When consulting on strategy, I use a special tactic with my clients to uncover often-hidden understandings of the dynamics of the entrepreneur, the team, or the organization.
I ask each of my clients, “If you could wave your magic wand, and get what you really want to achieve these goals, what would the result look like?”
This exercise in lateral thinking (or whimsy) will move those present to dream, and in the dream-state, several things happen:
- the mood in the room lightens and refreshes.
- the team’s mindset shifts from problem-solving mode to creative mode.
- the team reveals ideas and visions they hadn’t considered earlier.
- I learn new insights into where the obstacles might lie (to achieving the goals set).
Here are some of the responses I’ve heard:
- “I want to be the Guru of my field — not just the strategist, or the advisor, and certainly not the implementer of my own ideas. I want to consult to my client’s Board or the executive committee on my expertise, and direct others in their organization to do the work.”
- I want to move all my training from face-to-face to online, automatically delivered to the customer, so I can write about my expertise instead of living on airplanes delivering knowledge.
- I want to work only 2 days each week on work in my field, and the rest of the week to finish my novel, and still earn as much as if I were working full time.
When I am tasked with removing the obstacles blocking my client’s goals, and creating a roadmap to success, this tactical tool often opens the path to new understanding.
When I need further refinement of this information, I say, “O.k. I’m the genie and you get three wishes. Be careful — you only get three, so what are they?”
This deeper dive allows my clients to get quite specific about the steps they envision are most important to continuing the path along our roadmap. This specific information tells me both the obstacles they are facing, and the key initiatives they prioritize as most important.
These tactics are best used in the beginning of new work with a client, and at points in the work when the dynamic of the team and its thinking seems stuck.
For product companies, this approach is useful in CRM tactics online, e.g. “Tell us how to improve our product” or “What other features would you like to see on this website?”
And when creating a strategic partnership, this approach may easily cut through much of the negotiation positions assumed by the partner, and move the deal along more quickly.