Executive Cognition Tool #2 - Proaction
Companies, volunteer organizations, churches, educational institutions seem lurch from crisis to crisis. They just never seem to get ahead of the game. An organization runs better when it doesn't require heroes who chronically jump in at the last minute to fight fires.
What's the need? “Anticipation.”
Inside your organization right now, there is someone who rarely complains about anything, whose team consistently gets things done, whose team you hear virtually no complaints about. Why would that be the case? It is very likely they have this skill.
What is the tool? Proaction
What is the benefit?
The benefits of proaction are obvious, yet, as organizations, we never seem to do much about it. Yet when customers are contacted ahead of time (even if something is wrong) and people are prepared for a large event ahead of time, so they can think and prepare, things generally work out well.
- Proaction is what you would have done instead of cramming for exams.
- Proaction is what you wished you had done instead of writing the paper on an all nighter.
- Proaction is overcoming the human inertia to sit in your chair when you know something needs to be done!
How do you know if you have it?
You can tell if you have the cognitive tool of Proaction by asking yourself the following questions:
1. When you see something brewing that could potentially go wrong do you wait until the last minute and try to fix it?
2. When you see an opportunity to do something that would work to everyone’s advantage what do you do about it?
3. When you have an idea do you write it down or let it drop?
How do you get it?
Frankly, I don’t know if someone can be trained to be proactive, until they see an example of it or learn the benefits. Anticipation is something that we probably build during our childhood. Read: Awareness of danger or impending disaster. Proaction is taking your fear and turning it into action. Trust your gut: if something can go wrong, it probably will. So ACT on the opportunity, and if you have people on your team that ask questions and act when they see trouble brewing , care for them, encourage them, and learn from them.
How do you use it? Here's a simple example:
Case in point: Let's assume your team has to move to a new building in a few months. You can sit by and wait for someone to do the work of initiating action, and join the crisis when it hits. Or you can jump in NOW and be proactive.
There are thousands of details to be completed to make the move go smoothly. By anticipating WELL IN ADVANCE what will need to be done, your people will NOT be in crisis mode, and they'll respect you for taking action.