If you have ever hit your head really hard, you may be familiar with the bright flash of light followed by a little disorientation, confusion, and dizziness. For those that don't know what I am talking about, consider yourself lucky - it's not a fun experience. Just like it is not a fun experience working with a team where everything is moving along smoothly and then someone starts “can’t-standing” (like grandstanding, but with excessive use of the word can't). When that happens I get all the head injury type symptoms. Followed by a massive headache. I hate that word. Can’t. Just looking at it makes me angry.
Can't, Can't, Can't...
That word has derailed more projects than any other word in the English language. I’m not sure which word is currently in second place, but I can guarantee its not a close second. Seriously, the human race has successfully placed a human being on the moon and returned them safely to Earth! I'm pretty sure we can do this.
As a young facilitator, I used to think some people were put on this planet to make sure nothing progresses. Ever. People who habitually use the word can't are not evil people. They're really not.
They can be a huge asset to an improvement team
“Wait, what? You mean my co-worker who invents reasons we can't ever change anything at all is an asset to an improvement team?!? Chris, have you lost your mind?”
People with this tendency are ultra talented at finding barriers. These are often barriers your team is going to have to overcome anyway. The key is in drawing out those barriers while preventing the language from stalling all of the team’s momentum. Here is a process to make that happen.
How to harness the good energy and block out the bad
Preparing for the meeting that you anticipate will turn into a “full-on can’t festival”...
During the Meeting...
After the Meeting...
Consolidate the ideas into an action plan format, and then congratulate yourself and smile (like an "I just did that" cocky kind of smile). Because you, like Christopher Columbus are a crusader - you just navigated some pretty choppy waters and successfully charted the course for you and your crew to discover the new world. Good work.
Christopher M. Spranger, MBA, ASQ MBB
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