Sunday, June 08, 2008

"Staircase Wit"

"Staircase wit" is an German expression that describes the clever remarks and repostes that come to you only after you leave a party and are out on the staircase.

We have similar experiences in the workplace. Insight is often tardy and arrives after the meeting, phone call, or retreat has ended. I've often recommended to clients that they have a follow-up contact with former employees to supplement the observations made during an exit interview in order to catch those delayed bits of wisdom. During the rush and emotion of the initial meeting, much can be lost.

Routinely adding a "follow-up thoughts" segment to important meetings can provide similar benefits. More than a few people will object, however, that this extra stage would delay progress. Another criticism is that the quality of analysis at the initial meeting may decline since attendees would know their comments have a safety net.

These criticisms may be correct. I have not seen the follow-up option used frequently enough to determine whether its advantages outweigh the drawbacks but occasional use has convinced me that the approach is worth exploring.


DarkoV said...

...and the French have their 'l'esprit de l'escalier', which is an easy situation to fall into if you're distracted by du monde au balcon, an understanable reason for detraining of thought.

Michael Wade said...

From now on, I'll remember that every time I take the stairs!