Do you love to check things off your list?
I do. Sometimes I'll even write things on my list that I've already completed just so I can check them off!
It feels good to get things done. We are making progress towards our goals, cleaning up messes, following through on commitments to ourselves and others.
And yet, at work, if we move into action too quickly and don’t take the time to get in alignment with our team, we run the risk of spending our energy on solving the wrong problem or moving in the wrong direction.
Recently a client was describing a troubling trend in his organization.
His leadership team would discuss a problem, decide on a course of action, and then get into action. After a few weeks on this path, the decision would come up for discussion again and a new decision would be made, one that required new & different actions.
And this was not an isolated event, but a pattern.
This client was discouraged, feeling like he and his team had wasted weeks going down the wrong path. Again, and again.
Sometimes this has to happen as new information emerges, or we realize we need to change course. However, when it becomes a pattern, there may be a different issue at play.
For this team, though they were having conversations, they were not spending enough time to really identify the problem they were trying to solve, which meant that they were constantly wasting time solving the wrong problem.
Sometimes when we are pressured for time, the tension builds as we talk about an issue until someone insists that a decision be made so we can move into action.
And yes, action is vital. But how do we balance problem identification with action?
Einstein famously said, "If I had an hour to solve a problem, I would spend 55 minutes identifying the problem and 5 minutes solving it."
We sometimes avoid that problem identification time because we think we don’t have time for the conversations. We just want to move; we just want to get into action.
Conversations can feel messy. Sometimes they may lead to disagreements or conflicts. So to avoid this discomfort, we avoid the conversation altogether. And yet, it’s costly to waste time solving the wrong problem.
Conversations indeed take time, but everything else takes longer...
Where do you tend to just jump into action?
The next time you feel yourself wanting to rush the conversation, make a decision and move into action, consider if it might serve you to spend a little more exploring the issue and gaining alignment.
Until next time, wishing you and your loved ones a Happy Holiday. Be brave, be kind, and take good care.
Katie is a Certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator and Executive Coach.