The North Point

Jul 18, 2016 by Andy Golding

The best way to make the ‘point’ that we aren’t all on the same page, even though we think we were.

The first thing that I do when I get up in front of a room full of people is The North Point. It’s a simple exercise that takes less than 3 minutes. How it works: Have everyone close their eyes and raise their right hand. With their eyes still closed ask them to point to where they think North is. With their hands still raised and pointing, have everyone open their eyes and see how many different directions they are all pointing in.

Why? To show the room that even though they think they are aligned and heading in the same direction, in reality everyone has a slightly different mental picture of what ‘the same direction’ actually is. So whilst we think we are moving forward as a solid unit, we are actually all moving in slightly different directions, splintering the whole. Whether a sports team, corporate department or a board of directors, the North Point always guarantees a laugh when people open their eyes and see the various ‘North’s’. Also it is an incredibly powerful way to drive home the message that we’re not as aligned as we think we are. It’s sets a great tone for moving the session forward.

Summing up

One of the fundamental takeaways here is the power of clear and meaningful communication. If we want North to look the same to everyone we need to communicate the details clearly, precisely and often. When communication breaks down and information is so pockmarked it resembles Swiss cheese, people fill in the gaps themselves. When different gaps are filled in by different people, with different perceptions and outlooks – your North becomes a lot less clear.

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