5 Rules for getting below the surface

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We live in a world of microwavable answers and quick fixes. Sometimes they work but there are times when you have to sit down with a team member and go deep on an issue. That’s when these rules will help.

Take enough time

If the issue is serious and important, ten minutes won’t get you much. Even a half hour probably won’t be enough. You need time to get past the surface and the easy answers. Figure that you will need an hour to an hour and a half.

Pay attention

This should be more important than anything else you have to do. So close the door. Turn off all phones and screens. Threaten those who might want to interrupt you with a horrible fate.

Get the story of the issue

Don’t ask for a quick description of the issue. Get the story from first awareness to the present moment. Making a timeline and a list of people and organizations involved will help.

Ask “Why?” a lot

Why does that matter? Why does that bother you? Why do you want to do that? Why is that a good idea? Keep asking “Why?” until you get to the place where the truth and emotion live. It will take time. It may be uncomfortable.

Distrust the abstract

Don’t let words like “good” or “bad” or “easy” or “better” stand. Use your questions to get past the abstract to the concrete.

These rules work best if you follow all of them. Each one reinforces the others. Think of them as a system that will help you understand an important issue.

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