I think a lot about what we do. Occasionally I worry that I think too much about what we do…but I just put this on the list of stuff that I don’t worry about. It always seems a good idea to have a long list of things I don’t worry about.
But I do think a lot about what we do. What we could do. How we could do better. Who we could work with more. What we could do together…and how to make these things happen. Or at least how to increase the probability that good and exciting things will happen.
I always have a simple goal in mind when I think. I have to identify actions I can take, or ideas I can suggest for actions we could take. I often suggest – rather than take – actions because although I know what I know…and I also know also how much I don’t know. My view of opportunities or situations is only based on my experiences, beliefs, values, training. My views are not right. They are just what I see.
Overall this helps me understand why I enjoy – and benefit – so much from discussions with others about what we do, have done and could do. Other people have different views from me. Other people have different experiences, beliefs and roles. In our organisation or not. And so I create and seek out opportunities to interact with others. I ask questions on topics I am thinking about. I listen closely to what people say and what they ask. I look for differences rather than similarities. I seek to understand.
Most of my emails finish with the same expression – what do you think? Yes it’s a habit, but yes it’s because I want to know and I want to understand what you think and why? I love to compare and contrast. My views to others. Sometimes this is open – I share my views. Other times I just listen and take on board and consider more…I give myself more time.
I was in the UK all last week and I listened to lots of people. One to one; in groups; in rooms; in restaurants; over coffee; over the phone; whilst walking, sitting, driving and even whilst exercising. I learned a great deal. I thought about us and about our partners. About our teams and our individuals. About people leaving and people starting. About value and about risk. I was delighted and amazed by how much I learned.
And I changed my mind…more precisely I changed my mind about what I wanted to try to influence and how. I changed my view and I have changed my actions. I am even more confident that we will achieve what I believe is possible…and more.
My most striking conversation was over dinner one evening. I sat down to eat absolutely certain that I knew how we were encouraging and rewarding a specific behavior. Over dinner I heard that my assumptions and my beliefs were wrong. I was amazed. I am still trying to understand what and why. I need to understand in order to work out what to do next.
It’s just one example. Once I understand I can work to try to influence.
Success is always a combination of strategy – what we want to do – and culture – how things are done around here. No matter how inspiring our strategy may be…we have to take account of – and work with – our culture…how things are done around here. It’s an old lesson, but one I keep learning.
Last week it was an enjoyable lesson…a lesson learned from people who inspire me.