When I saw this image, it struck me as something that commonly happens in organizations today. This analogy could be applied to our clients as well as our own organization in a variety of different scenarios. Coming across this image made me think back to times within my own career when I have been the person saying “No Thanks!” and just going about business as usual. I try to learn a lot from these times so that I can avoid repeating the same mistakes in the future.
Here are some of the important takeaways that I have found through my own observations and lessons learned the hard way to avoid situations like these:
Don’t overlook new ideas. New ideas can often feel disruptive or unnecessary. The guy digging the hole is busy trying to get his own work done. Stopping to check out someone else’s new idea is a perceived distraction that would just slow him down. Overlooking new ideas often leads to missing out on profitable new opportunities.
Challenge yourself to think differently. It’s hard to think differently. Doing what we always do feels comfortable, and we already know that it works. While it is easy for us to talk about things that should be better, it can be uncomfortable to do anything about it. It is important to challenge ourselves to think differently in order to continuously improve.
HOW is as important as WHY and WHAT. For me, I always make sure I’m clear on why I’m doing something and make sure I establish what it is. I usually assume that I have everything covered…but don’t forget to plan for how you will do it. Finding out there is an easy method before you begin is always more gratifying than finding out when you are already done.
Always remember to take a step back. The guy digging the hole is focused on what’s in front of him. He has a completely different view than we do. If he saw the big picture like we are able to, he would put down the shovel without even hesitating. Taking a step back to get a fresh perspective is helpful in uncovering issues you may have never seen before.
I know I still end up being the person saying, “No Thanks!” at times, but through these four observations and lessons learned it is less often. By continuing to make observations and learning from past mistakes, I know that I am bringing the most value possible to all of the projects that I work on.