I used to always ask the same question at the end of every job interview: Is there anything you want to talk about but didn't based on the questions I asked that you want to talk about now?
The question helped create a focused opportunity for nervous, hesitant, or distracted candidates to say whatever they wanted that they thought was important in selling themselves.
The organization is going through a major leadership transition. Based on our interactions up to this point, honest, open conversation in a group setting is a clear problem for many individuals throughout the organization. While you hear some issues in a group setting, you hear more of the issues and story in one-off conversations.
Since the online collaboration is anonymous and knowing that there were likely other issues that leaders STILL hadn't felt comfortable introducing, I added this strategic planning question on the fly: Is there anything else we haven't covered that we should address?
The question generated a healthy response and surfaced several of the "elephants in the room" that certain leaders within the organization typically clamor about and bemoan because they are never addressed.
While we didn't tackle the elephants in the online collaboration, at a subsequent in-person strategic planning meeting, one leader voiced a hope and expectation that we would tackle the elephants in the room. During a break in the conversation, I returned to the online collaboration results and copied the elephant issues on a big easel pad. With that move, the elephants were visible. We used the list during the in-person strategic planning workshop to make sure we tackled all of them.
While tackling the issues led to some drawn out and uncomfortable moments (at least for facilitators focused on productivity and getting through a certain number of exercises), the leader most vocal about the elephants had to acknowledge at the end that we had addressed them all.
Using the "what didn't we cover" strategic planning question in a subsequent online collaboration workshop identified many great questions that another organization’s CEO could address before we ended the online collaboration.
With that, "what didn't we cover" is now in our regular portfolio as a very productive strategic planning question. We suggest tucking it into yours, too. – Mike Brown
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