Back to Basics

August 7, 2015 by
Filed under: Uncategorized 

There is an ongoing search for the latest, the greatest, the top-10 list, the hot new thing that will turn our lives around. This search has been going on for a long, long time, and will continue for years to come. Nothing is going to change that for the masses.

But you don’t have to be part of the masses.

That interminable search for the latest and greatest does a couple of things.

First, this culture of searching provides the basis for the vast majority of service providers a constantly evolving platform of ideas and messages to drive to the masses. New and improved this, better than ever that. If you are pitching the latest well enough, you will find an audience, that’s the good thing. The other side of that coin is there will soon be a new latest thing, and there’s a rebranding that needs to take place, to stay on top, to retain an audience.

Second, given that the latest and greatest always gets replaced by something new, something ‘better’, we just might be looking in the wrong place for the answers we seek. Much of what is touted as the latest and greatest is often the same old stuff that kinda worked in the past, with a fresh coat of paint. A few tweaks here and there, but fundamentally similar to what was the latest last month.

All this is driven by a profound need to find a simple solution to what is usually a complex problem. Simple because we are easily distracted, because we are in a hurry, or because we have a heck of a lot of stuff on our plate. We don’t have the time, or want to take the time, or appreciate that it takes the time to come up with a solution such that the fundamental problem is actually addressed.

So instead, most of us opt for the latest band-aid. Much to the joy of the many service providers pitching the latest band-aid.

I consciously decided years ago that I would never sell the latest band-aid – while it simplifies the sales process, it diminishes the value delivered.

Fortunately, though, that complex problem that continuously confounds our ongoing stop-gap measures can be wrestled to submission with a few basic principles.

First and foremost: one band-aid, even a well-branded one, won’t work in every situation. Any approach that can be pitched with a nice graphic or a few specific things to repeat in a structured manner will be fine in some situations, but will fail miserably in others. Something that worked for one group that makes widgets isn’t necessarily right for another group that develops cogs. That’s why band-aids come in mixed packages these days. That’s why an auto mechanic will figure out what’s wrong with your car before reaching for the appropriate tool. Everything is contextual.

Secondly, and equally important: the core gaps to be addressed always have to do with person-to-person interaction. Trust, respect, integrity, shared goals, open and honest communication, appreciation, empathy. Missing one of these is generally at the core of any problem you face in teams. Failing to embrace these is also at the core of any endeavour you might also face on your own – you are always better off collaborating with others, even if some tasks are done on your own. Diverse perspectives, shared ownership, appreciation of the contributions of others.

Third, we should always be looking to add tools to our toolkit. Learn from the latest, for sure, but don’t diminish the value of older, established ideas that have stood the test of time (and are often simply skinned as the latest new things). Don’t just add the tools, but understand how these tools are best applied. There’s times it makes sense to use a chain saw, times when a carving knife makes more sense.

Put these together, and you’ve got a solution space that’s superior to anything that might be touted as the latest and greatest.

Get together, discuss your experiences and perspectives about your current situation – the challenges you face, the tools you can bring to bear. Collaboratively craft an approach based on this understanding, leveraging tools and techniques from your vast repertoire of experience – develop your approach for solving this problem. And make adjustments along the way as needed.

While this might appear to take more time, in reality this approach makes for a smoother ride and a more cohesive experience.

Never become blindly enraptured with the latest and greatest – focus on a shared, collaborative, situationally relevant approach to addressing your particular challenges. That has always been, and always will be, a more effective solution. – JB

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