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Check Your Anchors (Collective Next Card #29)

Check Your Anchors (Collective Next Card #29)

Jimmy Guterman
February 20th, 2015

Check Your Anchors - Collective Next card

This is one of a series of posts we’re running about the Collective Next Cards.

Climbing is dangerous. What goes up slowly can come down very quickly. Anchors make it possible for climbers to reach summit as safely as possible. Indeed, anchors are so important to safety that smart ones use multiple anchors. As one how-to puts it: “Two anchors are the minimum for rock climbing. Three anchors won’t hurt you either.”

Although we hope the dangers aren’t as great as climbing, we need anchors in our work, too. As with rock climbing, we’re safest and can achieve the most if we pay close attention to multiple types of anchors. In my years working with Collective Next, I’ve seen our people do spectacular work because they check their anchors repeatedly. Here are the four types of anchors I see them employing:

Preparation anchors

One of the most important lessons I’ve seen acted on here, day after day, is that there’s no such thing as too much preparation, no detail too small to obsess over. Much of our work is facilitating sessions and small/medium/large events for clients. As you might expect, such conferences involve hundreds, sometimes thousands of moving parts. Each of those parts is an opportunity to delight or disappoint. By being ruthless (but kind!) about preparation, we learn what we need to know about the participants, the venue, the programming, and the organization to succeed. This series of posts has been full of preparation anchors: Don’t Go It Alone and Make Ambiguity Your Friend to name only a few. (See the full list.)

Kindness anchors

I’ve seen people here work our clients hard, pushing them until their talk or video or agenda is bulletproof but malleable, able to surmount any last-minute surprise. We do this by treating ideas brutally but treating the individuals expressing those ideas with great kindness. We do hard work here, but it’s enjoyable hard work because we treat our clients and each other with kindness. Nurture, Don’t Nuke is a good example of this anchor.

Topic anchors

We’re generalists here, with plenty of experience in many industries but one of our strongest anchors is a desire to learn even more. We help clients develop the best outcomes for their organizations when we understand their business deeply. Over our 12 years (so far), some of our most satisfying engagements have been with long-term clients who have given us an opportunity to learn their business at an almost atomic level.

Moral anchors 

Maybe the ultimate anchor-related question is: Is this the right thing to do? Is it in line with my business’s mission and values? My division’s? My team’s? My personal ones? If we’ve prepared sufficiently, if we’ve treated our clients and each other with kindness, if we’ve become experts on a company and its industry … then we can aask and answer the deep questions about what the right thing to do is.

What are your anchors? What’s most important to you?

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