George Carter
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Talk To Everyone

| Thursday 29th February, 2024

One of the skills I realise I have is that of communication. I guess because it comes so naturally, I don’t really realise I’m doing it.

I’m selling my house right now and this morning I contacted the COO of the buyer’s solicitors to get ourselves unstuck from a communication problem.

And then it struck me…

My last two ‘real’ roles in life were as COO of marketing companies, and there were a number of stuck projects I managed to get moving. The trick in each case was to open the channels of communication.

I don’t know why people shy away from talking to others. Maybe it’s an ego thing, they think they might look silly, or maybe think they might get called out in some way.

Or maybe some other fear takes over.

The way I’ve always unstuck things—and I guess it’s easier in the position of COO—is simply to talk to everyone.

I remember in one case a problem had been going round and round between our team and our client for months and months. The client blamed their supplier. Our team felt powerless. But not me… I called their supplier. I got access to their engineers. I did some hands-on testing with them. And the problem was solved in around two days. I remember the conversation…

Me: Okay… I need to speak with the engineers.
Client’s Supplier: But they’re outsourced in India.
Me: Fine. What timezone are they on? Let’s get a call.

I guess a position of power, like a C-level job, helps, but even before I held those positions, I would always dig deep on problems. Don’t take anybody’s word for it. Don’t make assumptions. Get the information.

I think the Japanese call it “Genchi Genbutsu”, or ‘go and see for yourself’. In a factory culture it means that the manager or troubleshooter goes directly to the place on the factory floor where the problem is occurring. From there they will often spot something obvious that would never have made it back to them through reports or anecdotes from others.

Similarly in a less physical world, Genchi Genbutsu means ‘ask the person who actually has the knowledge‘. Don’t take hearsay. Don’t expect a message to be passed on faithfully from person to person.

Talk to everyone.

I realised this is what makes me a good COO/Intersitionary. And that maybe I really enjoy that kind of work. And maybe I’ll start actively looking for something in that line soon…

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