iD8 Strategies


What Can We Learn from Ben Franklin?

Junto: a group of persons joined for a common purpose.

We try to copy the behavior of successful people because we desire success ourselves. Many of our daily habits are imitations of people we admire. One of the most effective things you can do to build better habits is to join a culture where (1) your desired behavior is the normal behavior and (2) you already have something in common with the group.

Success Leaves Clues!

The times were different, but the purpose remains the same. Inviting like-kind people interested in a committed, shared spirit of mutual improvement & progress. Franklin organized the group around a series of questions to guide discussions at meetings and to provide a structure:

  1.   Have you met with anything in the author you last read, remarkable, or suitable to be communicated to the Junto? Particularly in history, morality, poetry, physics, travels, mechanic arts, or other parts of knowledge?
  2.   What new story have you lately heard agreeable for telling in conversation?
  3.   Has any citizen in your knowledge failed in his business lately, and what have you heard of the cause?
  4.   Have you lately heard of any citizen’s thriving well, and by what means?
  5.   Have you lately heard how any present rich man, here or elsewhere, got his estate?
  6.   Do you know of any fellow citizen, who has lately done a worthy action, deserving praise and imitation? or who has committed an error proper for us to be warned against and avoid?
  7.   What unhappy effects of intemperance have you lately observed or heard? of imprudence? of passion? or of any other vice or folly?
  8.   What happy effects of temperance? of prudence? of moderation? or of any other virtue?
  9.   Have you or any of your acquaintance been lately sick or wounded? If so, what remedies were used, and what were their effects?
  10.   Who do you know that are shortly going [on] voyages or journeys, if one should have occasion to send by them?
  11.   Do you think of anything at present, in which the Junto may be serviceable to mankind? to their country, to their friends, or to themselves?
  12.   Hath any deserving stranger arrived in town since last meeting, that you heard of? and what have you heard or observed of his character or merits? and whether think you, it lies in the power of the Junto to oblige him, or encourage him as he deserves?
  13.   Do you know of any deserving young beginner lately set up, whom it lies in the power of the Junto any way to encourage?
  14.   Have you lately observed any defect in the laws, of which it would be proper to move the legislature an amendment? Or do you know of any beneficial law that is wanting?
  15.   Have you lately observed any encroachment on the just liberties of the people?
  16.   Hath anybody attacked your reputation lately? and what can the Junto do towards securing it?
  17.   Is there any man whose friendship you want, and which the Junto, or any of them, can procure for you?
  18.   Have you lately heard any member’s character attacked, and how have you defended it?
  19.   Hath any man injured you, from whom it is in the power of the Junto to procure redress?
  20.   In what manner can the Junto, or any of them, assist you in any of your honourable designs?
  21.   Have you any weighty affair in hand, in which you think the advice of the Junto may be of service?
  22.   What benefits have you lately received from any man not present?
  23.   Is there any difficulty in matters of opinion, of justice, and injustice, which you would gladly have discussed at this time?
  24.   Do you see anything amiss in the present customs or proceedings of the Junto, which might be amended?

In business today, the questions would vary, but the core concept is the same. Learning from others in a peer-to-peer environment. Be it a Forum or a Mastermind group, the meeting agenda and structure tends to be similar for one reason, it works!

Aside from the agenda, it is typical that a member makes a presentation on an issue that is both urgent & important, seeking experience sharing from the group. Done right, its not advice that they receive but stories and experiences presented using Gestalt language protocol. 

There are some key advantages to this proven approach:

  • You are more likely to hear a diverse set of real stories that had quite different outcomes, rather than having everyone compete to solve my problem.
  • These experiences are more likely to have value for the entire forum, not just to the presenter. While another group member may not face the exact same situation I have today, they may be able to apply a member’s experience share to a comparable situation in the future. This helps each member learn even when they are not the one presenting.
  • Because you get to hear stories from others, rather than advice, you can pull pieces from each of these varied experiences—often across different industries and backgrounds—and then draw my own conclusion.

For leaders who struggle with micromanagement, this experience sharing approach, combined with the Socratic method, goes a long way toward building a team’s critical thinking and problem solving muscles. If you regularly default to advice giving, you may inadvertently encourage your team to bring all their problems to you to solve, which means more work for you and less growth for the team.

The next time someone comes to you seeking personal or professional guidance, try taking the experience sharing route over the advice one. It can often create a better outcome for everyone.

For more information on Ben Franklin’s Junto, click here.