CHAPTER 4 WHO Think wide, act narrow

‘If you want to go fast, go alone. To go far, go together.’ Old African proverb

In Leo Tolstoy's classic novel Anna Karenina, the young debutante princess Kitty focuses her devotions on Count Vronsky, a handsome army officer. When Vronsky turns his affections to Anna, Kitty descends into a pit of misery — until she comes to see that the path to her true happiness has been right under her nose all the time, in the form of her childhood friend Kostya Levin, whom Kitty has spurned. Kitty goes on to enjoy a wonderful life with Levin, while Vronsky becomes Anna's tragic undoing.

Sure, this is fiction, and the story an extravagantly romantic one, but the plot echoes the familiar reality of waking up one day to realise that you have wasted your time and energy on the wrong person. Not a mistake you want to make when it comes to building buy-in and getting your ideas or initiatives off the ground.

Several years ago I was working with a group of sales managers in an agricultural business, most of whose customers were farmers. They were trying to work out a way of increasing the range of products purchased by some of their customers. I asked the group to explain how they typically approached a sales conversation with the farmers. The consensus was that most conversations were pretty spontaneous and informal, typically across a paddock fence. The group explained that this was the best way they had found to get time to talk to the customer and to build ...

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