My Rashionale: Achieving success sometimes requires adjusting the plan


September 4, 2019


I can’t remember how often I’ve said the same thing through the years but one of my mentors finally called me on it. 

As I walked him through the scenario that day, I ended with a sigh and something to the effect of “I just want them to do it right. That’s all I’m asking.”

But what does “right” mean? His question made me think: My definition of right might be different than the other person’s definition of right. In fact, it obviously was in this case.

Finding a solution often means starting back at the beginning to make sure each person understands exactly what is being asked of him or her and holds a clear grasp of the expectations.

It means using the tried and true step of sharing with the other person in a style he or she understands not the way we prefer or even best understand ourselves. 

Some people are visual learners, some audible and some learn best by doing (kinesthetic learning).

I always think of the example of two people from different countries who don’t speak each other’s language. 

As one is trying to speak to the other he restates what he is trying to say over and over, getting slower and louder with each reiteration.

Obviously if the language itself is the barrier then stating the same words slower or louder will not cause the other person to suddenly understand.

It falls in line with the saying: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.”

A friend experienced something similar recently with a daunting assignment. 

She was asked to achieve a certain goal but not given any type of step-by-step instructions nor provided the assistance she needed to truly understand what was expected of her.

In the end everyone on the team was frustrated and the project turned out to be much more difficult than it had to be — all because the leader did not make sure the team member understood what she needed to understand and the team member didn’t ask the right questions to make sure she understood. 

Neither realized in the beginning that clarity was missing. In fact both parties actually thought they had communicated and were working under the same assumptions — until several missed deadlines later.

When the team leader realized what had happened she halted the project, found a better way to explain the goal and brought in the proper resources. 

And what had been an assignment doomed to failure found its way to completion and success within a few days.     

A set of team leaders here at TAB recently mapped out a plan to adapt one of our processes that hasn’t been running quite as smoothly as we want.

I found myself caught in the loop of restating what needed to take place, emphasizing the importance and finding ways to implement accountability. 

Everyone on the team wants to properly participate but several members truly are struggling to develop the habits needed to make the process successful.

So we could either force the process to work as it was initially designed or pull back, find the steps tripping people up and make the necessary adjustments. 

 The bonus for us is that the tweaks will actually make the process better than we originally imagined it could be.


  • David Garrard Magic