A couple of months ago, I was with a client for a full-day event. I was invited to sit in on the meetings and help both facilitate and work with them to ideate on some critical business decisions.
While most of the work I do is much more in-depth, I love the facilitation role, mostly because it allows me to intervene much earlier in the planning stages than I normally can, which helps me save my client's tremendous amounts of time and energy.
With this specific client, I was gratified when after the event, the CEO confided in me that he felt he and his President would have been "dead in the water" without my involvement in their planning process.
Without this coming across overly self-aggrandizing Tidbit, this really had little to do with me except that I was able to get them focused on what truly mattered during their discussions, and break through some of the stumbling blocks.
That success was due almost solely to the practical application of the Tidbit philosophies that I share, week in and week out.
It comes from asking impactful questions before committing to resource-intensive courses of action – the same kinds of questions that I leave you with every week.
Here's how I was able to add such value to them (and how you can do the same thing in your meetings).
In the room were the CEO, the President, an outside vendor who'd been developing sales tools for them, and the internal champions who worked closely with the vendor.
Almost immediately, the meeting started getting dragged into the weeds with discussions of technical minutiae. I stopped everybody repeatedly and refocused them on one question:
How will the organization be better off once these decisions are made?
I'll be frank – I could see that I was annoying many of the people in the room with these questions.
But time and again, there was no good answer to that question… They were getting derailed by issues with no regard for how those issues would make an actual difference.
Once we were able to do that, even minimally at first, the lightbulbs started triggering and we quickly made progress.
It reminds me of a comment I made a couple of weeks back in a recent tidbit:
"Often I talk to senior executives who tell me: "I don't want to hear any of that back to basics stuff, I'm paying a lot of money, give me something advanced."
The irony is that their companies aren't doing the basics. They want to skip ahead without doing the simple, high-value work. Much of the work I do is around ensuring businesses that are already doing well, have the basics in place to do even better."
The point here isn't that this is a magic question (although it's close!)
The point is that companies are often led astray by neglecting to focus on the simple, but high-value questions.
Let me give another practical example of something that most companies face at least once per year, and that I see with at least 80% of the clients I work with.
Companies often think that they can improve their sales by getting more talented salespeople, or more talented sales managers in place.
They spend a lot of time searching, vetting, interviewing, and training people in their sales roles.
But what they don't do is develop a fundamental understanding of what those people should be doing (formalized sales process), who will hold them accountable (proper senior leadership involvement in sales function), or ensuring they have the right infrastructure in place to be successful.
Indeed – they're focusing on the wrong things!
If you're trying to find mythical "A player unicorns", but you haven't invested in developing a sound sales process, coaching culture, and data-driven sales management approach to ensure that your team is working as you expect, then all of your hiring efforts are going to be wasted.
We all want more advanced stuff.
We all want the glitzy marketing promotions, and the viral ad campaigns, and the stuff that makes our competitors ooooh and ahhh.
But we often want that at the expense of the things that would generate far greater success.
Your Challenge For This Week: Prior to your next meeting, challenge everybody to think about what they're presenting through the lens of: 'How will the organization be better off once these decisions are made?'
During the meeting, if it's not clear what the answer to that question is, ask the person speaking to answer it.
You'll find that the improved focus provided by that simple question will help keep you from getting diverted. And more importantly, will highlight the most important opportunities and threats that you face.