Ten tips

Andrew McAfee lost a bet, so today he is tweeting at least 100 times. So far, he has asked ten baseball-related questions (all way over my head), and posted links to 20 poems that are available online. Now he has listed the ten things he has learned from teaching.

  1. Don’t be afraid of silence in the classroom
  2. Ask clear questions
  3. Trust your students
  4. Be the person who most wants to be in the room
  5. Start on time, end on time
  6. Check your fly
  7. Be more concerned with the destination than the journey
  8. We get smarter via respectful disputation
  9. It’s better to be well-rested than well-prepared
  10. Most students appreciate being held to high standards

These are excellent tenets for all sorts of interactions, not just teaching. Sometimes the relationship between lawyers and their clients has many similarities to the teacher-student relationship. The same is true for internal consultants (like KM people) and their internal clients. In case they need translation, here is my gloss on Andy’s ten points.

  1. Silence is not bad — so long as it signifies that people are thinking about what you are saying.
  2. If you are clear what you want from people, you have to have understood it better, and they will know why it is important.
  3. Internal consultancy is a kind of leadership — the organisation has trusted you to take it somewhere new, so you owe it to those you are leading to trust them too.
  4. If you don’t care deeply about what you are doing (and show it), everyone will know, and take their cue from you.
  5. At the most basic level, punctuality is respectful — but it also shows that you have made a plan and have stuck to it. If you can do that with the small things, people will believe that you can do the same with the big ones.
  6. There is always something obvious to remember to do. Remember to do it, otherwise people will notice.
  7. If there is agreement about what the outcome should be, that is what is most important. If you start to quibble about the route-plan, you run the risk that you lose internal clients along the way.
  8. If there are differences of opinion, they only fester if left unspoken. Clearly-expressed alternative perspectives can lead to a much better outcome — be open to them.
  9. Do the best preparation that you can, but an alert mind can overcome gaps in that preparation (and there will always be gaps).
  10. Just because you have been asked to advise on something, don’t let the client (internal or otherwise) get away without doing their bit — the outcome will be better and will be better implemented if they engage properly.

Thanks for the thought-provoking tweets, Andy! (He has ten good things about Boston coming up, so I’m off to enjoy those. It’s one of my favourite American cities.)

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