“What do you mean by ‘collaborate’?”
I smiled at John, a top executive
at a multinational software company in Silicon Valley.
The other execs in the room
looked at me like I was insane.
I was coaching 6 leadership team members
on their presentations for the big upcoming company event.
“What kinds of actions do you want your team members taking?
What specifically are you envisioning them doing?”
John, who leads the Customer Experience team, thought for a moment.
“Well, I’d like them to post
their projects in our internal design portal;
and I’d like the other team members
to log in, comment and offer feedback.”
The other executives leaned in.
I then took John through a 3-part system I have
so he could crystallize and articulate
even further what he’d had in mind.
The problem had been just this.
The ideas had all been ONLY in John’s mind.
He had a vision of what he meant by “collaborate”
…but did his team?
This past Wednesday, I delivered a keynote
in Boston for Wolters Kluwer
who also had a theme around collaboration.
I asked the executive in charge
—the woman who had hired me—
what she meant by the word.
No doubt, her vision was totally different from John’s.
Hers is an entirely different organization.
It’s a different company culture; division; and geographic set up.
They have different resources, systems and 2023 goals.
Every individual has their own interpretation of a word like
or any other large-scale concept
that organizations tend to reference A LOT.
This particular executive at Wolters Kluwer
had a specific (and brilliant) vision
for how her team could collaborate—
one that I can’t reveal here due to confidentiality—
but it was essential for me to understand it
so that I could tailor my keynote’s messaging
to support her and have my points land.
And land they did (I’m thrilled to report…)
in a big way. (Hooray!)
The next time someone uses a general word
to articulate an important outcome,
ask a few more questions,
get a few essential details,
and make sure you understand
what that individual really, truly means.
Risk Forward and Rock On,