Current Best Thinking, Make it Better
A simple phrase that will change the way you collaborate.
At Converge, one of the most useful concepts we’ve found for improving our work as a team is the phrase “Current Best Thinking, Make It Better.” We use it so much, in fact, that clients often ask (and sometimes tease) us about it. Although the phrase sounds simple, language matters, and changing the way we talk can change the way teams collaborate. So, let me unpack the phrase and explain why we love it, and why we think you will, too.
First, some examples of how the phrase is used in practice:
· “Attached is my current best thinking for next week’s meeting agenda.”
· “We’re getting stuck on this design, why don’t the two of you bring your current best thinking to next week’s meeting.”
· “There were a lot of ideas for the new website on that email thread, so we tried to integrate them into a final layout. Here’s our current best thinking, make it better.”
Here’s what makes this phrase so powerful:
It turns proposals, recommendations or plans into an invitation. Great ideas almost always have a strong point of view and inclination towards a certain “right” way of doing something. “Current best thinking” allows you to champion your ideas without having to defend them. “Make it better” allows you to be clear and direct with your point of view while showing humility and honoring the capacity of the team to improve it.
It reinforces an iterative approach. Recognizing that the work is never done, “Current” emphasizes that solutions and approaches are flexible to change over time as new information and conditions emerge, while “make it better” invites feedback and improvement.
It encourages individual responsibility and accountability. It can be easy (and tempting) to fall into brainstorming or other methods of idea generation that can slow progress and ultimately rob people of momentum and motivation. Inviting someone in the group, or a smaller subset of the group, to define their “current best thinking” helps to advance the work of the group more quickly by tasking them with the responsibility of putting forth an initial proposal.
It gives people something to react to. It is much easier for groups to react to something than co-create from nothing. However, people are often hesitant to bring an initial proposal to the group because they are afraid it won’t be “good enough,” or that they will be perceived as domineering and non-collaborative. However, bringing a suggested way to proceed is almost always a service to the group, as long as there is an openness to hearing feedback. “Current best thinking, make it better” makes it safer for people to make an initial proposal that the group can improve upon.