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BLOGSqueezing the Negative

by Randall CraigFiled in: Blog, Business Development, Make It Happen Tipsheet, PlanningTagged as:

Have you ever been in a situation with your team when you’re trying to figure out how to get everything just right?

As problem solvers, our attention quickly focuses on what is wrong. We think that if the deficiencies could be removed, then everything would be perfect. Processes would be efficient. Frustration would be reduced. And clients would be delighted.

A usual process for this would be the following:

  • Schedule meetings to identify all of the issues.
  • Prioritize those issues by business impact and ease of mitigation
  • Create teams to put together plans against the priority issues
  • Present those plans for executive buy-in
  • Develop communications and training plans for any process changes
  • Implement the process changes
  • Multiple status meetings
  • Monitor and report on progress

The benefit of this approach is that the action points are determined by those who see the problems, and that the fixing process engages the whole organization. Unfortunately, this precise strength yields an unintended consequence: as all of the organization’s attention is focused on problems, less time is available to continue doing what is great. It should be no surprise when greatness suffers.

The alternative is to focus on what is working really well, and do more of it. And squeezing the negative by maximizing the positive is far more motivating to your team than focusing on the negative.


This same concept works at the individual level too. Motivate yourself this week by looking for projects that play to your strengths. And squeeze the negative by delegating those activities that play to the strengths of others.

Consulting Insight:  This process described here mirrors a consulting approach called Appreciative Inquiry. Focus on the good!

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