We had a lot of snow this weekend in Minneapolis where I live. Ever notice what happens when someone’s car is stuck and they just gun their wheels?
Lots of noise, wheels spin and they go nowhere fast. Sometimes you can just see the frustration build as they pause, then repeat the same behavior, only to remain stuck. Curse the car, curse the snow, and wish the world was different, but they are still stuck. Don’t you wonder why they continue down a path that obviously isn’t working?
That’s what happens when you push customer-centricity to the exclusion of all other goals and values in your company. It’s the same lack of traction described in an earlier post.
So how do you get out of being stuck?
Instead of just attempting to lurch forward by applying more horsepower, you practice the gentle art of rocking back and forth. You go forward and then back, building momentum in each direction until you get over that spot in which you are stuck. And then you can move forward.
Rocking back and forth, instead of just going forward, is counter-intuitive until you have actually done it. Then it makes all the sense in the world!
It’s the same thing with driving change.
With change we are rocking back and forth against what appear to be competing values. When you are stuck, you have to think about momentum rather than brute force.
So why don’t we do this more often?
Maybe it’s fear of not seeming fully customer-centric if you aren’t always going forward. Maybe it’s hesitation to relinquish the wheel to someone else that might not want to drive in the direction you had in mind or at the same speed. When we are so focused on going in one direction, it’s hard to stop and look at your situation from a different perspective.
Driving change is like getting yourself unstuck from the snow. You can dig out, you can gun the engine, you can get out and push, all of which are applying power to effect change. Power may not be enough.
Or you can use the resources you have a different way. One of those resources is your ability to tune into competing values and how they play out over time.
When have you been stuck as your drive an agenda for change or seen others stuck in this way?
How have you helped others get unstuck?