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The Tough Conversation

I just finished facilitating a Quarterly Planning session where I observed the Exec team maturing before my very eyes. An outburst of frustration (over some very true systemic issues) finally made its way outward (courtesy of one brave soul in the room who dared to say what needed to be said.) While the outburst was very loud with ‘excessive use of language,’ in the end, the team was in a much better place. It’s not a fairytale; they still have work to do. But the strides they made during that Quarterly Planning session will take them far beyond what they could have ever accomplished had they ‘self-facilitated’ their own session. One team member asked me afterwards: “Are we your bratty little client group that you hate to see coming? I mean, I bet there are days that you really don’t like what you do for a living.”

My response was an immediate smile and words of assurance that this team will make it…beyond belief…all because they dared to have a meaningful conversation. Is this a healthy way to talk to each other? They yell. They get angry. They yell some more. No, it’s not the healthiest way to communicate. But it was nonetheless a living example of how they routinely go about solving their problems. It was also the catalyst that catapulted them toward a healthier future.

The discussion after the outburst was uncomfortable to say the least. It was painful. Some of them even asked if we could just move on and forget it (like they’d done in the past.) And then, a systemic issue surfaced at that very moment. They were indeed great planners; none better! But they were lousy implementers. Lack of accountability aided the dysfunction to even higher levels. There are simply times when a discussion around real issues is needed, and this was one of those times. Otherwise, it’s like revisiting a poorly written script that’s been rewritten over and over…with little to no improvement.

Quarterly Planning is about reviewing the prior 13 week race and noting, with reality, if you’re on-track with your Winning Moves. In addition, it’s about preparing for the upcoming 13 week race based on current reality and your vision for the future.

But Quarterly Planning is also about “connection.” There’s no better way to see the inner-workings of your organization than to have a seasoned facilitator guide you through Quarterly Planning Sessions (or at least one mid-year session). The reason: Because how you collectively tend to solve your problems…matters.

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