Creative + Strategy

What Do You Want? And What Will Keep You From Getting It?



The other day I was reminded of this: often times, the very thing we want, we resist. 

When I sit down with someone who is looking to solve a problem, I ask myself two questions every time.

What does this person want?
What will keep him or her from getting it?

A few days ago I was sitting with a client discussing progress on a project. In doing so, I realized that the biggest obstacle to our growth had nothing to do with finances or a deficiency in ideas or equipment. Our biggest obstacle to growth was them, the client.

Yup! The biggest obstacle is coming from the people who reached out to us in the first place. Have you ever been there?

Chasing The Expert

In corporations, a funny thing happens. Companies hire an expert to come in and help. That expert tells them what needs to happen. Sometimes the client loves it. Other times not so much. And many times, the end result is nothing. Months later the same companies goes in search of a new consultant. Call it a second opinion!

This is so common in larger organizations that leaders have a name for it. “Chasing the expert.” It’s true, sometimes, experts miss the mark. But many times we’re just looking for someone to confirm our biases, to stroke our ego.

Kodak had research that proved digital photography would disrupt film. They chose to ignore it.

Blockbuster was a national powerhouse. They dominated the video space. Until streaming came along. They eventually jumped on the train. But it was too late.

I hired a trainer earlier this year because I wanted to get a better routine at the gym. I balked when he asked me to do exercises I wasn’t used to or hated doing.

This is us.

I write this not because it’s new or profound, but because if you’re working to create impact, you will run into this, organizations that “chase the expert.”

If you want to create impact, pay closer attention to your own tendencies to resist it.

One more thing. Usually there’s fear, pride, stubbornness or something else beneath the surface. Tackle those with clients, but do so in the right setting. Search for the underlying story behind their biases. Pushing harder is counter-productive under these narratives are exposed. Are they afraid of losing sales? Credibility? Are they afraid of change? Do they need more information? Are they overly confident?

What stands in the way of progress?