guest blog by TIM LUSCOMBE – Thames Valley Business Advisers Tim Luscombe - pam warren international public speaker

You don’t know how much you know.

As we go through life, we gather experience and knowledge. We learn from our successes and achievements and build a database of knowledge.

How often have you been to a talk, or read something, and thought “I knew that” or “I remember that”?

When you are leading a team, just think for a moment about the vast store of knowledge and experience in the team.  I was recently in a meeting with my colleagues from TVBA, and looking at the experience around the room – in all sorts of sectors and across all disciplines – we must have had well over 250 years’ experience in the room. To add to that, it was just a small selection of the TVBA team who were present.

Consider your team. It doesn’t matter if you are the leader, or a member of the team. Look around the room and be astonished at the experience available.

When you have a challenge that you can’t see the answer to, ask the questions…to quote Kipling,

“I keep six honest serving-men

(They taught me all I knew);

Their names are What and Why and When

And How and Where and Who.”

If you dare to ask the team for their ideas, you may well be surprised. Even more daring is to use the brainstorming technique…nothing is too outlandish, no one is allowed to criticise another idea.

There’s a famous story about this from Canada.

The power company had problems with ice accumulating on the power lines. Clearing the power lines required the linemen to climb the icy poles out in the woods, reach out with a long pole and shake the lines to clear them. It was dangerous and difficult work in hazardous conditions.

Brainstorming possible alternatives wasn’t making much progress until one of the linemen told how he had been chased by a bear, after he had come done from the pole. His colleague joked “why don’t we get the bears to climb the poles – they are heavy enough to shake the lines & clear the ice”

After the laughter had died down, someone suggested tempting the bears with honey pots at the top of the poles and the discussion moved on to how to get the honey in place.  One suggestion was to use a helicopter to place the honey, and at that point one of the group realised that by flying along the power lines the downdraft from the rotors would be enough to shake the ice free.

That person had experienced helicopters but had nothing to do with the power lines – she was a secretary. A joke about Bears and Honey led to a practical solution.

You don’t know how much you know, you certainly don’t know how much your team know!

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