Strategy: "Hi Pia, it's me Strategy."
Strategy: "I just got off the phone with Culture, and I was wondering if you could help us?"
Strategy: "You see, we both want our company to do better, but we have a really hard time collaborating."
Me: "I know."
Strategy: "You do?"
Me: "Well, I talk to a lot of people, and they are all struggling with the same problem."
Strategy: "How to get Culture to listen?"
Me: "I wouldn't put it like that."
Strategy: "How would you put it?"
Me: "I think it's a two-way street. For your company to do better, you and Culture must align your efforts."
Strategy: "Exactly - that's why I invited her to breakfast!"
Me: "And that was a nice gesture."
Strategy: "But she said she didn't have time."
Me: "I know - she is busy talking to customers."
Strategy: "So, what should I do? I'm considering sending her a survey to find out what she needs from me."
Me: "I wouldn't do that."
Me: "Because if you don't know what she needs, you won't know what questions to put in your survey."
Strategy: "Good point."
Me: "She will feel like you are wasting her time, and you will not get the insight you need."
Strategy: "You're right – so, what should I do?"
Me: "You said that you want Culture to listen, right?"
Strategy: "Yes - how else do we move forward?"
Me: "What if Culture wants you to listen?"
Strategy: "But how do I do that when she doesn’t have time to talk to me?”
Me: “What if what she has to say cannot be said in a conversation with you? What if you have to listen to the conversations she is having with herself?”
Strategy: “But that’s impossible! We have employees all over the world dealing with customers from very different markets. I will never be able to listen to all the conversations Culture is having with herself.”
Me: “You’re right. But what if you instead of inviting her for breakfast with you, invite her to join a conversation with herself about a topic that’s strategically important to your company?”
Strategy: “Do you think she will accept the invitation?”
Me: “It depends. If the topic is something she can relate to – something that affects her everyday work or will affect her everyday work within the next couple of months – I’m sure she will consider it.”
Strategy: “But does she have the time?”
Me: “Only if you make it easy. Culture must be able to join the conversation wherever and whenever it suits her.”
Strategy: “So, the conversation must be digital?”
Me: “Exactly. And it should be in writing.”
Me: “For two reasons: 1) In a conversation there are two parties and both parties must be able to ask and answer questions when it fits into their program, and 2) for you to listen to the conversations, you must have access to the questions and answers people exchange – and that’s impossible if they are not in writing.”
Strategy: “So, I will define a couple of questions…”
Me: “No – sorry, I’m interrupting, but it's important you don't ask any questions. Remember what I said about asking questions when you don't know what to ask?"
Strategy: "Yes, but I need to do something to get the conversation going, don't I?"
Me: "Yes, you must frame a strategically important topic in a way that resonates with Culture..."
Strategy: "Sorry, now I'm interrupting - can you give me an example of a topic?"
Me: "Yes, of course. A topic could be: Opportunities and challenges on our journey to becoming an agile company. Or: Our new leadership program in action. It could be anything as long as it's important to the company and resonates with Culture.
Strategy: "Okay - so, something simple like Things that would increase customer satisfaction could be a topic?"
Me: "Definitely. That's a great topic - and something that's relevant to everyone. Next step is to tell Culture: 1) why her input is important, 2) what you need her to do (spend a couple of minutes asking and answering questions over the next few days), and 3) how you plan to use her input. That's it. From there Culture will generate all the data.”
Me: “Yes, what I’m suggesting is that you base your decisions and implementation plans on a new kind of organizational data. When you know what questions Culture is asking herself, you also know which problems she is facing. And by mapping how she responds to her own questions - and who she turns to for answers - you get a clear picture of what she needs from whom to execute effectively. And that's what you wanted to talk to her about, right?"
Strategy: "Yes, indeed! How long would it take for me to collect that kind of data?"
Me: "If you use the Qvest platform, you can have the data and an auto-generated report with recommendations on how to align your strategic initiatives with the cultural needs in your organization within three weeks."
Strategy: "Okay, now I'm listening."
Me: “Great. That’s all I’m asking 🤓”
Part one of this saga can be read here: Strategy invites culture for breakfast - this is how it happened
Co-founder and Chief Methodologist at Qvest. Pia is the inventor of the Qvest method. She has a PhD in Philosophy and has spent the last 20 years researching and writing about the nature and impact of questions.
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