Insight Minus Action Equals Frustration

Published: September 20, 2017

Doctors diagnose before they treat. Teachers assess learning needs before crafting lesson plans. Risk managers evaluate danger before implementing safety measures. Coaches scout defenses before designing offensive schemes. Action follows insight. Understanding what to do is a much different task than doing it. Unfortunately, many teams get stymied after the analysis. You can build a strategic plan with good intentions but you only frustrate the team if everyone is too busy to execute.

“Just do it” sounds easy. It’s not. Following through with the actions driven by an assessment is the bulk of the work. Knowing what to do is often common sense and the analysis merely validates. It’s the next steps that count. Begin with commitment. Follow with triage. Track your progress. Recognize both accomplishment and obstacles. Recalibrate to adapt to new circumstances.

Commitment: We rise or fall as a team. My action or inaction directly impacts others. State your intent and guarantee achievement.

Triage: The challenge is almost always greater than the resources. Break the task into a sequence of priorities. First things first, second things second. The bottom of the triage list will eventually rise to the top as new items constantly repopulate the bottom (or sneak their way to the top).

Tracking: Milestones and timelines are only the beginning. Regular accountability meetings either acknowledge movement or ignite a problem-solving effort to address obstacles. Choose a tracking method and create common, transparent access for all teammates.

Recognition: Taking stock in accomplishment fuels the system. When the team experiences tangible movement, motivation grows. Acknowledging barriers also energizes as teammates partner to solve puzzles.

Recalibration: Pushing growth creates change. Strategic plans have short shelf lives. Teams committed to continuous improvement accept the reality that they’re in constant flux. Regular reassessment shifts the priorities to accommodate today’s circumstances.

The beauty of cyclical growth is the continuous chance to improve. Whether repairing something broken or visioning the next moonshot, teams repeat an ever-changing exercise in evolution. Those who get stuck rarely don’t know what to do. They just choose not to do it.

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst College where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.