Dont Blame Collective Next card

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

At Collective Next, we spend a lot of time diagnosing problems, separating symptom from cause, asking why, and developing the right approach for resolving an issue.  Through this process, we tend to hear the same kinds of things, most of which talk about “They.” All the things “They” did that didn’t make sense. All of the decisions “They” made that created the mes we find ourselves in. How things would be different if only “They” understood x, y, z.

Here’s the secret, though: There is no “They,” at least not like people think. Our job is to figure out what “We” will do, and usually that includes the group formerly known as “They.”

At the end of last year, we ran a series of sessions for one of our clients. They had spun out of another larger organization at the beginning of the year, and were working to help define and communicate the culture of their new entity. We ran sessions around the globe to share the new culture with regional leadership teams, and to gather their input on the challenges they saw in making the new culture a reality. During one of the debriefs, someone stood up and said, “Who is causing all of these challenges? If you know who it is, please slide a note under my door. I will take care of it.” Everyone laughed. It was a funny moment. The next morning, during another debrief, he took the microphone again. “Remember when I said you can tell me who is making it hard for us to make this culture real? I woke up this morning, and there was a list of names that had been slipped under my door. It was the attendance list for this meeting. We are the ones who can do something to make this culture a reality.”

It was beautiful. I was a proud, proud facilitator that day. These people were the top 125 people in the region. If they couldn’t influence how work was done, help break down the legacy bureaucracy, who could? It was time to stop blaming “They” and start working together to develop their path forward.