In our professional lives, we face many threats. Fierce competition, regulatory burden, geo-political uncertainty, activist investors, and fickle customers consume our thoughts, pushing our anxiety to record levels. Yet while the obvious hazards are top-of-mind, a potentially even more menacing threat lurks undetected: The Linger Trap. This dastardly foe sinks his ruthless teeth into your organization by steeling productivity and squandering opportunity. Here's how the villain may strike:
A great idea comes forward in a team meeting. 'This could be a really powerful boost to performance," you exclaim, as a team is assembled to embark on brining this novel concept to life. After the first meeting, which had to be rescheduled six times for other pressing matters, the idea is further explored and optimism is high. Unfortunately, this is where the project - and so many others like it - begins its fatal decline.
Action items are crafted and tasks are assigned, but then the daily grind ensues. The next meeting gets cancelled, along with the one after that. Team members get tied up on new projects, conflicting corporate priorities are announced, and prototype development runs into a major snag. Friction and interference arise, as the effort gets "back-burnered" until 13 months later when an executive inquires about the malignant misstep. "The patient has died in Linger Land," you sheepishly report to the scornful look of a disappointed boss.
Too often, once-promising efforts languish and die as our worldly pressures consume all available resources. In these unfortunate cases, all investment of time, creativity, moral, money, equipment, and talent evaporate, with nothing to show for the work but a memory. Truthfully, the organization would have been better off had the pursuit never begun. Proceeding with vigor is a great option, as is consciously terminating a plan and moving on. But the hapless linger is a far worse option.
Little Lingers can sting as well. The new marketing material that misses an important market opportunity since it was stuck in compliance for three weeks too long. The client that needed an immediate response, but Jim was on vacation and forgot to pass along responsibility. The product launch that suffered a 90-day delay because Kathy got too busy to order the raw materials by the deadline.
Increasing the cadence and refusing the allow projects to fizzle in Linger Land is the equivalent of a corporate wellness cleanse. In our business climate of dizzying speed, slow and steady has become a fool's bet. It's better to kill a project deliberately than let it suffer a slow, lingering death. And with smaller efforts, eradicating lingering delays will nicely boost performance.
Refuse to let the sinister Linger Trap infect your organization. The anecdote? Stay in motion, increase speed, cherish decisiveness and mow down delays.
Exterminate the Linger, and you'll elevate the results.