For example, if you're describing a situation as not being able to see the wood for the trees, what solution would you have in a real wood with real trees (yes I really have written a blog on that, and had senior managers walking around a wood to explore it too).
- Getting a map
- Getting out of the wood
- Following a path
- Taking to higher ground to get more perspective
- Chopping some of the branches or even trees down
- Following the sun
- Waiting till winter when the leaves have fallen
- and so on
Yesterday I saw the headline of a recent Procurious blog by Nicholas Ammaturo,
No seat at the table, time to build your own chair.
The blog explored what action procurement needed to take to improve the current situation of exclusion from the top table, which included improved education, communication, and sales.
I wondered what a metaphorical exploration of the words would uncover, and here's the outcome of my wondering. Do please leave your own thoughts in comments below, after all a metaphorical exploration will certainly be impacted and limited by my own beliefs and ways of thinking.
The first consideration is what table do we want to sit at?
To continue ... What's taking place at the table that's so important? Can't it be covered when you're not at the table? What would your advice be to a 5 year old who's feeling left out at dinner time in school?
- Speak to a teacher
- Find a friend
- Offer to share a tasty lunch
- Build up their confidence
Solutions to not having a seat at the table may also include:
- Bringing your own chair
- Bringing your own chair and table
- Sitting on the floor
- Sitting on the table
- Standing on the table
- Suggesting they move to or make the table bigger
- Go for a walking meeting
- Making a reservation well ahead of time
- Getting someone else to take you
- Finding out and following the dress code
- Saving up
- Engaging the restaurant on social media
If we wanted an invite to something, a party for example, what would we do:
- Go as someones guest
- Bump into the host, in the hope they'd invite us
- Invite the host to something first
- Send them a present
- Just turn up
- Ask for an invite
- Ask why you've not been invited
- Have other people who are attending ask for you to be invited
- Pay for a ticket
- Offer to make a donation to charity if you get an invite
The idea is to steer clear of thinking about the meeting/table you do want an invite to. When doing that it's too easy to start thinking "that won't work", "I've tried that before" and that stops us coming up with innovative solutions. This process keeps us open to finding a solution that might just work.
Exploring what we'd need do to get invited to other sorts of meetings might help - to attend a local book club for example we'd need to:
- Be interested and passionate about reading
- Read the book
- Have something interesting to say about the book
- Not want to talk about other books
- Offer to host the meeting
- Turn up on time
- Have made a difference to other people
- Do work which delivers fabulous benefits
- Be the best at what you do
- Ensure others talk about you to the right people
- Become an expert corgi looker afterer
- and so on.
Going in another direction completely we might even do a problem reversal exercise, and think about what you'd need to do to definitely not be invited to sit down. It's a great technique for identifying things you might be doing that are getting in the way of an invite coming your way. (Another technique where being absurd, and having some fun pays dividends.)
You may even want to play around with the words being used - what happens if you think about there being no 'bench' at the table? It's certainly feels less formal, and perhaps opens up the opportunity for more sociable discussions about inclusion at the meeting.
discuss more tomorrow the aim is to change our internal representation of the situation from one that is a problem with no solution, to a challenge that can be overcome. Any of these explorations might enable internal resistance to be lowered, and a solution to be found.
What happens if there was no seat on the amusement park ride ..... for me the insight is that there's always the next one to sit in, and it's never that far away!
Yes I'm afraid it's easy to get carried away, but sometimes out of absurdity comes clarity!
- Inviting the leadership team/ c-suite to your meeting
- Having a regular meeting that everyone wants to come to
- Ensuring you talk their language
- Ensuring you're making a difference (one that would make the queen proud)
- Demonstrating you have mastery of procurement - ie not just good at it but are experts
- Believing you have a right to attend the meeting (rather than waiting for an invite)
- Demonstrating the value procurement have delivered
- Developing alliances with senior managers
- Not running before you can walk
- Ensuring you're visible and bump into the right people
- Releasing your impatience
- Releasing the formality and making it more sociable
Next time you describe a problem using specific language you may want to spend some time exploring how the language might also contain the solution.
Tomorrow's post will explore how our words can stop us finding solutions to the challenges in our lives.
The Purchasing Coach
Inspiring change inside and out - sometimes a little unconventionally
Other posts exploring solutions hidden in our language
- Going around in circles
- I don't want to burn any bridges
- Stuck in a rut
- Feeling lost
- Keeping your head above water
- Toxic leadership
- and here's why I think using metaphor is such a great tool to use.
Image of trees at the start of the blog is one of my brothers - for more do see his website.