So, we came to the end of another week
and I’m forced to ask the question: what is practical? Why are we do
focused on delivering or solving the immediate need at the expense of
the future? Why do we burn ourselves and our environments into the
ground rather than spending the time and effort it takes to do it
right the first time.
Oh, I know. I’ve heard all the
arguments, more times than I can count. We have to do it this way
because of the mistakes in our past, we say. We have to make
it happen now, and worry about what’s right sometime later, or
everything will fall apart. Doesn’t anyone, ever, notice that the
more you do that the more effort you have to spend, year after year,
until finally the total cost it takes you to support your efforts
simply isnt’ worth it any more?
That said, it seems to me we rarely, if
ever, have any idea of what it means to STOP. Yes, I meant to
capitalize that word. The amount of effort I’ve seen pouring down
dead ends, unstable situations, and yes bad data structures is simply
phenomenal. My current employer is by no means the worst of what
I’ve seen, though in my darker moments I may mumble otherwise.
Stopping requires more than just
knowledge. Anyone can learn how to do it, if they just spend a few
hours reading most technical blogs or any operational methodology.
It requires an act of will, a choice to stop moving and reconsider,
even under the pressure of others to act. Action is, in and of
itself, almost a religious mantra for some organizations; it’s hard
to resist the siren’s call for long.
As leaders we choose to either foster
that will in our followers or crush it. We foster it by listening to
dissention, supporting the decision to stop in the face of chaos, and
bringing teams together to listen or understand. We crush it by
trying to act as the focal point for all elements of an activity,
thereby stripping our followers of their choices. We can also crush
them by refusing to stop ourselves, by driving forward over the
bodies of those who stand in our way.
What is the consequence of stopping?
What happens when we decide to pull back, to place a barrier along a
mad course? What happens when we choose stillness over motion and
focus over the wild flailing we so often call activity?
It’s hard to say. On the rare
occasions I’ve gotten support for stopping it generally turns out
well. Taking a breath to reassess allowed us to remove problems from
our path, problems we would otherwise have to deal with as incidents
over and over again. It gave us the opportunity to catch our breaths
and reset our minds, allowing us to see what was in front of us
rather than just charging forward. That in turn allowed us to change
plans, reorganize work, and achieve some truly exciting results.
The question, though, is when can an
organization support the ability to stop? What elements must exist
in the organization for it to allow its employees the ability to say
you know, this is nuts, let’s chart another course? What
elements of leadership need to exist, what levels of selflessness or
selfishness, what political strength or weakness?
I’m not sure I have any answers yet,
though it feels a lot like I have more questions. I suspect the
asking of questions will go on for some time though it’s kind of
what I’m doing right now in my life. And in my other writing as
well; it’s a way of thinking I find refreshing after the doldrums we