Have you noticed that we almost always use the same wording for our business objectives, issue statements, or project summaries? Then why are we surprised when we keep coming up with the same solutions, the same ideas? How many projects have you worked on with objectives such as “increase sales revenue” or “reduce operating costs” or any variations thereof? Probably most, if not all of them. You’ll agree that as a means to mobilize a team, it’s sadly ineffective.
So how can we expect to generate enthusiasm or even come up with innovative solutions in such circumstances? Well, simply by shifting the focus of our questions. Imagine a company wanting to increase its sales revenue. Which wording would most likely lead it off the beaten track and help mobilize its team?
Did you feel differently as you read the first objective? What about the second one? Renewed energy, crazy ideas about gold medals, podiums…
Now that’s the idea! By wording questions and objectives in new ways, the greater your chances of mobilizing contributors, clients, employees… and yourself towards a successful journey filled with perks. The first above-mentioned objective may generate some enthusiasm the first time, maybe even the second time around, but if it’s the 100th time, it may come up short of catalyzing your team’s energies and mobilizing them.
Responses always replay past solutions or watered-down versions that are doomed to fail. Today, as we deal with multiple projects and transformations, it’s all the more important to brainstorm so that their value does not hinder collective creativity.
Here’s another example. We all know it’s better for our health to take the stairs rather than the escalator or elevator. Imagine that you now have the challenge of ensuring that everyone makes that healthy choice. You’ll probably have no problems convincing people of the benefits—everyone knows its better for their health and cardio, and eventually their morale; everyone knows that stairs require less and cheaper maintenance.
However, if you were project lead, you would know from the outset that this is a huge challenge, especially if you had to achieve the following objective: “reduce the use of escalators by increasing that of stairs” or “encourage people to use the stairs rather than the elevator or escalator” (it’s so boring that I almost fell asleep while writing it).
But how about this objective:
“Stairs aren’t stairs, but a dance floor” or “Take the stairs with the heart of a child playing hopscotch” or yet “Climb to 7th heaven by taking the stairs.” And we could all come up with so many others…
If you would like to find out how this challenge was taken up successfully, the goal being to increase stair use by 60% over escalator use, check out this video: http://youtu.be/2lXh2n0aPyw
The final result was deeply influenced by the initial premise, just as the potential success of our projects rests on their initial positioning. Bold and motivating wording can transform your team’s state of mind. So what are you waiting for? You could also harness the power of words and channel new energy into your organization.