Author: Phil Hartwick
First Published: 2021
Like most of us, you will be really busy just coping with your daily mountain of work.
Of course, when you hear an idea that can help you improve how you tackle that work, you take notice and maybe get inspired. If it’s really good, you even make a decision to take that idea and try it for yourself. And you have the best intention of using that idea when you have the right opportunity.
But we know it’s not that easy.
There are three obvious reasons why we don’t always make use of these great ideas:
1. We quickly forget them. Most of us have a huge cognitive overload that means there is little room for new stuff to be retained. We may remember that there was something we liked, but it’s too hard to recall it in enough detail to make it useful even a few hours later, let alone days later.
2. We just don’t have the focus time. Focusing on adopting a new idea that will require you to do something new, typically requires focus and practice. After some time we may get value from putting all of this effort and time. We’ve all got more pressing things to do right now!
3. We just don’t want to try something that might make us look bad. There is nothing like doing something poorly in front of others. Why would you do this? Taking on new things is risky. It may not go well. It may make you look bad.
Ok, we easily forget, we don’t have the time and we don’t want to look inept. The terminal trifecta. Allow these three strikes to rule your life and you will never try anything again.
So what are three things that will help me take actions and follow through
1. Pick one thing you really want to try
But you have to really want to try it. Get clear on the benefits to you, others the team. Therefore, it must be something that can make a real difference. High impact for low effort kind of stuff. And you really need to capture it at the time – perhaps write it down or get the team to agree to use it. Otherwise it will be gone, gone, gone.
For example the thing I want to implement in our team sessions is using the ‘Fist of Five’ consensus testing technique (see the Effective Decision Making Discipline).
2. Identify a trigger
Identify a ‘trigger’, that is something that is happening or has just happened, that will remind you and others to immediately use this idea or tool for a positive effect. Better if you can identify and agree this trigger as a group, but this should not become an obstacle.
For example, a specific trigger might be: The team has gone (once again!) into a circular discussion leading nowhere in particular. You and maybe others in the team are getting impatient and perhaps a bit lost. This group behaviour can be the trigger that leads you apply the idea or tool. In this case, you might kick off an action to employ the tool by calling out to the team: “ I’m getting a bit lost with our discussion. Can we use ‘fist of five’ to see what we are agreeing on?
3. Share with others your intention
Let others know that you are trying something new – especially if you are trying it on them or need their cooperation. This will help others to support you to learn it and try it. If they know you are trying something you think is important and worth the effort, they will probably give you more latitude to try it with them and support you if it doesn’t go perfectly.
Ok, pick the one thing, find a trigger and share with others. And by the way, these tips work the same if you are making a personal change or if the team is wanting to collectively make a change or adopt a new approach.