It Won't Work for Me

You've probably heard the acronym: WIIFM--What's in it for me? It's the question everyone asks themselves when faced with any decision. Marketers constantly focus on defining the benefits of their product or service to answer that question.

I recently discovered there's a much more insidious attitude I've labeled IWWFM:It won't work for me. Ask any teenager to try something new and the answer will invariably be "It won't work for me." But it's not just teens; it's people in business. Ask people to learn Lean Six Sigma (or anything else for that matter) and the answer is often: "It won't work for me."

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

Sadly, the easiest way to avoid any kind of personal growth is to simply proclaim: It won't work for me thereby avoiding having to learn or grow. To save time, maybe we should just shorten the response to "IWWFM", or phonetically: "I dub-dub FM" so that it will sound as silly as it is.

The mere pronouncement of IWWFM cranks up the excuse machine: It won't work because... One of the things we've learned from research into motivation is that the mere use of the word because makes us all think: "Oh, he/she's got a reason it won't work." In Cialdini's book, Influence, he sights a study where people standing in line for a copier were asked if someone could cut in front of them. One group was asked something like: "Can I cut in front of you?" and another group was asked: "Can I cut in front of you because I need to get this copied?" The first group usually refused; the second group usually allowed the person to cut in.

IWWFM is invariably followed with the word because and some excuse: "Six Sigma won't work for me because we don't manufacture anything." "Six Sigma won't work for me because we use an agile software development methodology." It sounds so reasoned and well thought out, but it's pure poppycock.

The Blame Game

The great part about IWWFM is once you've got people to buy the excuse, then you can ruthlessly blame others for your own failure: The competition is killing my profit margins. What do these crazy customers expect, perfection? I'm gaining weight because my wife feeds me too much. Direct mail won't work for my business.

Nonsense! If you haven't tried it, you just don't know. Yes, you're probably overwhelmed, isn't everyone, but you have to make time to try new things.

Peak Performing People

Peak performers never invoke IWWFM. I read stories in the newspapers about handicapped skiers and blind golfers. People who want to do something usually can find a way to do it. Instead of mindlessly chanting IWWFM, they ask:

  • How will this work for me?
  • What's the easiest way to try it?
  • Who can help me?
  • If it didn't work in the past, how can I adjust it to get the result I want?

It's so easy to blame others for our lot in life, but true courage comes from deciding that the only person holding you back is you. And the only way to stop holding yourself back is to start learning, embrace new ideas, and start making progress toward your dreams.

If you find yourself, your family or your coworkers muttering IWWFM, then start asking those motivating questions: "How could we adapt it to make it work for us? Who could help us figure out how to make it work? What's the easiest way to apply it?" Questions like these overcome the mental traps of IWWFM because... It's up to you; all you have to do is give up IWWFM and switch to direction setting questions. Too easy!

Now I know exactly what some of you are thinking: It won't work for me because...

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, ."