Busyness and the Path of Least Resistance

by | Mar 16, 2020

I wonder why it is that vocal minorities can exert so much influence with business, industry and government decisions today. And why selective facts and misinformation can trump the weight of evidence and shape decisions that impact on the majority.

One reason is closer to home than we might like – we are all tempted to take the easiest option – the one that presents the path of least resistance:

  • Journalists write about the controversial views of activists and agitators, rather than investigating what is really happening and why;
  • Governments respond to organised vocal minorities to alleviate public criticism, rather than standing up for majority interests;
  • Business owners spend most time working in the business, rather than working on the business;
  • R&D bodies invest most effort in generating research outputs, rather than on achieving outcomes;
  • Industry organisations act to appease the interests of factions, rather than investing effort to understand and meet the needs of most industry businesses;
  • Risk averse managers apply ‘no one gets fired for hiring IBM’ thinking to appoint large branded firms rather than selecting an innovative firm that offers real value.

You get the idea – it’s much easier to be busy and appear productive than it is to be effective.

Being connected online means that we live and work with constant semi-distraction. The email inbox shapes our day. It means we don’t make time to think and work through the complex issues that really matter for sustained performance.

It’s simply easier to respond to the urgent and loudest, rather than deeply understanding and acting on what is truly valued by customers, clients, members or industry businesses.

Understanding complex issues and systems and balancing competing interests is hard work. However, avoiding the challenging parts of your role eventually comes at a price that is potentially devastating for the performance of individuals and organisations.

Each week, try to find at least one 90-minute block when you can be at your most productive. Disconnect and wholly focus on an issue that really matters.

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