As a boss, advisor, consultant, problem-solver, listener, even numerous examples as a parent–all of these roles generate circumstances which offer opportunities to, WITHIN CONTEXT, design and deliver lessons-learned guidance…from experience. The best time to meet with someone face-to-face is when you are armed with the benefits of that experience, but also when you own the facts, impacts, and options surrounding a key decision-point or challenge. That old adage of “timing is everything” still applies to: the punch line of a joke, emphasizing the critical messages within a speech or presentation, building the foundation for a strategic position, negotiating a critical bargaining point, or communicating a key lesson at just the right juncture. Prior to the discussion, or the event itself, is a whole lot of preparation. One lesson that’s been critical to success for me (and learned the hard way, by the way, in addition to others passed to me from mentors and their experiences) comes from two key elements:
- The data tells you where to spend your time…presuming…
- You can trust the data and distill it into “actionable management information.”
(Said another way, you or people you trust have validated the relevant portions of the data from which you will make your decision, stake your position, or document your concurrence.)
Key staff people have access to a virtual multitude of information—from internal systems and external data—but the most reliable support people operate this way (what was historically described as “completed staff work” by management guru Peter Drucker — or maybe it was conglomerate-operator Harold Geneen of ITT), where: those talented staff people identified, researched, validated the data, offered relevant conclusions from those activities, and also offered options. Quite frankly, those people do not realize how valuable they are/were…and they are depended upon…time-after-time-after-time.
So, ultimately, the data does tell you where to spend your time.
One more thing: because of lessons-learned (and pain endured), I’ve been purposeful in trying to hire people around me, who were different than me. Having different backgrounds and personalities, varied experiences, and so on—many times prevented “group think,” and served as a countervailing force in many ways. I might have ventured down a perilous path, but I didn’t necessarily end up staying there! When I did NOT have people different than me, around me, it was trouble.
…Perhaps a teaching moment or two…or just suggestions for your consideration.