Anyone with a family has made this mistake, at least once. It’s the weekend. You’ve decided to give everyone a break and eat out rather than cook dinner at home. You load all the kids in the van. Everything seems to be going fine. Then, you stumble. You ask a question so dumb that, as it leaves your lips, you actually try to catch it and stuff it back in. The question – “Where do you guys want to go for dinner?” Everything from that point is only downhill.
“I want to go to McDonalds.” “Are you kidding me, I want to go to Outback.” “I don’t eat meat – where can we get a REAL salad?” “Whatever’s quickest.” (Usually spoken by the wiser parent, now desperately trying to salvage the evening). And so it goes.
Getting a family of kids to agree on where to eat dinner is, literally, “child’s play” in the context of working with adults in a professional environment. Adults are just grown up kids (sometimes). And, so it shouldn’t be surprising that, if they can’t agree on dinner when they’re 10, the challenges might increase around funding a major corporate project when they’re 35.
If culture is the art of engaging people, as I wrote about in an earlier blog, then might the skills necessary to engage a van full of kids apply to engaging a boardroom full of adults? I believe, the answer is yes. The key lies in understanding what characteristics the 10 year olds and the 35 year olds share when there are many players but few options. I’ll talk about that, next week.