The “grapevine technique”

Rumours in companies are as rife as rumours in politics. Rather than letting rumours take over why not use them? In my early days of training at Bankers Trust (interesting name for a bank in today’s environment) my accounting teacher told us to use the ‘grapevine’. It was many years later when I put that idea to good use.

Running my first company with well over 100 staff spread over 20 plus locations I developed my ‘grapevine technique’. It was in the days of memos, before email became the fashion, so it was much easier. I would type out a memo on my PC (I did have one of those) on the topic I wanted to test at the end of the day and printed it. The printout I would leave on my desk, preferably not in too obvious a place and then I would go home.

I knew that there were some very early arrivers at the company and at least one of them had made it a habit to look at what was on my desk. Having an open door policy he had ample opportunity to look around and who was I not to leave him something interesting from time to time. When I arrived at the office I would simply tear up the memo and get on with my work.

Within a few days, inevitably someone would bring up the topic which I had talked about in my memo, and if I was lucky, there would be several people. I would listen with great interest to the idea being put forth and based on the information I got I would make my real move. By then the team was prepared and I could give full credit to my colleagues for coming up with such a wonderful idea. Made the selling of the idea much easier, as it had come from the team after all.

Every entrepreneur comes up with a host of ideas and getting the team to buy into them can often be difficult. Using the grapevine technique was fantastic. With the advent of email it is much more difficult to do this but there are still ways to test ideas. After all, our politicians do it all the time with little leaks here and there. Too bad it backfires on them also.

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