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Sunday, 6 October 2013

Prevarication, Vacillation, Procrastination? For Goodness Sake Stop Talking and Do Something!

I recall a Vistage member saying to me once, in a conversation about his top team: 

“The Technical Director is a great guy, very bright, intelligent, thoughtful and talented, but he can’t make a decision because he always needs more information”. 

It’s the bane of the leader’s life when there is a great member of the team who frankly holds everything up simply because they just need that little bit more information. 

As an engineer myself I know the syndrome well and it has taken some time to get it out of my system. 

The problem is that prevarication leads to irritation and then often to feelings of regret and guilt as an opportunity flies by without being exploited. 

It’s the Could’a, Would’a, Should’a syndrome like this: 

·       “I could’a told you so but you wouldn’t have listened” 

That’s the mistake of making a false assumption.  Have you noticed how many assumptions are negative – you wouldn’t have listened, it wouldn’t work effectively, it wouldn’t have been commercial, and so on? 

·       “I would’a built that prototype but we didn’t have enough information” 

That is the problem of vacillation and uncertainty because we can’t be absolutely certain of something, totally without any doubt.  Life just isn’t like that, sadly. 

·       “I should’a done something about it but I didn’t and now it’s too late” 

This is the saddest of the lot because the lack of action when it should have been taken has resulted in, perhaps, a lost opportunity, a lost relationship or just a loss. 

I am not proposing a “Ready, Fire, Aim” way of life but just not to stand there and do nothing.

I was running a session with the top team in a business in Santa Monica (well, someone has to do it) a few years ago and there was a general reluctance to make a decision.   

There was vast amount of debate and discussion but no answers.  Round and round they went until, exasperated, I gave up and almost shouted at them: 

“For goodness sake JFDI!” 

There was a moment of silence until I pointed out that this merely meant JUST DO IT and then it sank in.  Next day I discovered that they all had changed to a moving screen saver on their laptops with JFDI running across the screen. 

Did it have an effect?  I think that it probably did because there was more of a snap in the discussions and things started to be actioned. 

In board meetings with a well known leader, he used to insist that each item was minuted with a specific action to be taken, by whom and by when. 

None of the Could’a, Would’s Should’a for him.
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