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Making stone soup at work

Hi! We all have ideas for our work. Maybe you work in teams, where getting others excited about your

Work in Progress

January 20 · Issue #18 · View online
The newsletter about work

We all have ideas for our work. Maybe you work in teams, where getting others excited about your plans is part of the job. Or maybe you deal with managers and bosses who have a say in what everyone else is doing.
However you work, drumming up support for your own ideas can be hard. Can’t everyone see that your brainwave for that innovative project is brilliant? Do they just not want to see it? That kind of frustration can sap your energy and enthusiasm for the job. It can even make you consider quitting and trying your luck elsewhere.
Before you do, try this:

Ever tried stone soup?
The legend of stone soup is about a group of hungry travelers who come upon a village. All they’ve brought with them is a big empty pot. Villagers aren’t exactly getting in line to help feed this bunch. So the travelers clear off, only to come back later with their pot full of water. They slip a smooth stone into the water and put the pot over the fire. 
One villager sees this curious sight and asks what they’re up to. The travelers answer, “We’re making stone soup. It’s delicious!” They assure the villager that they don’t at all mind sharing their soup, but it could use a little more garnish, a tad extra flavor. Did he have any salt?
Now, the villager thought hot soup sounded good, and came back with salt and a couple of carrots to add to the pot. Another villager caught wind of the meal-to-be, and said he had a little celery and an onion to add to the soup, which the travelers said hadn’t quite reached its full flavor yet.
More and more villagers drop by, each adding something to the pot. Finally, the travelers fish the stone out, and voila: delicious and filling soup for everyone. The villagers had easily fed the travelers – and themselves.
Making stone soup at work
By involving the villagers in the story (instead of just asking for a list of ingredients), the travelers manage to get the villagers interested in being part of the process. No big investment needed. Each villager need only add a little something. 
It’s a lesson we can bring to our own initiatives at work. Brilliant as your idea may be, if you’re asking for lots of time or money, you’re asking to be turned down. 
But start with an inspiring story – and do what you can with the ingredients you’ve got (start a fire, fill the pot with water, add a story and a stone) – and amazing things can happen.
Think about specific things others can contribute to get them on board. Asking for feedback is a great step. Have people join brainstorming sessions or other key meetings. The more they can contribute something concrete, the more invested people will be in helping you get your project going.
In short, the sooner you involve people in your vision of what can be, the sooner they’ll help get you the resources you need to make it happen.

Have a great week!

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