When things start soaring in organizations, processes are tweaked, new roles are created, crisis management team is called in, budgets are allocated, strategies are formed, board meetings take place, and a whole lot of hush is created to address the issue. People are forced to think for solutions that would fix the problems. Small businesses do not have the luxury of defined roles, excessive meetings, huge set of board members or the comfort of departments and teams that specialize in crisis management. These are more about one man’s instinct that is an amalgamation of emotions wrapped in strategies and hope wrapped in goals. In order to address every issue that crops up, entrepreneurs tend to forget the basics.
Entrepreneurs tend to ignore the fact that sometimes we don’t find solutions, at that very moment.
And that’s not because we lack the required skills; it’s because our approach is a forced one. It’s more about coming out of the problem with a clean chit, quickly. We focus on fixing up what’s at hand and forget the big picture in the process. The big picture is not about clearing that very episode; it’s about understanding the crux of the problem better. That happens only when we decide to stick around. With a natural tendency to face challenges, we forget to take that much-required pause.
This pause is what I call the art of sticking around and doing nothing.
That’s because our mind needs free space to function better. When we’re stuffed with a problem, there’s no room for a solution to show up. These are the times when all you need to do is stick around. You don’t have to move ahead, you don’t have to prove that you’re on the job, you don’t have to answer, you don’t have to question; all you have to do is take a pause. That’s when you’ll really see things from a broader perspective. That’s when you you’ll not just discover solutions, you’ll begin to create them.
One such instance that I can recall took place in one of the bigger companies I’d worked with. We were a team of 25 people who were handling one of the most complicated areas of business. There was a sudden and an unusual rise in customer complaints. As this was an important aspect of the business, it was very evident that the team was struggling. The whole frill of the big and heady organizations came in play; senior management’s advice, team leaders involvement (read interference), communications team’s intervention, et al. Every single person had his own understanding of the situation and its adverse affects on the business.
Now was the time when everyone wanted to work out a solution and take credit for the radical change they could bring in; for the way the situation was brought under control. The reason for the downfall was identified as the recent new-hires who were inducted into the team. It was said that these individuals lacked the skills required to be part of the team. There were other obvious reasons that were identified too. And then began all the re-training processes, customer-centricity initiatives, performance-linked incentive plans, and a few more steps that would bring about the required change. Nothing worked!
The reason was simple; the real problem was never identified. All the solutions were being worked around imaginary problems that were built on the fancy of each individual who had a say. So, what really went wrong?
Well, there was a technology failure. The software went a bit haywire. Instead of showing the data of customers who had to be contacted today, it reflected the data of customers who had been contacted the previous week. It was obvious that the customers were irate because of the repeated attempts to reach them. They were annoyed with the fact that their previous commitment was overlooked.
Ironically, the applied solutions didn’t address the actual issue but they led to many more problems. But not even one single person took that much-needed pause. The concept of sticking around was overlooked. Only if the heads of the respective departments would invest more time in sticking around for a while, before addressing the imaginary issue, they would have identified the crux of the real problem.
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