September  2012     Edition 84
Who is "We"?

In our Critical Thinking Workshop

, many of the participants bring HeadScratchers to the class that have the word "We" in it. For example; "How do we improve customer satisfaction?", or "How can we meet our schedule?" During the process of getting clear, one of the words to examine is "We".

Who is "We"?

Is it your department, everyone in your company, does it include suppliers, vendors, customers, and partners? If "We" gets too large, then it becomes "The Collective", and that often becomes so large that "We" turns into "Them". When that happens, initiatives and goals tend to get lost because "They" are accountable, not "You" or "Me".

Sometimes "We" means "You" or "I"

; "We need to take out the garbage" ... that means "You". "We need a vacation" ... that means "I".

Even more important than defining "We" is the answer to the question

; Do those included in "We", know they are part of "We", and know what they are supposed to do?. For example; If in "How do we improve customer satisfaction?", the "We" includes some of your suppliers, do those suppliers know that they are part of "We" and what they are responsible and accountable for, and how that translates into Customer Satisfaction? If your Customer Support reps use IT systems, and those systems affect how responsive a rep can be to a customer inquiry, than IT is part of "We". Of course you'll get the head nod when you include them in the "We" of customer satisfaction, but do they know how their day to day work specifically affects customer satisfaction?

In some companies, a common statement is "Everyone is responsible for Sales"

. So the "We" is "Everyone". Does everyone who is included in "Everyone" know how their work translates to sales, or what they can do to improve sales?

The Takeaway
: In addition to having a clear understanding of who "We" is, it's even more important to ensure that everyone in the "We" knows why they are part of "We", what role they play, and how they directly contribute to the goal. If they don't, then they might be part of "We" in the minds of some, but are disconnected from the initiative and are not anywhere near the "We", and from their perspective the "We" is really "Them, but not me".

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