns used in NLP to reprogrammed the internal dialogue.

Applications of NLP Part 2: Modalities & Representational Systems

A public talk by Ms Rukmini Iyer (Director, Exult! Solutions) on Modalities & Representational Systems.

In this video Ms. Rukmini Iyer gives us information on Visual, auditory, kinesthetic, gustatory and olfactory are the five primary sensory modalities that we use to experience the world around us (the neuro of Neuro Linguistic Programming).These modalities are also known as representational systems (rep systems) as they are the primary ways we represent, code, store and give meaning or language (linguistic) to our experiences. In this talk, we will explore our preferred modalities and ways to use this knowledge.

This is part of the HELP Talk series at HELP (Health Education Library for People), the worlds largest free patient education library.