Convoy! (Issue 857)

In which we are reminded that, sometimes, we need to adapt to our clients’ paces of change.

It was a rainy night with fog. (That sounds like a pretty good mixed drink, doesn’t it? “Bartender, I’ll have a Rainy Night with Fog, please”). Driving visibility was somewhere under 100 yards.

My family had gone adventuring for the afternoon, leaving one car in the center of New Bern, North Carolina and driving the other to Oriental, North Carolina for a walk around town and a meal.

Rain started falling as we drove back to New Bern. By the time we reached the left-behind car, rain was falling steadily and fog was drifting about.

We decided to “convoy” back to our hotel. I went first; my daughter followed me, driving the second car. I noticed, as we drove through New Bern, that she was driving a few miles per hour slower than I was. There were no other cars on the streets at that point; when we stopped at stop signs or traffic lights, she caught up easily.

But, when we got to the highway, I increased my speed to the speed limit and proceeded in the right-hand lane, glancing in my rear view mirror to maintain visual contact with my daughter. Again, I noticed that she was lagging behind, driving 5 mph to 7 mph slower than I was. Other cars were cutting between us, separating us; I couldn’t tell which car was hers.

“She’s being cautious, I guess, on a rainy night,” I thought. Frustrating, ‘though. “C’mon, keep up,” I thought. “Conditions aren’t that bad.”

Nevermind, I slowed down so and, when we were in formation again, I boosted my speed a little at a time, hoping she would follow suit. She didn’t.

I tried this maneuver again; once again, the distance between us increased and other cars veered in and out between us.

Finally, still frustrated, I decided, “OK, I’ll go with her speed, maintain the formation, and we can get the home together without a problem.” Mission accomplished.

Often, we can see what might be possible for our clients, we recommend action plans, and we urge them to accelerate to follow us, to convoy with us, and… sometimes, they don’t. They plug along at their own speeds rather than accelerating to our proposed pace for change. Just one slow “car” in a client “convoy” can slow the whole project formation down.

If they won’t move faster, after a few invitations, there is naught to do but slow down to their speed to maintain the client’s formation and momentum. Frustrating? Yes, for both parties! However, they are moving forward, at least, and, if we drive too far ahead, too fast, we risk losing them completely.

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