Working with tech businesses and teams the term being ‘agnostic’ is not uncommon. Whether their product is ‘platform agnostic’ and can be used with any operating system or if it’s ‘device agnostic’ which means the software works on any type of device. Then there is how we choose to be agnostic in our spiritual beliefs – not one way or the other. So it got me thinking.
We can create products or services that are ‘interoperable’ (great word right?!) with various systems, that is, they can be used with any platform. But do we apply this enough in our thinking? Do we come to meetings with an agnostic mindset? That is; ‘I am open to something that works for most’ or do we bring an attachment to the outcome. That is; ‘I am trying to drive an agenda that suits me or my team’.
How easy is it to detect when someone is coming to you with a ‘suggestion’ or a disguised question? I reckon we know in our gut when someone has their own agenda or a decision they really want to go with. Where asking you and the team for your thoughts is just a formality.
We hear content. But smell intent. I always find it amusing how people think they can disguise their intent with open questions, or a calm, eye contact driven nod as they are talking. But we all smell what is behind it. It’s like telling a child that zucchini pasta is still pasta. No one is that stupid.
I have been really challenged on calling myself out on this lately. I’ve realised that attaching a pre-conceived idea to how I want things to go does not serve me. And it doesn’t serve the people I am with either.
I’ll fess up and give you an example. I was recently running a strategic planning offsite with a client. I had my ideas about the best decisions they could make as a leadership team on how they should innovate and plan for the future. So I start designing it around that. How can I facilitate the discussion so they come to the conclusion that I THINK they need. Then that little voice whispered in my ear; ‘Hey G, is this outcome agnostic or Georgia driven?’. Oh gaud.. yep it was me deciding that my ideas were the best ones. Can you see how easily that discussion is then designed?
Another example is when we (I mean me) do it in our daily conversations with our friends or family. They come with a problem and we come with… not A solution but OUR solution. We are not agnostic to the outcome. We believe it should go the way we believe is right.
When we don’t remain agnostic (open to one way or the other) we lose out. We lose out on learning because we are not genuinely curious about other ideas and perspectives. We lose out on building more respectful relationships because people don’t feel seen and heard. We lose out on gaining real commitment because that comes when people know they have been consulted and considered.
In one way we are saying (consciously or subconsciously) that ‘I know best’. And I don’t need to learn from others. Missed opportunities on all levels.
Being ‘outcome agnostic’ is about having no expectations about the outcome. It doesn’t mean you don’t make a decision. It is not fence sitting. It’s just being open minded and having no attachment to the outcome. Walking into a meeting or discussion with an open mind doesn’t mean you stay on the fence. It just means you remain open and curious to ideas and suggestions that are not your own. How can that be a bad thing?
So ask yourself? What meeting or conversation are you walking into with a decision that you want to sway people in to? And then ask yourself – What would it look like if I walked in agnostic? But hey, don’t ask me… I’m busy being agnostic about it all.