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Fixing Feedback by Georgia Murch

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Chapter 8 The Board of Directors in your head

Have you ever wondered why the same data can be presented to different people and result in many different perspectives and interpretations? This occurs because the way we interpret and receive information is unique to each of us.

When I was in my twenties I sat in one of my first leadership meetings where we were presented the strategy for the next financial year. We were shown a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats), then a competitor analysis. After that we were shown the new products that were being launched and, to finish, we went through the budgets and forecasts. Everyone in the group was shown the same data. What happened next fascinated me. This was the first time in my career that I remember noticing that there were serious differences of opinion about the same information.

While there were definitely positive and supportive stances, what rang loudest for me were the more overtly expressed destructive perspectives. Some people found fault in every aspect they could find and saw mostly the negatives; some people focused on how risky the strategy was and the disasters that were likely to occur should they implement the strategy; and some people saw only good or bad and were not prepared to discuss the grey areas. There was also one person who, after the presentation, made their view very clear that the senior leadership team was to blame for not collaborating more effectively prior to the meeting ...

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