2017-03-23 / Columns

‘Understanding Rule Number Seven’

Think Outside, No Box Needed
By Jim Plouffe

My seventh rule of business, out of 10, is: “Everyone has their own agenda, and, most of the time, it isn’t even close to yours.” The definition of agenda is a plan of things to be discussed at a formal meeting, a plan of things to be done, or problems to be addressed, the underlying intentions or motives of a particular person or group.

There are three subparts to this rule, in no particular order. This is just the way I wrote them down in my book. They are:

• Most people take the path of least resistance.

• Personal agendas and corporate agendas are always in conflict.

• Everybody does as little as they can, for as much as they can.

It seems like a pretty cynical rule, doesn’t it? It sure doesn’t offer much hope if you are in the “glass is half empty” type of mood. There isn’t much to build on if you are in the “glass is half full” type of mood. When I wrote the rule, it wasn’t intended to be negative or positive. It was to remind me of the realities of any situation involving people, and, let’s face it, most situations involve other people.

This rule helps me to understand that there is another point of view. It helps me listen closer so that I can understand, not necessarily agree, with the other point of view. It lets me respect the individual’s thoughts process while challenging mine. It keeps me from discounting the point of view, and writing it off as stupid.

We have all done it. We have all written off someone’s passionate point of view as stupid, just because it doesn’t match with ours. Sometimes we don’t make it personal by saying, “That’s just stupid,” calling the idea or conclusion stupid, not the individual. But most of the time we say, “She’s just stupid,” or “He’s so stupid,” but the truth is, they’re not. That is the reality of most situations is that individual has a different agenda than you do.

Once you understand and accept rule number seven, you will have a completely different outlook on people’s motives. The rule is actually very liberating when it comes to acceptance of other points of view. It really opened my eyes to the fact that my goals are not the goals of my employees. I hope it does the same thing for you.

Now, don’t get me wrong or misunderstand me, there are stupid opinions and ideas out there. I’ve had my share of them. But knowing that my agenda is not the same as the people I am dealing with makes me a little more tolerable.

Knowing that most people take the path of least resistance helps me understand when someone takes a shortcut on some task. It keeps me from being surprised when I hear or see that someone isn’t following the process or procedure properly. It is human nature to want to find a faster, quicker, easier way. There is a good news and bad news story here. Sometimes the shortcut produces a better result without affecting the outcome for the business, which leads to improvement. Most of the time, however, the shortcut doesn’t improve the results for the business, it only improves something for the person performing the task, because they have a different agenda.

I have seen this in both extremes. For example, I have seen individuals take a five-minute task or process and turn it into a 30- minute process, or claim that the task is complete in two minutes. Both extremes are a warning sign that a different agenda other than yours is in play.

I think the statement that personal agendas and corporate agendas always have conflict speaks for itself. Corporate and company agendas are about work and getting results, while personal agendas are about family and fun.

Everybody does as little as they can for as much as they can has to do with perfection, performance, effort, and money. I think I should get perfection for my money, and I don’t care what kind of performance or effort you have to put in to deliver it. Most likely, the other side of that coin is, “it’s good enough for who it’s for, and especially for what they’re paying me” — a completely different agenda than perfection.

Rule number seven helps me understand and accept people and their actions, and it also helps me understand my actions, as well. I hope it helps do the same thing for you.

Need some help or guidance with your business or marketing? To talk with Jim directly, call (906) 643-6643, or ask him a question any time at Jim@Think- OutsideNoBoxNeeded.com.

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