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Talking Out Loud


The following article is reprinted by permission from The Kossoff Executive Advisory, November 2005 / Volume V, Issue 7 by Leslie L. Kossoff © 2005 – All Rights Reserved

Okay, I admit it. I'm tired.

Tired of hearing people say, "I thought of that" but never said so. Tired of the "I knew that would happen" refrain but no forewarning to the people taking action.

And that's from the executives and business owners.

From the managers and employees at all levels, I'm tired of hearing that they're so disgusted because things keep going wrong - and they know what's right - but they never say.

So, I'm tired of both the words and the silence.

And that has put me on a quest. In more conversations, meetings and memoranda these days I find myself saying, "Say it. Say it out loud." Frankly, it doesn't matter what "it" is. What's important is that people at all levels stand up for their knowledge, experience and beliefs and say out loud what they know or think.

Before it's too late - because unless people start talking, it will be too late for one organisation after another.

What we knew of competition in the past in no way compares to what competition looks like now or in the future. Everything - and more - that was hypothesized about how business would change with the growth of information technology is coming true. And that's just the beginning. Even the best of the business and societal futurists don't really have a clue what is to come.

Which means that working faster and smarter takes on a completely different - and deeper - meaning than ever before.

Information is not power. That's a fallacy. In fact, information has the shortest sell-by date imaginable. Almost before you've thought it, either someone else has - or worse, someone else has already acted upon it.

It's beyond the proverbial "you snooze, you lose." It's organisational life or death.

Which means that, strategically or operationally, the greatest asset any organisation has is the thinking of its employees and stakeholders. The more information on the table, the more everyone has to work with, the better the decisions.

Does this slow things down? Initially, yes - but only because no one is used to talking out loud. Whether because of fear, disgust or sheer laziness, people keep their thoughts in their heads. They may not even know how to convey their thinking they're so out of the habit of talking, discussing, debating.

And let's get past some things really fast:

  • This isn't about 'sharing'. It's not that pretty. It's about survival.
  • If someone disagrees with you, the answer is not to shut down. It's to take their ideas and thoughts, see how those ideas apply to yours and jointly find a way to build more out of everything on offer.
  • Don't be personal - and don't take things personally. This isn't about you, even if the thought is yours. It's about creating something far larger than yourself.
  • Your thoughts have no limits. Neither do you. So, whether in your brain or out of someone else's mouth, if you start hearing 'no' don't give up and don't give your thought up. It may not work in this situation, but it may well work in another. And if not in this company, then in another.

Next >> Why It Takes Courage

About the author:
Leslie Kossoff is an internationally renowned executive adviser, writer and speaker and one of the most intelligent and perceptive voices on executive and managerial leadership today. She advises clients in both the private sector and the public sector. (www.kossoff.com)

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