There’s much discussion at the moment about the barriers to progress and innovation. We all know that there are things that need to change, and although everybody knows this we’re afraid it won’t happen. Things will get worse, money will get tighter, conditions will get poorer, and all for the lack of a little tiny bit of innovation.
Deary deary me … whatever shall we do? Guess we’d better sit here where it’s safe, and do nothing. Ok? Ok.
Here’s the funny thing. Everybody I talk to is convinced it’s the other chap who’s going to be the problem. We are all of us, to a man, bravely standing up straight and girding our loins and mustering our resources and whatnot to withstand the challenges ahead – if it weren’t for those others, holding everybody back, it would all be so easy, wouldn’t it?
Um, ok. But (as in all good horror movies) if we’re all in here, being brave and bold and innovative and everything, who’s outside the window making the scary noises?
Nobody. There’s nobody out there. I promise you, it’s fine. Yes, I’ve seen the film too – that scene where someone says “Aw, quit messing around you guys, there’s nothing out here – ” … just before he gets eaten by the Swamp Thing. You’re just going to have to trust me, there’s nothing there. And you need to stop sitting up late watching that sort of thing on your own, ok? Or maybe that’s just me, I don’t know …
Seriously though: you all need to stop having so much fun scaring yourselves with what might happen, and start looking at how you’ll deal with it if it does.
I’ve heard middle managers blamed for blocking … strangely, the middle managers I know are all ready to step up. I’ve been told the politicians won’t go for it – but they all want better services for less money too, so why not? I’m hearing the unions won’t go for it, or front-line staff will strike, or customers will challenge us in the courts, and it’ll all go horribly wrong! We’re all doomed! Don’t go out there, it’ll eat you and I’ll be left in here all alone!
Calm. The. Heck. Down. Everybody, just calm down and let’s see if we can work out why we’re so scared of being eaten. Is it because we know we aren’t going to do a good enough job? Hell no, we’re going to do the best we possibly can. We’re just worried that everyone else is going to hate it.
Ah, there we are, that’s the real issue. We won’t give them what they want, so it’ll just be blocked and all that effort will be wasted.
How about we make sure that what we do is actually what people want? We can’t please everybody, granted, but what if we pay attention to what we’re being told, about what worries people, and actually use that to improve our ideas? There’s a very real risk that if we come up with a solution that actually works for everyone, it won’t be blocked.