He Said, She Said

I find too many consultants involved in the equivalent of schoolyard gossip. They tell me that the buyer is deficient (the person who hired them!) because people are complaining. Or they tell me that there is a total breakdown in communications because “sales and R&D hate each other.” They dive into politics, take sides, appoint blame, try to become judge and jury.

This way lies madness.

People complain for a lot or reasons, often irrationally. They sometimes engage in “transference,” which creates an object of wrath inspired by another event entirely. Some practice “projection” where they assign their own sentiments and biases to others.

Your job is to find cause, not blame. Your best route is to ask the following questions when you’re told anything that you don’t personally know is true:

1. What’s your evidence for that statement?

2. What specific behavior have you observed to support that statement?

3. What is an example of what you’re claiming that I can observe?

You can’t deal with what’s inside people’s heads. You can only deal with what’s manifest in the environment. Stop making War and Peace out of departmental disagreements, and cease assigning Hatfield/McCoy antipathies to every grievance, real or imagined.

Your job is to make the complex simple, to find cause not blame, and to use your very value as an objective outsider to pragmatically reach conclusions untainted by politics and power.

If I watched you perform, what evidence would I see?

© Alan Weiss 2013


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