Five Business Reasons to "Include" vs. "Exclude"

By Cathy McCullough

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Pull the Right People In at The Right Time to Increase Effectiveness

Most all company leaders say their intention is to include the right people in strategic decisions. Yet, a Five Business Reasons to "Include" vs. "Exclude" peoplecommon trend I see is that “communication is a problem,” or “It takes forever for something to get done around here.” In addition, not every single person in a company can be included in every single decision. However, with a little pre-thought, pulling the right people into a conversation at the right time can increase the effectiveness of your corporate decision-making process.

There are all kinds of reasons you’ll get from your executive team for excluding people: They (your people) don’t know the magnitude of everything; they don’t get the ‘big’ picture like we do; they don’t understand the full scope of what’s happening; they only understand their own component of work; they might hear something confidential; etc. In reality, the reasons for excluding people are probably more grounded in psychology than actual fact (i.e., fear that someone might look smarter than the leader, the need to hold on to information as a weapon vs. sharing it, and more).

An Innovative Way To Include More People in an Executive Team Discussion

Inclusion, then, doesn’t mean having people outside your executive team attend one of your entire meetings. It might mean simply that they’re invited in at a certain point for part of the discussion that lends to his/her expertise. It might mean you set up a task force of sorts that pulls people together with cross-functional expertise. Ever how you go about it, inclusion can increase your corporate brainpower exponentially.

The Value of Inclusion

For those who see the value of including the right people at the right time when making a key decision, the business landscape can become less complicated and more strategic. Here are five reasons why you should consider Inclusion vs. Exclusion.

(1) Your line of sight is extended. Inclusion of people outside your core team can provide you with information gathering and sharing that will give you an intelligent picture of the ‘whole’ (vs. only a fraction). If you need convincing of the relevance of this, you can read all about the failings of the intelligence community over time. Governmental agencies tend to hoard information and they share what they know sporadically (in fractions). With only fractions of information within separate entities, no one can effectively do their jobs. Yet fractions pulled together into whole units would have very likely helped predict key tragic events (such as the 1996 bombing of the World Trade Center, the 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassy in Kenya and the USS Cole in Yemen, the events of September 11, and more). Being reactive sucks your time (which is money) and energy. If you want to be proactive vs. reactive, consider “Inclusion.”

(2) You get a stronger grip on second and third order implications. With inclusion, you can better map out potential implications of your decision (both positive and negative). It’s not the first order implications that trip you up; it’s the second and third order implications where things get messy. The earlier implications are identified, the better you can plan for a smoother implementation. Cleaning up something that you should have been able to predict is a massive expense. In addition, it forces you to go backwards vs forward.

(3) You build champions. Inclusion automatically builds champions. If your people have helped with the decision, then they also can become advocates for the decision itself. This alleviates the burden of your executive team having to “tell” people the decision that was made by those at the top. Your people can hear it, when appropriate, from one of their own. This cuts the ‘drama’ element way down; drama doesn’t add anything to your bottom line.

(4) You maximize your ROP (Return on People). Done correctly, inclusion better maximizes one of your most expensive costs: People. Let a team of people work on a challenge or capture their thoughts on a big idea or opportunity, or offer suggestions on how to solve a problem. If you’ve hired intelligent people who have a passion for what they do, then garner their collective intelligence for the good of your company. Don’t squelch their voices. Treat them like the valuable (and expensive) assets that they are. Offer them peer-to-peer file sharing; give them the time to meet and discuss; encourage them to challenge your assumptions. They’re the experts; they have the tacit knowledge that you probably don’t have, and they have that knowledge because they apply it every single day in the jobs you’ve hired them to do.

(5) Speed. When inclusion becomes routine in your corporate culture, amazing things can begin to happen. People build stronger bonds with one another; the overall trust level goes up; they begin to work together (whole) vs. in their silos (fractions). As a result, a social system emerges that begins to support (at a higher level) the larger whole. In time, people begin to solve even smaller problems one their own more collectively vs. within their own boundaries. Inclusion takes on its own form and simply becomes “the way you do things” at your company. Longer-term, decisions are getting made quicker and faster than ever before. In today’s world, who doesn’t need to keep things moving forward at a steady pace? If you’re stalled (or if bureaucracy is slowing you down—which it inevitably does), start the journey toward inclusion. The more problems you solve sooner, the more challenges you predict earlier, the more information you have to make stronger strategic decisions, the leaner your company becomes and the faster it can move. If you solidify inclusion as a core part of your corporate culture, you’ll increase the odds of keeping ahead of the competition (the implications of which can be to increase your revenue and/or profit capabilities).

Diversity of Thought is a Powerful Resource

Remember: The diversity you should celebrate is “Diversity of Thought.” It’s a powerful resource sitting right there within the walls of your organization every single day.

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Cathy McCullough


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