Are We There Yet?

It is a ubiquitous inquisition, the current state looking forward to the anticipated or desired state: Are we there yet? From the time we’re children we learn to look forward in this way, and in the process we’re likely also all exposed to little truisms like “Getting there is half the fun,” or “Stop kicking the back of my seat!”

This is all fun as fodder for family trips, but the trust we have in the destination’s attainability shouldn’t undermine our presence of mind along the journey either. Sometimes these behaviors learned as youth can benefit our goal-driven approach to later life and business, and others it can drive us to the same frustrated tantrums as though time has been dialed back when we’re presented with delays or even the occasional complete roadblock.

I am acutely aware of this phenomena as I observe it every day, from the making of my morning coffee to the wondrous world of big data driven marketing and analytics. As I connect with more and more professionals in various spaces, it never ceases to amaze me how the drive to the finish so often simultaneously empowers and disables our success. Gaining buy-in from teams of individuals with such different experiences and personal destinations on their heart is probably the singular challenge that all businesspeople face, regardless of our industry.

I see lots of inspiring memes and posters shared via LinkedIn (and many more) sites exhorting us all to manage in a certain way, or develop a something-centric culture – and to be fair, I should say I actually like a lot of these. But in reality, fostering the fallacy that a management style will magically open up the heavens and rain down our desired state is actually part of the central challenge itself: We think with our own minds, feel with our own hearts/souls, and we usually act with the end in mind rather than the journey.

Truly, some individuals among us are famously aware of the journey, but they are frequently ridiculed as disengaged or the quintessential sufferers of “paralysis by analysis”. In reality, action is our favorite thing – we are so happy to accomplish that “do-er” is a far higher praise in our vernacular than “thinker”.

So what is the point? Do I mean to imply that sitting around “enjoying the journey” is a desirable state in which we feel great about the world passing us by? Nope. Still, I appreciate the inherent dramatic implication.

No, my point is merely that when we work in teams it’s our obligation to succeed as any other situation, and in order to DO that, we must realize every stakeholder must be motivated individually, or they will become obstinate individually. The consuming public, our clients, our technical staff, our designers, our data people, our leadership team, our salespeople – all of them are going to look for the end goal, and wonder “Are we there yet?!” If we aren’t prepared with the answer, they’re not going to cut us a break forever, so your mission is to steer them into a productive journey. It is impossible to have any sense of distance to a goal, or relative ability to guide the journey, with an insufficient roadmap, so in every situation it is imperative to plot waypoints carefully. These little respites along the way afford not merely the chance to be sure no one is lost, but also to reassure doubts and reassess progress.

Sometimes the healthiest thing we can do is measure where we are relative to the starting point, and be sure the destination is actually where we thought it was. In some situations the attainment of progress for its own sake has caused considerable investments of time and capital to end fruitlessly (check out this great article on the famous NetFlix prize for example).

In still other cases working collectively to adjust course with the ability to “get over the idea that it wasn’t my idea” has produced more valuable results than anyone’s original plan envisioned (quoted from Sal Kahn in a pretty fun article found here).

If you care to, please share how you go about plotting your waypoints along the journey, and perhaps together we can grow our collective approach to business success. Contact AccuData today!

Written by AccuData Integrated Marketing

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