It happens to all of us at one time or other, things are just not going to plan. I was reminded of this during the week, in discussion with a team who were experiencing the frustration that no matter what they seemed to do they were finding it challenging to get back on track. They were out of ideas and were looking for input from within the group on what they could try.
After a great deal of discussion and kicking thoughts and ideas around here are the steps we agreed on:
- Slow down to speed up but don’t stop. The view was that if you slow down you have the opportunity to observe and take in a lot more of what is going around you. We agreed three key questions that needed answers were:
- What is working? It is important to capture all that is working as this can help form the base from which build direction and actions.
- What do we need to change, correct, or do differently? Answering this question isolates the small number things which if addressed will make a significant difference to what needs to be done now and the outcomes achieved. There was unanimous agreement that the question not to ask is, what’s not working? This will result in a list of things to be addressed that are not likely to make much difference to the outcome, and may take up precious time with the potential to add to existing frustrations.
- Right now, what’s the worst that can happen and how would we respond if it did actually occur? Remember the situation could be a lot worse.
It is important not to come to a dead stop. As one of the group explained, if a sixty thousand tonne cruise liner stops mid-ocean it is at the mercy of the elements and could end up anywhere. Simply, while you have momentum you have time to read the situation, determine what change in direction is required and then have time to adapt to the conditions before coming back up to full operating speed.
- Keep perspective. While you may be frustrated by the current situation, ask yourself what kind of an impact will this situation have one year from now, three years from now, and five years from now? Your actions will be guided by the seriousness and extent of your response.
- Ask for help. Be willing to park your ego; asking for help is not easy for many people. We get so caught up in our own ideas, asking for help and a fresh set of eyes can help put the plan on a better path.
- Restate your goal. Since your original plan hasn’t come through, return to your original purpose and use this as the starting point to reimagine, reframe and restate alternative options and finally agree a revised plan.
- Take action. Having determined a new plan, “chunk it down”. Identify the first three actionable steps in your plan and take them. Only through direct action will you regain confidence and control.
Get frustrated if you want but that’s like rocking in a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere The better idea is to reflect, replan, reorganise, and refocus on achieving the outcomes you want.
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