Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Not How Many But How

Subtitle: Getting viewpoints.

I remembered a colleague who had an interesting approach to getting various views on the issue at hand.  Let’s call him James.   When he had a topic or pressing issue that needed a variety of opinions, he would seek out three different sets of views.  These views are at times opposing.  He said that this helped him developed a better solution and in a shorter time.

Getting in line to share idea?
James would stage the conversations.  I am his exploration person.  He came to me for building ideas.  He said, jokingly, that I am so “full” of it.  He would present his idea; my brain glows with excitement and I start building and adding to the original.

James will also find a person who will oppose and debate the idea with him.   He will pick a side for the debate.  He enjoys the debate.  The intensity of the debate can be quite daunting at times.  However, he said that the debate generated addition ideas, concerns, obstacles and other useful information that he may not have thought of otherwise.  He will also find a third person.  This person would be indifferent to the idea.  James will try to win this person over.  It is not a sales skill practice but really trying to understand the person’s need and determine if the idea will help this person out.

Now what was it that you disagreed?
James really has a wonderful process for what he calls rapid prototyping.  With each conversation, he modifies his idea.  In the end, the idea becomes more complete and robust.  When he prepares for his presentation later, he can position his pitch so the solution addresses a need.

It takes skill and courage to engage people to these types of conversations.  Even the exploration conversation has to be skillfully handles or it becomes unruly.  For me, the difficult conversation is the one that entails a debate.  I have to learn to distill the facts from the emotions.  So to build an idea it is not a matter of getting lots of views from people but the types of views.  You get them from people who are FOR, AGAINST and NEUTRAL to the idea.  I wish you a pleasant conversation.

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