👋 Hey there,
“When we show our work, we are inviting our stakeholders to co-create with us. Instead of sharing our conclusions and inviting them to share their preferences, we are sharing our work and inviting them to assess our thinking and to add their own. We are leveraging their expertise and improving our process.” — Teresa Torres
There is an endless graveyard of great projects that died at the get-go. Many reasons can explain this reality, but today let’s focus on poor communication and lack of collaboration — when showing your work, they are one and the same.
Many people present their work like something that came out of a black box, and by framing it like that, they are opening the gates to an uninformed HIPPO (highest paid person’s opinion). There is nothing wrong with someone owning the final decision, but your job is to assure an informed decision. In fact, independently of the decision mechanism, that’s your only job for that day.
How to avoid the HIPPO?
For starters, give context about what’s at stake, and clarify the desired outcomes. Outcomes, not outputs. Here’s a simple example of the distinction between outcomes and outputs. If a company hires someone to build a website, the website is the output, but the outcome is why they are buying the service (increasing sales, decreasing customer calls, etc.)
Don’t be afraid to repeat the desired outcomes during your presentation. Do whatever it takes to keep it on the stakeholders’ minds.
After the proper framing, guide the participants through your line of thought and show what led you to believe you have come to the best solution — given the time and resources available.
Adapt the detail level according to your audience, but always keep a strong storyline. Think of it like giving a walkthrough to your new house, where you share the ups and downs of building it, and give life to your story by providing concrete examples.
And then there is style.
Don’t be cold. Be authentic, be open, and, above all, show you care. We are all fed up with cold presentations by people who couldn’t care less about the result. We have machines for that.
Needless to say, after clarifying the context and outcomes, you should immediately create an open environment where everyone feels welcome to participate. To achieve it, simplify the building blocks of your solution, so everyone in the room understands them and feels empowered to chip in. And then watch the magic.
Assuming your work is solid, and you explained how the different parts play together, you’ll see the rise of a small collective intelligence, where value is added from countless angles.
In the end, you’ll have valid suggestions for improvement and a sense of shared ownership that will unlock many doors in the future.
The best form of communication is action. And you’ll reach new heights if you enable others to play with you.