Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Too many initiatives may hinder success.

I wrote the following entry two years ago, and unfortunately, I’m not seeing any progress as it relates to the topic. I’m in the midst of writing an article for our local newspaper about the trend of exhaustion that’s hitting our workforce. With that in mind, along with the volatile availability of new technology, and fierce competition, I was compelled to repost. I’m observing this becoming a more acute problem in today’s Western work environment. What can be done?
Too many initiatives may hinder success.
November 16, 2009 at 11:15 pm · Filed under Uncategorized · Edit

Both locally and globally, organizations are currently being called upon to compete and survive during economic uncertainty and risk. Organizations are launching multiple new “raising the bar” initiatives to upgrade products and services—all designed to differentiate a company’s or agency’s ability to compete and survive now, in order to thrive in the future.

But here’s the rub. Employees only have a finite amount of energy and strategies that they can offer their organizations, above the day-to-day demands of their jobs. It’s not uncommon to see stress levels high, and morale low, due to additional job responsibilities put upon employees who have survived a downsizing. For leaders, the ability to effectively activate accountability and sustainability around multiple initiatives becomes a challenge as—like their employees—they find themselves stretched to the limit.

So if you’re a leader, my recommendation is to consider the feasibility of slowing down just long enough to assess the number and complexity of the new “raising the bar” initiatives in progress in your organization. More importantly, assess the progress to date on each initiative. If you find that one or more of the assigned projects are significantly lagging, you may want to establish a top priority and offer the vision, the plan, and incentive to succeed at one initiative at a time.

When feasible, realigning your organization’s goals based on realistic timeframes and a regard for your employees’ bandwidth will create a more motivating and engaging environment. Motivated and engaged employees are what’s really going to help an organization survive now and thrive in the future.



  Dave Miller wrote @

Donna thanks for following up on this topic and your candor in stating that you are not seeing any progress. I have been caught up in exhaustion for about the last 8 years of my career and it culminated in losing my most recent job. I wasn’t skillful in managing my career and I have compassion for myself and others (coworkers, bosses, and entrepreneurs I have worked for) who – maybe too-often – move thru their precious life time exhausted and paying a heavy price of regret, disconnection, or loss of well-being.

My thoughts as I redirect my career: there is excessive emphasis on competition and profitability in too many companies that can become banal and manic. Like getting air and sunlight if we do not stay profitable we will go out of business and lose out to competition. O.K. – got it! Dr. Deming identified decades ago that emphasis on short-term profits and short-term thinking was one of the deadly management diseases and he stated that we have been “sold down the river” on the bloated importance of competition. He stated that creating a constancy of purpose and continuous improvement (forever) was needed as well as emphasis on cooperation, not competition.

The importance of that was stated well by you in 2009 “… establish a top priority and offer the vision, the plan, and incentive to succeed at one initiative at a time…” and it illustrates the difference between having aspiration and wholeheartedness instead of having only ambition in a fear-driven world of scarcity.

I also think that the assumptions of unlimited growth (nothing but market acceptance limits growth, resources have no long-term limit), “more is better”, and overfocus on sales and costs instead of how the results took place or consequences of the results – can be dysfunctional and stressing in an economy that is compressing, not expanding. Developing learning organizations that acknowledge this and involve all co-workers in building trust (it’s OK to talk about what is going on around here) and the valuing of process and quality over quantity lends itself to building a sustainable enterprise that knows co-worker satisfaction and customer satisfaction are one and the same.

  donnarawadyblog wrote @

Dave, thank you so much for your thoughtful comments. I am in the process of writing a similar article for a column that I contribute to in the D&C, a Rochester paper. I have a great deal of passion around this issue. Writing about it gives us the opportunity to simply plant seeds I understand, but if more of us respectfully voiced an opinion on the issue, perhaps more leaders would listen. All the best to you as you redirect your career towards an environment that allows you to maintain the core values you mention here.

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