My #1 rule at the beginning of any intentional conversation, any 10-minute or longer meeting, or any newly-formed project team: “There are no dumb questions.”
Yes, people laugh when I state the rule, but most (not all) come to embrace this valuable rule.
First, it allows me to question if my participation is needed. If the answer isn’t “yes,” I stand up, smile and excuse myself.
Second, it allows me to question the conversation, meeting or project. If the answer isn’t something valuable, I smile again and excuse myself.
Yes, my fast approach stymies some people, but the simplest of questions have been asked, answered, and acted upon.
Over time, these questions are asked by others early on, resulting in fewer and smarter projects and meetings.
My other three rules?
#2 – Have fun!
If we’re not having fun, what’s wrong?
By “wrong,” I don’t mean morally or ethically. Then again, what’s off-line, off-kilter, out-of-sync, out-of-whack? Sometimes it’s a failure to take time for humor, small talk, and smiles, each of which can promote relational connecting.
Like brain synapses, relational connecting makes you and your team happier, healthier, more in sync, and much more productive.
#3 – Work smart.
As Albert Einstein said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”
Why do we always assume we can’t obtain the needed data, review the relevant options, and make the best decisions today? If not now, when?
On vacation, mañana does its magic. In the super-connected world of work, “today” is your best friend.
#4 – Figure out if anyone already has done the work for us.
All you and I have to do is ask, “Has this particular wheel been invented?”
During the most recent fiscal year Corban University’s Office of Marketing & Communications saved thousands of dollars and countless weeks by licensing a ton of work another firm (in this case, in Canada) already had created.
Then again, if no one else has done the work, ask and actively find out why not. Have others tried and failed? Or are you truly the first?
Do you have any rules to share with me and other readers?
David Sanford serves on the leadership team at Corban University, www.corban.edu. His writings have been published everywhere from HarperCollins (books) to Forbes (commentary).