“Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what there is.” – Ernest Hemingway
Thinking about and planning for the future sounds like something we should do as leaders. There are millions of books/articles/videos on the topic. So we all talk about doing it, and sometimes, occasionally, once in a while, we actually make good on the talk.
Too often, though, that thinking about and planning for the future has almost no impact. Certainly there are valuable conversations that can be had, but how often do people actually do something? If you can honestly answer that your conversations turn into action, then congratulations. For most organizations, all that talk amounts to very little.
There are lots of reasons, some of which are legitimate. I was reminded recently about one reason that we sometimes overlook. Quite often I’ll be involved in some kind of planning session and lots of great ideas get thrown out. Then, one by one, people (usually the same one or two people) explain all the reasons why that particular idea might not work, or might be difficult, or might not result in the exact outcome that you’re hoping for.
When that happens, you can see the energy get sucked out of the room. People who, five minutes earlier, were showing signs of life, now have their heads down and seem to be intently studying the floor. The momentum is gone, nobody wants to be there anymore, and for all intents and purposes, the meeting is over.
When you and your team are talking about the future, don’t let that happen. When team members start trying to poke holes in everybody’s ideas, call them on it. Make a rule that whenever a new idea is presented, the group needs to take the first five or ten minutes and only talk about what the potential positive results are, or why that particular idea would work.
Yes, at some point you need to discuss potential challenges, but that’s only part of the process. Too many groups treat that like it’s the whole process. If the goal of the discussion is to only make change when the ideas are perfect or flawless, then don’t bother. That will never happen.
Consciously have the attitude that your purpose is to find ways to be successful, rather than just looking to avoid failure. It’s an entirely different worldview, and it will make a huge difference in outcomes. Good luck.