Candid Dialog

I was reading an excellent book on business operations titled “Execution” — and I was struck by something I have seen in other management books that was stressed even more strongly in this one: the importance of robust, deep, honest dialog, especially among the top staff.

I contrast this with my own experiences — my reluctance to bring up the topic of alcohol consumption with a close relative we now think is an alcoholic, and some other talks I was reluctant to have with people at a client location.

Last week, I didn’t have the “robust, deep, honest” dialog that would have exposed a critical gap in assumptions and thinking around the handling of a key business function. That gap in thinking led to my resigning from the client account.

It’s entirely possible — I think even likely — that a good dialog would have ended with the exact same result. Still, it would have been a better outcome for having been clearer and more transparent.

Now that that’s over, I think it would be great practice as well as healthy for all concerned for us to loop back and have that candid dialog after the fact, as a debriefing.

I look forward to it very much.

Another mental image I had around macro issues with the business is, when do you throw in the towel and shut it down? Not a happy thought, yet an important one. I was remembering something I’d read possibly from Gavin DeBecker or another writer on self-defense, that recommended you set a hard limit in your own mind, like “if he steps past that doorway coming towards me with that knife, I will shoot him.” What would signal to you that it was time to fold? I don’t have an answer — I think for troubled companies especially, finding one would be wise.

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