My favorite movie of all time is The Godfather. One of the famous lines from The Godfather is when Michael Corleone says “It’s not personal…its strictly business”. If you’ve never seen the movie here’s a 5 second clip of that scene:
As memorable as that line is, in my opinion its an overused mantra which can sometimes be a road block to a healthy and high functioning forum. Its common within forums to categorize a presentation topic in one of two buckets – either its personal or its business – making it easy for the forum to create artificial boundaries around the presentation and allowing members to take shelter well within their personal comfort zones. In other words, once a presentation has been identified as a “business” topic, forum members often allow their hearts to take a nap thinking they will only need their heads for the next 60 minutes.
Of course, when making key business decisions one must take a hard look at the numbers, the risks, the ROI and the impact on key stakeholders. But are traditional business metrics all that should be considered during a forum presentation? Is it the role of a forum to crunch the numbers, provide strategic feedback or limit the sharing to what each of us might have done in a similar situation? While a forum might provide some clarity around these factors, the truth is that your forum mates know you much better than they will ever know your company or your industry.
There is no magic that takes place between 9 and 5 that allows us to make decisions and take action without the fears, dreams, motivations, biases, patterns, compulsions and filters that we live (and sometimes struggle) with everyday playing a role. Are we shortchanging our forum experience if we allow our hearts to be dormant during what, on the surface, seems like a straight business issue? High functioning forums have learned that if its business…its personal.
Michael Bloch, founder and CEO, Quadrinity Media, LLC and HBS Alumni Forum facilitator & trainer