One of the three skills I observe that the most effective Directors, MDs and CEOs have is holding the Context for their business. What does that mean?
Let me illustrate this way: ask two people what their favourite fruit is and one says orange, the other says banana. Now ask them which is the better fruit and what happens? A number of things: (1) the person who said orange says orange and the person who said banana says banana (2) neither agree and they go for a orange and banana messy compromise (3) they debate the thing for so long they get fed up and don’t decide (4) they make a decision but don’t really know why so probably end up revisiting it again, and again.
Now let’s use the orange or banana question as a metaphor for every business decision that you need to make. Do we invest or don’t we? Do we hire person A or person B? Do we adopt strategy X or strategy Y etc. What happens? Well broadly the same things as above. Has this ever happened in your business? And how much time, energy, budget and will to live gets burned debating the choices? Sometimes a lot I suspect.
So what’s the solution? Well, the question: “Is an orange better than a banana?” is a question out of Context. So let’s put it in context. Imagine if I was going for a run in an hour and I wanted the fruit that was best in the Context of energy – what would people say? Banana – and how long would that have taken, how much disagreement would there have been? Not much – when the Context is clear.
Context: that which brings meaning. So whose job is it to set the Context for your business? Yeah, that’ll be yours then. As a coach I support my clients to manage their business in Context and to use Context as a strategic planning tool. Decisions are quicker and better. People are aligned and things are more efficient. People’s jobs are easier and more satisfying too, so there is a cultural benefit to being clear on Context too.
Last Wednesday I tweeted this question: “If someone in your business does something “stupid” do you blame them or do you ask what Context you failed to set to guide their actions?”
Are you holding the Context?