Throw the Wrench

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

It was the opening line of the email that caught my attention.

I don’t want to throw a wrench in this, but…

The accepted definition of this phrase or idiom “Throwing a Wrench into the Works” means to damage or change (something) in a way that ruins it or prevents it from working properly.

But that is not what was happening here.

They were not trying to damage or ruin the project.

Their wrench was an idea to improve the situation.

But sometimes the project is already moving forward, and we are afraid of Wrenches causing delay or disruption.

Sometimes we have invested in a strategy or direction, and we are afraid of Wrenches causing us to move or admit we may have to accept a sunk cost.

Sometimes the world has changed from when we started the initiative, and we are afraid of Wrenches causing us to start over and change course.

How about a new definition of what it means to Throw the Wrench.

To Throw the Wrench is to speak up and offer an alternative.

To Throw the Wrench is to express your reservation or concerns.

To Throw the Wrench is to help an organization from making a mistake (or further mistakes).

Maybe more than ever, we need you to Throw the Wrench.

As organizations, we need to listen to, learn from, foster, and encourage the Wrench Throwers.

We need the Wrench Throwers to speak up, offer ideas and alternatives, and let us know before we make large mistakes.

One idea to foster the kind of organization that encourages people to Throw that Wrench is to create a contest for the best Wrench Throw. How about prizes and a celebration of speaking up and offering alternatives.

My closing advice to all of you: Throw the Wrench.

Post Success Doubt

Image courtesy of free photos on pixabay.com

You did it. You made it. You accomplished that thing.

There were times you struggled, and times you had to press through adversity.

You created, edited, designed, wrote, sold, presented, leveled up, shipped…

There was a moment of success.

It felt good.

But other feelings try to displace the good.

The Post Success Doubt.

“Maybe you were just lucky this time.”

“Well that was okay, but it could have been better.”

And the worst one…

“That was success for you, but look at that other person and how much more successful they are.”

Suddenly those positives surrounding your success are overrun. The positives didn’t stand a chance against those invading thoughts.

So what can we do?

Know that this doubt exists. This doubt can arrive after the rush (and good feelings) of success. It is much easier to create a defense if you know the potential attack exists.

Learn to pause and document your success. For me I like to write down what it was and the outcome. This provides me with written evidence to combat the doubt. If nothing else, I point to the page and say “see.” Don’t let that doubt discount you and what you did.

Celebrate your success. We tend to move from project to project, from task to task without taking time to acknowledge and celebrate our success. It also helps to celebrate with someone close.

(Helpful tip to those listening to someone’s success: listen well with your face, focus on what they are saying, and celebrate with them. This is not a great time to switch to your things, or make suggestions on how they could have been better, or worse yet, don’t give them the whole, “you should be humble” speech. There is enough false humility conversations robbing folks of celebrating their success.)

Your success is real. It takes effort and risk to create and bring things into this world. Let’s not allow the Post Success Doubt to take away from your success.

If you need someone to celebrate your success, we are all here waiting to hear from you and we will celebrate together.

Growing or Evolving

Image by Shepherd Chabata from Pixabay

Sometimes growing is the result of a solid strategy in the marketplace.

Sometimes growing is the result of timing and circumstances.

Sometimes growing is a little bit of luck, and a lot of hard work.

But one day the growing slows.

The growing stops.

We keep trying the strategies, the timing, the luck, and the hard work to keep growing, but we begin to shrink instead.

The world and the marketplace has changed.

The timing and circumstances are no longer the same.

The luck is no longer there.

The hard work seems to work against us.

Growing fooled us.

Being bigger with more clients, or more marketshare, didn’t make us better.

What worked before won’t work today (or tomorrow).

Instead of measuring the growing, we need to measure the evolving.

Are we evolving with our customers’ needs?

Are we evolving with the marketplace?

Are we evolving our services, our offerings, our strategy, toward the future? Are we relying on the past?

Growing works for a while, but evolving will keep you in the game in the long run.

Has growing mislead you? How can you and your company start evolving? Contact me and together we can discover the path to evolving.

The Non-Discounted List

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

It was a simple call. Connecting with a former colleague and young talented professional. Catching up on life, and moves, and kids, and the next. It was good to hear their voice.

As we discussed the next (the next chapter, the next adventure, the next role, the next possible career choice) the tone changed. What was normally enthusiasm and optimism took a sharp turn toward self doubt.

“I’m not really an expert or very good at any one thing. I am to sure what I have to offer.”

We talked a little more and came up with a plan, with homework of course.

The homework was to make a list of all the things they can do, or have done.

But not just any list. The non-discounted list. Brainstorming and writing down without limits or assuming that those experiences have no value.

The non-discounted list is NOT letting our mind, or our narrator discredit or take away from the things we have and can do.

The non-discounted list reminds us of all the experiences, training, and skills we have picked up along life’s journey.

The non-discounted list gives us hope for the future and the next.

We will connect again to review the non-discounted list. But in the interim, I’ve decided to make my list as well. A reminder of all the things that may add value, help others, and make a difference.

Sometimes we forget about all the skills we pick up along the way.

So today, maybe you should make a list. But not any old list. The non-discounted list of all that you can bring into the world. When you do make your list, I would love to read it.

Thank You

The phone rang.

It was a long-standing client.

I was quick to answer the call. I assumed they needed something right away.

They only said two words.

“Thank you.”

I was not sure how to respond besides “you’re welcome” so I also asked if they needed anything.

Nope. We just wanted to say “thank you” for our call a few weeks ago. We were a little stuck and needed some direction and talking it through really helped. We also realized that we typically call when we need something but don’t really ever call afterwards, but it seemed important to say “thank you.”

After that call I felt more inspired. More energized.

They didn’t have to make that call, but they did. They didn’t have to say “thank you”, but they did. And it made an impact. My work felt more meaningful, more important.

Where can we make those calls, and use those words? Who is helping, guiding, or assisting us in our journey? Who needs to hear from us?

Try it out today, make at least one call. Be grateful, say “thank you” and imagine the impact we can make.

Streams

Image by cowins on Pixabay

On this particular job site, each member of the team has a job to do. Each morning assignments are given. As each task is completed, the next task is assigned. The leader of this team must plan out each day, and give out the next part of the plan as every individual task is completed.

This approach has been in place for a while. Let’s call it the “wait until you complete this task before you get the next one approach” for lack of a better, more concise term.

To makes things even more interesting, certain members of the team became better at particular tasks. As the assignments were issued, those who were better at certain tasks were always assigned those tasks.

This system has revealed a few issues.

  1. Members of the team have developed skills, but a very narrow set of skills. They can do certain parts of the work, but not all of it. When someone is out or busy, work can come to a halt.
  2. Projects have become more complex. The work accomplished on day one has to connect to someone else’s work the next day, and it wasn’t matching up. There was a lot of doing work, then going back to fix it the next day.

Once identified, the leader came up with a better plan.

Streams. That is what we need.”

I paused to wait for the explanation.

Streams. A continual flow from the start to the finish on these various projects. I realize that by just assigning tasks, individual parts were completed, but there was no connection into the larger project as a whole. No real understanding of how these part fit together. No ownership of the whole.”

I paused again.

Streams. I could map out the beginning and the end, and let them flow through the entire part or project. I bet they would be happier. I recently heard some grumbling because when parts don’t fit together they have to redo work. I bet this will help them develop more well rounded skills . I have to go create these Streams.

Where have you assigned tasks instead of Streams? How could creating a flow of work from the start to finish increase satisfaction, performance, and connection to the whole?

Let’s try giving members of the team Streams instead of tasks and watch them develop and flow from the beginning to the end.