Leadership Nudge® 372 – Bring me a rock

January 26, 2022by Sandy Wilmer

Curtail wasted effort by having short bluework and redwork periods of time in the beginning of a project and longer bluework and redwork periods toward the end of a project. David explains how this helps teams avoid playing the game called “Bring me a rock.”


The staff complaining about initiatives that came down from on high.  

So here’s the way it would work. Boss would say, “Hey, leadership wants ABC.” 

And then the staff will g, they’d work on it for two weeks. They proffer up their vision of what ABC was. And the boss says, “No, no, that’s not what we want.”  

And the staff says, “Well, we were working on this for two weeks. And why didn’t you tell us that in the beginning?” 

Boss: “But I didn’t really know till I saw that.” 

Okay. I don’t know if you’ve played this game. But the problem is, we don’t know what we want until we start seeing some tangible things. And the fault here is the staff for two reasons.  

Number one, when they come back . . . when I was a staff member, we would go back to the boss with one and only one thing. Well, that was obviously not a good idea. You should bring a range of things. 

He said, “Bring me a rock. Oh, not that rock. Well, I don’t know what kind, but some kind of rock.” 

Well, yeah, go up with five rocks.  

Staff: “What about something more like this?”  

Boss: “Yeah, oh, yeah, this is a kind of rock that I’m looking for.” 

And secondly, the staff waited two weeks. We put too much work into it at the very beginning of the project. The redwork / bluework iteration cycles got to be really, really short. Just do a little bit of redwork, just something tangible.  

Staff: “Hey, just do some blank check stuff,” we would say.  

And then go check it with either the client or the boss. Someone who can help advance the project in terms of what we’re trying to actually get to.  

I’m David Marquet. That’s your Leadership Nudge. 

Sandy Wilmer

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Intent-Based Leadership International, LLC • 1435 E. Venice Ave #104-173 • Venice, FL 34292 • +1.941.408.0311

Intent-Based Leadership International, LLC • 1435 E. Venice Ave #104-173 • Venice, FL 34292 • +1.941.408.0311

Intent-Based Leadership International, LLC • 1435 E. Venice Ave #104-173 • Venice, FL 34292 • +1.941.408.0311