The Framework: Name
In the ninth segment, we’ll consider the framework element of naming. When it comes to working with ingenuity, it’s hard to overestimate the power of words and communication. When you brand important solutions and communicate with both realism and optimism, you will better engage the passions of the team. 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.
It is crazy. How many things we name I mean, human beings are naming machines, we name everything. I mean, from our kids, to specific rooms in buildings, we name everything. And in fact, a name becomes something that creates an identity. Right? in the marketing world, it’s called a brand. And a name is part of that. And people spend all kinds of time thinking about names, what they should name, this effort, or that effort. What we should name our kids or a pet, or you name it, we name everything. We do this for very important reasons, because names create ownership, identity, and investment. When I hear the names Matthew, and Andrew, if those names happen to be attached to somebody who I’m meeting for the first time, I automatically resonate more deeply with that person.
I mean, I like them better. Now, they might undo that. But I just do, because those are the names of my kids. So if your name Matthew, or Andrew, Matt, or Drew, you already have a leg up with me, because those names mean something to me, I’m invested in those names, there’s an identity around those names for me, they matter to me. Now, to take it a little further, when we name something that’s going to become a brand, then the brand becomes an icon that we’re going to use to talk about this particular something that we’ve named a brand is a whole way an organization behaves and strategizes and wants to come across and the language it uses and the vibe it creates.
We know all this. And now it’s time to apply all that to your solutions to your critical high stakes work. Because the way we talk about our work matters. And it leads to the fifth element I’ve seen over and over on ingenious teams, the way they talk about their work, including the way they name it increases their energy for ingenuity, solution making and advancement of their mission. So Dave, you’re saying that when we come up with a solution to something important, maybe not something that’s only going to take us five minutes to execute, but something that’s going to take a while, we should actually give it a name? Is that what you’re saying? Yep. Yep. That’s what I’m saying.
In fact, it’s not what I’m saying. It’s what we do as human beings. Can you think of any projects in your organization right now? Or super projects, you know, what we often call super projects and organizations, we call those initiatives, like initiatives in a lot of organizations are projects that have projects that have projects that have projects that are all moving towards some bigger ideal? Yeah. So think about a project or an initiative in your organization and ask yourself this question. Can I think of any that have names, and I’m almost going to guarantee that you’re going to be able to think of at least one initiative or project that has already been named in your organization, because we just have this sense as human beings, that once something reaches a critical point of importance, it’s got to have a name. It’s got to have a name. I’ve asked 1000s of people as I’ve taught this over the years, to raise their hand if they have kids, and I’ve asked them to keep their hands up if they named their kids. I have not yet seen one hand go down. Once something reaches a certain level of importance, we name it.
In an organization when you’re working on a solution, name it, name it, if it’s going to be around for any length of time, give it a name. This is what I’ve seen in genius groups do, they actually give identity to their solutions that they’re working on, they talk about them in a certain way. And the first part of talking about them in a certain way, is to either give it a name, or a slogan, that somehow gives it an umbrella from which the work will flow. So let me give you an example. I’ve lived in southwest Florida for quite some time. And if you know anything about Southwest Florida, happens to be the home of the Boston Red Sox training facility. And a few years back, that the Sox were here, and they were in spring training, and they were getting ready for the season. And there was an article in the newspaper about David Price, who was one of the pitchers at the time. And they had, you know, pictures of him in the paper that accompanied the article about him. And in one of the pictures. You can see him he’s pitching, he’s throwing a pitch.
And you can see, he’s wearing the, the the sweatshirt for spring training. And it’s got a slogan, right on the top, you know, right on his chest, there’s a slogan. And the slogan is this train, to rain, train to rain, train, to rain, R e, i g n, as in work really hard during spring training, because that just might lead to a world championship, train to rain. That was the slogan, or the name or the brand, however you want to say it, of the 2016 spring training for the Boston Red Sox train to rain. Now, that name, that header, followed them all through spring training.
What a perfect blend of just the right ingredients, all included in something that is inspiring, and energizing, and shows something important about the work. When we are doing important work work that matters work that’s going to last for a particular amount of time. Giving it a name, like train terrain, or something else. Giving it a name elevates its importance, its identity, its ownership, and often the investment of the team. I mean, I have been in hundreds of meetings with teams over the years, where they’re talking about a particular solution or project they’re working on that they’ve named. And it feels like that project is sitting at the table.
Okay, so let’s talk about project. And they’ll say the name of it. And then everybody refers to it that way. And it’s taking on a kind of identity. And the words that are chosen matter. I mean, trained to rain, that is brilliant. And here’s why it hits both elements have a really good name. It hits the realistic part of the work, train. And it hits the optimistic part of the work to rain. And that’s what you want in a name. You want it to show something about the realistic work needed. We’ve got to train. It’s hard. There’s a lot to do in this spring training. And we’ve got to dedicate ourselves to it. And it’s going to be hard for our body and our mind, but we’re getting ready for something. And what is that possible better future that we’re getting ready for our e i g and train to rain? We want to win the World Series. We want to train to rain that hits both elements both ingredients of a good name.
Okay, let’s try one. Let’s go back to Joe. Joe decides to name his customer service training project. It’s big enough it’s going to last long enough that he wants to. He wants to put a name to it. Remember when he was explaining in the last segment to his team? Of course, that was me. But I was giving you an example of how he could upgrade the moment he said this. I mean, don’t we want our allies all over the organization, helping us identify what is needed? And how do you get out allies in an organization? Well, they have to like it, when they see you coming.
They have to think about you when they need you. And they have to think about that in a way that causes them to say, oh, man, let’s call our allies in the organization, our allies in the organization, our allies in the organization to help us identify what needs to be addressed. Now, is there something in there that we could make a name out of? Well, how about this, something as simple as allies in our work? allies in our work? Now, does that show some of the realistic work ahead for this group as they try to get better at customer service?
Absolutely, because they didn’t have a lot of allies. So it’s going to take work to build allies, they’re going to have to understand influence, and they’re gonna have to understand some things about emotional intelligence and like, how to vibe with people and how to not be grumpy every time you show up. And and it’s going to be hard, because you know, me, man that’s doesn’t maybe come natural for them. And they’re really good, mechanically inclined at what they do. And they just want to be left alone, let me just do my job.
But they’re going to have to do the hard work of getting better at developing influence and relationships. Allies, allies, actually, for that group, is both showing something about the hard work ahead, we need to build allies, and something about the better future will have allies, allies in the work, we need allies all over helping us take care of the facilities that are in our charge. And it’s gonna take hard work to build some of those allies, maybe undo some bad habits we’ve created that make people not call us. But in the long run, what that’s going to do is create a place where people think about calling us immediately. And we’ve got eyes all over this organization now helping us take care of it. allies in the work. That’s a pretty good name, I just came up with it in the moment.
I have seen this over and over, where sometimes just spontaneously, a phrase will pop up and someone will be like, oh, man, we should name it that. And sometimes there’s more of a deliberate approach. But what you’re trying to do when you name something, and what I’ve seen ingenious groups do over and over again, is name something in a way that shows something about the realistic work, and something about the optimistic future, all in the name, train terrain, our eyes in the work, I worked with another group that had merged together, it was a depart two departments that became one in an organization. And they had been at odds with each other.
And so they wanted to fix that. And we all got together, and we talked about it. And someone came up with one team. We want to work on one team efforts, we’re going to do things that help us to become one team. And they had several projects and initiatives that were all going to go under one team, the banner, one team is one team showing something about the realistic work ahead for that group. Absolutely. Because they were splintered. And they were going to have to do repair. And some of that was going to probably be hard, maybe seeking forgiveness, stop blaming, reach out in goodwill, they were going to have to do work, but that work was gonna lead to a better future.
And what was that better future one team not splintered, aligned, and using their energy to make a collective difference in the organization. Man that is powerful stuff. This isn’t just about giving a name to something because we need to be able to call it something this is about giving something a name that shows the realistic work, we’re going to enter and engage because we want a different future and that different future is also somewhere represented in that name. That is powerful stuff. This is marketing 101 This is branding 101 This is creating some thing that helps the team rally, remember and engage their energy in the important work in the important solution that they’ve designed, framed, constrained, and connected. And now in the mix, the way we talk about it matters.
And that leads to the second element. How we talk as we work matters, how we identify the work. That’s the naming and branding piece, we know that matters. But how we actually talk to each other about the work that creates inspiration and energy, or deflation, and just a bunch of bummer fives. And we’ve all been on teams that have done both. And this I have seen again and again, in genius teams tend to be more positive, forward looking, optimistic, and yet realistic about the work. They strike this really powerful combination of we are making progress, we are doing good work, this is creating a better future. And this is hard and challenging. And we have a lot of work to do. But he always remains optimistic, and realistic. So the same, the same two elements that make for a good name, also make for really good ways to talk about the work as we do it. We need to talk about it in optimistic and realistic ways. If you’re only optimistic, but not realistic ingenuity drops, because people start to hear rose colored thinking. And they they feel like they’re there. There’s no accounting for the difficulty that we’re in right now. But if you’re only realistic and not optimistic ingenuity drops, because people just were out. It’s like, why are we doing this? It’s like moving bricks from one side of a room to the next over and over back and forth. And it’s not going anywhere. Why are we spending our time on something that doesn’t matter. But when you can strike the the, the combination,
the combination of optimism and realism at the same time, people and their energy levels stay up. They stay up. Because there’s honesty and candor. And there’s hope and optimism for the future. And that combination is how we stay engaged in the work. We talk in optimistic and realistic ways. Now, think about it this way. When we’re talking about the work, we have the possibility of lacing into our words, appropriate optimism and realism or some kind of toxicity. I mean, you don’t even have to say any words, to lace toxicity into your unhappiness about work. Here’s all you have to do. Just that can send a message to a team about how someone on the team is feeling about the work. We’ve all been there. We’ve seen it again and again. And in my work and research. I have watched this so many times, that the way a team or a team member talks about the work at any given moment either increases or decreases energy.
And when energy increases the possibility of ingenuity also increases when energy wanes because of deflation, and a kind of negativity about the work who wants to be ingenious. Everyone just wants to go home. How we talk matters. If you’re a leader. This is particularly important not just for you, although it is important for you, but also for you to monitor on your team and to adjust and adapt and help support optimistic and realistic conversation and help move away from toxicity. Toxicity In conversations about work, deflates. And deflation diminishes ingenuity. I mean, there are so many examples of this I could give you right now.
But I’m thinking of one, where a team that I was working with felt like they had been orphaned by the larger organization. But when they got together, all they did was laced toxicity into the entire organization. They would talk about the organization and be like, can’t believe those people over there? I mean, we can help them but no, no, they won’t. They won’t reach out to us, will they? It’s like, well, who wants to reach out to you listen to you. Listen to how you’re talking right now. Or they would talk about their work. And they say, Oh, great, really another problem? And another mandate? I mean, how many times are we going to get things from the geniuses on the x floor.
And of course, x floor was the top floor where all the quote senior leaders geniuses lived. And there was just gross negative toxicity. And it just created an inertia that led to not just a lack of ingenuity, but just a lack of will to do the work at all. I mean, I’ve sat with some teams that have so much toxicity in them, they don’t even want to talk to each other about anything anymore. They just want to put their head down, comply, pick up a paycheck, and move on. That is no way to spend my life energy at work. But it happens when leaders and teams don’t monitor the way they’re talking. How we talk matters. And it’s not about being pollyannish. It’s not about being rose colored.
If there are problems that really need to be addressed. And as a leader, or as a team, you just give pollyannish ah, isn’t this great? Oh, oh, this is all there’s no, there’s nothing wrong, people are gonna look at you like what’s wrong with you, man, this is hard. But if all you ever do is focus on the realism, and you don’t paint that better future, train to rain, allies in the work one team, we are after something, here we are after a better tomorrow than today, we need a kind of energy that helps us move forward. And that requires that we take the work with realism. We talk about real problems, we talk about the difficulty of it, we talk about the brutal honesty of the things we are missing and the failures that might be happening. But at the same time, we are optimistic about our future. And we strike the right integration of those two ideas. And that creates energy for ingenuity, the way
we talk matters. How we name things, and how we talk about them along the way, has a lot to do with the amount of ingenuity that is evoked from the team. Monitor the words being used, infuse inspiration, into your own words, help others to do the same. And avoid and remove those toxic comments, or toxic patterns of communication. That just simply deflate period. If we move into a place of optimism and realism in our language about our work, not only is it just a better place to be, but the ingenuity that we need is more readily available because the energy and the engagement stays high. How can you and your team name and talk in ways that increase the ingenious thinking and action that you need?