Leveling up Collaboration - Painting Done

Brene Brown has this fantastic concept called “Painting Done,” which helps you give better directions to others.

There are three levels for how much information you provide when you give someone a task:

  1. Pure directions
  2. Directions with context
  3. Directions, context, and purpose

To give an example, let’s say you’re driving, and I’m in the passenger seat.

Level 1: Pure directions

At Level 1, I’m just giving you directions. “Turn left. Make another left here. Turn right. Left again.

The destination is a mystery to you, and you just do what I tell you. We’ll get somewhere, but let’s look at Level 2.

Level 2: Directions with context

At Level 2, I say, “Hey, drive us to Walmart.

Here you know where you’re going, and you can make some decisions on how to get there. Do you want to take the highway or the scenic route? That’s now up to you.

But you still don’t know why you’re going to Walmart, right? You still don’t have much autonomy at Level 2. This is what Brene Brown calls “What does done look like?” It’s good, but we can do better.

Level 3: Directions, Context, and Purpose

At Level 3, I tell you, “I need to buy a gift for my brother’s birthday. He’s really into Star Wars, and I know they’ll have something at Walmart I can get him.

Right away, our talk changed. You say, “Actually, I know this perfect hobby shop with the best Star Wars collection. Plus, they do free gift wrap. It would be perfect for your brother! We can go there instead.

Because I took a few extra seconds to tell you the purpose, you could collaborate with me rather than just executing a task. You got to use your knowledge, and I got a far better result. That’s the power of Level 3. Brene Brown calls this “painting done.”

Collaborating with purpose at Level 3

I love the spirit of collaboration that comes with Level 3. When you’re open and share your purpose, others can bring their knowledge, ideas, and suggestions. Plus, my collaborators now have the chance to catch anything I might have missed or overlooked.

Give it a try the next time you ask someone to do something for you, and watch what they give you back.