So, what does your obituary say? What is written on your tombstone? What did you die of?
If you are a project manager type you are pretty familiar with contingency planning, risk planning, and risk management. To compel the attention of your audience to your change priorities, try crystalizing these traditional PM concepts into the openning questions.
The above link will take you to an article regarding executive decision making by a Nobel laureate, Daniel Kahneman, and a psychologist, Gary Klein. Interestingly, these two esteemed thinkers disagree on several aspects of decision making. One concept they agree on is “premortem” or contemplating the failure of an endeavor (project or company or decision) as a part of the decision making process. I couldn’t agree more.
As change leaders, we must keep ourselves and others grounded by contemplating the possible failure of an endeavor. One of my favorite and most frequent planning activities is to ask myself to write an obituay for the endeavor you are leading. “Here lies project X, having died of …”. This is a very powerful exercise to sharply define what really matters or the causes of death for your meeting, project, company, or even your career.
I agree with Kahneman and Klein on conducting premortem and I have found asking the “tombstone” or “obituary” question forces clarity on what really needs to change within a company, division, department, project, and even career.
Try it and let me know how it works for you.