Compass Points helps you collaborate, even with those who don’t know it, too.

(If you haven’t already participated in a Compass Points Activity, please read this link first)

The first time I participated in the Compass Points, I wanted to make everybody t-shirts. I envisioned catchy slogans like “Easts look at problems from 30,000 feet!” and “Wests get the bills paid!”  In the debrief, as we were all valuing the insights gleaned in that activity, I wanted to reinforce everyone’s “direction-oriented pride” … while simultaneously giving us memory-challenged folks a clue later where each placed themselves in the room.

But it didn’t take long to realize, in practice, that everyone (or at least everyone I’ve met so far) is actually a combination. Like the old adage about a stopped clock, the t-shirt might be right approximately twice a day … if you happened to look at it at just the right minute.

So don’t fall into the trap of imagining that if you knew someone’s direction, you’d have them all figured out.

At the same time, if you sit in meetings regularly with someone and pay attention to their questions, comments, and body language, it’s not impossible to see what is motivating them, at least during that meeting about that particular issue. I imagine that each of you can think about a few of your colleagues and think, “Oh wow, yeah, she’s a Southie, for sure!” Our tendencies are real, not imaginary or random.

Now think about the next time you need to make a presentation asking for funding or support in making changes. Anticipate who’s going to be in that room and what you’ve noticed about them in previous meetings. If there are new people you haven’t met, you still have a solid working tactic:  prepare a proposal that meets the needs of ALL the compass points. Norths are going to want a solid Executive Summary with your need stated very clearly (“don’t delay us with too many facts!”) and a concise outline of the plan. Wests will require a budget (or at least a plan for consulting with people in charge of various pots of money) and a specific timetable chart including relevant details. Big Picture Easts will want a comprehensive Impact Statement section in which you outline all the audiences affected, as well as legal/procedural ramifications and consideration of others who might be “competing” with you for the same resources or effect.

If you’re applying for grant funding, these probably aren’t all the sections required on the proposal, but it’s a start. Whatever the proposal you need to make, if you consider each of the Compass Points who’re likely to be among the decisionmakers, you can design your answers to each question accordingly and improve your chance of approval.