Last week I facilitated the executive leadership team retreat of a client for the second year in a row. As the CEO concluded his opening remarks, he turned to me and said, “David, you should feel really proud we invited you back, since we accomplished very little coming off of last year’s meeting. That may be a first in the history of facilitating.”
Obviously, this created an immediate opportunity to discuss what didn’t happen… and to identify how the team – which has several new members – will change its approach this time around. Through this opening discussion the team identified 26 ‘traps’ that had them end up hitting a nice ground rule double instead of a home run. Listed among these disruptions were: too many things to focus on at once; operating in silos instead of joining together; allowing ‘fires’ to displace working the plan; and, poor communication across the organization.
This was a wonderful dialogue that moved us through what didn’t happen and got everyone’s cards on the table right off the bat. In fact, when we broke for lunch that first morning, I asked them to come back prepared to answer that they had ‘left the past behind’ and are ‘all-in’ going forward.
Ultimately, we ended day two with a clear path for what the new plan is, what steps they will each take to complete their part and how they intend to hold each other accountable. We put in place ‘check-in’ dates where they will meet regularly to provide updates on progress, so they don’t wait until the last minute to do things. Most importantly, I met individually with the CEO and coached him on how to stay ‘on top of the pyramid’ thinking big picture while engaging his leaders at the ‘ground level’ to keep them focused on achieving desired outcomes.
This time I think we got it right, and they’re going to soar. Perhaps they might invite me back again next year.
Recently, a client said he wants to start a blog… yet he has no idea where to begin when it comes to creating content. “You’re a writer, I’m not,” he said. “I’m worried I won’t be able to come up with any ideas. Help me.”
That’s a quandary many folks face when they try to develop thought leadership material on a consistent basis. Since this is my first blog posting in three weeks, you might think I suffer from a similar challenge; however, the reality is I took a vacation, traveled out of town to work with a client’s executive leadership team and stepped back into my former life to produce a series of videos for a client. It’s actually been finding the time to write, not a lack of inspiration, that’s disrupted my plan.
So here’s the approach I recommended to my client to help him get over that ‘writer’s block’ mental hump and, hopefully, allow him to share wonderful ideas with his desired audience. First, keep your eyes open for insights that appear before you. These may come from reading an article, having a discussion with a client or friend, or reveal themselves in a late night dream. The key is to connect the dots with a “that’s something I would like to write about” realization.
Second, keep an ongoing list of these ideas near your keyboard. Then when you’re ready to write, you won’t have to sit down and stare at the screen hoping some idea pops into your head. Third, and this is a new awareness I’m testing today, block time to write four or more entries at once. Then you simply have to schedule them to post at regular intervals. That’s going to be my way of preventing long interludes between musings.
Finally, and this is the most important lesson on writing I learned – and it came in the fourth year of creating my monthly E-Newsletter – never worry about what your readers think. If it’s well thought out, true to what you believe and comes from your heart, then your part is complete. Allow your viewpoint to resonate with those who are open to receiving it.