Tough Nut To Crack

Last week was a difficult week in the office with a number of day-to-day issues going the wrong way. As the week drew to close I found myself feeling low and faced with a 4-hour drive home.

On the way home I indulged in some negative brainstorming around people’s job titles e.g. Director of Infuriating Customers and Head of Senseless Processes. This didn’t get me very far but got me thinking about progress in delivering our long-term objectives. I tried to come up with the right analogy for this multi-year venture.

I am not sure if there is an industry standard analogy, so here are my attempts.

I started with the idea of the battle of good against bad. But this didn’t work as we are all on the same side. With so much intricacy, politics/agendas, networking, reorganisations and other variables involved the good/bad analogue is just too crude.

So how about steering the super-tanker off the rocks and into safe waters? If only it was so simple, single process, single issue, job done. Afraid we are much too complex with a number of different businesses and operating divisions.

How about the expert coach leading the team to triumph at the Olympics? We are all about delivering sustainable results not one off successes.

Possibly the expert surgeon who precisely operates on the sick patient? Feels a bit nearer, but still random in terms of who comes through the door.

Then it struck me, what I needed was a happy ending. So the analogy is each LSS deployment is a story, the length can run from a short article to a massive novel. I am merely in the middle of a difficult chapter.

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For me a happy ending, the gods of motorway traffic smiled and I got home in only three and a half hours. Just in time to read both children their bedtime stories.

Comments 3

  1. Mike Carnell


    It sounds like the ending was great. Happy to hear it turned out well.

    The various ups and downs of a deployment – it’s called life. That is just how it works.

    Read Gary Cones blog on the drives of a successful BB. The high A is an internal drive. You do it because you know you are right and you get pleasure from winning. Then you notice that the %successful BB’s with the highest A is the most successful group.

    Check out and read the CIO article. It is very interesting. Gary’s company, GPS, does the PI as well.


  2. Sue Kozlowski

    One of the metaphors I have used is the Hero’s Journey, based on the work of Joseph Campbell who wrote about comparative mythology. Here’s a brief abstract:

    First: the quest/mission is thrust upon the Hero. It may be foreseen, assigned, or just happen. The Hero is not prepared.

    Next, the Hero gets a guide – wizard, warlock, MBB – to help set him/her on the right path. The Hero may not recognize the guide at this time.

    Next, the Hero needs companions on the quest. By accident or design, he/she gathers a group of people to support the quest. (Typically, Heroes who think they can do it alone are proven wrong.)

    The next stage is what I call the "spooky forest" part. The group is not sure they’re on the right path; they lose things or people they thought they needed for success; evil villains appear. (Sound familiar?) Typically, there’s some learning and unlearning to do as the group finds themselves in new circumstances.

    Then, the Hero succeeds – usually not alone; usually with help from the guide. The quest or mission is successful.

    Last, the Hero takes stock of what he/she has learned. He/she usually feels like a different person – wiser, more able, more honored.

    The part you are describing in your post sure sounds like the "spooky forest" part to me! And, haven’t we all been there! What I like to tell my teams is that we’ll get through the spooky forest only by working all together and focusing on our mission.

    Hope you find this helpful!

  3. Robin Barnwell

    Hi Guys

    Sorry for the delay, been delivering training and feel wiped-out at the end of the day.

    Mike, yep, stuff happens, agree with the Gary Cone article, I definitely sign-up for the change agent badge. Part of last week was the unwinding of a rather cunning bit of change I had been engineering for a few months.

    Sue, many thanks for the heroic story. I think I might lean toward a sleuth novel. Not sure if its just me, but just after Define and starting Measure I sometimes wonder how on earth I am going solve this one.


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