I recently witnessed a train wreck. Not literally, it was more of a social train wreck. A manager was given the rare opportunity to meet with the CEO. After the formalities, he starts the conversation with, “Before we get into my issue, lets go back to how it began. Ten years ago…” The CEO’s eyes glazed over as the manager provided the entire, painstakingly detailed backstory (somehow without being interrupted). The manager concluded with, “…and that’s why I’m proposing we reorganize the process.”
Not surprisingly, the meeting ended soon thereafter without the manager’s desired resolution. The manager had a solid idea, but since no one knew where the story was going, the room was not prepared for his solution. This unfortunate exchange could have been avoided with a lesson demonstrated from Better Call Saul.
Better Call Saul is a prequel to the widely popular Breaking Bad. It follows the attorney, Saul Goodman, on his path towards protecting criminals. As the first episode begins, we see Saul after the events of Breaking Bad. I won’t go into spoilers, but his life is not great. The show then goes back to his beginnings so we can learn how Saul became who he is.
Knowing the end is an engaging storytelling practice. It allows the viewer to focus on how the conclusion was reached and what it’s working towards. This technique is equally effective in the boardroom.
When introducing a new idea, start with the end. Communicate the purpose of the meeting and what you intend to achieve. Then, as you’re presenting your case, all involved will have the context and shared perspective necessary to solve the problem.
Beginning with a stated purpose enhances your ability to influence others. It makes your intentions clear and shows that there are no tricks. This builds trust, credibility, and goodwill for your next exchange. And that “s’all good, man.”