Where We’d Least Expect It

The ‘Purloined Letter’ phenomenon is a powerful one. We all tend to look for answers in abstruse analytics, often too far up or too far away, when many times, the answers are literally right under our noses.

Consultants have to beware of making things overly complicated. I’ve just dealt with two sets of senior teams, made up of highly capable, articulate, dedicated members who needed to learn to listen better and more deeply to each other, and needed time to build relationships with each other. Everything else had been tried! Every other major or minor fad, multi-step program, you name it. Everything but the obvious.

Their other need was to look at the assumptions they were making, what CK Pralahad calls the ‘dominant logic’, in areas where they were stuck. It surely cannot be shocking that if we are persistently and consistently stuck, we ourselves, our thoughts and assumptions, might be the adhesive!

Asking clients “How do you know this?” when they trot out their favorite rationalizations for continuing to entrench recurring problems and not being fobbed off by fuzzy replies and factual tap-dancing is probably as potent as any four quadrant, multi-axis diagram ever created.  Probably more so.

Let’s realize the source of many trenchant problems will be lurking in front of us, ‘so obvious they’re not obvious’ as one of my most insightful clients put it — waiting to be glimpsed, furtive only because we refuse to see them, and face them.

And let’s therefore also look for real answers where it seems we often least want them to be, but where they most often are nonetheless…in our thinking, in our communication, in our interaction, in our listening, and finally in and through the action we take as a result!