Don’t Stop Trying, And Don’t Stop Learning

By Becky Bocklage Columbia Daily Tribune, Mo.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Becky Bocklage, director of Columbia College's Fishman Center for Entrepreneurship shares some thoughts on business and why she believes flexibility can be a key factor in the success of an organization.

Columbia Daily Tribune, Mo.

Entrepreneurs are well-known for developing creative solutions to problems. They also are known for prioritizing execution over planning, because they learn from executing and can adapt and fix as they proceed. They are routinely trying and learning, which is something established organizations could use more of.

It is important for entrepreneurs to realize they are "wired differently," and it can wear solution-seekers down.

Many times they will be surrounded by people who I call the "Why Nots." Those are the people who have a reason every solution offered won't work. Let's face it, saying 'no' is an easier answer and they embrace it whole-heartedly. They hang onto their "we've always done it this way" or "we tried that once and it didn't work" mindset. Such people are like water in cracks, just taking the easy path, but that's really not a sustainable position.

To remain viable, or grow and achieve efficiencies and ultimately greater success, stock answers don't work. You have to figure out the solution that is a forward-thinking idea. In reality, laziness won't result in a solution that works this time and the next time, and eventually you'll end up reworking a problem you should have worked in the first place.

The problem with Why Nots is they rarely start looking for solutions themselves and right out of the gate, they don't give consideration to a solution that has been presented to them. If you are entrepreneurial, it will wear you down -- or make you frustrated to work with these folks. And many times there is not an easy way to convince the Why Nots to think with the can-do part of their brain.

The Why Not people are prevalent in our work spaces and for entrepreneurs, they are a big drag on the culture. This is especially true if they are the ones in charge.

Early in my career I asked a boss to take on a new task that I thought would net us a favorable result. They offered the typical Why Not answer and said they'd done that before but it didn't work all that well. In this case, it was talking to people and I was pretty good at 'visiting,' so I thought I might have a different result. Besides, I was bored with too little work and was looking for something to do and a challenge that I could see results from, so I embarked on my project.

And it worked. I tweaked around my message because I admit, it was awkward. But I kept learning from each contact until I had a message that worked well for me -- and got my team results. Later on, I had the pleasure of listening to another 'natural' who was way better at establishing cold call connections than me, and I learned from them. The takeaway was powerful: Don't stop trying, and don't stop learning.

In another case, I was the one in charge and had the privilege of leading a group of solution-seekers. I could call a meeting, state our mission and the group would assemble the plan. They were fierce in their planning and implementing prowess, and they got results. Because of that, they moved on to new positions that tapped their broad skill sets, as they should, and the new team was riddled with Why Nots.

So we started again with presenting the problem and brainstorming the solutions, and shooting down the negativity when it rose up. By looking at the different personalities and what they brought to the room, I started trying out a strategy to reinforce the good and redirect the bad. I was really proud when someone who historically was a Why Not stepped up with a positive can-do statement about how the new work situation was an opportunity in disguise. Oh yes, we had made some serious headway!

They didn't stop trying or learning.

Organizations can benefit from both the experience and naivety of their crew, and either can bring a creative solution. It's a balance to not waste time on old mistakes, but if the group innovates and a simple alteration leads to a good result, that's work worth doing.

Becky Bocklage serves as director of Columbia College's Fishman Center for Entrepreneurship. ___ (c)2019 Columbia Daily Tribune, Mo. Visit Columbia Daily Tribune, Mo. at www.columbiatribune.com Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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