Soon after forming in April of 1998, TAG proposed on a significant scope of work with the U.S. Army. The competition was fierce, including all the typical consultancies you would expect as well as those with years of experience with the Army. Long story short, we were awarded the contract and upon receiving the good news initiated an impromptu office celebration. Halfway through the celebration, one partner suddenly had a look of concern that stopped the show. When asked why, he simply stated what was suddenly bothering him – “Why do you think they picked us?” Talk about bringing a celebration to a screeching halt. The founders of TAG quickly became concerned that the Army awarded this important work to an upstart / unknown consultancy because we wouldn’t make any waves…that we would just go along. For an organization whose values include Making a Difference, there was an important decision to make. We realized we had to meet with the General overseeing the process and let him know that we would have to turn the award down.
Well, the appointment was made and TAG’s two principals took a seat in the General’s office, anticipating a very difficult and disappointing conversation. They weren’t seated more than 5 seconds before the General addressed the elephant in the room and said “You’re here because you want to know why we selected you for this work?”. After a couple of attempts to politely dance around the question, one principal responded “well, yes, that is exactly why we are here.” The next statement from the General caught them both by surprise when we said “the reason I hired you is because in not having any experience with us I was counting on your organization to tell us what we really needed to hear, not what we wanted to hear. We didn’t want someone who was going to play it safe”. Somewhat shocked, but inspired, the principals assured the General that was exactly what he would get from TAG.
From those early days to the present, TAG is still committed to making a difference with each and every client we are given the opportunity to work with. Having that value reinforced at such an early stage in the life of he organization assured us that we were on the right path.
SOUTH TEXAS SCHOOL DISTRICT
In meeting with this client, we followed our normal process starting with a DISCOVERY phase which simply was an email to participants asking them to share “your biggest challenge”. When collated, the #1 challenge identified was stated as “resistance and conflict from those we try to work with outside our team”. As we unpacked this challenge with the team there was a common them of “us vs. them”. This led to a simple REFRAME, which is the the second step of our approach. In this case the consultant attempted to shift their thinking of those they seem to be in conflict with from “advisaries” to “potential allies”. When that clicked, the Team Leader said over and over again “I can’t believe we’ve been doing this for 8 years and it never occurred to us to view the people we struggle with as potential allies…this is incredible!” The next step was to REFOCUS the energy in the room by identifying key stakeholders they deal with and what is important to them / motivates them. From there, the team REIMAGINED approaches to how they intended to build relationships with the stakeholders identified, armed with this new perspective. The day was summed up as the most productive the team has ever had!