Embrace Your Shipwreck


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I read a story recently about a wrecked sailboat that washed ashore five months ago in the swanky California city of Malibu. No one seems sure how it got there. In fact, no one seems to notice it at all.

Perhaps it’s been there so long, it’s become part of the landscape. Or maybe passersby figure it’s someone else’s responsibility to remove it. Whatever the case, the result is the same: a 37 foot eyesore remains on an otherwise pristine beach month after month.

I see this problem when I help companies create a culture of listening. Some people prefer not to listen to customers, because then they’ve got to solve the problems they discover.

That’s the dilemma – listening means responsibility. Sure, listening can be empowering – it’s how companies discover a shared purpose – but it also defines a shared responsibility to do something.

Again and again I encounter executives who really don’t want to know which department is really letting them down, or where the kinks are in their acquisition process. That’s because they’re worried that they’ll be stuck getting the boat off the beach.

So they avoid the shared responsibility. And the boat just sits there.

It’s too bad. Because the reality is, once you’ve defined shared responsibility, you’ve also defined the beginning of a solution: a group of people that can share ideas and make the work of problem solving lighter.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Thompson Morrison
Thompson Morrison has spent the last couple of decades figuring out how companies can listen better. Before co-founding FUSE, Mr. Morrison was Managing Director of AccessMedia International (AP), a consulting firm that provides strategic market analysis for the IT industry. His clients included Hewlett-Packard, Compaq, IBM, and Vignette.


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