Agreement Resolves Procrastination

Got a project that's just not making any progress? The problem may not be procrastination, but a lack of congruent agreement within yourself or among your team.

Getting Internal Agreement

Recently I've been working on a new product called Plug the Leaks in Your Cash Flow, but whenever I started to rake up the enthusiasm to work on it, my enthusiasm would crash. Rather than struggle forward, I decided to figure out what was holding me back.

So I asked myself:

"What part of me is not in agreement to work on this project?"

Inside my head I heard: "Well, I am." So I asked this part of me: "Why not?" It thought I was putting off another equally or even more important project that I call Change Your Mind, Change Your Life.

I thanked it for being open to respond. Then I negotiated with it to agree to support the current project or at least not stand in its way. When it realized that Plug the Leaks is a subset of Change Your Mind, it agreed. And I asked all of my other parts to support this part in completing the Change Your Mindproject next. With all of these parts in agreement, I asked again:

"What part of me is not in agreement to work on this project?"

Inside my head I heard: "When are we going to take some time off?" It was said in kind of a laid back, surfer boy voice. I named him: Vacation Boy. I told him that he didn't have to work on the project at all, he could just kick back. He was cool with that. And I got the rest of my internal parts to agree to support him fully whenever we go on vacation. With all of these parts in agreement, I asked again:

"What part of me is not in agreement to work on this project?"

Inside my head I heard nothing but silence. There were no more dissenters. Ever since I got congruent agreement among all of my internal parts, I had a sense of calm about the project and I started making progress. All of the pieces came together without strain. Not without work, but without struggle. I like working that way.

Getting External Agreement

Teams of people are no different from internal teams of parts. Whenever you start a new project, people are often pulled off existing work they think is important or assigned to projects they question. To accelerate the success of the team, get congruent agreement before you start. Ask:

"Before we begin, who has some concerns about this project?"

The devil's advocate or critic on your team will have a flock of these. Get the concerns, problems or dissagreements up on a sheet of paper. And ask:

"How can we mitigate or resolve these concerns or issues?"

The dreamers and realists on your team will respond with lots of suggestions for tailoring the project to eliminate all of these issues. Keep iterating until you converge on agreement. Then ask:

"Are we all in congruent agreement about moving forward on this project?"

If not, backtrack and continue seeking solutions until you reach agreement. Getting congruent agreement up front will save you a ton of time.

100% Agreement
You will never get everyone to 100% agreement. Look at presidential elections; everyone doesn't vote for the same candidate, but after the election we agree to move forward because it's how our democracy works. I will say that minimal agreement probably won't hold up. You will need at least a 50% commitment from each team member to make real progress.

Tools: The Parking Lot
Whenever I facilitate a team, I put up a sheet of paper and label it the "parking lot." Then as the team goes along, I add concerns to it as we develop an idea or solve a problem. Most of these issues will be resolved as we move forward, but before we end the session, I revisit the parking lot. I make sure we've resolved all of the issues. I ask if there are any other's we've overlooked and we resolve those.

Inflight Agreement
Other issues will arise as you move forward, because no project is static. You learn things as you progress. New issues make themselves known. Resolve them quickly and reach agreement. You're projects will complete more quickly and with higher quality.

Remember to have fun with yourself and your team.

To learn more about Motivation in the workplace, order Motivate Everyone

Rights to reprint this article in company periodicals is freely given with the inclusion of the following tag line: "© 2008-2024 Jay Arthur, the KnowWare® Man, 888-468-1537, ."