I remember last year in the US. I had given them ideas, insights, reflections. I had shared experiences. I had provided some frameworks, lots of questions and a tour of the misunderstandings. I had pointed out the traps, the risks, the deviations. I had shared the problem of the multiple meanings of the issue. I had drawn a curve of progression from A to B and shared my idea of where they needed to be by now. I told them stories. I gave them examples. I provided them with a suggested list of possible actions.
And they said: Great! Can you give us something concrete to work with?
Oh! Concrete, is a revered word by managers. Ideas, insights, reflections, experiences, questions, possibilities and stories are not concrete enough. Not until you show the 1,2,3, the top 3 take-away, the 5 key actions.
Even so, not concrete enough?
Err, do you mean digested, pre-digested?
Thank God I met a CEO recently who, invited to join other CEOs for a broad, public sector cultural change programme that my team is about to start and lead, told us loudly: do whatever you need to do, but as far as I am concerned, if I see another PWC template in this, I am out of here.
Fortunately, he is safe with me.
Do some companies look like a kindergarten full of highly paid pupils?
Concreteness. Synonymous: solid, material, real, physical, tangible, palpable, substantial, visible.
I wonder if they meant concrete: a heavy, rough building material made from a mixture of broken stone or gravel, sand, cement, and water, that can be spread or poured into molds and that forms a stone like mass on hardening.
Perfect for navigating through corporate life, with lots of those ‘concrete’ things chained to one’s neck.
Aha! That is why they are so slow! Dammit! It took me the whole one year to figure it out. Dammit! They love that concrete.