Road Blocks, Whiplash and Success

A road barrier reading Progress in Action signifies that work is

You are working away at a change initiative and all of a sudden, you run right into a road block. You might feel a bit of emotional whiplash as you are gob smacked by this occurrence. The risk is seeing the “road block” as a problem and getting caught up in reactionary thinking. You know, seeing only the problem and not recognizing any progress to date.

Be cautious not to go into the absolutes – meaning seeing something as a success or a failure. The truth is often somewhere in between. Seeing it as good or bad tends to polarize our perspectives and limit our thinking (and others involved in the project). Check for those shades of gray or those in between colours that are often harder to discern. Once you train your brain in this way, you can tweak a process, and encourage the growth to continue.

Next time you hit a (perceived) road block, stop, step away and look at it from another perspective. Remember, resistance to change is natural and occurs when people feel frightened by the change.  So, if it’s a people problem, and it often is, look below the resistance – what was challenging for the person? What new challenge may have arisen that is actually a sign of progress? Is this an opportunity to shift the direction slightly to make the initiative even more successful?

If it’s a machine or systems issue, notice what shifted to enable this new “challenge” to arise? What was cleared away, what different ways are people working together? What caused the individual to shift from where they were to their current status? For example, are they now able to articulate potential gains from the initiative that they were unable to before? What are the potential solutions that this current “road block” offers? How might we shift our thinking to see this differently?

Many times, we are looking for large gains when those tiny incremental steps are actually the true success makers. It’s when we are open and willing to experiment with new things that the long-term progress can happen. Each time that you notice a micro-shift acknowledge it – champion the team or person to understand how we got here and how we can continue the progress to the end goal.

After all, when you open up your mind, see the progress to date, even if it’s micro steps, it indicates that you are enroute to success. Movement towards the goal sometimes looks from the outside as something sliding backwards. And there is always opportunity in it if you can view it as so!

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