Bag of Tricks: It’s Easier to Edit Than Create

I’m known for many quotes and here is a favorite, “It’s Easier to Edit than Create!”

Have you ever been to a meeting that went completely sideways because the folks in the meeting couldn’t get agreement on how to move forward?

Bring a draft they can edit!

It sounds very simple, but I’ve seen SO many meetings circle the drain because:

  • Everyone is not on the same page.
  • It can be hard to summarize the diverse opinions of participants.
  • The group can’t figure out what “DONE” looks like.

1. Have a Draft

I’m a big believer in bringing a draft to the party – er meeting. I’m constantly surprised by the number of people who show up and just talk in a meeting. Then they wonder why they re-hash everything in the next meeting.

(Hint: They didn’t write anything down to help drive the group to consensus on a path forward. And don’t get me started on how often people leave meetings without documenting action items and next steps.)

Having a draft the group can review and start poking at (I’m a fan of the one-pager, concept doc) is a great way to move things forward. And get input. And help the group feel like they are working together toward building a common goal.

It’s basic human nature. If a group of folks has to start from scratch to develop an idea or plan, it’s going to take longer. Especially if you have some personalities to deal with. Working together to look over a draft helps make the meeting interactive. Also, seeing something on paper often helps people crystallize how they feel about it.

Your draft doesn’t have to be perfect. That’s the whole point. Write down your initial thoughts on your idea / plan / vision and bring it to the meeting.

2. Say this – and mean it.

Now the “Trick” part of this Bag of Tricks Tip is that you have to mean it when you say,

“I brought this doc with some initial ideas we can look at. Everyone knows it is easier to edit than create, so let’s take a look at this as a place to start.”

It is important to say some version of these words so that folks know you are serious about being collaborative.

3. Set aside your ego.

Then you have to then set your ego aside.  And take the feedback. And make adjustments. If you bring in a draft and present it as “hey, I’ve figured this all out – let’s go,” you run the risk of alienating others in the room. You’ll almost always generate pushback or defensiveness from someone who has a different opinion.

So, the next brainstorming / visioning / planning meeting you have, be sure you’re showing up with a documented opinion, concept or idea. Be ready to share and edit. Presented in a collaborative way, I guarantee that your fellow meeting participants will appreciate it!

Until next time … wishing you good meetings & business readiness success!

Kirsten Jordan is a Partner at PeopleResults. She can be reached on Twitter @Kirstenkbdb. Sign up to receive her and her colleagues’ blog at Current.