Getting Unstuck

by September 18, 2004

Thanks to recent travels, I got Unstuck via Keith Yamashita and Sandra Spataro’s succinct and well-designed book. Through a recognition of being stuck, an application of systems thinking, an analysis of symptoms, and a set of do it yourself remedies, Unstuck guides teams and individuals towards success.

“Now, go forward by zooming out. Once you see the bigger picture, the actions you need to take become clear. To succeed as a leader (or an individual), you need to unify the fundamental parts of an organization:

  • Your purpose –the driving ambition that shapes what you aspire to achieve and work collectively to make a reality.
  • Your strategy –the smart way to go about achieving your purpose.
  • Your purpose and the way they interact –the people that are assembled –and rallied- to execute the strategy.
  • Your structure and process –how the team is structured –who makes decisions, and the formal process by which team collaborates to get the job done.
  • Your metrics and awards –the activities and actions that get measured as indicators of whether your team or organization is delivering on its purpose.
  • Your cultures –the largely unwritten set of rules that govern behavior.

Many of Unstuck’s remedies focus on the power of words (written and owned), the creation of artifacts, and the improvement of processes. A few examples:

  • Give the movement a name. Names carry a story with them. A name for your movement can help carry it from person to person, from stakeholder to stakeholder.
  • Put your idea down in words. Great leaders place great importance on writing down their vision, their idea, their central driving purpose –and then sharing them with others. Favor plainspeak over breathy bravado.
  • Have a moonshot. A clearly expressed purpose gives your team the clarity to act and the passion to whether downturnsNow back it out: step by step, how will you get there?
  • Before any idea can become brilliant, it must first be heard. Writing induces clarity. Clarity induces action.
  • Control the language. Control the debate. Words frame thoughts. Thoughts express connections.
  • Invent a prototype of the end state. Rather than spend all your time debating about where your journey will lead, form a prototype of the destination.
  • Write a headline for the future. Futurecast. Project out a few months, years, even decades to see a different view of the challenges ahead."