Don’t Sell Ideas – Debate Them

Narrative Style Meeting

The practice of selling ideas in meetings can lead to misalignment and superficial agreement. When the focus is on persuasion rather than understanding, team members may agree without fully grasping the implications or having their concerns addressed. This superficial agreement will lead to problems down the line when the complexities of the idea come to light during implementation.

If the presenter’s goal is to get buy-in for an idea, dissenting voices may be silenced or overlooked. This lack of diverse perspectives can lead to flawed decision-making that hinders innovation.

PowerPoint is a Symptom of Sloppy Thinking

A reliance on bullet points and graphics allows sloppy thinking to be masked by flashy designs. Bullet points, by their nature, reduce complex ideas into oversimplified snippets. This format obscures the underlying thought process, making it challenging for the audience to grasp the full depth of the idea. As a result, the crux doesn’t get debated.

The Power of Written Narratives

The practice of writing narratively structured memos requires the author to articulate their ideas in complete sentences and paragraphs, demanding a higher level of clarity and thoughtfulness. Writing forces the author to engage deeply with the idea, examining it from various angles and anticipating questions or objections.

The practice of team members reading narratively structured memos requires the reader to pay close attention. This leads to a deeper understanding and highlights points of disagreement.

Circulating a memo among a team is fine as it allows each member to process the information at their own pace, reflect on it, and come to the meeting prepared for a meaningful discussion. However, relying on just sending out a memo is never enough. The team members all want to read the memo, but most won’t… because they are too busy dealing with the urgent stuff.

Use the Narrative Review mechanism to ensure the idea is carefully articulated (written), fully understood (read), and diligently debated (bought into).

The Benefits of Debate Over Agreement

Encouraging debate over mere agreement has several benefits:

  1. Deeper Understanding: When team members are encouraged to ask questions and challenge ideas, they develop a more profound understanding of the concept.
  2. Improved Ideas. You may be brilliant, but the team is brilliant-er. With vibrant debate your idea will be even better.
  3. Better Decision-Making: Debate brings different perspectives to the table, leading to decisions that stick.
  4. Increased Engagement: Team members feel more engaged and valued when their opinions are sought and considered.
  5. Innovation: A culture of debate fosters innovation as it encourages people to think outside the box and challenge the status quo.

PowerPoint presentations and bullet points offer convenience for sure. Convenience is great for things that don’t matter. But getting folks aligned on ideas MATTERS. So don’t be lazy.

Written memos and narratives demand thorough thinking and clarity. Writing them well is hard work. Organizing and running Narrative Reviews is hard work. Excellence in delivering out-sized results requires hard work. Duh.

Don’t try to sell your ideas. Instead, drive people to debate your ideas. The result will be a more engaged, innovative, and effective team.

I can help you learn how. Join me for my Free & Open Office Hours and we can get started.

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