Archives for March 2012
Today’s post is a continuation from yesterday’s about why people get stuck.
The third reason why people get stuck is because of inertia. Inertia from a management consulting perspective is best characterized as blindly continuing to repeat a task, process, or behavior because you’ve been successful in the past doing so. Inertia at its core is about maintaining the status quo and remaining comfortable. While there are good reasons to repeat certain aspects of our work, preserving the past can become more valued than creating a new more desirable future whether for ourselves, our employees, and most importantly for our customers.
When it comes to remaining comfortable the vast majority of people have a peculiar ability to maintain the status quo even when the consequences for doing so can be deadly. For example, eighty-five percent of the people who have heart bypass surgery have returned to the exact same lifestyle and diet within two years of their surgery. That’s the same lifestyle that required them to have heart bypass surgery mind you. So, no matter how uncomfortable their surgery was; no matter how concerned they are for their future health and well being, the inertia of eating and exercising the way they did before surgery pulls them by the scruff of the neck back into their old habits.
Aside to reader: In order to counteract the negative aspects of inertia you’ll want to ask whether your perspective of the future is rooted in fear or faith. If you fear the future you will remain in the present even if your present results are not what you want. If you look into the future and have faith that your future will be more appealing, rewarding and even enjoyable, then you will jettison yourself from the present and embrace the future.
The fourth reason people get or remain stuck is incompetence, which is an inability or skill to do a particular task. While most people are highly competent in either the task/technical side of their work or they are highly competent on the people side, the incompetence that is especially damaging to the customer experience is the incompetence surrounding working with people.
Your customers are screening you for both technical and people based competence. Let’s go back to the heart bypass surgery example. Imagine for a minute that you are a fifty year old man or woman who needs heart bypass surgery. The surgeon you meet with is not indifferent to your situation, seems to be well informed, has a good bedside manner and has a sense of urgency regarding helping you get on the right path to better health and wellness. Everything the surgeon says sounds good and is credible. But the one question that remains to be asked is “how good is the surgeon at what they do? What do their patients and or peers say about their level of competence and expertise?” Until you know the competence of your surgeon both technically and interpersonally you’ll remain stuck and be seen as indecisive.
Aside to reader: It’s completely normal to feel incompetent when you’re learning something new, especially if you care about the subject and or the stakes are high. Just remember that every great endeavor or achievement started with someone lacking the skills necessary to achieve greatness, but who was so engrossed in their idea that they acquired the skills necessary.
I believe the opposite of these four characteristics are required in order to get unstuck and to achieve something extraordinary. You have to care deeply about an idea, concept or ideal; you must immerse yourself in learning everything you can about your idea; you must slay the dragon called complacency and remain focused on progress – not perfection, and last but not least, you must remain on the path of greater mastery of both the technical and people oriented skills necessary to achieve your goal.
In summary, I have three questions for you:
1. When you look into the future, is your vision characterized by fear or faith?
2. If you were to strive for the extraordinary, which of the four characteristics would you need to address first?
3. Which of the four characteristics would your customers say you exhibit most frequently?
I’ll look forward to hearing your thoughts on my blog.