THE MISSION, SHOULD YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT, IS TO PARTICIPATE IN THE PROTOTYPE EXERCISE THAT WILL GUIDE OUR TEAM TO HELP BOTH THE ASSET AND THEIR HANDLER TO IMPROVE COMMUNICATION METHODS.
The Asset Handler: A series of articles to explore and improve the methods used for meetings between people striving to be an expert and their mentor.
- Prober: Rusty Nail
- Border Guard: Test Drive
- Merchant: Woody
I walked up Test Drive and met his eyes at the threshold of his cubical. We are in the middle of the CMF, Culture Mission Force, headquarters. As he took off his headphones, he always struck me as the type of person that listened to classical jazz and maybe a symphony for special occasions, deep creative thinking moments.
“Are you ready for our Prototype meeting?”
“Ideas are one thing,” said Test Drive, “and the application of those ideas are quite another. Welcome to action!”
Of course he was right because the team just completed the creation of a challenging prototype.
“Our prototype is a document divided into 5 steps. Each section will have our best practice methods to guide and engage both meeting participants to compose the story of their meeting. We believe that if Design Thinking works for this mission, why not apply it to directly to the solution!”
“Good for you,” said Test Drive. “By using Design Thinking terminology, it will reinforce our preferred method for solving difficult missions. So how does the story unfold?”
Section #1 Agent Dossiers
Empathize with your meeting teammate.
“The team felt it would be important for both the Asset and the Handler to know the person they were about to meet with, and become familiar with them. Both Asset and Handler will have a single page dossier on the other person, along with best practice suggestions that set the meeting tone for success.”
“We suggest working with a Cobbler, someone experienced in supporting the creation of identification documents.”
“Good,” said Test Drive. “The meeting tone is mentally set before the meeting begins, manifesting in our minds from past experiences with the specific meeting partner or similar type meetings.”
“So if past meetings were helpful and they came away with a good experience, then they have a leg-up?”
“Exactly! People are creatures of habit,” said Test Drive, “and so are their minds. The mind goes to what it knows to prepare for the encounter. Remember that statement from the Ideate phase of this mission … something about regular and positive interactions promoting a positive and trusting relationship?
“What if we expand upon it and add something like this to your previous statement,” said Test Drive.
Regular and positive interactions promotes a positive and trusting relationship. Create meetings that have a past history where each meeting participant classifies their encounter as a win!
Section #2 The Meeting Definition
“When the Asset feels they guided the meeting to a solution combined with the Handler’s ability to transfer tradecraft knowledge to the Asset, this is a win-win solution. It takes a great amount of maturity to make the meeting about the success of another, but that is exactly what the Handler must do. The Asset is an adult, with the capability to determine and express their needs. Worst case is they fail to get what they need from the meeting, which is a learning experience in itself.”
Test Drive looked pleased at the twist from typical meetings where the senior leads the junior. He finally said “Did you consult Woody on the topic of listening, asked Test Drive?”
At that very moment Woody showed up at the cubical threshold. “I overheard everything. Nasty Bugs!” said Woody. “They are mine of course, and could not help but add to the conversation. I have gathered a brilliant intelligence dossier called Level 2 Listening. It might be helpful to focus deeply on the Handler’s ability to restrain their natural tendency to gab and know their role during this meeting phase. By adding opinions at every moment, it is too much information to remember. The Handler needs to pick strategic times where they feel the need to exhibit influence.”
Section #3 Asset List
“Our prototype allows for 8 total questions from the Asset. There is a reason why Ted Talks limit their presentation to no longer than 18 minutes, keeping the time within the adult attention span that is considered no better than 20 minutes. Plenty of research available on cognitive overload, so the message here is to recognize the right amount of attention. Too much and the experience will turn sour. Too little and the Asset leaves without the answers they need.”
Section #4 Handler List
“This is where the Handler adds their magic. Maybe choose a technical topic and a lower level topic, both to support the Asset’s growth. Do not throw an encyclopedia of knowledge at them, but useful methods or knowledge that apply directly to the meeting topic. Bite size information that the Asset can accomplish, stretching them toward the goal of developing them into a future Handler.”
“Maybe we should hire more talent with photographic memories,” joked Woody.
Section #5 The Take
“We are going to utilize the last 2-minutes to define the Take, where the Asset summarizes needs of future research, deep dive meetings, intelligence requests from Handler, etc. It is okay to continue on a deep dive if both have the time and attention, but the goal is to complete in less than 20-minutes. Most people can afford this amount of time, and by keeping to the schedule it will promote a more positive belief that short future meetings are possible. Solutions also can come to light after sleeping on the intelligence already discussed.”
“I know about that feeling,” said Test Drive. “Can’t count the amount of times when people ask for a minute, and it takes an hour. Never really thought about the feelings that are associated when large portions of my day drained from unplanned engagements.”
Design Thinking Step #5 [Test] is up in our next issue. You are on the team, so please comment on this issue to add additional experiences that can be drawn from.
AS ALWAYS, SHOULD YOU OR ANY OF YOUR TEAM BE CAUGHT, THE CULTURE SPY WILL WRITE ABOUT YOUR HUMANIZING ACTIONS TO HELP OTHERS. THIS SITE WILL NOT SELF DESTRUCT, BUT OUR EFFORTS HERE WILL GROW A GROUP OF FUTURE CULTURE SPIES, SO GOOD LUCK ON YOUR MISSION!