April 26, 2019
I have, in every stop in my career, found myself, at one point or another, reminding others in an organization, usually my superiors, that “our sales folks will do whatever we ask them to do.” My remarks were almost always made in defense of teams of people who were not doing something they didn’t know they were supposed to be doing. I was reminded of that this week in Brazil when I asked someone to take a picture of Todd W and I in front of a large São Paulo sign. He did.
The next day, Todd and I got copies of the photos. It appeared as if we had visited someplace called “Paulo”. In 5 photos sent to us, the São was chopped off. It occurred to me that our photographer had done exactly what we had asked: he took our picture in front of the sign. Had we said, “please take our picture in front of the sign and be sure to get the entire sign in the frame,” I’m sure the outcome would have been quite like what we had envisioned. We got what we asked for. To get what you desire, ask for that – specifically.
And that’s the point for the week.
Reasonable people, especially those who believe in or have a vested interest in a particular cause will do almost anything they are asked to do – assuming it is legal and seems practically achievable. People who show up at any enterprise – for profit, not for profit, for the good of the family – believe they are good at what they are doing and believe they are adding value. So if the goals of the organization aren’t being met, it’s usually not a worker problem, it’s almost always a leadership problem. It’s the result of a lack of specificity in regard to some goal or task. It’s hey take our picture in front of the sign, instead of, hey, do this specific thing by this specific date or until this specific outcome is achieved.
See, when we provide specific instructions, we remove room for error which eliminates a giant instance of waste and a potential point of friction between human beings which, like in any machine, slows things down.
So the next time you ask for something – or are the one asked for something, think about whether the instructions were specific enough. Or if you were asked to take a photo of Paulo.
Get the whole picture.
If you like the blog, you’ll love the book. To purchase a copy of Phillip’s book, The Not So Subtle Art of Caring: Letters on Leadership, from John Hunt Publishing, London, please follow this LINK. “Letters” is based on 85 story-backed lessons Phillip used while leading actual teams to accomplish extraordinary things. It is an outstanding resource for those who wish to commit to becoming the sort of leader that people WANT to follow.
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