The conference room was comfortable. New leather chairs and a marble top. Nothing like success to create a little overhead.
Sam had assembled a cast of the brightest minds in the company. Marketing was represented, sales, customer service, production and accounting. Everyone looked armed with official looking reports, charts and graphs, ready to defend the slightest attack.
Sam was good. He wasn’t looking for a scapegoat. He knew the problem wasn’t from someone being lazy, or even a wrong decision. He knew it was more likely that the organization’s system needed some attention.
He began by explaining what he had observed, and asked each member to accurately report the real figures behind the events. Unfortunately, four weeks worth of excess finished goods had translated into an eight-week inventory turn. Something had put the brakes on the market.
“So, take a piece of paper,” Sam began, “and write down your condition of engagement for this meeting? What has to happen in the next two hours that will indicate time well spent?”
It was not Sam’s intention to figure out the solution to this problem. It was Sam’s intention to have the group figure out the solution to this problem.
The responses from the team were positive.
- We have to agree on the purpose. We have to agree on what we are trying to achieve. We have to agree on the goal.
- We have to agree on what actions we will take. We have to agree on the coordination and interdependencies of those actions. This has to be a period of cooperation.
- We have to agree on what results we are looking for. We have to agree on what measures we will collect and analyze. We have to agree to raise the flag when something doesn’t look right, not to bury our statistics in a warehouse.
Most importantly, this was no longer Sam’s problem. This problem now belonged to the group.