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In implementation, somebody has to make the first move.

Last week, I moderated a conference for senior managers from different industries. The day before, I read that it was impossible these days to get people off their phones during the coffee breaks.

Always one for a challenge, at the start of the conference I invited people to do two things: connect with each other during the break, and to make sure they include everyone. It worked. Not one person was on their phone during the break. (I have a photo to prove it.) There was a lively, loud conversation next to the coffee machine.

So clearly, it is possible these days to get people off their phones and networking with each other.

If you ask people, “Why don’t you talk instead of looking at your phone?”, the answer is typically, “I wanted to talk, but nobody was available. So I just thought I’d check my messages.”

This is like the 14-year-old at the school disco who looks across the room and sees the girl/boy of their dreams. Eye contact is made. Smiles exchanged.

At some point, one person has to move – it doesn’t matter who – and ask the other person to dance. If they don’t, the evening is likely to end in endless analysis of “what-if…” and “if-only…”.

The same happens all the time with implementation. At the same conference, the organizing team (me plus two others) were successful because as tasks came up, all of us were prepared to get up and just do it. When there was a clear task to be implemented, very little analysis took place. Instead, there was immediate action. We didn’t get everything perfectly right. But as one of my best mentor’s said: it’s about success, not perfection.

In your company when the implementation goal and the task is clear, do your senior managers move at speed to implement, or do you drop into long discussions characterised by analysing the action to be taken? In other words, are you inviting people to dance or just trapped in endless "conversational" stares across the dancefloor? Because a culture of fast implementation requires more decisive action, than time-wasting reflection.

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MN Vice Director - Medical Marketing Europe

This process allowed people to re-appraise how this [senior team of managers] group was functioning or, rather, not functioning correctly. The tendency for each member of our group to see himself as an isolated beacon of excellence – which acted against the vital need for cooperation between members – were eased and communication is already becoming more 'normalised'.

RS Senior Director

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