Don’t wander up the y-axis!

board room

(photo credit: EricDanPhoto via photopin cc)


Watching Sarah Lacy’s Interview With Dick Costolo. It’s long (approx 2 hours) but provides a very interesting account of Dick Costolo’s view of the world as CEO of Twitter.

One of the most interesting early take aways relates to Dick’s management style and, in particular, the importance he places on keeping meetings focused and clear above all else; see also similar comments by Fred Wilson.

He recommends considering meeting objectives in terms of two key dimensions. The x-axis is about clarity of communication: you have a message to deliver, you need to make sure that it is delivered clearly. The y-axis is about how the recipient feels about the message; whether they are happy or unhappy with you.

Dick’s point is that it is vital to focus on the x-axis without worrying about the y-axis. All too often message clarity becomes corrupted especially when difficult news is being delivered. The recipient gets annoyed or becomes hurt or grows frustrated, and all to quickly you find yourself worrying about how to make them happy again. It’s all to easy to find yourself wandering up the y-axis and agreeing to requests from the recipient. All of a sudden you are taking todos and a clear message fails to be delivered.

Optimise for message clarity and don’t take todos!

It’s an interesting perspective and useful approach to consider if challenging to implement in practice. Still practice makes perfect.

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