Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Have you tried REVERSE Brainstorming ?

I was in a fix. 

I was assigned to manage a project which was critical for the organization. I had to deliver the project within a very short period of time. My team was very talented and committed. But when I described the project to them in a team meeting and talked about how critical it was for the company and the deadlines were stiff and the expected quality standard was high,  I could feel the vibes of negativity emanating from them.  It was clear that they were not convinced about the success of the project. 

I did not discuss anything on that day.  

The next day, I again called for a team meeting and as expected , I saw unenthusiastic faces sitting around the table.  I took a deep breath and announced  "I would like to brainstorm about the reasons why the project should fail ". 

Suddenly there were murmurs of interest in the group. People became interested and I could see expressions of surprise on their faces.  The team was used to Brainstorming about positive things but suddenly they were exposed to REVERSE brainstorming ! 

So we followed the usual process of brainstorming and we came up with 53  reasons why this project will fail !

Just after we finished the brainstorming, I announced "There is a second part to this exercise... we will now  prioritize and select ten significant factors which pose major threats.  Then we will do a detailed action planning to ensure that these factors are taken care of ..". 

Since the team had come up with the threats and jointly created the  action plans , there was a lot of ownership and any hurdle which came up during the execution was dealt with alacrity by the team !

Our project was completed within record time and  we received the Star Team of the Year Award !  

1 comment:

  1. At first it seemed as though you were convinced in your mind that it was "your" project and that "your" team had to accomplish something that was tasked your way as the "leader". The transformation that seemed to occur when you focused on them, and heard their "negativity" as you defined it, was not in the team taking ownership (They had that before you entered the room as judged by the "vibe you rightly discerned, an admirable skill by the way), but in your awareness of your self as a leader who quite capably was able to let go of the old paradigm about leading and recieve from them the simplest concept, that leadership is rarely really about you the leader. Truth be told, leadership is lonely partly because of the fact (can I throw that four letter word out there?) that leadership has very little to do with the leader per se. It has everything to do with the team and the desire, or willingness to allow you to take the point position in the project. Being on point is about taking the most dangerous position so that the rest of the team can be alive and and working in a creative space. the "leader" is their for them, to shield them, maybe coach, but doing what it takes to preserve that space for them to experience their best in a given moment of time. It is what you did for them that you as a leader bring to the floor and add to the mix. You serve their needs, capabilities, desires, and hope to create a climate where they 1. know you, and 2 know that they can trust you to be in the project about each of them so that they can be and do their highest and greatest with their God given gifts, talents and abilities. Who deep down doesn't want to know that feeling in the place where they sped the bulk of their moments in life? Though too many have given up or rejected that the possibility exists, "leaders like you who can turn the "rubiks cube" of leadership as is needed, and put the pieces together, provide inspiration to us all. The leader is tone, tempo, timing, and direction for the wonderful music produced by talented artists who often know how to use those elements to create something wonderful. Others among them see and want to be able to do just that at least once. leaders give a story to be told, good or bad. Just a thought from a "few" year trying to be a leader and quite a few more just being in the moment of creative ability with some remarkable human beings doing their thing with, for, in spite of, and even to me in order to accomplish, at times, the extraordinary. I used orchestra as a metaphor, but sometimes its jazz, fusion, rock, and worship music that will happen during my leadership service. The change that occurs, often, has been in me, but not really first and foremost about me, if I am saying it correctly. People who love and trust you will do virtually anything "for" you. Yes, respect is a form of "love". As always, I reserve the full right to be totally wrong! It is a part of my American dream. But, I think we need leaders whom we can respect and trust to get our way out of this mess we have been challenged with as a nation and a world. I am just saying!