We encounter a problem somewhere, at work, at home. We often reflect, to discover the root cause(s). That might be useful, especially if we discover a common cause, something within our system of work (or home) that creates problems. However, if we have a special cause—especially a random event—we don’t need to reflect. We can ask the question, “Where do we go from here?”
I ask this question a lot. (I know, you’re so surprised!) Sometimes, I ask, “Where do I go from here?” Sometimes, it’s the we, the plural, if I’m with someone else.
I like to have an idea of where my first step will go.
Sometimes, I need to decide among various options. I don’t know which step to take first. I’m completing the distributed agile teams book (with Mark Kilby), and starting to think about which book to write next. My problem is I have several from which to choose! I have the great problem of too many ideas.
Sometimes, I need to re-evaluate my emotional resilience and go from there. Since I use a rollator all the time, I fall a lot less often. However, I am still at risk for falls. I work hard at my exercise and walking, and still. If I’m on the floor, I might need a minute (or two) to get myself back together, physically and emotionally, to figure out what to do next.
Sometimes, I need to generate options. I don’t have an idea yet. I feel safe and secure, but I have no way of figuring out what to do next. I might ask the question, “What’s the Worst Thing That Can Happen?” or “What’s the Worst Thing You Could Do?” I might ask myself if I’m suffering from FEAR. Then I can use the Rule of Three to make sure I have some good options.
For me, here’s what’s most important: I don’t continue to look backward. I don’t continue to ask why
Let me be specific: for a common cause, a systemic problem, I do reflect to understand the problem(s). (Often, I discover interconnected problems.) I work to fix the root causes.
If it’s a special cause, I don’t ask why. There’s no point. There’s no answer. Time to look forward.
Why do I look forward? Because I’m too likely to assign blame or become bitter. Blame doesn’t work for solving problems. Blame doesn’t help us adapt. Blame doesn’t create more resilience in ourselves, our teams, our systems. Becoming bitter colors my emotions and prevents me from seeing possibilities.
Sometimes, I find the balance of forward-looking and reflection challenging. I want other people to know when they screwed up. Or, I want to know why, even when there’s no good answer. Yes, I’m a human and I’m a work in progress.
That’s why I focus on forward. I can create small, safe-to-fail experiments. I can build my focus to a goal, not focus backward.
I like a focus. I like setting a goal and meeting it. Even if I don’t meet the goal now, I know how to get there eventually. I can solve problems and continue.
That is the question this week: Where do we go from here?
- How Can You “Just Get Over It”?
- How Can You Understand Someone’s Context?