“STOP planning. START doing!” – Futurist Jim Carroll
When I spoke in Muscat, Oman at the International Roads Union conference – the event on which this photo is from – a good part of my talk was focused on the future electrification of most trucking fleets. I was making the point to the audience that they were going to see electrification occur faster than they thought, and that they’d best start thinking about the implications in terms of investment, infrastructure, and more.
The pushback at this type of event – this one was in 2018 – is entirely predictable. “It will never happen.” “Batteries are too heavy.” “We won’t get the range we need.” “It will be too expensive.” Every industry always has a chance to manufacture its future but often spends too much time manufacturing excuses. Today, virtually every major truck manufacturer has advanced, aggressive plans for electric vehicles, and already, the Tesla Semi is making significant inroads into organizations like Pepsi.
What happens when people are too busy manufacturing excuses rather than inventing action? They overthink things; they study issues to death; they defer action. This drives action-oriented people insane – we all get really annoyed with people who don’t have action embedded in their soul; those who always seem to plan but never seem to do; those who are always analyzing but are never acting upon what they’ve strategized. We’ve long had a phrase we apply to this state of affairs: “analysis paralysis.”
It’s my firm belief that post-pandemic, this situation has become much worse.
I see it on the frontlines of the inquiries I receive for engagements; someone in an organization decides they need to better understand the future and innovate their way around it, and finds me. Then, the organization can’t make a decision to go forward until the very last minute. I witness it when I see the trends which define the most popular pages on my Website – my article from almost 20 years ago on aggressive indecision still ranks highly. I see it mentioned in the phone calls I’m having with clients as we work on the structure and content for an upcoming talk. I see it all around me as people continue waiting for – and freezing – a recession that has yet to happen.
We seem to be a society and business world defined by inaction – do you see it too?
What’s the cause of this sorry state of affairs? A root culture of indecisiveness within organizations – indecision is at their core. A lack of a real dialog about the real issues that need to be confronted – no one dares to bring up the ‘big issues.‘ Leadership teams are full of hubris and arrogance – their way is the ‘right way.’ A corporate structure that does not encourage free-flowing ideas or supports those who might dare step out of the ranks. A lack of closure on previous projects – everyone is always busy still fixing the ‘last big thing.’ The lack of a real trends and innovation loop. A poor understanding of their future. The list goes on.
What the heck can you do about this? It’s a tough nut to crack because indecisiveness is usually a deeply entrenched mindset that has become entwined into the overall culture of the organization – there is no foundation for action, a mindset for initiative, or a basis for moving forward. It’s probably the biggest leadership issue out there.
All I can suggest is to keep fighting, keep pushing, keep educating, keep confronting, keep on acting. Try to encourage a mindset that thrives on uncertainty, stops chasing clarity, embraces the fuzzy, and is aligned to surviving the volatility.
Above all, stop planning, start doing.