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.

The Spillover of Failure

It was a privilege last week to work with a group of people trying to launch big, scary & creative ideas into the world.

They have ideas.

They want to make a difference.

They brought their big, scary & creative ideas.

We discussed what can get in the way of ideas: their style, organizational resistance and culture, and fear.

We spent some time on fear.

“What are you afraid of?”

The group had many answers, most had to do with the fear of failure.

We pushed them a little more.

“What are you really afraid of? Go a little deeper.”

A new answer emerged, and was met with silence and affirming nods.

“It is not just the fear of failure that is bothering me. What I am really afraid of is the spillover of failure that may cause people to question all of the great things I am already doing through the lens of this failure.”

The spillover of failure.

One failure tainting all the other great things we are doing.

One failure causing others to question us or question our other great work.

How many times does the spillover of failure fear prevent us from launching new ideas?

What big, scary & creative ideas would you bring into this world if the spillover of failure wasn’t in play?

What does it take to create an environment where failure is celebrated instead of feared?

We need your big, scary & creative ideas.

Don’t let the spillover of failure stop you.

Below is a great TED talk with some great reasons why to celebrate failure.

P.S. This is post #299. I wonder what big, scary & creative idea #300 will bring?

Happy Anniversary


This morning this little icon appeared in WordPress, along with a quick note:

“Happy Anniversary with!
You registered on 5 years ago.
Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging.”

Wow, it has been 5 years.

Where did the time go?

268 posts.

53.6 posts per year, right on target.

So many words.

Too many to count.

So many ideas.

Fun to wander back through. Did I really write that?

So many thoughts.

Will this continue? Will these thoughts still find their way into the world?

Thank you for reading.

There are so many other things you could do with your time and energy, thanks for making the choice.

Thank you for sharing.

Both for your ideas/lives/experiences with me, and for sending this out to those around you.

Thank you for coming along for this journey.

This little experiment only works when we take the journey together.

I wonder what the next 5 years will bring?

Stories, progress, setbacks, wins, losses, fears, edges, goals and life lived and observed.


Have you ever had that friend that just drifted away? You stopped calling. They stopped calling. Weeks pass and evolve into months. The next thing you know, years pass. When you reflect on the relationship, there were no major fights or arguments, but time creates this sort of distance between you. That distance becomes a larger and larger incentive not to pick up that phone, or send that text. Even worse, when you mount the courage to send that message, it is not returned and your efforts are in vain.

While reconnecting with a close friend recently (it had been years without calling or connecting) we talked about ways to prevent this in the future. Both of us need to commit to calling, texting or emailing each other. It makes it harder that this particular friend is 1,824 miles away so the odds of bumping into each other at the local market is pretty slight.

In order to ensure that we stay connected, we came up with an idea for a website and service for anyone who needs a little help being a better friend.

In the spirit of creating funny domain names, we called it (it is not a real site…yet).

Here is how it would work.

You sign up on the website and identify your friends. Your friends are either already members or you can invite them to the service. There are various levels of connection services that help remind you to send that email or text. You can initiate that conversation through the website or app, and automatic reminders are sent to remind you to connect with your friends. You would have your own email address and the system would send your friends notice when you were not meeting your requirements as a friend.

If you do not connect regularly you are charged a penalty.  However, if you do connect with your friends you earn points. These points enter you into a lottery for cash prizes, similar to the experiment that VW did with speed camera in Sweden.

Relationships are not always easy. Being a good friend takes work. Imagine how amazing it would be to have a website and app managing it all for you and creating the right incentives and penalty.

Until then, it is up to us to make the decision to stay connected, pick up that phone, or send that message.

If it has been a while since you called or connected, you can always start how I initiated my conversation with this friend:

“Hi, this is, I am sorry for not connecting, lets start again.”

Pick one friend, the one that was once close but time has created distance. It won’t be easy, but pick a day within the next week and connect, it may just be worth it.