Sunday, August 19, 2012

‘Will There Be Donuts? Start a business revolution one meeting at a time’ by David Pearl

Use discomfort to creative effect
“Sometimes you can even use discomfort to creative effect. I remember watching the MD of a German telecoms company conscientiously setting up his meeting room on the evening before a conference was to begin. He was creating a perfect, dare I say Teutonically perfect, horseshoe of chairs so that all members of his executive team could see the screen. The theme of the meeting was to be taking on new markets, and his intent was to fire up his board so they would have the courage and daring to step out of the comfort zones of their home territories. When he had gone to the bar I surreptitiously moved the chairs, and the following morning a third of the participants had to lean and peer uncomfortably sideways to see the slides. After a good hour of this suffering I stepped in.’
“‘I notice you guys don’t look that comfortable. Is there a problem?’’
“‘Yes,’ says a spokesperson irritably, ‘the screen is in the wrong position and we can’t see the slides.’ (The MD is meanwhile checking his calculations.)’
“‘So why didn’t you move it?’’
“The point wasn’t lost on them. You are not going to get anywhere as a company if you don’t dare to move from your current position.’
“This phenomenon of accepting what you are given runs deep in the Anglo-Saxon mentality and, I suggest, in the north of Europe generally. I don’t know if it’s a hangover from post-war austerity (you’ll eat what you are given), but generally people seem to make do with what they are presented with (as individuals and as businesses) because it seems, well, rude to ask for more. Not quite cricket.’
“The North Americans are more explicit about expressing their needs (as all those self-help books tell them to), but even they are not immune.”
(pp. 115-6, ‘Will There Be Donuts? Start a business revolution one meeting at a time’ by David Pearl - Harper)

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