The following line will short cut months of (building) ‘alignment’, integration, reorganization, team building, coalition building, start-up get-to-know, redeployment of people, culture integration, collective leadership build up, and any situation in which Peter, Paul and Mary need to start working together from somewhere zero, or below.
And this is perhaps after a restructuring, or M&A, or transitory team, new team, the mother of all task forces included. Also, anytime when you can’t afford low building of trust, slow development, slow diagnosis, slow ‘it will take months before we are a team’, etc., that is, never.
The line is: This is what I am very bad at, what about you?
And its plural, what we are very bad at; what this company is very bad at; what about you, yours?
The Old School Toolkit has a saying: we will take the best of A and the best of B in this new merged company. But this is a bad start. The best of A plus the best of B may still be crap. Also, the safe discussion of ‘the best’ tends to hide the bad and the terrible for months.
Take the ‘this is what I am very bad at, what about you?’ line upfront. As you can see, it is more than a line. It is an approach, an attitude, a whole jumpstart in a box.
The artist Alex Grey, somebody I confess I had not heard of until a recent article quoting him – for which I am grateful; unfortunately I can’t remember anything else from that article – said: “True love is when two people’s pathologies complement one another’s’
I think that this is a very good start to create ‘love’ in a reorg, an M&A, a whole restructuring. It should be a line and a quote for management. How about start loving fast?
In a new situation (and old ones) when Peter and Paul and Mary ‘now must work together’, the three of them bring their brains, their hearts, and with them, their skills and competencies. But they also bring their inadequacies, contradictions and flaws. At the top of leadership qualities, acknowledging our own contradictions must have a strong place. We all have them. Acknowledging them is a strength.)
And I don’t have to tell you what that approach will do for trust: you’ll be see it rocketing soon.
The inevitable super-hero (even if sincere) ‘this is what I/we am/are very good at’ is a starter built upon competition. My ‘very good’ is bigger than ‘your very good’, sort of thing. The ‘this is what I/we am/are very bad at, what about you? points straight to humanity, collaboration, cut the crap, let’s do it.
Sure, you won’t see this in the Powerpoints of the Big Consulting Group Integration Plan. They never contain the how.