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19 Oct

Get straight to it!

Datum: 2011-10-19 12:00

Once upon a time there was a young man (and that young man was me) who was about to intro­duce a rather rad­i­cal idea to a poten­tial part­ner, who in this case was a slight­ly old­er man. 

Me and my col­league were attempt­ing to pitch and sell our amaz­ing project to the com­pa­ny in ques­tion, and we hence need­ed to get this par­tic­u­lar man onboard. 

He was very busy, high­ly sought after and senior to us in a vari­ety of ways, but after some effort we were able to arrange a short meeting. 

When we were final­ly let into his office, after hav­ing been kept wait­ing for an hour past our agreed meet­ing time, we sat down fac­ing him at the gigan­tic oak desk and unpacked our presentation-material. 

The words Thank you for tak­ing the time to see us. Allow me to tell you the back­ground to why we are here and who we are…” bare­ly left my lips when he inter­rupt­ed me with: Stop! Tell me what you want to do. If I like what you have to say, we can deal with the rest later.”

For a moment I was per­plexed, but got myself togeth­er quick­ly, pre­sent­ed our idea, suc­ceed­ed in mak­ing him enthu­si­as­tic about it as well, and with that, the project had a partner. 

…and get straight to the point

There is an infor­mal expres­sion used in the US Marines to describe this atti­tude: BLUF – Bot­tom Line Up Front. This refers to that when intend­ing to present some­thing to a supe­ri­or offi­cer, be brief and get to the point. If all goes well, there will be plen­ty of time for details later. 

My meet­ing with the senior entre­pre­neur occurred five years ago, but I have thought of the occa­sion many times since. I have been espe­cial­ly inspired by how he suc­ceed­ed in tak­ing a stand to so many dif­fer­ent sug­ges­tions, mak­ing numer­ous deci­sions and get so much done, by hav­ing the BLUF-approach to business. 

So, you should get straight to the point as well. Or if you are not the one speak­ing, ask who­ev­er is to get to the point instead. 

I am cer­tain that you can recall a meet­ing which took for­ev­er and a day to get going. Back­ground infor­ma­tion, pre­sen­ta­tions, rea­son­ing and dis­cus­sions were drawn out and went around in cir­cles, and you didn’t get to the core of the mat­ter until much time and ener­gy had been wast­ed. Or per­haps you were the one who ini­tial­ly was too vague and indi­rect. Believe me, I have been guilty of this more than once as well. 

You can rec­og­nize the BLUF-approach in an exec­u­tive sum­ma­ry in a busi­ness plan, a prospect or some­thing sim­i­lar. Read the brief­ing and if it is inter­est­ing enough, make the deci­sion to involve your­self deeper. 

Try this

In the next week, try to get away with pre­sent­ing as lit­tle back­ground as you pos­si­bly can when in a meet­ing. Try to get straight to the point and dis­cov­er that you will be able to fin­ish off the meet­ing a few min­utes pri­or to the set finish-time. 

Exper­i­ment and play around with the BLUF-approach when you are writ­ing e‑mails. Try keep­ing it short and simple. 

Short­er, more con­cise and faster

Your meet­ings will become short­er, enabling you to have time for more of these with­out hav­ing to work more. 
You will also spend less time com­pos­ing e‑mails and due to this have more time for oth­er things (or have more time to send more e‑mails).

If you can live with that the mate­r­i­al you base your deci­sions on in the future will be more con­cise than it present­ly is, you will make deci­sions faster, which will pro­pel you faster towards where you want your busi­ness to go. 
More con­cise meet­ings, more con­cise e‑mails and a smoother and faster deci­sion-mak­ing process will result in that you accom­plish more, if this is what you aspire to achieve. 

Don’t over­do it

Final­ly: No, I am not say­ing that you always should exclude back­ground infor­ma­tion”. We often need to know more than the infor­ma­tion a first impres­sion pro­vides and allows us to under­stand about each oth­er, in order to estab­lish a strong enough trust and con­fi­dence in what we intend to do. 

What is your suggestion?

When was the last time you took part in a tru­ly effec­tive meet­ing, and what made it so effec­tive and suc­cess­ful? Let me and oth­ers know by leav­ing a comment.