I was reminded earlier today about a meeting I had with a brief IT chief at a FTSE100 company. The poor fella had the misfortune to arrive immedaitely prior to a tumultuous takeover so didn’t stay long. Anyway, I needed the requisite number of ‘signatures’ including his, so met to reassure him that what I was proposing had precious little to do with his domain, so sign-off was simple.
After a bunch of amiable front-talk, he pretty much asked just one, solitary question.
“When does it all go wrong?”
I was stopped in my tracks. No-one had ever (IT, CEO, whatever) asked me what would render success elusive. It was a good question. In a flash I felt as if submerged in an uncomfortable interview, the kind when they ask ‘what are your weaknesses’. You know the textbook answer is to say you’re a perfectionist, but you sense that won’t wash.
I talked about the continual alignment of business goals being vital in my case, but it came as a useful pointer to know how to handle this tricky question, so that you don’t dig a hole for yourself.