When Progress Stalls, Force a Move

todolistAll too often I hear, “I’m waiting for the client’s response before doing xxx…”

In many cases, the other party doesn’t fully appreciate the impact of indecision or inattention. They quickly become a second-tier item on your plate and fall victim to other priorities, bumped schedules and lengthy delays due to the domino effect. Then, and often without warning, the other party is calling and demanding immediate action, causing you to scramble to make it appear as if they were Number One on your list.

Furthermore, you never get paid for indecisions. Sales, Service and Professional time and billing all require action.

There are several tacks to resolving stalled progress. These are my favorites:

  1. Avoid it in the first place is my preferred method. Prior to the conclusion of any discussion, it is imperative that the next step be defined, that to-dos be assigned to people and a firm by date be established. This causes the other party to commit, in advance, to staying on track.
  2. Action to cause reaction is another good method. A written statement (through email or post) to the other party stating “I’m proceeding along this path unless otherwise advised” works miracles. It is guaranteed to get a reaction if the path is wrong, and no action or response can be considered tacit approval. That’s a win-win in my book.
  3. Minor premise is a third method. Often analysis paralysis is the cause of indecisions. For example, the decision to paint the room has been made but the color can’t be decided upon. This method demands that the focus of the decision be redirected. Forcing the other party to evaluate the consequences of the color choice (e.g., flow with adjacent rooms, existing or replacement furniture accessories, spatial awareness, etc.) often results in quicker decisions. It becomes about not the choice of color but it’s impact on other items.

The next time the other party comes to a passive stop, be creative and force a move. In the end, they will thank you for it.

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