Retreat, Advance

How would you make an m&m?

Actions speak louder than words. Above is a question used by Microsoft interviewers to weed out the ‘Smart people who don’t get things done’ and the ‘People who get things done but aren’t smart’.

Retreat as a means of providing space and time to engage with contentious issues is an oft-implemented concept in the business world.  Seeking refuge in an environment conducive to freethinking and lucidity is a valuable way of stimulating progress.

But it must be recognised as only the starting point.  It is actions post-retreat which determine the value of the thinking.  People who have retreated also have a responsibility to advance, keeping the ball rolling.  Use the words as a catalyst for further action.  Enrich future debates by executing tangible events as a stimulus for new words…

From where I’m standing, discussion brings vital clarity to end goals, but joining the dots between present and future positions can stump people.  When tackling the ‘how’ of creating change it seems people revert to type, unsurprisingly there is comfort in what is already known.  But, if revolution is needed, interventions should be similarly radical in nature.

Orchestrating intervention is a complex art form requiring practice and perseverance.  I haven’t got it right yet.  Following a recent retreat I returned enthused to spread the word and captivate colleagues by subject matter normally overlooked.  What better way to highlight the issue than arrange a ‘power cut’ where everyone’s screens are crashed by a bug asking them to spend the next 10 minutes focusing?  Genius! No, actually.  In those 10 minutes people went to the bathroom and made coffee.  Non-smokers probably took up smoking!  To make matters worse, once time was up the network decided to reboot leaving us offline for the next 2 hours!  Catastrophe ensued.

I still believe in offbeat interventions, but my recent clumsy failure has left me trying to figure out the best next move…

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About @ngela

Unexpected Consequences is a blog by Angela Crowther, a young engineer working in the Built Environment. Currently supported by the Royal Academy of Engineering and UKRC's Ingenious program the blog’s aim is to raise awareness of all the exciting opportunities the world of engineering has to offer to hopefully stimulate others into joining the industry.
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3 Responses to Retreat, Advance

  1. Ben says:

    Maybe it was a blessing in disguise!? Did people ‘focus’ in the two hours the network was down, or go out for lunch instead?

  2. @ngela says:

    Frustratingly for me, whilst we had an office meeting to discuss the retreat during lunch time, it was all done in a very traditional “this is what we did… then we did this… then this…. then this… now we are here” way.

    Consensus on the RAEng Executive Engineers training weekend I just went on was for interventions to have an impact you have to implement the extraordinary. Shall just have to keep hacking away at the current preference for normality!

  3. Pingback: Venturing into the great unknown | Unexpected Consequences

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