Friday, July 27, 2012

The Cat's Out of the Bag

Ever been to a staff meeting when a decision needs to be made about a particular issue and it seems a group of people have already discussed the proposal that's being put forth? Watched as the objections are overcome, not just by the head but also others that seem to have had some advance knowledge?

Bob Frisch in Who's in the Room? has let the cat out of the bag purporting that that's the way most decisions are made and should be made in a successful corporation. A small inner circle--"a team with no name" or kitchen cabinet--has already hashed out strategies, conclusions, tactics, decisions, etc. to be presented to the rest of the staff. I think we've all experienced this and knew it happens. We probably have been participants in some of this activity. We certainly have been the recipients of the collusion (not meant with any negative undertones). We know this happens. Bob Frisch argues that it should happen all the time in the presence of great leadership:

"The right teams addressing the right issues at the right time, a renewed sense of collective purpose for the organization's most senior and valued leaders, and most importantly an end to the boss hearing "Why wasn't I in the room?" (from the Soundview review of the book).

This is a different take on the advice to build consensus by discussing issues with other project team members and staff members so that there are no surprise objections in the meeting, and that the discussion can happen smoothly focused on the issue rather than the personality. Frisch is taking a naturally occurring but evolutionary process in most organizations and making it the model.

If you follow the Strengths Finder strategy, the kitchen cabinet and ad hoc advisor teams meshes well. You want the right people with strategic strengths hashing out strategies. You want implementation discussions with those that have execution strengths. You might want relationship strengths group around when you talking about connecting with markets, employees, other organizations, communities, etc.

Frisch's recommendations acknowledge those strengths which will increase engagement and empowerment. That will lead to a team that knows more about what it needs to do and feels positive it can succeed. What more can you want?

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