Stuffing the pillow

“But if I don’t pull them in a room, how will I guarantee they heard it?”.

Across organizations, we often view information as a main lever to shift people from A to B.

And so, we pile our gatherings (training classes, off-sites, retreats, town halls) with content. They quickly become laundry lists of sessions, keynotes, and disparate topics where the information is the star and the predetermined solution.

When we view information as the singular solve, it’s easy to fall into these three traps and their associated rationale:

  1. The speed trap: “this will upskill people as fast as possible”
  2. The efficiency trap: “This will make the best use of the time we have, let’s not waste a minute” – aka stuffing the pillow. 
  3. The expert trap: “Someone outside the room has the answer, let’s hire them to share it”

But buyer beware.

Speed is no friend of learning. When it comes to content, more is not better. And if we only believe outsiders have the answer, we are missing the opportunity to notice and harness the capabilities and intelligence of the people already in the room.

Information alone does not change behavior. It’s what people do with it that matters.

When we focus only on information, we run the risk of sending a signal that gatherings are meant to do things to people instead of with them. Employees’ behavior follows suit. 

It can be hard to resist the temptation of what we think is a quick fix, especially when it comes to other people. And especially when we are rewarded for speed, velocity, and efficiency.

But, every gathering is an opportunity for positive change, even if you’re just sharing information. Let’s not waste it. 

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