The meeting starts in the late afternoon—to prepare for the big one the following day. The purpose is to “spin” the numbers to get the outcome we want in the meeting tomorrow; to construct an argument based on the data to influence the other side; to get them to agree to the proposal that suits us best.
Just the stuff of a typical negotiation you may think. And I would agree with you.
But there’s something to be aware of….
If we and the other side are part of a larger enterprise—and so in a symbiotic relationship (and aren’t we always)—too much manipulating of the data means our shared model of how the enterprise works won’t be valid, that’s if we have a shared view at all.
Here’s the thing…
Without a shared and accurate model of how the bigger system is working, the enterprise—the collective team—won’t be able to learn, and it won’t respond effectively to changes in its environment. Without seeing things properly, it has no hope of any breakthrough, to paraphrase Joshua Cooper Ramo. One of the preconditions for organizational learning will be missing. In the long run that will hurt us all.
If you’re tempted to play games with the numbers—to “game” the system—just be aware that you’ll be sacrificing long-term viability for short-term gain.
How inspirational is a leader that “games” the system? Maybe to a degree, but only to a degree. The truly masterful might have no need.