It’s 9:30 am at Moderate Technologies. Peter Weinberger, the president, walks into the office, and he’s excited. Earlier that morning while showering, he had an epiphany – one he believes will revolutionize how moderate people do moderate things.
He bursts into the office and exclaims, “I have this awesome idea! Let’s do it!”
Now most likely, one of two things will occur here:
One: Peter can “give” his employees the project. He can devise a sure-fire plan and he can deliver it to them with enthusiasm.
The group will gladly execute, and will feel compelled to do so because he's their boss. But all their decisions from this point forward are Peter-focused:
- Is this what Peter wants?
- I would do something I think is better, but technically this is Peter’s baby.
- I wonder what Peter was going for here, because this just doesn’t make sense. But heck, I’ll do it anyway.
- I’m not sure if I should do this, I’ll go ask Peter.
Even if Peter specifically asks his staff for input, it’s human nature to defer to an owner or creator. So, in this case, Peter has inadvertently owned what he wanted to give or share.
A plan is most often (and usually wrongly) seen as an authoritative document or statement. When Peter came up with the plan, he established ownership, subsequently disempowering his staff.
Two: Peter's other option is to separate in his mind the idea - which is viable and can stand on its own - from the implementation. He can then sit down with his staff and brainstorm new ideas, and float his as one of them. A couple of things could happen: the staff will choose Peter’s idea, or a better one will emerge. Either way, Peter wins.
If Peter’s idea is sound enough to make it through his team, then the discussion of implementation is the same. The team discusses the implementation. Peter’s plan then becomes one option; it is no longer a dictate.
By the end of the meeting, Peter’s idea becomes the team’s idea.
It’s tough being Peter. When you have a terrific idea and a great way to implement it, you can’t help but want to run into the room and share it with everyone. You are enthusiastic and feel your plan is a gift. It's awesome, surely everyone will want it. But the more gifts you give, the more the team has a two-fold reaction. On the one hand they start to feel entitlement: Peter gives us gifts. On the other hand they feel resentment: Here comes Peter with something else for us to do, and I never fully agree with his plans. So there’s this mixture of dependence and resentment that is rapid-fire poison for an organization.
Co-creation can diffuse this dynamic.
Blogged in Ocean Shores, WA