I was having a conversation with a colleague for an upcoming workshop, and it made me think about this with clarity. We said that the outcome of the workshop should be something that is very clear and that can be worked on immediately afterwards.
It made me think of all the times I have been in meetings of various kinds, and the meeting ended in a “yessss”, where you do not really know what was said and agreed upon. And it’s not that I’m the only one who’s probably wondered what we actually came up with, but everyone is probably equally confused. Or maybe even relieved.
This is WHERE the big problem comes in.
Many of the participants do NOT want it to be clear. It’s quite nice to go from meeting to meeting and not really have to commit to what has been said and what is to be done. You can sort of float around the business without having to take responsibility.
As I chair a number of different boards, and with the above in mind, I demand that we are clear about what we are going to do, who is going to do it and when it is going to be done. However, I feel that I am very difficult in my questions and demanding answers.
It’s always easy to say “we should probably look into this at some point” or “maybe someone should look into it” and leave it at that. That’s a load of rubbish!
A lot of meetings end there; with someone maybe checking something. And we’re okay with that. That’s the problem!
A workshop I helped run a few years ago, which focused on improvement actions, the participants came up with everything they wanted to do to make it better. When I documented everything and put it into a big matrix with columns for “responsible” and for “done it”, it was pretty quiet. Wishing for all the things that “someone” should do went pretty well. But to then also take on the task of making it concrete that someone will be responsible for it and will be given a certain amount of time, that was more difficult.
When I noticed how difficult it was to get names and times, I asked the group if there was someone else in the organisation who could better answer the questions. I said that maybe we should invite them in that case to help us. After much exchanging of glances and thoughts, they came to the conclusion that this was probably not the case. They were the ones best suited for the job. I interpret it to mean that they were indeed so, but also because they were worried about handing over responsibility to someone else to decide.
Said and done, we pushed through the list and found names and times to be really clear in what should be done by whom and when it should be done. After that, they actually felt relieved that they had overcome that invisible obstacle of being clear and concrete. They could now take over and follow up what they had found.
This week’s tip is that if you want to succeed in driving your business forward, you need to be incredibly clear. And this applies to both improvement work and day-to-day work. Don’t leave questions hanging.
If you don’t have the answer as to who will take on a task, add another task, which is to decide who will take on the first task. Don’t leave the question hanging in the air. Especially not if it’s an issue that’s a bit sensitive in the organisation. This doubles the need for clarity.
What do you say? Do you recognise yourself in the unclear world? Like, maybe, sometimes… 😉
Good luck with the clarity,