One Track Mind (Issue 861)

In which we are reminded to focus on the problem we are trying to solve rather than particular solutions or approval processes.

One of my friends once said to me, “If you’ve never missed a flight, you’re spending too much time in airports.” I tend to treat conference calls the same way and, once in a great long while, I am a few minutes late for a call.

Not on this day, however. I was joining a client meeting already in progress to share ideas for one of their high priority initiatives. The plan was: The client would tap into my GoToMeeting and then project my images on the conference room jumbo projector.

I opened up the GoToMeeting 15 minutes early and tested it from a second computer. I laid my documents on my desk. I was READY!

At the appointed time, I called into the client conference line and the client’s Fearless Leader welcomed me to the call and connected to my GoToMeeting line. And, then….

He couldn’t get the image to project on the big screen. He and some of his team members fiddled with the conference room controls while the other talked amongst themselves. No luck on the projector.

“Hang on, Nick,” he said. “We need to get someone else to help us.”

“No sweat,” I replied. Three minutes went by. “We’re pushing all the buttons and nothing is happening,” he said. Seven minutes went by.

“Hang on, we’ve nearly got it.” Another three or four minutes passed…. no result.

And, then, one of the Fearless Leader’s colleagues piped up. “Nick, we all have laptops here. Send us the link and we can look on our individual laptops. Forget about the projector.”

Well, duh……. now that we’ve consumed a full third of our meeting time with fruitless button pushing,

“Why didn’t we think of THAT earlier,” I wondered?

Because we became SO focused on the process – getting their projector to work – that we forgot the main purpose of the meeting – discuss Clarity’s proposition – so we were slow to consider other options like “send everyone a link” or “send a PDF.”

And, sometimes, so it is when we’re working a sales process. We propose a plan. They push their buttons to advance the deal… and nothing happens. And we wait.. and wait… and wait… while they try to figure out how to make it work… as precious time slips away.

Sometimes it’s good, at such a point, to pull back from the stalled process and ask, “what problem are we trying to solve here?” and look at other plans, products, options, or alternatives to solve the problem rather than further fixating and waiting on the stalled process.

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