Let’s talk about negative things in business that nobody wants to talk about – what Jim Collins calls the Brutal Facts. Furthermore, let’s address how to confront the brutal facts so it becomes a good thing.

Here’s an example: I once worked with a great company going through a rough patch with the finance team. Turns out, the CFO – who was wonderful and had grown with the company – was now way over his head. The demands of the role had grown five times, while the CFO and the team had only grown about three times, so there was a gap. As a result, the finance department was letting the company down. While the CEO had a sense of what was going on and preferred not to have to deal with it, it was really starting to hurt a lot of people.

In our two-day strategic planning meeting, for this company, we found out that the finance team wasn’t able to give the business what it needed. Most people try to walk by such a sensitive topic and leave that for another time. They just don’t want to get into it, in the room, for fear of how it might turn out and more, importantly – out of compassion for their colleagues – don’t want to embarrass them in front of everybody.

But we have great tools to flush out and deal with the brutal facts – respectfully and professionally.

The challenge in dealing with the brutal facts is that our experiences are often about brutal opinions, not grounded in facts, which is a destructive conversation.

What We Did

We broke people into four different groups and asked them to list all the facts about the Brutal Facts. It’s important to note that we didn’t ask for judgments or opinions. We only wanted to discuss the facts that could be verified.

Armed with these sheets of facts, we could then have a very constructive debate about what we could do. In the end we prioritized the issues and the team came up with an action plan to address them.

It was a way of turning an issue no one wanted to address into a deep, constructive debate. In the end, this led to a very positive outcome: the business got more of what it needed. And the CFO and team were able to feel much better about their work and take it up a notch.

The Challenge

  • What brutal facts are you not talking about in your business?
  • How can you constructively gather the facts about the brutal facts, have a healthy debate and move ahead?

if you want to hear more about how to deal with brutal facts and the power in confronting them, listen to this episode of the Growth Whisperers.

And if you need help to deal constructively with some brutal facts in your business, call us – we’d love to help.


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