Tiny chunks

From the outside, everything looks good. A compelling vision, enough funding, great minds, appropriate timescales.

“So what’s the problem?”

On the inside, it feels unobtainable. Too many players prioritise other work. The project is undermined by lack of commitment and widespread hedging.

#2 – Fear of over-promising

The fear: What if we fail? What if we fail after we’ve done our absolute best? What if we fail after we’ve done our absolute best and it isn’t enough? That would look bad. That would make ME look bad.

The safety mechanism: Maybe I can protect myself by never really committing. I could be ‘forced’ to work on other priorities.

What they say: “I’m just so busy. If I had less other work I’d help so much more. It could be amazing.”

What to do about it

No one wants to be on the losing side. So show them how to be winners.

Baby steps.

Get their attention with something – a mini crisis, an external deadline – that can be solved quickly, with a little effort, and simple next steps. Something everyone believes is important and knows is do-able. “Sure we’re heading towards that big mountain, but today, all I need is a packing list. Any suggestions? What’s the best route out of town? Who do you think should come with us?”

Limit the scope, deliver the result.

Break big problems into tiny chunks. Quick wins. Build momentum. Give credit. Shine the sun on success. Use the positive glow to get more help.

Skippy Strategy: Forget the five year plan. What should we do in the next five days?

Making Promises