Ensuring Understanding

A couple of times I have presented to audiences on FAST, which is my recipe for success, and involves us looking to Sharpen our Focus, Increase Accountability, Promote Simplicity and Improve Transparency.

When I do this I always include some examples of failure, some pretty major failure, such as the $5billion failure of the US Universal Camouflage Uniform, or the failure of the French Rail company who built trains that were too big for 1800 of their stations.

I also include a lot of examples of where I have implemented FAST to achieve significant results, delivering $100m and improving $200m departments.

One of the questions I am asked when I present is, “do you have any examples where you have used FAST in smaller companies, say $25m companies, or smaller projects such as $1m.

I find this an interesting question because I assume that people understand that these are principles, and if they work on the largest projects then they will work on the smaller projects too. It’s like if I show you how to climb Mount Everest then you should be able to apply those learnings and climb pretty much any of the smaller mountains that you will find.

But as I think about this, it becomes clearer to me that it must be in the way I explain it, I am not clear enough. I am not getting the information across is a way that all the audience understand this.

Now I know that many will, but when we speak with audiences we want to make sure that everyone understands and everyone benefits.

Just because we understand it, and we think we have communicated it in a way that we would have understood doesn’t mean that everyone else has achieved that same level of understanding.

So as I continue to speak on FAST I will look to add some examples of the mid sizes examples and case studies, but also I will look to explicitly say that as these are principles they can be applied at all levels, as I have done from writing a book, running marathon, all the way up to turning round a $200m department.

When we leave things to be implicitly understood we have the opportunity that these things are just left unsaid and unheard.

Different people learn in different ways, it’s not a question of intelligence, and we need to be cognisant of this, or we can miss the opportunity for everyone to benefit from our message.

It’s like the old presentation style of Tell them what you will tell them, Tell them, and then Tell them what you have told them.

Whilst some people will understand on the first telling and might get bored hearing it again, there are others who need to hear it three times, and we need to look to ensure that everyone understands and benefits.

Gordon Tredgold

#Leadership Principles