Andrew Bass’s Pragmatics Newsletter Sept 2013
Practical techniques and thought-provoking ideas
Main article takes under 4 minutes to read. Subscribe at www.bassclusker.com/newsletter
In July, I offered a report jokily titled: ‘How to resist change and slow down execution in any organization for personal gain without personal blame.’ It contains tongue-in-cheek advice to those wanting to slow down initiatives and changes for their own personal benefit – say because it threatened their cosy nest. Although meant to be light-hearted, it seemed to hit home with readers all the more for that (Many a true word spoken in jest?) There is also a more serious self-test quiz at the end of the article. If you haven’t read it, you can do so here.
Speed is so important that I thought I’d take the topic ‘straight’ in this issue. If you have big goals and little action, there are four good places to starting looking:
1) Is it being lost in translation?
Trying to ‘communicate’ strategy in the terms it is usually formulated (management jargon, financial terms, from an investor’s point of view etc) is the equivalent to the English-speaking traveller trying to make themselves understood by repeating themselves louder and louder. The meaning of your communication is the response you get: if the response is inaction, it could be that you need to change how you present the message so it suits your varied audiences.
2) They would if they could (but they can’t, so they don’t)
Leaders get the star treatment from internal services and are often unaware of how difficult it can be for everyone else to get certain things done. Indeed, following the requirements of your strategy might be almost impossible, because the appropriate skills, tools, or information are absent. Maybe the computer says ‘No’.
3) Are accountabilities really clear?
Often, especially if you have a complex structure, accountabilities are unclear so things fall between the cracks (or maybe accountabilities are absolutely clear, but are being ignored),
4) Do people perceive it to be in their best interests?
Most people will agree with a leader-requested action, but that is likely to be all that people will do if they they think they will lose turf, influence, bonus or status if they actually follow through on the agrement. In such cases, they may resort to the sort of tactics in that tongue-in-cheek article I mentioned above.
If you are frustrated by a lack of progress, then the causes may be idiosyncratic. But these are the high-probability places to start figuring out what is going on.
© 2013 Andrew Bass. All Rights Reserved.