Imagine: You and your team have spent the last 3 hours trying to create a plan to deal with a current challenge at your organization. Each team member has presented their best plan and yet nothing substantial in terms of a real solution as emanated from your discussion. You have two choices: Keep going in circles by recycling ideas and solutions only to feel like a hamster in a spinning wheel. Or, insist on inviting the pizza guy to your next team meeting.

Most people obviously would rather continue to work with their valued team members even after dedicating so much time to design a plan that is futile. Chuck Appleby, Principal of Applebye associates recommends you invite someone who is outside your immediate team, aka the pizza guy to brainstorm with you. They’ll ask the obvious questions that no one in your team had even dared to ask.”

Chuck recounts story of a never-ending business meeting with high-level executives from all around the world. They just couldn’t determine how to launch their new business venture without experiencing severe financial consequences. The tale goes, these execs decided to order pizza amidst their confusion. As the pizza guy stands there waiting for payment, one exec haughtily recommends, “Hey, let’s ask the pizza guy what he thinks.”

Pizza guy takes on the challenge, looks at the board filled with all these numbers and says: “Why is A connected to B?” The simple question incited such fruitful discussion that the team was able to develop a successful launching program within a record-breaking amount of short time.

Moral of the story

Always invite someone who thinks differently from you to your design process. Let them ask the obvious questions that help clarify you and your team’s thinking. So, if you are working with your fellow English teachers to create an innovative English curriculum, invite a math teacher to offer their input into the process. You will be pleasantly surprised.

Who could be your version of the pizza guy? Invite them to your next design meeting. Let us know how it goes.

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