Have You Ever Seen "The Gong Show"?
I found myself laughing out loud when I listened to our recent podcast with Mike Millay (he has a pretty incredible background so check it out!) While he is kind of funny, that’s not why I was laughing–I just found some of the things he said so incredibly relatable that it took me back in time...
Have you ever heard of “The Gong Show”? Ever watch “The Gong Show”? Many people in the younger (than me) crowd probably have no idea what I’m talking about, but just think of America’s Got Talent, and imagine someone coming out and doing what they think is an amazing job, only to have a gong banged loudly by some celebrities and immediately knocked back down to reality.
Mike referenced meetings that were called “Gong Shows” in his episode—essentially an open forum where ideas were thrown out from all directions and they were told they were great, maybe great, or just awful (or, they were “gong’d”).
You may be thinking that telling someone their idea is horrible is the most terrible thing you’ve ever heard, or a culture killer that doesn’t model an environment where ideas are welcome. But I can tell you that quite the OPPOSITE is true. When I was working on the team side, I participated in many “Gong Show” episodes, and carried the torch into my leadership roles. I can also tell you that those were probably the greatest teaching moments in my career thus far.
Why, you ask?
1. Do you want to let your employees feel valued? Ask them to get creative, help solve problems and help make the team better!
There was an understanding that these meetings were open forums for discussion. We would pick apart everyone’s “solution” from any angle we could find, and would allow for defending of ideas as well. There were some terrible ideas that turned in to BIG ideas. There were some terrible ideas that made us think about our issues from a different lens. There were terrible ideas that flopped. There were great ideas that flopped. There were great ideas that solved problems. There are so many scenarios here, but you get the picture.
2. I learned to speak up.
Ever been in a meeting and feel like you don’t belong? It doesn’t matter why you feel that way (new role, not your department, you’re the only non-executive, you’re the only person who represents your specific demographic, etc.,) but I bet everyone has had that thought at least one time or another.
I found myself quiet, not raising my hand, not sharing ideas or input—who was going to listen to me anyway? Having an outlet where I got to think creatively and strategically, solve problems, and speak up with a group of people who I worked closely with and trusted was like a safety net for me. I valued their opinions, we were all trying to solve the same issues, and I trusted that we were all in the same boat together. When I was told to ditch an idea, when it was torn apart, or referenced as “awful,” I grew some thick skin and learned how to defend my ideas and let go of those that weren’t fully baked. Having these meetings prepared me for leadership roles where I knew that it was my responsibility to speak up.
3. Everyone gets better!
We’ve all been in a spot where we feel like “it’s not my role” or simply “not my responsibility.” The reality is, when you work for an organization, all outcomes are everyone’s responsibility. It may be hard to see from your specific seat, but everything ties together. Just think about your role and everything that you touch, I guarantee all of your responsibilities (no matter what they are) affect the bottom line.
If a group is collaborative, not hanging out in their silos and is working together to build each other up (note… not tear each other down), everyone will get better.
4. Change is made.
Bottom line is that “Gong Shows” aren’t meant to be an opportunity to pick on a person or idea, or single anyone out. They are meant to implement change, let everyone speak up, feel heard, get creative, and give everyone opportunities to grow.
I can tell you that having your input ripped on isn’t a great feeling, but you know what is? Having your idea developed to a point of reality and seeing it come to fruition; building rapport with your colleagues and feeling like you all are fighting the same battle and growing together; standing up in a meeting and surprising everyone by giving your two cents.
Everyone has terrible ideas. Everyone has great ideas. Host your own “Gong Show” and let me know how it goes. And in case I need to say this, just don’t be a jerk.