Seth Godin’s post “Seized of the matter,” referring to how the U.N. Security Council has a method to seize and hold issues that they refuse then to allow the full body to debate, got me thinking about a few of my pet peeve statements that can slow down or stop change.
1. “When did we decide that?” The implication is that you all agreed that you would all agree before any action was taken. This is usually used on the most minor of issues that if you would have brought them before the whole group would have been met with the statement, “Why are you wasting our time with this?” If you can’t win either way, might as well decide and let them ask this question after the change has already flown by in front of them.
2. “When did you tell me that?” or its worse cousin, “You never told me that.’ which really means “I don’t know if you told me or not, but I know you didn’t make me care enough to listen!” When dealing with a group change effort, documentation is your friend. Take notes in meetings and type the notes into minutes. The minutes will help you and everyone else remember what they’d rather forget. Send out e-mails after the meetings recapping Agreements or Decision and Remaining Actions. They still probably won’t listen and they’ll still try to pull “You didn’t make me care enough!” but you’ll have the electronically captured memories on your side. Slowing down to point them toward the minutes is a lot quicker to recover from than slowing down to have the conversation, “Remember on Tuesday the 12th when we decided…”
3. “Who told you to do that?” I’ve already covered that one in a blog post. Just answer, “I did.” (as diplomatically as you can) and keep on going.
What’s the point of all this?
When you’re dealing with a group change, no matter how much you discuss deciding, document deciding and ask permission people will always ask these three questions, and more.
These stopper questions are just a muddy field in front of your fast car.
Don’t let them drag you into the mud.
Steer clear of the mud and keep driving change.