Engagement is a tricky word. Often used and rarely agreed as to what it means. Funny how words can be that way. But if we have a conversation about its meaning, we can at usually come to a mutually agreed working definition.
One of the bits of wisdom I have picked up over the years is that the misunderstanding of words and intent is easily the leading contributor to wasted time and lack of productivity within the enterprise. It would not surprise me to find out that inside the typical organization more than half of the effort expended, is spent redoing previous work due to a misunderstanding.
This is not surprising if you look at how information flows within most organizations. In the traditionally structured industrial organization, it’s mostly top-down, with a little side-to-side across functions, and very little bottom-up ( mainly just for show) . So when the “word” gets passed down from the top, everyone translates the meaning for themselves and goes on their merry way. But guess what, almost everyone translated the “word” differently and is heading in different directions as hard as they can. The inevitable outcome is that in the end, the pieces don’t fit and it is crisis mode or back to the drawing board to start over.
So let’s bring engagement into the picture and see what happens. To be clear, I will define engagement as:
The behavioral norm of a connected enterprise, where there is a freedom, willingness and ability for any stakeholder to question, challenge or respond to any person at any level on any topic, and is expected to do so.
If your enterprise is connected, and all the stakeholders are engaged, it is reasonable and expected to receive pushback from the beginning, to have people check for clarity and meaning. When everyone is engaged, connected and paying attention from the start, problems are detected and dealt with early, reducing the the frequency of the “Ready, Fire, Aim” scenario. Crisis’s are averted, rework goes away, productivity goes up, bottom line improves. You gotta love that!
So stop standing around, get engaged!
Note: This is a repost I a blog post I wrote about 3 years ago. It still resonates today.
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