Friday, January 30, 2009

How I stopped worrying and learned to isolate issues

I think of myself as a chaotic kind of guy. I’m quick to grasp things, to switch between ideas, to generate loads of ideas and concepts - quite handy really. Unfortunately, it also scatters my thinking and not only the thoughts themselves, but also my worries. I jump from worry to worry. Take an e-learning project for instance. In our projects we have to deal with graphic design, instructional design, scriptwriting, technology, subject matter experts, project managers and what not.

It’s easy to fret over any of these elements. And with a scattered mind like mine, it’s even easier to jump from issue to issue and fret about the whole lot simultaneously. Fretting however doesn’t solve anything - nobody needs to be told that. But while we all know fretting doesn’t help, many of us can’t seem to find something that does help, so fretting is our basic response.

Luckily I’m beginning to see a way which does help: isolation. The problem with worries and issues always seems to be that everything is connected to everything. This interconnectedness of everything is the daunting thing about most issues, the paralysing factor. It makes you feel powerless to act. You stop acting and start fretting.

Isolation is the key to turning this behaviour around. Yes, everything is interconnected, but just act like it isn’t. Define areas which can be addressed individually. Appoint people who are concerned with particular areas and keep them there. Specify responsibilities. Be strict. If you don’t, it won’t be long before people start crossing their responsibilities. Of course they probably think they are helping out with the best of intentions, but what happens is that everything is becoming connected again. People will start to jump from area to area, from worry to worry and paralysis will again be everybody’s part.

So don’t think yourself patronizing, belittling or inflexible when you introduce the concept of isolation, by using boundaries and restrictions. You’re really doing everybody a favour.

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