All posts by Mike Westwood

Half baked

Make your meetings more effective

You may be interested in applying this analytical structure to your meetings.

In return for gaining enormous benefit from reading my comments, would you create a fancy title to describe this approach? If you do, I promise you an attribution which is likely to enhance your career.

It would be nice if it was a snappy acronym (sorry – for those who came through the English education system, an acronym is a word formed from the initial letters of other words, like radar or ANZAC.) For example: meetings are ludicrous (MAL). Or something snappy like: basic improvement of meeting behaviour and organisational effectiveness (BIMBOE).

That idea is half baked

You are in a team meeting and your boss asks for ideas to solve a problem. One person comes up with a suggestion.

Now, the team has only just been asked and have not thought it through, but one person bravely volunteers an idea. They probably cannot articulate how it would work practically, so they can’t provide much in the way of details. As a consequence, the team has difficulty in seeing how it would solve the problem they are discussing. Therefore, everyone makes it clear what they feel about this half-baked idea and also what they feel about the person who raised it.

But – aren’t most ideas half-baked the first time they see the light of day?

Message “Don’t come up with ideas that have not been properly thought through.”

Result Everyone is nervous about putting forward ideas. Not only because their idea will be criticised but also because they themselves will be attacked. As a consequence, creativity is devalued and idea generation shrivels. Action is confined to what we have tried before or what the boss wants. People’s development is stunted and the group fails to see or to grasp opportunities. Work becomes a less dynamic and fun occupation.

Suggestion Encourage suggestions, get ideas articulated, allow time for everyone to hear them. Then explore how they might work before determining what the shortcomings might be. A half-baked idea from one person can be developed into a possible avenue by another and then a certainty by a third – this is a key function of a team.

After all, what do you do with a potato that is half baked? Do you throw it away and fetch a new potato from the sack and start again? Or do you put the original potato back in the oven for a bit longer?

A further suggestion. Be aware of those who repeatedly interrupt or dismiss ideas. Stop them picking on weaknesses and stifling the creativity of others. Save criticism for idea evaluation.

A cowboy’s guide to life

A cowboy’s guide to life

Hollywood has made cowboys very glamorous but the reality is different. For example, a cowpoke was a man who rode the cattle truck holding a sharp stick. His job was to poke any cow that looked like it wanted to lie down to prevent it from getting trampled.

No wonder then, that in this tedious, noisy and smelly world, cowboys developed a rich philosophy which might be applied to organisational life.

“The only way to drive cattle fast is slowly”
“Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance”