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A Failure to Communicate

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Mon, Jul 25, 2016

Last year one of my customers, Fleck Sales, created a theme based on the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke, “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”

It was a simple theme designed to reward their team for working on improving their internal communication. 

It worked.  In their GAPM survey Fleck completes each trimester the metrics on communication increased.

At the Fortune Sponsored Growth Summit in Atlanta General Stanley McChrystal emphasized the importance of communication.  You may have found this true in your relationships, especially between the people you love, in business, socially and even with complete strangers.


Recently, on my way to an eye appointment at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics, I was rear-ended while waiting at a stoplight in Cedar Rapids.  The appointment this morning was for 9 AM, and because Dr Thomas Oetting had answered an email I’d sent him and scheduled me for 9 AM, despite being completely booked, I didn’t want to be late and disappoint his generosity for scheduling me so quickly.

Even though there was serious damage to both vehicles, both vehicles were still drivable.  I decided not contact the police.  We exchanged insurance agents and phone numbers.  The driver, who hit me, had significant damage to the front of his BMW SUV.  He asked me to contact him after I received an estimate. In case the damage wasn’t too significant he thought he might pay the cost out of his own pocket. He didn’t want his insurance premiums to increase. 

After getting an estimate the next day I called him, revealing the damage. It was nearly $5000.  He still wasn’t sure if he would report to his insurance or pay out of pocket.  He told me he had two businesses and didn’t have insurance on several of the 7 vehicles he owned.   That should have made me suspicious.  He said he’d get back to me the next evening.  He didn’t.  I traveled to Washington DC to see my oldest son for my granddaughters 6th birthday and didn’t return until the following Thursday.  Once again I attempted to reach him by phone and text.  No response.  Finally I called leaving a message that if I didn’t hear back from him within 48 hours I would contact the police and his insurance agent. 

Still, I received no response.

After the 48 hours I called the number of his insurance agent.  When the person at the agency looked up the name of the person who hit me he informed me that he didn’t have insurance with State Farm, and hadn’t for quite some time.


General Stanley McChrystal’s message at the Growth Summit, “when you’re not talking, things get worse!” 

Certainly they did for me. As for the driver who hit me, with the accident report I completed and my insurance company searching for him to pay for the damages, I don’t believe they’re going to get any better for him either.

The value of meeting rhythms can’t be emphasized more than in that statement, “when you’re not talking, things get worse!” 

Daily huddles, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual meetings keep your team talking! 

In McChrystal’s case, as former commander of the premier military counter-terrorism force, Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), he took the unprecedented step of establishing a daily huddle that included 7500 participants lasting 90 minutes each day.  He created a comprehensive counter-terrorism organization that revolutionized interagency operating culture. 

His operations went from losing the IRAQ war, running 4 raids a month, to winning the engagement by increasing the number of raids to 10 a day.   The major adjustment made to achieve this victory was to have leadership decisions made at the tactical level by their ground forces.  Instead of McChrystal being responsible for every decision, his tactical teams took responsibility and dramatically improved effectiveness.


Meeting_Rhythms_1-13_wks-resized-600.jpgCan you empower your people to make more decisions at the tactical/front lines of your business?  Retired General Stanley McChrystal’s experience would tell you it’s imperative to your continued success to make this happen in your business.  McChrystal called their meetings “shared consciousness.”

One way to achieve this “shared consciousness” in your business is through cascading meeting rhythms in your business.

Start with a Daily Huddle. Get your people to share their top priority every day, the metric that drives their performance and keys to the company’s One Thing for the quarter and year.  Everyone gets stuck from time to time.  Have your people share their stucks.  If they need help getting unstuck, someone in the daily huddle can provide them this off line after the meeting. 


Don’t by pass the value of this segment of the Daily Huddle.  Maceo Jourdan, Marketing Strategist, Media Buyer, Chief Pontificator for Barton Publishing shared these insights about being “stuck,” Being “stuck” relates to productivity, not ability.  People don’t want to report on where they’re stuck because they feel as if it reflects on ability.  Rather, in the context of Scrum, it relates to them getting a series, or sequence, of tasks done that day. So if a Teammate has A, B, and C to do and they need something from Bob to get B complete, they might get “stuck” on B because Bob isn’t delivering. In a Huddle, then, saying “I’m stuck on B” would generate the question “why are you stuck on B”.  Well, because I’m waiting on Bob for the dozzaflat. That, in turn susses out why Bob isn’t getting the dozzaflat complete.

That’s what communication provides in an organization. 

Every business I’ve coached that implements Strategic Discipline which immediately engages their business in the meeting rhythms discipline quickly sees a jump in productivity. 

It’s simple, once your team begins to communicate consistently, people don’t get interrupted as frequently.  They know they will see the people they need to speak to every day at the same time.  They also become aware of others priorities.  Appreciating others busyness decreases the likelihood they will interrupt. 

Communication is the number one issue in most organizations.  Increasing effectiveness is the outcome of getting the right meeting rhythms in place.

Why are meeting rhythms, metrics and priorities so critical to your organization?  Sydney Harris, a journalist for the Chicago Daily News and the Chicago Sun-Times, shares a definition of happiness next blog to help you gain the proper perspective. Discover why prioritizing is the first step to happiness

Topics: weekly meetings, Strategic Discipline, meeting rhythms, daily huddle, where are you stuck

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Certified Gazelles Coach

Doug Wick, President

Positioning Systems


The Strategic Discipline Blog focuses on midsize business owners with a ravenous appetite to improve his or her leadership skills and business results.

Our 3 disciplines include:

- Priorities
- Metrics
- Meeting Rhythms

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