I find what I’m looking for; but am I looking for the right thing?

Recently I went to a meeting with a colleague and had a great conversation with a potential client.

Afterwards we did a debrief and we had completely different views on the key take outs from the meeting and the opportunities that we should go back on; it was like we had attended different meetings.  The issue was that we had both taken different frames into the meeting and had been listening for cues that met our frame, rather than just engaging in the conversation.

The reflection on this meeting led me to think about a number of statements I have heard recently where a frame of thinking is skewing the result:

  1.  “This is the way our business responds to the economic cycle” – I hear a number of senior executives say this, generally  based on a historical paradigm rather than a true analysis of what the linkages and correlations truly are.
  2. “The client only wants to spend $75,000”.  Very often we havent asked what the client’s budget is or the budget has been derived by the client without really understanding the size of the problem or opportunity
  3. “There is no opportunity for xx”. This was the statement made by my colleague from the meeting mentioned above, as her listening was skewed by the frame of her service offerings rather than truly listening to the client’s need.

To me, if you look for something, you will probably find it. That is, if I go into a conversation to talk about risk, risk opportunities are probably what I will find. If I go in to a meeting looking for a $50,000 opportunity, that’s what I am likely to find – even though there may have been a $250,000 opportunity there if my mind was open to explore all the client’s needs

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