Tuesday, January 26, 2010

When "On Track" is a Trap

Those of us who bear the scars of battles and blunders can often point to various signals that flashed, blared or buzzed and yet were ignored.

And we wonder, "Why did I overlook that? Why didn't I at some point take an hour or two to consider the alternative course of action that now seems so right?"

One reason, I would submit, is that once we made our poor decision, we ruled out any periodic review. We stopped thinking macro and started thinking micro. Rather than stopping at certain points and asking if we were on the right track, we became oh-so-efficient train engineers, shoveling in the coal, watching the rails, and making sure that every station was reached on time. Our only questions dealt with How and not with Whether.

That's why teams - and individuals - need to set aside regular times to question their assumptions and ask, "If we were starting fresh, would we take on our current projects? If not, why not? If not, why shouldn't we change now?"


Life Beyond Code said...


Great insight here. A quick comment.

Just like a "On Track" can be a trap, "not being on track" can be a trap too.

Since every decision seems like the "perfect" or "best possible" decision, when it's taken, the way to win will be to "focus on execution" on the decision taken keeping in mind about the "on track trap." In other words, have "relentless focus" on execution but be "open to question the assumptions"

My $.02


Michael Wade said...


Thank you. I completely agree with your insightful comment. It is worth far more than two cents.