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One step back, two steps forward

by Randall Craig on October 6, 2009

Filed in: Blog, Business Development, Make It Happen Tipsheet

Tagged as: , ,

It’s always frustrating when after much hard work, you hit an obstacle: you’re not sure of the next step, a key person doesn’t buy in, or you forgot to book a key piece of equipment. When this happens, you (and your team) often become demotivated, and progress usually stops. You’re faced with the dual problems of no progress and no motivation.

Instead, why not consider a one step back – two steps forward approach? This is the opposite of what we typically consider, but can yield very promising results. Consider, for example, the analogy of a car in a driveway: if the car goes forward the best it can do is drive into the garage. If it backed up, it will be on a street, and can go anywhere.

Here’s the typical order of operations:

  • Act
  • Handle obstacles as they arise

Here’s what one-step-backward might look like:

  • Touch base with others to identify obstacles beforehand (and get their buy-in)
  • Act

The key benefit of this approach is that the “setback” occurs on your schedule, before you make commitments to others. And you don’t lose momentum from obstacles that could have been easily addressed earlier.

This week’s action item: The next time you are working on a team, before everyone moves forward, take a minute to reflect on the likely obstacles, and address them beforehand. A step backward beforehand gives your team confidence – and better progress throughout the project.

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Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)



Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released "Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business", and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at and

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