Follow-on to our "All thrust, no vector" newsletter article

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If you've subscribed to our email newsletter, or are lucky enough to be on our postal mail list, you recently received a short article on "All thrust, no vector" - describing how critical direction and flightpath is to reaching your intended business destination.

This follow-on covers some hints and tips on how to complete the two action steps from the article:

  1. Get clear on your business’ destination, and
  2. Get clear on the path to get there.

First, the destination

Start out with a clean piece of paper and do some focused dreaming by yourself.

Bring the future to today. Imagine yourself at the future state and describe what it looks like from multiple perspectives. Think about both qualitative and quantitative measures - how would you know that your desired future will have occurred? Pitfall to watch out for: getting caught up in the 'How to get there' instead of staying focused on the 'What.' (You can double check your thinking by saying to yourself, "Okay, I now have ______. What does that get me?" to find out if you are actually talking about the ends or are stuck in the means.)

Tip: When you involve your team members, lead the conversation with your thoughts and invite their participation. While you're trying to elicit people's passions, it's important for you to provide the "seed crystal" to ensure that others build upon that, so they don't accidentally hijack your vision.

Second, the path to get there

Many owners make the mistake of assuming their way is "the" way. Even though you may feel differently, there are a lot of paths that can get your business to the same destination. And the likelihood of your business getting there relies strongly on a lot of other people moving in the right direction together.

One way to achieve this is to inspire ownership by sharing control of the methods with your people. Ownership is ten times more powerful than the buy-in. And effective leaders don't have to be physically present to keep pushing if others understand the intended outcomes and own the process.

Tip: Lead the conversation, inviting your crew to share their thoughts on how the business can get to the agreed-upon destination. Make sure people feel safe discussing their thoughts. Write down what they say, using as many of their words as possible, on a large piece of paper on the wall or whiteboard. Help them see that their ideas have merit.

Bonus tip: When you feel compelled to drive home a point, that is exactly the time to, instead, ask a question that further explores the thinking behind the suggestion. Be curious and ask for how someone sees their idea working. Then when the idea well runs dry, genuinely, yet gently, reinforce those ideas which line up with your thinking.

Chris Hutchinson, CEO

Chris Hutchinson, CEO

Remember, it's the thought that counts, and yet it's the actions that win the game.

 

Update

on 2010-04-24 21:40 by Chris Hutchinson

Just got informed that the second tip said "use as many words as possible" when writing down the team members' thoughts.  Whoops!

I've corrected the blog entry to what I intended to write - "use as many of their words as possible."

I've learned over the years that all the well-intentioned summarizing and clarifying I did of a person's input would unintentionally strip ownership away from the person who made it.

So now while I still strive to help condense or distill inputs, I work very hard to ensure every word I write down comes out of the person's mouth. Often if you keep people talking, they will do a brilliant short, simple, personal, and graspable summary at the very end of what they just said. That summary will follow phrases like "In other words..." or "I guess what it boils down to..." or "So, it's really like..."

Keep your ears open and keep people talking - most people are aching to be listened to and understood.

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Chris Hutchinson

As CEO of Trebuchet Group, Chris Hutchinson thrives working with clients and his team to improve organizational clarity, teamwork, and leadership impact.

After years of building Legos® and tree houses around the world, Chris earned his Mechanical Engineering degree and followed that with an MBA. His experiences in the military and the business world taught him great leadership can be learned, and everyone is in some way a leader.

Clients and peers describe him as an inspirational catalyst for positive change. He is the author of Ripple - A Field Manual for Leadership That Works.

Chris and his wife live, garden, and bike in Fort Collins, Colorado, and have four children. He has an unrequited love affair with brownies.