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Have the Courage to Do It Wrong

Learn the ways you can overcome “what ifs” with Dr. Cindy McGovern.

Originally published by Orange Leaf Consulting on March 19, 2019

You’ve probably heard of “analysis paralysis.” But if you haven’t, it’s a description of that phenomenon that occurs when you’re needing to take action on some sort of activity, but feel the need to wait until each and every possible scenario or obstacle has been discussed, played out, and theoretically overcome.

In short—you’re all set and ready to go. All you need is a perfect and fool-proof plan.

Well, friend—nobody’s perfect. And neither is your plan.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t move ahead.

Analysis paralysis keeps a lot of great ideas in the starting gates until their opportunity has come and gone. And just as I can guarantee you that no plan is perfect, I can also guarantee that NO plan will ever succeed if it never begins!

My friend Paul is a manager who understands this. He came up with a great explanation of what’s needed in these situations: the courage to do it WRONG. Despite the best laid plans, failure sometimes happens. And knowing that and moving forward nonetheless does indeed require a special kind of courage.

If perfection can never be achieved, then we need to define an endpoint to the planning process, at which time we brace ourselves and push the button. But here are a few questions you should ask in order to guard against failure with your less-than-perfect plan.

What’s the worst that could happen? Give yourself an honest answer to that question. Take into account your organizational culture, the resources involved, external factors that could influence the outcome, and your own personal reputation. But don’t go overboard. Yes, a tornado could hit the morning of your product roll-out, or a server crash could render your brand new app completely worthless. Possible? Sure. Likely? Not very. Don’t let them stop you.

Have I covered the most important bases? Go into your new idea with a painstakingly detailed plan….and a back-up plan. Take all of those “what if’s” and include them in an appendix. You’ll always benefit from having a Plan B. But it’s more important to plot out the details of your Plan A strongly enough so that a framework is in place to support its ultimate success.

What are my talking points? If you’re implementing a new idea, especially one that represents a radical departure from the norm, you’ll get questions. And whispers. And criticism. And, yes, not all of it will be constructive. That’s why you need a set of talking points in your tool kit that in a few words address the items that may raise the most questions, and answer them. Remember, you’ll probably be familiar with these from the “what if” list we discussed earlier. Know what the naysayers will say, and be ready with a response.    

Is management on board? Now, there’s no way to guarantee that, if management is skeptical. And you may be working in an organization that puts a high price tag on failure. But if you can get one manager on your side—like Paul—who understands that nothing great ever happens without a certain degree of risk, your ultimate success will not only defy those prevailing attitudes but maybe even start to change them.

Because nothing big can happen until you’re brave enough to fail.

And you know what we say about big things….




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Dr. Cynthia McGovern has dedicated her career to helping a wide variety of organizations and individuals achieve dramatic results in the areas of sales, leadership, and change management. Her vast experience working with organizations to create the changes they need to be more successful and her breadth of current knowledge in a wide variety of industries helps leaders strategize for growth, plan for change, get buy-in from employees and implement the new behaviors needed to succeed.  This work gave birth to the Orange Leaf Consulting process. Holding her masters in communication and her doctorate degree in Organizational Communication, Cynthia has spent the last 14 years working with companies to create organizational change, so that they can continue to grow their business and build lasting relationships with their clients.

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