Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action

This past weekend, I found myself at Chuy's (great food if you've never been there) eating an order of Elvis Green Chile Fried Chicken. For the uninitiated, this is a chicken breast breaded in Lay's potato chips and fried, then slathered in a green chile paste that at times burns your tongue. Sounds good, eh? But this post really isn't about dinner. After dinner, when walking to the car, I heard the speakers playing to those waiting in line with a little classic Elvis singing "A little less conversation, a little more action please." It got me thinking about work and how often we get wrapped up in conversation and continued analysis rather than action. We even have phrases for it. Whether you call it "Analysis Paralysis" or "Talking about work instead of doing work" the result is the same: endless conversations discussing work but without any real output. Have you found yourself in this trap?
If so, here are a few tips to move past it:

Determine What's Good Enough

Often progress stalls when you (or someone in your group) chases down every answer to every question before letting the project or real work start. Some call this "letting the perfect be the enemy of the good." To avoid this, figure out what's really "good enough" before you start. Make sure everyone agrees to the definition and facilitate discussion away from anything "more perfect" than that good enough effort. Of course, some efforts will actually chase or require perfection (I'd hate to think about doctors deciding "good enough" on terminal illness treatment), but for most of us business is not life and death decisions, so "good enough" usually is.

Kill The Neverending Email

Remember in The Neverending Story when Atreyu had to kill that big wolf thing? No? OK, then I'm substantially older than you. But that's OK. I'll ask you to take a big knife and stab something else instead: the neverending email. Have you ever been on an email chain that goes back and forth with one-line comments for twenty or thirty iterations? Kill them. After emails go back and forth between two or more parties four or five times, a quick thirty minute call might be a more effective way to resolve the problem. Email has a place, and allowing us to communicate asynchronously and offer quick commentary certainly has its benefits. But resolving disputed points or complex descriptions? Those are generally resolved faster real time with discussion. 

Resolve to Do Something

Often groups keep discussing work end over end because it feels like work. It is work, in a way, but it is not the most productive work. To be productive, we must commit to accomplish and produce something, to generate an output of our work. That commitment hits all the clich├ęs: "Moving the ball forward" or "Moving the needle" or whatever else you call actual progress at your office. Commit yourself to accomplish something real and you will. (Tweet this with a single click)

How else can you break the paralysis analysis or endless conversation? Leave a comment or reply to me via email. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Image credit: skeeze/Public Domain via Pixabay