A couple of years ago I was a member of three different teams and each was struggling because of the following attitudes.
Ego – Each had individuals involved who have, or continue to have, an over-inflated opinion of themselves. This has caused these individuals to be poor team members because they were continually attempting to control the actions of the team from a position of superiority. This attitude of superiority caused some team members to quit.
Lesson learned: If a person tells you how important they are, they are probably not that important.
All talk, no action – John Wooden once said, “Don’t tell me what you can do, show me.” On one team a member was continually offering to complete a needed task because they claimed they were experienced in this area. They may have been but did not demonstrate it by action.
Lesson learned: If a person tells you much they can do and then doesn’t do it, they probably can’t do it as well as they say they can.
Ignoring credible information– Have you ever presented well-researched, factual information only to have it shot down because it conflicts with someone’s un-researched opinion? This is the ego thing again; “that’s not right because it makes me look bad!”
Lesson learned: If a person dismisses your documented information it’s because they are too lazy to do their own. Also internally they fear you are right and they are wrong.
Pick your team members carefully, they will make or break you.
According to Laszlo Bock, the guy at Google in charge of people, here are some things they look for:
Cognitive ability – a person with learning ability and who can process information on the fly; these people are innately curious
Emergent Leadership – a person who can step in and lead when necessary or can recognize when to step back and let someone else lead.
Humility and ownership – a person who has a feeling of responsibility and is willing to step in and solve any problem; or know when to step back and embrace the better ideas of others. Without humility they believe people are unable to learn.
Bock says, “the end goal is to have a person who thinks;
what can we do together to problem-solve?”
They don’t want people who think they are so smart they believe if something good happens it’s because of them and if something bad happens it was something else that caused it.
They want people who fiercely defend a position but when new information is presented that may prove their position wrong, they admit that they’re wrong and you’re right.
So the people you look for are those who are thinking leaders, have humility, embrace collaboration and adaptability, and love to learn and re-learn.
There are several keys to successful planning and one of the first is to be aware of some of the major barriers that will trip you up.
Fear of Change – the apprehension about stepping out into the unknown will limit your creativity and send you down the path of least resistance. You fall into the trap of using “cookie cutter planning” where you just do what’s been done before because you know that most of your followers are comfortable and familiar with the norm.
Ignorance – Most people will resist what they don’t understand. Your plan will not succeed because the benefits and the process have not been properly communicated and explained.
Uncertainty about the future – Your plan to achieve your vision will not be accepted if there is doubt about the future effect on the organization.
Lack of Creativity – Limiting your thinking to what’s been done in the past will not lead you to discover new ways of doing things.
So now that you are aware of the major barriers to successful planning why not use them to your advantage. Let’s take them in reverse order and see what can happen.
Be Creative with your planning – Gather your team together and assess your past programs and practices. Start asking each other, “What if we….” List each idea and then evaluate it by discussing what it would take to make it a reality. Don’t dismiss it until you have thoroughly discussed the pros and cons and determined if it is consistent with the goals of the organization.
Creativity reduces Future Uncertainty – If you assess your creative planning ideas by asking yourself “Will this idea get us to where we want to go?” and find that they do, then the unknown future starts to become a clearer.
This helps eliminate Ignorance – You now can communicate your creative plan to the organization and explain how it achieves the goals and reaches the vision. You replace ignorance with understanding.
Fear Goes Away – Now that you have properly communicated your plan and explained how it will accomplish the goals and achieve the organizational vision, the fear that may have existed, along with the comment “we have never done it like that before,” will start to diminish .