We all suffer from ‘thinker’s block’

As customers, we all feel we know best. In conversations with our friends and colleagues or even in conversations overheard on trains or in restaurants, we hear descriptions of what went wrong and what should be done about it. Whatever the subject, we know the answers but unless we complain and suggest solutions, we cannot impact what happens next unless we ‘vote with our feet’.

Organisations also frequently know what is wrong. Data analysis, survey responses and customer complaints point the way to the things that are not working as they should or as well as the brand promises. However, unless organisations target their survey questions and/or link complaints directly to service improvement, progress will be slow at best or non-existent at worst.

A brand promise or similar undertaking that is not demonstrated by delivery is just rhetoric.

Of course, some organisations spend substantial sums on projects to improve capability, capacity or performance. Many more postpone business-critical decisions whilst they stabilise ‘business as usual’ or wrestle with challenges around profitability or reputation. Some engage large consultancy firms as a means of reassuring shareholders that they are investing in ‘Top 5’ advice, a choice not necessarily compatible with the need for urgency or a fresh perspective.

Some issues do need immediate attention, if only because of pressures and priorities within the organisation, but stabilising BAU before changing it is an example of what we call ‘thinkers block’. We believe that it is important to stand back from the urgent and consider it from the perspective of what is important. Here are some more examples:

• Investment in management is necessary for success but is wasted if upgraded skills are introduced back into the organisation without direction and support. People need a sense of direction, a sense of purpose and a sense of their contribution and value but above all else, they need coaching in order to achieve their potential.
• Recruitment risks can be managed by seeking the same candidate profile each time. Perhaps understandably, agencies may submit ‘safe’ candidates as the route to fee income and businesses will select candidates that they feel comfortable with. We don’t want anyone rocking the boat!

Subject of course to the right skills and behaviours, recruiting a candidate you are less comfortable with may bring a fresh perspective and energise the team to achieve more.
Conflicting priorities and the need to react to emergencies can make it difficult to allocate or protect thinking time but it is essential to make the time to consider what is required. It is also essential to select collaborators who can help to unblock your thinking by blending expertise with the kind of pragmatism that comes from broad real-world experience.

If you are considering how to deliver practical management coaching or how to make your candidate profiles more effective, please call Stephen Grey or Martin Wright.