Scale the Dawn Wall of your workplace

“Some problems are so complex that you have to be highly intelligent and well informed just to be undecided about them”
Laurence J Peter.

Do we place undue stress upon ourselves and others at home and work by believing there is a right answer to everything if only we could find it?

By assuming every problem, no matter how complex, has an elegant solution somewhere are we shutting down the possibilities offered by clumsy piecemeal experiments that could move us forward over time? I’m suggesting that we should get comfortable with sometimes making things a little better each time, rather than constantly reaching for “transformation” and “radical reform” as the standard solution.

Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson didn’t scale El Capitan’s 914 metres Dawn Wall in one go. Over two weeks they dragged themselves up, fell, went up, fell, went again and their amazing feat was no less fantastic for that. Re-visiting sections of the sheer rock face, finding finger holes they’d missed before, Jorgeson posted “As disappointing as this is I’m learning new levels of patience, perseverance and desire. I’m not giving up. I will try again. I will succeed.”

As a leader, you can learn from these awesome climbers and develop a learning culture where it’s safe to try new ways of working. Involve colleagues in identifying the intractable problems facing them, encourage them to try something new to support a shift in the system and if it doesn’t work then embrace the learning from the experience. In this way you can create a resilient workforce able to move quickly, pick themselves up after set backs, try something different and succeed next time. I’m suggesting this will result in less superficial transformation built on the backs of a stressed out fragile workforce, and more sustainable improvement, created by resilient and emotionally connected colleagues sharing your determination to succeed.

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