Know What NOT to Do: Part 1

This is the first of a few posts that will deal with engaging with staff about controlling unknowns. The underlying theme is that we are most profitable when we are working with knowns.

Managing Organizational Disruptions

It is a fact that positive growth requires interruptions. Growth requires innovation, and innovation happens at the face of encountering unknowns. Unknowns require an intentional strategy.

Positive Growth Punctuated by Organizational Disruptions

Positive Growth Punctuated by Organizational Disruptions

Unknowns = Cost

Any time that we encounter an unknown on a project (or life), there is a cost associated with it. We need to assess what that cost is, and intentionally plan whether we wish to expend effort or to refuse to engage. The goal is that an informed choice is made, and that a plan is put in place to minimize or eliminate negative consequences. (We will assume that our goal is to always maximize positive outcomes.)

For the sake of our work, cost can typically be viewed as:

  • Cost = Time/Money
  • Cost = Sleepless Nights
  • Cost = Opportunity to Learn

A Strategy to Minimize Costs

A key first assessment is to ask the following questions:

  • What is in my control? What is out of my control?
    • If it is out of my control, can I get it in my control? Who will help me?
    • If it is outside of ability to function, who will do it?
  • What do I know? What do I not know?
    • If it is out of my knowledge, how do I learn it? Who will help me?
    • If it is outside of ability to learn, who will do it?

These questions are the foundation for you to develop a plan, and to engage with those around you whose role is to help you succeed. Learning new information is important to growth, but expending unbalanced effort to do things that those around you can assist with is not effective. You are surrounded by a team.

Key Themes

  • You are part of a team. (you are surrounded by help)
  • Learning is a long term-effort. (you can’t go from 0 to 100 in one project)
  • Engage knowledge to meet project needs and long-term learning. (collaborate for project success and learning)
  • Delivering a quality product to our client on schedule and on budget means that we will all have jobs tomorrow. (be realistic about what and who a project really needs)

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