Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Not The Droid You're Looking For

You know the setup... Obiwan and crew at a traffic checkpoint with storm troopers asking questions about their pair of droids. Obiwan uses the force to put words in the mouths of these intergalactic paramilitary officers, telling them "These are not the droids you're looking for" - knowing full well that they are.

We are led to believe it's "the force" that enables this power of persuasion. I'm here to tell you that it's a learned skill. Obiwan is more than a little brash in his execution, but this past week has felt like one giant Jedi mind trick, so let me tell you how it's done.  The analogous corporate droid is some perceived failure or weakness in something. Anything. Success hinges on 3 things:

a) You have to know whether or not this is the droid in question. You can't divert attention from an ambiguous thing. Failure- or not - you better know. Do your corporate storm troopers have a point? Hold that thought.

b) You had better deeply believe that the intervention of the corporate storm troopers is not going to save the princess. If the storm troopers are on your side, hiding the droids is not the right choice - and the mind trick will fail.

c) With the confidence of A and B, you need to express verbal certainty.  Calmly, without excitement or emotion, claim the situation is under control.  Give some - but not comprehensive - facts supporting your calmness.

We knew there was a problem. We took steps Q and R to help remedy it. It is clearly not completely done, but we're 80% there and you'll have an update in 2 weeks.

Too many facts and people get up in your business about execution. Too much agitation or excitement reads as defensiveness, and creates suspicion. 

Let's review Mr. Kenobi's line:

"You Don't Need to See His Identification" --- I know the identity of the droids.
"These Aren't the Droids You're Looking For" -- The problem is under control
"You Can go About Your Business" -- Move along to the next thing

If done correctly, you can get the corporate storm troopers to echo your lines back to you, just as Obiwan does.

Now, there is a downside. The outcome is NOT confidence in your execution. It's mild befuddlement and a lack of follow-up questions. So, if you've done something worth touting, this is not the right approach.

But, if you're off to save the princess, and the storm troopers have you cornered, this will get you out of a pickle.

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