Tipsheet: One step back, two steps forward

One step back, two steps forward

It’s always frustrating when after much hard work, you hit an
obstacle: you’re not sure of the next step, a key person doesn’t buy in, or you
forgot to book a key piece of equipment. When this happens, you (and your team)
often become demotivated, and progress usually stops. You’re faced with the dual
problems of no progress and no motivation.

Instead, why not consider a one step back – two steps
approach? This is the opposite of what we typically consider, but
can yield very promising results. Consider, for example, the analogy of a car in
a driveway: if the car goes forward the best it can do is drive into the garage.
If it backed up, it will be on a street, and can go anywhere.

Here’s the typical order of operations:

  • Act
  • Handle obstacles as they arise

Here’s what one-step-backward might look like:

  • Touch base with others to identify obstacles beforehand (and
    get their buy-in)
  • Act

The key benefit of this appraoch is that the "setback"
occurs on your schedule, before you make commitments to others. And you don’t
lose momentum from obstacles that could have been easily addressed earlier.

This week’s action item: The next time you are
working on a team, before everyone moves forward, take a minute to reflect on
the likely obstacles, and address them beforehand. A step backward beforehand
gives your team confidence – and better progress throughout the project.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to
to register.

Randall Craig

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Randall Craig has founded several successful start-ups, held a long-time position at a “big-four” consulting firm, and was an executive at an American public company. He currently serves as the 108 ideaspace CEO and chief strategist. Randall has been advising on digital strategy since 1994: he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail’s GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations.

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