In our eternal human quest to simplify, we usually allow only two choices for something new – Right or Wrong. I propose a third choice which should be prominent – Different. Putting something new in this area for a time allows for reflection, consideration, exploration. It allows for adjustment.
This is kind of like driving. Most of us seem to have the idea that we must have our foot on either the brake or the gas (only 2 choices). When I was teaching my sons how to drive, I talked to them about coasting as a viable option. It gives you time to think before coming to a decision – therefore hopefully making your decision stronger. Of course, this is an option and should not be used in an emergency, say when the car in front of you suddenly stops. But if you are paying attention, you have time to think if you allow your car to coast toward potential issues.
Different is similar to coasting. It is a safe place to try out a new idea, theory, concept without immediately categorizing it.
Years ago a company meeting was called in the lunchroom without any detail being provided by senior management. Luckily the time span between the announcement and the meeting was short so very little postulating was done. The purpose of the meeting turned out to be an announcement that we had grown too large for our current location and a search had been initiated to find a new one. We were being advised because a For Sale sign was about to be posted out front. Details of how the search for a new location were shared – all employee home addresses had been shared with a consulting company and were factored into other parameters for the new location.
This was certainly something entirely new and unexpected for all of us. I was intrigued, hopeful this would mean a move closer to my home, and pleased that employee concerns were being called out and discussed. I found that I was in the minority in my somewhat positive/somewhat neutral reaction. The majority reaction was quite negative. Opinion was weighting toward senior management taking some sort of advantage, evidence just presented to the contrary.
This announcement was filed in the Wrong category by most of the listeners without much consideration because it was surprising and therefore unwelcome news. There were a handful of us who suggested a wait and see attitude should be adopted, but we were brushed aside. (As it turned out it took several years to affect the move, but that is a story for another day.)
Putting something unfamiliar in the Different, or wait and see, category gives you time to look it over – both actively and passively. Give it a test drive, see how it looks on a shelf in your house, mention it in casual conversation. Unfamiliar or new isn’t bad, it’s just different.
© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations