Ep161: Giving Space for Brilliance

24 minutes

The phrase “means and methods” might not mean a lot to you, but it can make all the difference in both employee satisfaction, and the success of your business. Which is why we want to talk about it.

Why is that important for business? 

In the world of architecture, or at least the world of Jodi’s experience of architecture, Means & Methods is the term used to talk about the outcome of a project without outlining the methods for achieving that outcome. Like a game of Taboo, you can describe the window without specifying the window. In this way, the destination is the architect’s domain, but the journey is for someone else. There is a clear litmus test for the desired outcome and a project schedule, but the means and methods aren’t delineated. 

When leaders are frustrated that their team aren’t innovative or don’t have a sense of ownership over outcomes, it is usually because they are not following a Means & Methods approach. They think they are setting expectations, but often they are really telling people exactly how to do the project. And in that message is another message – you are not required to think here. They are inadvertently training people to look for guidance at every step instead of setting up an expectation for the outcome and giving freedom with the means and methods of getting there.  

This constricting of space to work increases turnover and job dissatisfaction (in Daniel Pink’s Drive https://www.danpink.com/drive./, he talks about autonomy being one of the three elements of employee satisfaction). But it also makes leaders frustrated and less effectual. If a leader tries to manage someone at something that person is better at, they are depriving their organization of that expertise. If you’ve hired well (and you should assume you did), your team might have a better way than you do, or might get further than you could. You can’t leverage people if you don’t give them space to bring their brain to the table. 

Instead of trying to solve problems for other people, it’s much easier to invoke Means & Methods to solve the problem. Taking that pressure off the leader will do wonders for the organization and for everyone’s mental health. 

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