Friday, July 11, 2014

The Most Effective Guy In The Room

I am not a fan of the "smartest guy in the room" meme. I feel that it misses the point. In a business setting, all I care about is effectiveness. Most business problems are resolved by insight, experience, social skills, hard work and luck. Smartness is not usually much of a factor.

The point of being in such a room is to fix an issue, address a lack or form a plan of action to achieve something. Who is going to get us there, in a reasonable amount of time with a maximum of team buy-in? That is who I want to identify. That is who I want to run the meeting.

Since I am consultant and since I have been at this for 30 years, I have run into a wide range of styles and manners and approaches in meetings. There is more than one way to be effective, but I have worked with only a handful of people I thought were terrific runners of meetings. What they have in common is the ability to get at the core issue, to elicit suggestions and solutions, to distribute the necessary work and to keep everyone on task. I don't know how smart they were; it didn't really come up. I was too busy being focused on the job at hand.

As a technology guy, I am usually in meeting about technology and usually with people who are not technologists. So what is required is the ability to lay out technology issues in an accessible way, to facilitate group decisions about technology and to follow up in a way that non-technology people can relate to.

Phooey on smart. Who is the most effective person in the room?