Treat People as Contemporary Customers

by | Dec 20, 2009 | Blog | 1 comment

Robert's Rule blog 006Applause, please. This fall I successfully completed a grueling professional development course required by the National Association of Parliamentarians.

This required course—coupled with other activities— allowed me to renew my certification. So for the next six years, I continue to be a Professional Registered Parliamentarian® .

The course was taxing because it seemed so out of touch for these times. Rather than bore non-parliamentarians (which is almost everyone) with my reasoning, I’m sharing some learnings that you can adapt to your training. (Be warned: My examples are from this recent experience as I still want to get them out of my system.)

My three tips for introducing lean and LEAN Communications™ principles to your training are:

1. Embrace Google and other search engines.  If you can ‘Google’ a topic, think twice about teaching it. Or at least don’t waste precious time in a classroom reciting and rehashing black and white information that you can easily look up.  Instead, especially when you’ve got a group of skilled individuals, use the time to discuss shades of gray, other nuances and sticky ethical issues.  To paraphrase Marilyn Moats Kennedy, the Paul Revere of workplace trends, “Talk about things you can’t find on Google.”

2. Respect diversity of thoughts and actions. Your students will probably respect you in return, as long as you don’t require them to mimic you, especially regarding issues of style versus substance. For example, one of my teachers deducted points in a homework assignment for an action that to me is personal preference. She dinged me for signing a letter “Liz” instead of my official name, Elizabeth Guthridge, Professional Registered Parliamentarian®. I’ve been signing “Liz” in my professional correspondence my entire career to signify that I’m friend, not foe.

3. Bring the outside in. Acknowledge what’s going on in the outside world, rather than just in your specialized area. The scenarios we worked with in this class were so far removed from my client experiences that I felt like I was back in high school when I started studying Robert’s Rules. (Believe it or not, I competed in parliamentary procedure events through FBLA [Future Business Leaders of America] on the state and national level.)

My clients don’t live and die by Robert’s Rules. They’re more interested in getting things done, keeping the peace, and then dealing with next week’s problems, next quarter’s issues and next year’s challenges. Organizations generally follow Robert’s Rules because their bylaws demand it, but they’d probably be happier with Alice Cochran’s approach, Roberta’s Rules of Order: Sail Through Meetings for Stellar Results Without the Gavel.

Over the years, I’ve successfully learned to go where my clients are rather than force fit them into Robert’s Rules or anything else for that matter.

And that, dear readers, is one of the most important principles of lean and LEAN Communications™. You meet customer requirements, always ensuring that you’re adding value. Although my recent teachers didn’t seem to demonstrate this very well, students of all ages are customers too.

1 Comment

  1. Maribeth Decker

    Great points, Liz. That’s exactly why we asked you back to our 2010 annual meeting!

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