Nudges, not Hail Marys

The superpower and curse of the consultant’s outside point of view is the ability to see the yawning gap between the way things are and the way things ought to be. If only they would just do X and change Y everything would be great!

That sort of feedback is effectively unusable. Many people just won’t be open to the suggestion that things could be better, because the possible implication that something wasn’t being done right in the first place is too threatening. Harder to foresee, though, is that many teams' and organizations' cultures just can’t change that quickly. You might find that you’re working with people that are fully open and willing to try your ambitious and transformative plan–but when you actually try it, something doesn’t go quite right, issues compound, and eventually it all crumbles, leaving your client where they were before, plus some cultural scar tissue.

It’s fine (it’s great!) to have a big, ambitious end goal to reach for and orient by. Once you’ve got it, though, spend the time to ask your client: what’s one single thing you can do between now and next week (or month, or sprint, or whatever) that will nudge things in that direction?

Then help them do that, and check in with them there, and ask again.

Give them a nudge, and help them have accountability to themselves.

Did that make your day a little better?

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