Date: November 13, 2012

Author: JT

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Leading the Crusade: Against the Communication Monster

In many customer or client engagements, there lies a story, full of intrigue and mystery, set against a dark monster dwelling deep in their midst.

Sometimes it takes a keen eye to realize the monster lurks thereabouts.  Monster hides behind conference room chairs and, even as early as my first visit with a customer, the flicking, pointed tail can be seen poking out.

If restless, the tales agitatedly whips back and forth like a cat’s tail.  Other times, it lays there, relaxed, not knowing it has been sighted.  As yet, the monster has no name, though some would call it Blame.

The telltales the monster lurks can be seen if you watch.  Questions asked go unanswered, or the questions are short, clipped, halting.  It’s clear the monster has a good grasp on it’s domain when these answers are accompanied with eyes looking at tables, away from other participants, or sideways glances at one another…quite often the group’s leader.  Curiously, the ‘leader’ is not always the one in charge.

With care, and caution…lest I be caught in it’s own snare, I arrange visits between different groups.  Reasons why I have been invited in vary.

Sometimes the customer has asked me in to get a troubled project back on track.  Others can be customer engagements that are souring for no clear reason.  Sometimes it can be because there’s a hole in the foundation, in system processes, not visible to those who stand on top, looking down, unable to leave and look back at their abode with a fresh eye.

Whatever the reason, where the monster exists, I tread carefully.  It only takes one flick of its tail, one slash of a sharp nail, to leave me heavily scarred. Or, worse…mortally wounded.

Some customers would have me run aggressively, carrying my sword out front, brazenly crashing through the office furniture toward the light.  Such bravado is rarely met well.  The thorns, gnarled roots, and immovable cubicles have heretofore left heroes unwittingly bloodied, bruised, struggling from a 1,000 cuts.

Instead, a measured, careful approach is called for.  Only by listening to as many inputs as possible, can a game plan be forged, a way to enlighten all, and eliminate the monster, to give it a name.JT Pedersen_321 Ignite_Monster_Communication_Crusader (180F)

I know I am beginning to get a leg up on vanquishing the monster when, as I meet with the various business groups, I begin to hear the same core stories repeated.  The monster’s name is not Blame but rather Communication!

The stories take the form of complaints–from opposite sides of the same coin–from one group, about another.  As losses of productivity become apparent…one group…struggling to [communicate] with another…acknowledges it spends 30% of it’s time addressing such problems.  The monster, its lair, is slowly being uncovered.

Sometimes my visits are short, swift, and answers abundantly clear.  Those living in the corporate village should have seen the problem, the communication monster, for themselves.  Now, with my help, they are able to turn on the monster themselves and fight it back into it’s lair, forcing it to submit, yet ever wary of it’s return.

Other missions can take far longer, the problems more complex, the monster’s grasp more deeply entrenched…sometimes not even fully apparent until after work begins.  Weeks, months of battle can ensue.

Weeks, months of battle can ensue.

In large organizations the monster has a million places to hide.  Only with care, and a steady measured approach in the Monster vanquished.  Sent back to its lair.  In extreme cases the monster has built a family.  Each one must be fought on it’s own terms, vanquished, force back into it’s own lair.

We all have monsters.  The shame of it is that we can never put the communication monster away.  It can never be killed. Ever.  With careful diligence, a strong prescription for transparency, it can be held at bay indefinitely though.

Fight your monster.  But. Realize there’s a crusader you can call for help: JT, at 321 Ignite!

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