The Framework: Connect
In the eighth segment, we’ll examine the framework element of connecting your high stakes work (and solutions) to reasons that matter. If work matters it’s more likely people will engage in executing solutions with their best energies. You can listen to the audio below. There is also a transcript if you would like to refer back to this segment.
Your mission is too important and your resources too precious.
Work with ingenuity!
Transcript Below: The transcript below is not meant to replace listening to the audio, but serves as a reference for post-listening learning. Please forgive any errors due to the skill level of the A.I. robot that created this transcript.
To say that I’m a Star Trek fan is to woefully understate the obvious. For decades, I’ve loved Star Trek. One of my favorite parts of Star Trek is how the story starts to focus down on the need for ingenuity. Something happens at some point along the way. Usually, it’s many variables all working together through the story, to where it’s coming down to something like Captain Kirk’s on the planet. And if Scotty doesn’t fix the transporter in time, he’s going to die. And if Captain Kirk dies, it’s going to set off chain reaction that basically is going to create a void in the universe that cannot be overcome. And so Scotty, along with others, and the ingenuity of the moment, figure out how to get the transporter to work just in time.
Now, this became such an important theme in Star Trek, that, then you would have moments prior to that moment of resolution, where you’d have Captain Kirk or someone else telling Scotty or the appropriate people that they have got to deliver, you’ve got to get the transporter fixed. Because if you don’t, we don’t know if there’s a universe tomorrow. I love that moment. I love the challenge of that moment. And I love to see the ingenuity that gets Captain Kirk, or whatever the situation might be off the planet, or resolved in time. And there’s some pretty clever ways that this happens in every Star Trek episode, in every Star Trek television show in the movies, whether they’re the old movies or the new ones, there’s this moment where people are given the challenge. And there’s the moment where they deliver.
The fourth element that’s present when people are ingenious, is the ability of that group of people to have compelling urgency for what they’re doing. For the solution they’ve created. For the stakeholders, they’ve involved with the resources they have, they have a kind of compelling engagement, they have an engagement, we’ve got to find a way. We’ve got to find a way, there is an urgency, there’s an articulation of the high stakes nature of what they’re doing. And that high stakes urgency, it creates energy. And the rallying of that energy is what creates the possibility of ingenuity. Now a good crisis is a really good way to illustrate this fourth, and very important element of ingenuity, which is the ability to connect a bigger why the rationale to the work we’re doing. One of the best ways to see this in action is just to see what happens when there’s a good old fashioned crisis.
When there’s a crisis that has to be resolved, like we’ve got to get Captain Kirk off that planet or he’s gonna die. Or those astronauts, the real ones, those astronauts are going to die without a filter. There is a kind of automatic, high stakes urgency that takes over. And that’s why in a crisis moment, you often have some of the most ingenious action take place. Think about what happened in 2020 when millions and millions of people had to go home and do their work at home after spending most of their career in a building. That was a Herculean task, not only for individual companies, but for networks around the world to be able to accomplish a global fashion crisis
creates compelling urgency. Now, look, we don’t want all of our work to have have to be born out of crisis. And we don’t want to have to manufacture a crisis to create compelling urgency. And so here in this fourth element of ingenuity, we see how ingenious teams and organizations create that high stakes urgency without the crisis.
They have a way of articulating a powerful why, and the rationale behind it. But what does that mean? What does it mean to do that? How do you create high stakes urgency, with the appropriate rationales that help people connect their work to this overarching purpose, this overarching reason or set of reasons, that then allows the energy of that team or that organization to rally, the ability to connect with urgency, the work at hand, to the better future, is absolutely essential to evoking ingenuity, out of the group, out of the team, out of the organization?
How do we better connect today’s work to tomorrow’s better future? What does that look like? What can we do? What can the team do? And what can leaders do? This fourth element, and the fifth, all have to do with how we message and how we talk about the work at hand, how we message and how we talk about the work at hand. And in the connecting element in the connecting activity, teams find a way to take the work of the moment and draw a line from that work to a better future. And they do that in a couple of very powerful ways.
They connect today to tomorrow, in at least two powerful ways. Here’s the first they upgrade the moment they upgrade the moment. This means that they are able to somehow create an urgency without the crisis and urgency in the work. The right now work that today work. Because the way in which that work is done is going to change for good or for ill. The future. How we behave today affects what happens tomorrow. And ingenious team has a way of connecting in very specific and articulate ways how what they’re doing today is going to affect possible outcomes tomorrow. They can’t control that we know that now. But it is more likely that the work they do today is going to create a positive outcome tomorrow, if they focus on it with ingenuity. I have seen this over and over in quite natural and very deliberate ways. Sometimes it happens very organically. At other times. There’s a tremendous amount of work given to articulating the why in a powerful way to articulate the rationales to articulate what matters about what we’re doing, and why.
So upgrading the moment is about somehow framing today’s work in such noble terms, that it energizes the team to keep moving forward. Even though today might be hard, even though finding the clever utilization of resources is a difficult challenge. Even though sometimes it feels like a slog. We are doing this for an important reason, like I don’t know because if we don’t, the astronauts are going to run out of air, whatever that may be for you. It may not be life and death, but it has to matter. The work you’re doing today is more likely to be done with ingenuity.
If the people doing it have a sense that it matters. Who wants to give their life energy to things that don’t matter. We want to rally around things that make a difference. once. And if we can see the possible difference it can make, and the high stakes nature of it, we’re more likely to engage. And that comes when we do the work of upgrading the moment. Let’s go back to Joe for a minute. How could Joe upgrade the moment with his team?
Remember, Joe, he has to do the customer service training for his team? Probably not something they really want to do. But they have to. How could he upgrade the moment of that? So that by doing that training, the hard work of today, he creates the mindset that we are building a better future by what we do today. And what we do today equals focusing on our customer in a new way, not just doing the technical work, but doing the relational work. Why does that matter? How could he upgrade the moment? Can you think of ways he could upgrade the message of the importance of customer service to his team? Oh, here’s one. Hey, everybody.
Now I’ve heard some grumbling about this customer service training. But I want to tell you why this is so important. How many of you like it when something goes wrong in one of our facilities, and it actually stays broken longer than it needs to because people don’t report it to us? I’ve heard of three situations in the last three months, where people didn’t report something fast enough to us. And it made the situation worse, and caused more work to be done by us and more money to be spent by the organization. Can you tell me if this has happened to you raise your hand. Few people raise their hand. There are groans through the the department meeting?
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, they do that? Yeah. Why? Why about why would they do that? And then he brings it in, he brings it home. You know, one reason they might do that not report is because they don’t like what they get when we show up. What if when people see something that needs to be fixed, they think, oh, man, I don’t want to call those guys over at facilities. They’re grumpy. They’re mean, they come over and start barking out things we have to do. How often do you think maybe they’re gonna think twice about reporting as soon as possible? Don’t we want people to like when we show up, and it’s not always happening. So we need to focus on this customer service, because it’s actually going to make our lives easier. And it’s going to probably save the organization who knows hundreds of 1000s of dollars, if we can get to things quicker. And if we have allies, all around this network, helping us get to problems quicker, get to problems quicker, don’t we want our allies that help us do that? Well, man, how do you build allies? Well, they’ve
got to be happy when they think about you, and when they see you. And we want to do a better job at that. Man, that’s Joe, upgrading the moment. That’s Joe, finding a way into the minds and hearts of his people and making it something that matters to them. He upgrades the moment by making the the customer service training important and not just important to Vai. Not just important to the people out there, but important to his team. This takes a really important strategic energy, finding the why that’s connected to your department, to your team.
Why is the work we’re doing today? Possibly, probably going to make for a better future, connecting today to that better future by articulating why it matters and what it could yield is upgrading the moment and it energizes people to bring their best. Now, Joe also, in my example, also hinted at the second element, and that is to talk about success and failure. It is okay to talk about success and failure in an organization. If we don’t come through, what could happen. You see in a crisis that is crystal clear. No Nobody needed any education on what would happen if the tiger team didn’t build the filter that could be reproduced up on the spaceship, it was crystal clear, the astronauts die.
How can you make success and failure, crystal clear with your organization so that the teams understand what success might bring, remember, we cannot control and predict. But if we work this way, it is more likely that we will bring success. If we don’t, it’s more likely that this is going to lead to some kind of failure. You know, if people don’t like calling us as a facilities team, we could end up costing the organization more money, we could end up causing ourself more trouble, more difficulty in solving some of the things that would be easy if they call this right away.
But if they don’t end up becoming major projects and major headaches for us, we want to get this customer training, right? We want to understand how to influence the organization, we want people smiling when they see us coming, because that’s going to make a difference in how we go about solving problems that cost money, time, and our headaches. If we don’t have good relationships, and good customer service, we’re just going to make our lives more difficult, we’re probably going to have a harder time getting the things we need from a budgetary standpoint, because we’re going to be spending more money that we really didn’t need to, we may not be able to get as much personnel as we would like.
Because all of our budget money is going to solving things that stayed problems longer than they needed to stay. Let’s get this let’s let’s spend at least as much time being concerned about the relationships we have as how to fix the H vac. When it breaks. What do you say? Are you in with me? What’s Joe doing here? Joe is talking about real possible implications. If the customer service training leads to success, or failure, and he’s connecting it in a very specific way that his team is going to be able to appreciate. That is critical.
You can’t keep going back to your teams or your teams can’t just keep saying to themselves, well, this is really important. Well, we don’t want to fail. Well, we don’t well, we really want to succeed. I mean, come on. Now everybody, this one’s really important. I mean, this one’s really important. I mean, now we’ve got to it’s really important. The redundancy of this is really important, is going to eventually become wallpaper, people won’t hear you anymore, the team won’t hear anymore. If everything is just important. Nothing is important.
What teams have to do is articulate why it’s important in a unique way, why today’s challenge is important, and why it’s different than the last one. You have to get ingenious in the way you communicate and articulate with specificity, why the work, the solution that we’re executing now is creating a better future. And the more specific you can be, the more likely you’ll engage the energy of the team. What happens if we fail? What or at least we should say this what could happen if we fail? What could happen if we succeed? Getting clear on failure and success helps to energize ingenuity. Now, I want to say one very important caveat. When you talk about the possible ways you could fail, that cannot lead to shaming or guilting. It has to be an inspiring message. Failure. Notice in Joe’s example, failure could cost us money. It could cost us time. It can cost us headaches. It could cost us more personnel, man, we don’t want any of that. Let’s really rally together to avoid that as much. Let’s not be the reason for any of that.
So that’s different than something like this. Look, guys, you know what? Every time you are showing up Somewhere people call me and complain about your attitude. You know what that’s doing to us? We got a terrible reputation around here and it needs to change. I mean, how many of you like your job? Do you want to keep your job? Because a smile on your face might help that. Okay, that may be true. But the way it’s being articulated is actually deflating rather than energizing action and energy. We need important and meaningful reasons to give our energy to our work.
And what I’ve seen in this fourth element is that the most ingenious teams talk in a very specific way about the work they’re doing, how it’s connected to a possible better future, and why success and failure matter. And the urgency level, the high stakes, nature takes them up, and they engage their best or at least better energies, because they know what’s at stake. What’s at stake for you, in a piece of work you’re doing right now, could you articulate that in a unique and specific way, tailor it to the work that people are doing and draw a line to a possible better future and then talk about success and failure and what could happen with each and see if you can articulate that in an inspiring, energizing way. And over time, you will see your team rally better around challenges and want to engage in ingenious thinking and acting because they know what they’re doing.