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Movers, Shakers, Provers, Makers ; Part 3 Advanced Provers

Movers, Shakers, Provers, and Makers.  We need them all at the right time.  Who are they really?  This is the third in a four-part series that will go in depth on the strengths and characteristics of each of the four strengths.  In this episode, Karla interviews Allen Fahden and Kevin Nothstine on what it means to be a Prover.

Listen to the podcast here:

Advanced Prover with Allen Fahden


Karla Nelson:  And welcome to The People Catalysts podcast, Allen Fahden-

Allen Fahden:  Hello.

Karla Nelson:  Hello, hello, and our guest star today, Kevin Nothstine.

Kevin Nothstine:  Hello, hello!

Karla Nelson:  How is everybody doing today?

Kevin Nothstine:  Life is good.

Karla Nelson:  And this is Allen’s favorite time.

Allen Fahden:  Yes, it is.

Karla Nelson:  Podcast time! And so with this being part three of a four-part series, we wanted to have a guest, a Prover guest, because if anyone listened to the eight-part series where we walked through different aspects and we also did a Mover-Shaker Prover-Maker interview, that Allen and I laugh all the time about having to identify this within being a Prover. And so Allen, I think you won an Emmy the last time that you were our Prover star, so we thought we would bring in our uber Prover, who sits on our executive team, just so that he can jump in and shine a light on potentially something that we missed, or just a story associated with being a Prover.

So, are you guys ready? Let’s get started on part three of our four-part series, Advanced Prover Training. Alright, so I’m gonna interview Allen, and then, Kevin, feel free to jump in or I’ll ask your input at any point as well.

So, Allen, what are the things that make you a Prover?

Allen Fahden:  So a Prover is, we’ve been talking about early adopters, a Prover is a later adopter. And, so this is a person who wants things to be more tried and true, looks less at possibility, and more at reality, and someone who, as a late adopter, can tend to be conservative, practical, even skeptical of new ideas.

And now that’s a later adopter combined with a Thinker. Now later adopter-thinker brings you to a couple of interesting areas. One is a, I once knew a Prover who said “I can see around corners and tell you what’s gonna go wrong”. So the person who can predict what the flaws of an idea and what some of the negative consequences will be, and often feels that it’s his or her duty to warn the other players that-

Karla Nelson:  Often feels? You’re so kind. Often feels.

Allen Fahden:  Yeah, okay, all the time, naturally.

So, that person really fulfills a couple of great functions, but certainly one of them is in the innovation end of the process-

Karla Nelson:  Well, and Allen, with that, it’s kind of interesting because the Shaker and the Prover are both thinkers, and we’ve gone over this in previous podcasts, that they’re a potential, or they are, a red-light combination, and so they’re both Thinkers. Can you elaborate a bit about, although they’re both Thinkers, how is it different in their aspect of their thinking, because again, it’s easy to understand early adopter, later adopter, but they’re both Thinkers, but they approach it in a different manner.

Allen Fahden:  Yeah, couldn’t be more different, even though they’re both Thinkers. You’d think they’d, well they’re both Thinkers, should be a lot the same. Well they are, except for the enormous separation, which is the early adopter, late adopter separation. Geoffrey Moore in his book “Crossing the Chasm” identified it as just that: a chasm, between the early adopters and the later adopters. And, it’s very much that way in the workplace, and so the differences can start fights, and then the sameness, because they’re both kind of, you know, running along parallel paths, can make it actually sometimes even worse if you don’t do it right.

So these are some people who should not be in the same room together if you can help it.

Karla Nelson:  Well, and here’s the thing is, is that, it’s ideas in two different ways, right? The idea of creating new things, and then the idea of the objection, but it’s still an idea as well. And so they get great satisfaction in two completely different ways.

Allen Fahden:  Yeah, this is something that people don’t realize, that an objection is exactly the same as an idea. An objection is an idea. Here’s an idea: this could go wrong. And so, the problem is that these two ideas, the initial idea and the objection to it, tend to put people in conflict. But it’s the hope, and the way out, is recognizing that they’re both ideas, and so there’s a lot more commonality in the Prover and the Shaker than you might think. And part of that goes with because they’re both Thinkers, and Thinkers do pretty much the same thing, even though they’re doing it on opposite sides.

Karla Nelson:  Two different planes. So, Kevin, do you want to add something here?

Kevin Nothstine:  Most definitely. When you look at a Prover, Allen’s exactly right. They like to think about things, they like trying to identify what’s wrong with ideas. Now in an obstruction environment, it can be quite entertaining to watch a bunch of Provers together.

I’ve been on several teams that are made up almost entirely of Provers. Now, they like to engage what we call “sport bitching”-

Karla Nelson:  0h, The satisfaction of everything that could go wrong.

Kevin Nothstine:  And they derive a lot of pleasure by looking at the status quo, seeing what’s going on, or looking at new ideas, and saying “Oh, this isn’t gonna work. It’s completely wrong for this idea. What are they thinking? Who thought of it?”

Karla Nelson:  I can see them sitting around a campfire singing “Kumbaya, I love you!”

Allen Fahden:  It’s actually Kumba-no.

Karla Nelson:  Oh. Kumba-no.

Allen Fahden:  You know that’s the part where-

Karla Nelson:  That’s awesome.

Allen Fahden:  Kumba-no. “Kumba-no, my Lord. Kumba-no”.

Karla Nelson:  It’s Kumba-no. Okay, that’s real. Awesome. I love that. Good point, Kevin. That’s great.

Allen Fahden:  We apologize to all Provers for that last joke.

Kevin Nothstine:  Oh, we enjoy it.

Karla Nelson:  They like being able to say, “No, no, that’s not gonna work”. That’s awesome. Okay, so let’s move on to our next question. So, Allen, what’s a great role for a Prover?

Allen Fahden:  Well, so after everything we’ve been saying, this sounds a little counterintuitive, but it’s quite correct. The best role for a Prover is to try to kill the idea. So, a couple things happened here that are somewhat surprising.

One is, and this has happened more often than not, whereas after the meeting, trying this out, the Provers will come up and say, “Thank you, thank you. I’ve never had the opportunity just to try to kill an idea and not have to fix it, and that feels so good!” So there’s one piece. The other one is that there’s kind of a paradox here. And that is that, in fulfilling the best role of trying to kill an idea, and accepting that role of killing the idea, actually helps to save the idea. And let me explain that, because that’s really weird.

But, most ideas are born drowning. They’re full of flaws. So, once the Prover steps in to identify the flaws, the fact that they’re identified, gives the other members of the team, particularly the Shaker and the Mover, a chance to come up with ideas to overcome the flaws. And the minute you come up with ideas to overcome the flaws, then, you’ve improved the idea, and it could be the difference between an idea that’s really unique, but doomed to failed, versus one that maybe is not exactly as unique, or even maybe more unique, but is going down a slightly different track. That solves the problem and will succeed. It fundamentally changes the idea when you have an objection and overcome the objection.

Kevin Nothstine:  And by bringing those Provers in early, they’re going to get buy-in on your idea. A lot of times in an organization, your Provers end up being your tactical leaders. They’re the people that are implementing the ideas and making things happen on a day to day basis. They work through details with the Makers to make things actually happen.

Now if you just hand them an idea and say, “Here, go and make this happen” like you said earlier, they’re going to identify what’s wrong with it, and engage in the sport bitching.

But by bringing them early in, in the ideation phase and asking them, “Hey, what is wrong with it? Let’s make the idea better from the beginning”, you’re gonna have that complete buy-in. And you’re gonna take your naysayers, and actually turn them into your champions.

Karla Nelson:  Oh, that’s a good point, because we’ve talked about that. Like Provers, they’re hard to win over, but once you win them over, they’re like with you for life. Right?

Allen Fahden:  And people buy what they build.

Karla Nelson:  Oh, yup, I always say, and they support what they build, you got it.

And so, this is critical because you need 100% buy-in from your Provers. In both stages: in the ideation stage, because if we don’t come up with an idea to implement, right, like what’s the point? And then in the implementation stage, they’re your point guards. They’re the ones that are running the show, basically, and getting into the weeds about, hey, you got my buy-in on the ideation stage. Alright, let’s go, let’s make this happen.

And then you basically hand off the baton, and they become your point guard in the implementation stage.

Kevin Nothstine:  That implementation. A big thing is that they understand this whole process. Like I said earlier, if you have an unstructured environment and just a bunch of Provers together, it ends up just being a nay fest, and talking about the problems.

But if you have this process in place, and everybody understands the way it works, well as you go into the implementation, you’re obviously going to have roadblocks on any new idea. And if you want to make that idea better, the Provers can go back to the Mover and say “Here’s a new roadblock. How do we solve this problem? What are we gonna do to make it better?”

Karla Nelson:  Yeah, that’s a good point going into and overcoming the roadblocks in the implementation stage especially.

So let’s move on to question number three. So, Allen, who does the Prover have the best relationship with?

Allen Fahden:  Well it’s naturally the Maker. And again because-

Karla Nelson:  Thank goodness! Hallelujah! Because that’s one that you and I just don’t understand.

Allen Fahden:  Yes, and again of the two scales of the model, it’s the early and late adopter that are the most powerful parts. And those are where there’s the biggest dichotomy or chasm between the people: the early and late adopters. Not so much between the Thinkers and the Doers.

So, of course, a Prover and a Maker both being late adopters are already just structured for success. They both believe in the same things, the same things make sense to them, and they have an opportunity to redivide the work so the Prover does the thinking and the Maker does the doing, and they love that. Now one reason that they love it, this really gets back into the whole emotional makeup, and that is: the Maker sees the Prover as someone who is protection from the whole system getting disruptive and disrupted and messed up.

So, that Prover keeps the team from bringing in, you know, ridiculous, unthought-out ideas. Now on the other hand, the Prover, who loves planning the work, and managing it, doesn’t like to do the doing. I worked with a Prover once who was a bookkeeper, and she loved balancing checking accounts. But she had to write the checks first, and she just hated writing checks. It was just so mindless. So, she got a Maker as an assistant, and the Maker wrote all the checks, and she was very, very happy. And the work went much faster and better.

Kevin Nothstine:  Another item that really brings pleasure to the Provers is seeing, when they identify an objection, seeing it overcome. They like to see the idea made better and move it on and other people actually implementing to make things better.

Karla Nelson:  Well, as a Prover, honestly, they take pleasure in seeing others adopt their ideas, and the crazy part about it, is this is so similar to the Shaker, right? So the Shaker loves the idea adopted, but it’s from a big-picture standpoint. The Prover wants to build it, identify how we do it, right, and then somebody else has got to repeat it. Right? But they find pleasure in the repeating of the process, where the Shakers just want you to pick their idea, but it’s so similar. It’s just about adopting the ideas that they come up with.

Allen Fahden:  Well it is, and the other thing is that, once the objection is listened to, the Prover’s objection, and corrected, no matter who it’s corrected by, that Prover has put their imprint on the idea. So now it’s their idea. The whole big idea is theirs as well. Just as, when we talked about the Shaker a couple episodes ago, we talked about the Shaker, you know, once they have an, maybe the original idea wasn’t theirs but they had an idea to overcome an objection, well now it’s theirs. Everybody gets to own that idea now because they’ve imprinted it.

Even the Maker, but we’ll talk about that in our next episode.

Karla Nelson:  And the episode after that and that and that… no, I’m just kidding.  They never end.

Allen Fahden:  Because we’ll never get it right.

Karla Nelson:  Well it’s funny, when we started this podcast, I kept on thinking “How many things could we come up with?” Oh my goodness, right? It’s endless.

Okay so, let’s move on to the next question, which is, Allen, who does the Prover likely have conflict with?

Allen Fahden:  Oh yeah, we’ve really kind of hinted that in many ways but it’s definitely the Shaker. They’re both Thinkers, but the Shaker’s the early adopter, the Prover’s the later adopter. And so, that’s oil and water, put them in a room, they’re gonna fight.

Karla Nelson:  Yeah, I’ve seen that firsthand. Kevin, do you have any input in regards to how the Prover and the Shaker can rub on each other, ’cause sometimes I find myself right in the middle.

Kevin Nothstine:  Oh, most definitely. If you look from the Shaker perspective, such as Allen, if a Prover’s going there and looking at his new ideas, when you’re handing in new ideas, as a Prover, I’m gonna tell you, oh, that’s wrong because of this and that, and we tried it two years ago and it failed because of these reasons, and it’s gonna fail again.

Well as a Shaker, when you hear that, you’re obviously gonna be upset and say, “Wow, they don’t like my idea”. But as a Prover, from my perspective, I’m trying to get something done. I want to make things happen, I want to press forward, and have a status quo that’s working. And every time a Shaker walks in with a new idea, do you really think that’s gonna work? Aw man, that’s gonna upset the apple cart. We gotta change this, we gotta change that, and it’s probably gonna fail for these reasons.

So it’s really frustrating as a Prover to have all those new ideas all the time.

Karla Nelson:  Yeah, exactly. Which is so funny, because one side is new ideas, and the other side is new ideas. Right, it’s like: alright, new ideas on one side are warranted and appreciated, new ideas on the other side are warranted and appreciated, but it’s only the Mover that can actually appreciate the middle ground of those new ideas, which is just, just hilarious to me. Quite comical actually, sometimes when you look at it.

Okay, that brings us to our next question. So Allen, considering this conflict, what is the solution to the conflict?

Allen Fahden:  So, one, obviously keep them apart, but nature abhores a vacuum, so you’re not gonna get much done with one person in one room, and one person in another room. So, you put a Mover in between them. And it’s, again, the Mover’s got the green-light relationship with the Shaker, and the yellow-light relationship with the Prover. And therefore, no red-light relationships, no blowups, and things can be understood by people, and keep moving ahead.

Kevin Nothstine:  You know, it really does go back to the opening credits of this podcast, where you’re saying business and life, relationships are everything. And by understanding how those relationships are affected by what your core abilities are, whether you’re a Mover, Shaker, Prover, or Maker, by understanding your own assets and skills and everybody else’s, you can make those relationships that much better. By appreciating other people’s strengths, and who they are.

Karla Nelson:  Well, yeah, that’s a good point, Kevin, and understanding as a Prover, you gotta go back to the Mover. Right? It’s just understanding that this is the way a Mover, Shaker, Prover, Maker relationship works, appreciating each of them, but saying “Hey, I know. I gotta go back to the Mover”. You know, and we’re all different. Every single core nature of work is completely different, but at the end of the day, I can tell you we all want the same thing. We all want to be a part of the winning team. We all want to make a difference. We all want to put our dent in the universe, and so understanding that, as a Prover, since this is the Advanced Prover training, is that, you run into those challenges that, you know, your person to lean on is always gonna be that Mover.

Alright, so we’re gonna wrap it up here with our last question. And so, and Allen I love how you always get the questions that’s like, here you go, good luck with this one, here we’re punting. But, Allen, how does it break down in the ideation and implementation stage if you don’t bring a Mover in at the right time?

Allen Fahden:  Well, let’s talk about both, the ideation stage, when you’re innovating, creating new ideas, you know obviously you’ve gotta bring everybody in at the right time. But there you’ve gotta bring in a Mover, really to be the point person, and to run everything. And your goal there is to get the biggest ideas, pick the best one, fail it in concept. And that’s a great position for the Mover to be moving between the Shaker and Prover-

Karla Nelson:  Oh, we love that. Failing concept form, let’s not waste time, money, energy, everything.

Allen Fahden:  Right. Never have to throw anything away, it’s three to eight times faster. So, there’s a part where the Mover is that point person, but the minute you get a thought-through idea in one that we’ve overcome all the objections, then you move to the completely different phase, implementation, and that leadership shifts.

That point person becomes the Prover. Because the Prover’s got a green-light relationship with the Maker, you need the Maker to finish it, and they’ve got a yellow-light relationship with the Mover, and with the Mover, once you implement, you know, you’re always gonna kick it back to the Mover when something goes wrong, or if you get stuck. So, that’s why you need to keep your team together. It’s just that, it’s sort of like the leadership shifts one to the right, and it’s not the Mover who’s in the middle anymore, it’s the Prover, and the Prover’s in between the Maker and the Mover. Shaker during implementation, you know, don’t bore me, just-

Karla Nelson:  Let me know when something comes up or there’s a problem, or you need me to create something or give you some ideas-

Allen Fahden:  Bring me the impossible problems. Anything else is just, you know, I’m gonna get bored.

Kevin Nothstine:  I tell you, that reminds me of an organization I was working with, and we were actually writing a checklist. We had a very detailed checklist, multi-page checklist, for doing an operation that we’ve repeated pretty much every day, multiple times a day, actually, by several different teams. And we were rewriting this checklist and making it happen. Well, as an uber Prover, I had a lot to say about this checklist, and I didn’t even know they were doing a rewrite of the checklist until after they came out with the final solution.

So, they did not even bring me in as a Prover to make this better. It was just the Movers and Shakers that decided they were gonna implement together. Well the net result was the checklist that did have several flaws in it. And we’ve been using that checklist for quite some time, ever since they came out with it, and it just leads to strife for all the Provers and the Makers that actually run the checklist. And there’s several steps in it, now that we look at it, it’s like, this is in the wrong place-

Karla Nelson:  Can you imagine that? On an entire team and every single day all they’re doing is moaning and complaining about how dumb the Movers and Shakers are because they skipped a whole bunch of stuff that needed to be in the checklist?

Oh, we haven’t heard that idea before. That’s awesome. I love it. Great story, Kevin.

Allen Fahden:  Different times.

Karla Nelson:  Yeah, exactly. So that’s why we need you all. We just need you at different times.

Allen Fahden:  Thank you. Thanks for joining us, Kevin.

Karla Nelson:  Well, thank you so much, Allen and Kevin. I just realized this is the first time we’ve had a podcast with three people on it- oh no! There was one other: Greg Zlevor. This is only the second time that we’ve had a guest podcaster who is one of our executives at The People Catalysts. So thank you, Kevin.

I think it’s funny. Allen, you’re a uber Shaker, I’m a uber Mover, and he’s a uber Prover.

Allen Fahden:  That’s right. We can’t have a guest next time because we can’t find anybody who doesn’t want to interrupt the real work to just talk to a bunch of people.

Karla Nelson:  Incredible. Awesome, well thank you guys so much for your time today, and this is the conclusion of our Advanced Prover training, part three of a four-part series.

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