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Dondi Scumaci Blog

Who is at Your Table?

July 23rd, 2013

I attended a professional women’s conference recently as the keynote speaker and witnessed the most epic networking fail.

As the conference opened and the banquet room began to fill with hundreds of women, I found an open chair at a table near the back of the room. I wanted to get a feel for the group and meet some of the participants before speaking. Let me just say…I picked the worst table ever.

Seven women gathered there, all from the same organization. They did nothing to welcome me. I felt like an intruder, but told myself these woman are simply “networking challenged.” I was still waiting for the ice to break, when one of them leaned in to critique the appearance of someone at the next table. It was a cruel remark. Another rolled her eyes as she made fun of someone who had tried to join their group at the networking reception the evening before.

I excused myself after providing a little feedback of my own:

“This is a networking event. An opportunity to meet people and connect in meaningful ways. You (my dears) are not a panel of judges on a reality show.  You are missing the whole point, but you are doing a marvelous job of reinforcing the catty, negative stereotypes about women in the workplace. Excuse me, I don’t belong at this table.”

Here’s to women everywhere who reach out, connect and add value. These are the women – the people I will surround myself with. They leave me better. They build my confidence and they inspire me. They pull me in and include me. They look for and celebrate my value. They help me open and develop my unique gifts.

These are the women I want at my table.



Dose of Leadership

July 16th, 2013

Enjoyed this interview so much and hope you do too.

Dose of Leadership Interview




Compliance Will Never Take You Where Commitment Can Go

June 19th, 2013

What is the first thing that jumps to mind when you hear the question: “Who is accountable for this?”

It’s an interesting experiment to ask people for their personal definition of “accountability.” I’ve heard everything from, “responsibility” to “blame.” Some people describe accountability as a quality or characteristic; others frame it as finger pointing, obligation or duty.

This exercise reminds me that our definitions and perspectives really are shaped by the experiences we have.  (And those definitions will ultimately determine our responses.) Right now in workplaces, homes, and communities people are “experiencing” accountability. Some of those experiences will be healthy and empowering. Some will be de-motivating and demoralizing.

From my personal lessons on the topic, I’ve come away with the understanding that accountability is not something you can “put on” another person. You can certainly hold people accountable, but you cannot “make” them accountable.  Ultimately it’s something we must choose for ourselves. That brings me to a strong conclusion: When accountability is forced, the very intention is crushed.

Managers, supervisors, and even parents can really wrestle with this! Somewhere along the line, they’ve decided the best way to ensure accountability is to create “have to – or else” scenarios. Accountability becomes a list of rules and requirements, deadlines, quotas and dire consequences. No wonder some people shrink from the word!

In the workplace “have to’s” sound like “mandatory meetings” and “required training.”  Relying on mandates like those is an illusion. Perhaps you can make people do a thing, but proceed with caution! Be careful not to confuse compliance with commitment. They are very different indeed!

Consider the story of a young child at a family funeral. Too young to understand the emotional context of the funeral reception, she is bouncing and spinning and generally being…four. Her father asks her to please sit down and “be still.” She is able to do that for at least 30 seconds, before flying out of the chair again. After several requests, dad stops asking. He picks her up and places her in a chair. He firmly tells her, “You will sit in this chair for five minutes. You will not get out of this chair.” Five minutes later he returns to praise her for being “such a good girl.” She matter-of-factly responds, “I am sitting down on the outside, but I am standing up on the inside!”

The “have to” may seem easier in the short term; we issue the order and people do to what we want them to do. How expeditious! It seems like we are making progress, but beneath the “have to” resentment grows and resistance builds.  People are standing up on the inside! (This is like driving down the freeway, with the emergency brake fully engaged. You may be getting somewhere, but you are tearing up the car!)

Recently someone shared a good example of forced accountability at work. For several consecutive weeks, this employee had worked through the weekend (without being asked) to meet an important deadline. It was Friday and he was looking forward to time off with his family. Then he received a terse email from his manager. The subject line read: MANDATORY MEETING SATURDAY – ABSOLUTELY NO EXCEPTIONS! Even before opening the message he was stomping mad!

As we talked it through it I asked, “What about this is really upsetting you?”

He answered, “To me the message read, ‘Your personal plans aren’t important.  Your commitment has gone unnoticed, and you’ll be at this meeting…or else.’ If I’d been acknowledged or even asked, I’d have looked for a way to make the meeting work. I wasn’t acknowledged and I wasn’t asked. It was a summons! I felt like a child being ordered to the principal’s office!”

(I don’t even need to tell you how this employee felt when he realized the meeting was called to discuss performance issues that didn’t concern him. He’d changed his plans to hear an irrelevant message! )

Even with an awareness of how counterproductive it is to force accountability, I can almost hear the objections, “If I don’t require my employees to do things many of them won’t! I’ve got people who do the bare minimum, just enough to squeak by.”

To that I’d offer seven tips for building authentic commitment and empowering people with accountability:

  1. True accountability is deeply rooted in purpose. When people have a strong sense of purpose, they hold themselves accountable. They understand the difference they can make. There is personal meaning in the work. When people sense real purpose, they don’t need to be pushed, pulled, or coerced! If you will help people find purpose, accountability is as natural as breathing.
  2. I love this definition of accountability from author Lauren Rosenfeld, “What I do truly matters. What others do truly matters to me.” Sometimes employees honestly do not see the impact of their work. They think of tasks as routine or insignificant – they are a part disconnected from the whole. Help people see how their work fits into the larger scheme of things.
  3. Challenge yourself to create the “want to.”  Resist the temptation to rely on your ability to make people do things. Instead look for ways to build interest, curiosity, and community. Sell the value and benefit of what you are asking people to do.
  4. Get people involved in the solutions! Bring the problems and opportunities of your business to your employees. In the words of Zig Ziglar, “People act best on their own ideas.” (Put another way, people don’t argue with their own data.) If you want greater commitment, go for more involvement. When people are involved, they feel and behave like owners.
  5. Push decisions to the level most impacted whenever you can. This isn’t always possible, but when it is, there are incredible payoffs! When people are allowed to decide, they feel trusted; that’s a huge motivator. They have the opportunity to practice problem solving and critical thinking.  When people are allowed to own the decision, they are more likely to own the action plan.
  6. Recognize and reward people who demonstrate personal accountability. Those are success stories. Find those stories and tell them!
  7. Finally, come to terms with the fact that some people will not embrace personal accountability. Perhaps those individuals are not a good fit for your team. That doesn’t mean they are bad; it means they can’t commit to the things your team values. Isolate those issues and deal with them appropriately.

Use these strategies to inspire authentic commitment. Rather than driving people to a result, draw people to a greater possibility.

Manage the Noise

December 27th, 2012

There is a lot of “noise” swirling around us every day. I call it background noise – like music on the elevator or the buzz of chatter in a crowded room. It’s the hum of life – undercurrents bombarding your brain. From the inside out or from the outside in, there are countless messages competing for your attention. To function properly your brain must sort through all the “noise” to determine what is important and what is not. (That’s a really tough brain assignment.)

To cope, we learn to tune out, ignore or simply accept constant static on the line of our lives. We push things into the background and they become part of our “normal” operating system.

I confronted the background noise in my life recently. What a revealing experience that was! Revealing and liberating.

It was a normal day, but as it wore on I found myself feeling increasingly agitated and frustrated. Tension was tying big knots in my shoulders and I had an underlying sense of panic. That stopped me – literally in my tracks. What in the world was going on (back there)?

In that moment, I became intentionally aware of everything happening around me: A phone was ringing, politicians were arguing on a television in another room, there was the “ping” of an email arriving, just after the buzz of a text coming through, and that was just the outside “noise.”

The valuable discovery was an awareness of what was happening in my own head.

My mind was racing around, barely present to the task in front of me, as I leapt from one thing to the next in a whirlwind of activity.

When I really tuned in, there was a pretty elaborate production going on! My thoughts were bouncing around – each one triggering another string, like some bizarre Google search! My mind would race down one rabbit trail until hijacked by another random idea, and off it would go in a new direction. The anxiety I was feeling was the emotional response to my own background noise.

That was the day I began searching for and paying attention to what’s happening “back there.” It’s an interesting collection. Can you relate to any of these?

  • The critical voice busy scolding, correcting, critiquing and comparing you to others. This voice can also sound like grown up peer pressure – an invisible bully on the playground of your life, telling you what you must do to fit in and be accepted.
  • Self-limiting beliefs dragging you back to an outdated version of yourself, containing your enthusiasm and capping your potential.
  • Worry cloaked in undefined anxiety or apprehension whispering bad news in your ear and robbing you of peace and possibility in real time.
  • Inspirations looking for a tiny spark (or a little attention) to really take off.
  • Random reminders causing you to sacrifice what is happening now for what will be happening next (or next week).
  • Assumptions that want to push understanding out of the way and go to the front of the “conclusions line.”

Not an all-inclusive list for sure, but perhaps a fair representation of what might be going on behind the scenes. If you can relate, here are five steps you can take to manage the “noise” in your life.

1. Tune in, intentionally.

Stop where you are and notice what is pushing on you and pulling at you right now– from the outside. What messages are bouncing off of you, demanding your attention? What is rushing into your life from the outside, packaged in an urgent-high-priority-limited-opportunity-last-chance-don’t-miss-it wrapper?

While we can’t stop the flood of stimulus, we can learn to manage the flow. Managing it begins with being more mindful in the moment. From there, you can make conscious decisions about how, when and if you will respond.

The key to this step is intentionality. Give yourself permission to engage or disengage based on your goals objectives. To put that more bluntly: You don’t have to answer everything that rings.

 2. Create the habit of checking in with you.

Pull what is running in the background forward and pay attention. Locate and label your under currents. Is it worry? Apprehension? Guilt? Blame? Fear? Hope? Creativity? Inspiration? Expectancy?

Intentionally pause and “check in” with yourself several times a day. You may be surprised by what you learn about yourself in these spontaneous appointments.

Questions like these help you dig below the surface and discover what is driving your attitudes, behaviors and results. They may also show you where you are “feeding a need” instead of satisfying it.

  • What am I feeling?
  • Why?
  • What do I need?
  • How will I meet that need in a productive and healthy way?

3. Write it down!

Get it out of your head and down on paper. Journaling is a fantastic tool for checking in. If you are consistent, patterns will emerge. You will locate emotional triggers or keywords that launch unproductive reactions.

Nagging worries also lose much of their juice on paper. When you look them right in the eye, they aren’t giants after all. Many of them aren’t worthy of a second glance. Others need your attention and action, but they don’t get to run in the background, depleting you of the energy and creativity you need to address them.

4. Disconnect!

Technology is fantastic and it can serve us well. How often do we end up serving it? Decide to disconnect every day!

That’s right. Turn it all off. (I promise it will be there when you return.) Perhaps we should all heed the announcement heard as the airplane doors close, “Power off all electronics. If it has an off button, push it now. Not airplane mode – shut it down for take off and landing.” Good advice for rising in the morning and lying down at night.

Disconnecting gives your brain a chance to refresh. It also invites you to reflect and process your thoughts and ideas.

5. Be conscious!

You have more control over how your brain works then you might imagine. It may sound crazy, but you can “talk” to your brain. When your mind begins to wander, drag it back to now. When the critical voice scolds, replace her words with empowering, affirming ones. When limiting beliefs try to steal your courage, remember who you are. And when inspiration raises her hand, reach for it and hold on tight.

Make it a point to apply these five steps into your every day life and take control of your “Background Noise” today.

Are You Disqualifying Your Customers?

November 2nd, 2012

Once in a while you bump into a service practice so bad it’ll have you shaking your head in disbelief.

A (BIG) company I do (A LOT) of business with sent me a letter today with a compelling offer – a way for me to save money on the services I use with them. I called to inquire and here is my short list of BAD BEYOND BELIEF customer engagement practices:

  1. The “customer service” representative was more intent on me “proving” my customer status then on connecting with me.  With an almost endless list of “prove it” questions, we were off to a shaky start.
  2. I did not have my latest statement in hand because we’ve been encouraged to go paperless. This annoyed him. Apparently I was unprepared to be served. Shame on me!
  3. When he was finally satisfied that I am indeed a paying customer with a paperless statement, we moved on to the “because you are a valuable customer” letter in my hand. This is when he informed me I do not qualify for the offer I had received because…wait for it… I am already a customer using the services listed.

Mind blowingly BAD! 

I don’t like being disqualified as a customer. And the really crazy part of my story? Before receiving this letter, I liked my services and felt like I was getting a pretty good deal.

I won’t insult you by reversing the points above to outline the best practices for customer engagement. They’re in there and I know you’ll find them.


What do You Need?

September 17th, 2012

Even for an “almost” unflappable traveler, this had been a tough travel day. All the elements of delay were working overtime – broken planes, weather and traffic jams in the sky. It was on the last leg of this “endless trip” that I met one of the most amazing communicators on the planet.

This was a small plane. You know the one I’m talking about. (You practically fold yourself in half to board, your knees are firmly glued to the seat in front of you, the engine noise is deafening and you must force yourself not to think about how really, really small this tube is.)

I allowed myself a small sigh of relief as the little “rocket” taxied to the runway. We were finally going. This trip would finally end.

Just then the pilot delivered some discouraging news. Apparently we would be waiting “indefinitely” for our turn to take off. He graciously explained all of the (very good) reasons for this, but my heart sank just a little. It wasn’t nearly over after all.

That’s when the ruckus upfront started.

A man in the first row (sitting in the seat my knees were pasted to) became increasingly agitated. His traveling companions tried to quiet him. He wasn’t having any of it. His voice grew louder, the language became more profane and he actually started kicking the wall in front of him!

This behavior was beyond childish, the language was unacceptable, and kicking the plane? Are you kidding me? Are you out of your mind? I was furious on so many levels and gave his seat a firm nudge with my cramped knees. That didn’t help.

He was escalating out of control.

Because I had visions of the pilot turning the plane around for security reasons, I leaned forward to whisper a very stern warning in his obnoxious ear. Just then the flight attendant appeared. She had been watching this passenger carefully and now my worst fears would be realized.

She would scold him. She would crisply tell him to settle down or the plane would turn around.  I held my breath waiting for her to recite the security procedures for passengers who misbehave.

Instead, she knelt down. She met his eyes and quietly said, “Sir, what do you need?”

He was stunned! Speechless! He stopped kicking! All of the angst drained from him and he said, “I’m sorry. This has been a really long day and I am so uncomfortable. I can’t breathe in small spaces.”

She brought him a glass of water, acknowledged his frustration, and continued visiting with him. Before long, he was smiling and laughing and breathing. The show was over.

As the plane took off, I was thinking about the power of those words, “What do you need?”

The natural response to this really “bad” behavior may have been quoting rules and threatening consequences. I’ve seen those responses on planes…and in workplaces. When people behave badly, we may be tempted to meet resistance with power. It sounds something like this: If you don’t do what I want you to do (right now), you will be sorry!

Instead, this amazing communicator chose to meet resistance with understanding. She reached through the ugly behavior and located the person – the tired, frustrated, panicked human.

Is this guaranteed to work? No, it isn’t. But I have seen communication miracles unfold when people apply the wisdom in the steps she used:

  1. Equalize the posture. This amazing communicator didn’t “stand over” the agitated passenger. She knelt to meet his eyes. She was confident enough to share the power.
  2. Reach for understanding. Agreement is not the goal. Understanding is. This passenger’s behavior was beyond ridiculous. I’m fairly certain the flight attendant did not appreciate or agree with it. She didn’t allow that to become the issue. She reached behind the behavior to find the need. As the wise Zig Ziglar teaches, “Fix people first. Then fix problems.”
  3. Use questions to draw out solutions. Amazing communicators ask questions that point to solutions. They understand “telling” or lecturing does not get people involved in solving. Questions give people a sense of control. (That’s a little magic when people are feeling powerless.)
  4. Focus on the real objective. I’m a big believer in objective-based communication. Go into every communication knowing what you are trying to achieve. The attendant’s objective was to calm the passenger. Her objective wasn’t to make him “wrong” or to “put him in his proper place.”
  5. Think like an improviser. Life and work are a lot like Improv Theater. Improv is based on the theory of “offers.” Everything that comes “at us” is an offer. The objective is to “receive” the offer and “advance” the scene. Amazing communicators are very good at this, even when the other actors are inexperienced or behaving badly, they know how to gently redirect the scene to more productive place.

Here’s to amazing communicators everywhere! You literally and virtually know how to help us rise above the noise and get us where we need to go.

Take Care of What is in Front of You

December 4th, 2011

The tide of need in this world is like a tsunami. It swirls around us everyday in the news, on the street and online. If you are paying attention, it might be easy to feel very small and powerless in the wake of such tremendous, relentless need.

People are homeless, hungry, discouraged and ill. And it’s not just the people: animals are suffering too. Abused, thrown away and neglected.

Heartbreaking. Devastating. Continuous. Need.

Bad News Headines

This article has me thinking about something a dear friend of mine shared about the life and works of Mother Teresa. When confronted with the magnitude of need before her – when challenged that she could not possibly make a dent in that need, Mother Teresa’s advice was simple: “…do the thing that’s in front of you.”

There is real power in that. If each of us reaches out to take care of what is placed in our path, if we respond to what is in front of us, we will push back the tide of need. A million small actions creating critical mass – making an enduring difference.

In this season, my prayer is for each of us to see and respond to what is in front of us.


Meetings that Can Change Everything, Part III

August 22nd, 2011

I was stunned recently when a long-time client called to say, “Our team is not functioning well. We need help…soon.”

While it’s not uncommon to hear a team is struggling to be effective, it was a huge surprise with this particular group. I’d been working with them for many years and had always known them to be nothing short of high performing. It was hard for me to imagine them in a “dysfunctional” place.

When I arrived a few days later, my plan was more about discovering the issues than “fixing” the people. I truly wanted to understand what was causing a mature, productive team to unravel at their virtual seams. We began the process by exploring the flow or  “current,” with a deeper dive to confront the undertows. What exactly was dragging this team under?

When I asked team members to describe their “current reality,” the answers were fascinating. They used words like ragged, stressed and overwhelmed.  Tensions were running high and hot. People were feeling defensive and reactive.

Rapid even relentless change was a major theme in our discussion. For months the company had been reaching for ways to become more efficient and competitive.  Resources were limited and goals were aggressive. Everyone was being stretched…too the limit.

My first impression was “change fatigue.” The group obviously needed a moment to stabilize before tackling the next initiative, but there was more to uncover. The symptoms and causes were morphing into a new (and very dysfunctional) brand.

Conflict had become a real threat. Where they had once enjoyed productive and constructive dialogue, they were now sniping at and about each other.  Pseudo teams had formed and clichés had emerged. Clearly the established ground rules and communication agreements had been thrown overboard.  (As we worked to diagnose the problem a hospital metaphor popped into my head. If trust were a “patient” in this place she’d be in on life support.)

This team had slipped a gear, and these new patterns of behavior were chipping away at the culture. The rapid decline was astonishing! And there was definite fallout: a top producer had just resigned and another was actively seeking a new opportunity.  Good people were leaving for all the wrong reasons.

What may have been most telling happened when I asked the group to share recent accomplishments and breakthroughs. The room fell silent.  These fabulous people were struggling to recall a success!

They had become so focused on the deadlines and next steps they completely lost sight of how far they had come or how they’d grown.  That’s like climbing a mountain without ever stopping to admire the view.

Then it struck me. This team had not forgotten how to be a team; they had forgotten to value the process and recognize the progress. The constant emphasis was on “”what’s next.”

That’s an exhausting way to work (or live)! We absolutely must sense our progress. It is to be noted and celebrated and…studied. This is so important because our past achievements light the path for the next success.

A meeting that can help your team make that shift is called “Appreciative Inquiry” and it works like this:

1. Ask your team to think about a time when it overcame an obstacle, seized an opportunity, achieved a goal, or solved a problem.

2. As your team reflects on this achievement, ask questions to draw out the specifics attitudes, skills and behaviors they used to navigate the challenge. For example:

  • What made us so successful in this situation?
  • What challenges did we face?
  • How did we overcome those challenges?
  • What did we learn along the way?
  • What skills did we use?
  • What did we believe about this challenge?
  • How were those beliefs reflected in our behaviors?
  • How did we honor each other through the process?
  • How did we each contribute?
  • How did we grow as individuals and as a team?
  • What did we “add” to ourselves?

3. Capture the answers and insights so they are visible to the group. You are writing a success story here; the authors of that story need to see it clearly!

4. Once you have explored the success thoroughly, ask your team how it can apply these skills, beliefs and behaviors to create a new break through. How can you intentionally use these attributes to navigate the current reality?

This exercise looks for the best in people and processes. It encourages teams (at work and at home) to diagnose success and focus on what works.  In a season of frustration or weariness, Appreciative Inquiry turns the focus from “what is wrong” to “who we are” and “what we can do.”

I used Appreciate Inquiry to draw success out of this struggling team. It was amazing to watch the transformation as they reflected on the history of their own success. It was a David and Goliath moment!

They re-engaged with the mission and each other. They laughed (and cried) as they told the stories. They filled eleven flipchart pages with the attributes and attitudes of success!

It turns out they weren’t dysfunctional after all. They just needed to remember who they are, what they are capable of, and what it feels like to win…again. It was an honor and pleasure to remind them.

If you’ve been following this 3-part series, Meetings that Can Change Everything, you’ve learned that:

  1. Victory Meetings help us energize and celebrate. They increase our appetite for winning and give us the opportunity to cheer others on. Victory Meetings encourage the heart, build confidence and renew our strength.
  2. Extreme Focus Meetings invite involvement and collaboration. This is important because for people to be authentically engaged, they must be authentically involved. Use Extreme Focus Meetings to develop ownership and commitment, solve problems, and improve processes.
  3. Appreciative Inquiry diagnoses our success and teaches us to do more of what works…intentionally. It helps us value the process, recognize the progress and leverage our strengths.

We would love to hear how you apply these meeting tactics with your teams at work and at home. You are invited to share your experiences and successes with us here and with our Facebook community at Dondi Scumaci’s author page.

Meetings that Can Change Everything: Part II

August 9th, 2011

Have you ever purchased a car, left the lot and suddenly noticed all the cars on the road just like yours? Do you think they weren’t there before?  (It’s almost as if they’ve appeared out of nowhere–released into the car wild, right after your purchase.)

Of course those cars were always there. If you didn’t see them, it simply means you weren’t looking for them.

You can experiment with this concept right where you are: Look around yourself for a few seconds. (Go ahead swivel all the way around. Stand up if you must to get a better view.)

Once you have done that – look again. This time look for everything that is red.

Chances are (if you’re playing along) reds are popping out all around you. Who knew there was so much red! It isn’t magic, it is attention. What you look for, you notice. What you search for (even subconsciously), you see.

Your brain really is amazing. Constantly bombarded by impressions clamoring for your attention, it has a fantastic filtering feature. Now here’s the best part: You can use those filters intentionally – to solve problems and seize opportunities.  Like a guided missal, you can send your brain (and your team) on a mission. You can create a lazar focus to search for and find your “reds” and “cars.”

Think about it for a moment. What are the reds and cars in your environment? What should you and your team be looking for and noticing? Perhaps it is an opportunity to lower costs or improve service; maybe it is catching what is falling through the cracks or what is taking too long. Your “reds” and “cars” might be ideas to build a stronger, more resilient team, communicate more effectively, or handle conflict more productively.

This entire car-shopping-red-seeking discussion leads to a powerful teaming and meeting tool. We can create extreme focus around what we are looking for, working on and trying to solve – with a single question.

I like the idea of using questions instead of answers to create extreme focus. Questions inspire involvement and involvement is the fast track to ownership and commitment. As Zig Ziglar is famous for saying, “People act best on their own ideas.” (I’ve also heard they don’t argue with their own data.)

Questions push back on the crush of mandates and demands. Sometimes I think there is way too much “telling” going on in the world. Managers and team leaders can get caught in that trap. Parents can too.

We can get so good at telling; we might forget a simple concept: People need to be honestly involved to be authentically engaged.

Here’s another reason to ask rather than tell. The answers might just amaze you. Others will see things you don’t. They will bring new perspectives and insights. Something else will happen too: Well-posed questions are like a compass – steering people towards their “North” – to the future and solutions. That’s energizing!

What are the questions you will ask yourself, your team, or even one member of your team to create extreme focus around performance, results and solutions? As a manager, you might find your questions inside of a performance problem. Here’s a thought: Instead of telling in that performance situation, try asking employees the questions you wish they were asking of themselves.

As you explore this concept, you will find questions invite creativity and accountability. They help people focus on what they can influence or control. Instead of complaining about the problem, they are searching for the solution. That’s powerful because the brain really is amazing; if you give it a problem to solve – a question to answer, it goes to work. Suddenly we are noticing what we did not see – solutions, options and answers.

If you decide to hold an Extreme Focus Meeting of your own, here are the steps:

  1. Choose a problem or an opportunity your group (or family) is facing and turn it into a question. For example, if the opportunity is to improve customer service, you might ask: “What could we do to make it easier for our customers to do business with us?”
  2. Gather your team for a moment and pose the question. It’s important to personalize this challenge. (The question isn’t, “What can the company do or what should management do – it is what can you do – what can we do?”)
  3. Let the team know you will meet again this afternoon, tomorrow, or next week.  Between now and then, the assignment is clear: Bring at least one solution, idea or commitment with you when you return.
  4. Meet at the appointed time and collect the ideas and commitments. Encourage people to explore and experiment with their solutions.
  5. Recognize and reward people as they follow through. Make progress visible and celebrate the victories.

Don’t be alarmed if your first meetings fail to yield brilliant, captivating ideas. Keep asking! Over time, the quality and quantity of ideas will grow. Confidence, energy and commitment will also rise.

In the end, you may find what I discovered. Getting to the answer or solution is a good thing.  How you get there matters too. Actually, how you get there may be what people will remember the most.

In Part III we’ll talk about another meeting that can change everything. Until then, I wish you all the best as you search for and find your “reds” and “cars.”

Victory Meeting

August 7th, 2011

I’ve had several people tell me they have never been invited to a victory meeting. Consider yourself invited. Click here to join the victory meeting on Friday. Hope to see you there.