The Kaleidoscope Effect

When working with top teams from different backgrounds and sectors, often at different stages in their corporate life-cycles, you might naturally expect to be focusing on a number of very different issues, specific and unique to each team. But, as we’ve learned over the years, this isn’t necessarily the case.

In fact, while recently delivering a series of strategic Executive team events (‘custom-made’ for each client of course – that is the Maier way after all) we began to notice an emerging pattern. It seems that when it comes to the C-suite, problems are often not made for sharing. With HOT (honesty, openness and trust) being one of our markers, what stood out during the sessions was that even the most gifted and enlightened of Execs still feel the need to hive off functional issues to be dealt with later behind the proverbial ‘closed doors’, often with minimal input from colleagues.

What may seem mundane and trivial on the surface can prove to be something of a chronic distraction –  more often than not these departmental conundrums have a much wider impact than we realise. With meeting agendas already bursting at the seams and top teams having to work at hyper-speed to stay ahead of complex change curves, it’s easy to understand why Exec members don’t always bring problems to the board table. And let’s not forget, for most of us ‘going public’ with problems, even when not of our making but certainly within our remit, often takes guts and a good dash of bravery.

Team-powered problem solving

The big message here is ‘you don’t have to do it all on your own’, in fact, it’s better if you don’t!

“Tricky problems must be shaped before they can be solved. To start that process, and stimulate novel thinking, leaders should look through multiple lenses.”

Mckinsey and Company 2013

The value of ‘team-powered problem solving’ is in the diversity of approaches it brings to unravelling difficult issues. The ‘what-ifs’ become ‘so-whats’ because the combined efforts of a team inevitably generate more options and ideas than any single individual, no matter how talented or experienced, ever could. A great example of this was during a recent event we facilitated where an Exec member happened to share a problem she’d been having with a particular team of hers as part of a HOT development session. The collective input and ideas from everyone else in the Exec team proved invaluable, not only in terms of offering varying perspectives but also in confirming their support. By the end of the session a plan of action had been drawn up and wheels already set in motion.

Then there’s the collective learning and shared support to add into the equation – solutions might be simple but that doesn’t always make them easy to implement and knowing you have a team behind you, all invested in your success, makes any challenge more manageable.

This approach isn’t just for the ‘here and now’ – similar tactics  can be used when looking ahead, in avoiding anticipated problems and identifying potential ‘bumps in the road’. To find out more, contact us.

Inspiring spaces 

On the subject of problem solving, a change of scene can be hugely beneficial in providing the right environment for open and honest conversation, along with increasing productivity levels and simply getting the creative juices flowing.

Over the past 20 years we’ve had the privilege of working in some truly amazing spaces, but our standout venue so far this Summer has to be the Turner Contemporary in Margate.  It provided the perfect setting for this Executive group to reflect, to take time out in thinking that bit more creatively around what’s front of mind and enjoy exploring some new possibilities.

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