Over the past few weeks, I’ve embarked upon an interesting and very rewarding mission. I’ve been listing those men and women whom I know so that I can reach out to them and tell them what I’ve been doing with On-Point Strategic Leadership. My hope is that they can offer me some insights on how to improve, how to get better as a strategist, leader, planner, communicator, and overall consultant. This list is pretty long, and I’ve still got a long way to go! But what is most rewarding so far is just the simple act of listing friends, colleagues, and even those whom I am not as close. It’s a fun exercise, and it has brought back a lot of memories.
I often say, “it’s all about relationships.” And, while cliché, I stand by the sentiment and why I am taking the time to list my relationships and reach out to them. In fact, this adage is the basis for one of the key components of On-Point’s Strategic Design methodology. Understanding the relationships that are within your network, your system, is a crucial step to understanding the interconnectedness of those who are involved in whatever you do. These relationships can be stakeholders, employees, customers, vendors, clients, friends, family member… you name it – they belong on your list. But, take that list one step further. Draw it out and connect the names. See who knows whom and in what capacity. When you create a network relationship map like this, you have a powerful visual tool that can help you to understand how “stuff” happens within your organization.
Here is where the magic happens. List your top concern or problems – just those things that you know are nagging issues. Now, insert them into your network relationship map. See who can influence the problems and at what level. Are there primary influencers? Secondary? Tertiary? Are these formal or informal influences? Add these to your map, and you can see where you need to focus your efforts and with whom you should probably grab a cup of coffee.
Yes, it is all about relationships, to be sure. But, when you take the time to understand those relationships you will have a powerful problem-solving tool at your fingertips – all thanks to systems-thinking!
Think on, friends.