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Getting to “What’s Smart”

This week, we’ve talked a lot about how success can be contagious… but it can’t spread without contact.

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In my work with executive teams, one of the biggest challenges I face is getting all of these brilliant minds to come together, really listen to each other and apply their brainpower to address a common problem or goal.

Typically, I will use a “collaboration model” with steps including: vent; reverse negative assumptions; generate ideas; identify what’s smart about each idea, watch for the recurring themes (and make sure all of theses themes are included when the ideas are blended into a solution); pinpoint the dangers; and finally, develop an action plan.

One of the single most important lessons I’ve learned in business is to look for the good in every idea – to find “what’s smart” about what someone else is saying, even if I don’t agree with them. We’ve all played the “gotcha” game – jumping on something we just know is a bad idea… punching holes in someone’s argument to prove how smart we are.

But aren’t we all sometimes a little quick to jump to conclusions? Haven’t we all made assumptions about something that we think is just plain stupid, when in fact it may have turned out to be the next paradigm shifter?

Any great “gotcha” stories out there?

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