Home Best Practices “If you procrastinate when faced with a big difficult problem . . . break the problem into parts, and handle one part at a time.”

“If you procrastinate when faced with a big difficult problem . . . break the problem into parts, and handle one part at a time.”

Dan Sullivan is the founder of The Strategic Coach, Inc. and the creator of The Strategic Coach Program . . . a program that helps already successful entrepreneurs become even more successful.  He is also the author of more than 30 publications including one entitled “WhoNotHow.”  In this particular publication, he teaches that procrastination is not about being lazy or unfocussed or overly cautious.  Even though most of us grew up believing that procrastination is a bad thing, Sullivan believes procrastination is actually our inner wisdom warning us that, while our goal may be a worthy one, we may not be the right one to achieve it.  As Sullivan says, “You come up with a new, better vision of what’s possible, but you don’t have the capability to pull it off . . . so you put it off.”  Taken in this light, procrastination is a valuable management tool that tells us when we need to seek out others who have different capabilities than our own, and whose support we will need to achieve the goal we see in front of us.  For more on procrastination as a useful management tool, please continue reading below.

“If you procrastinate when faced with a big difficult problem . . .  break the problem into parts, and handle one part at a time.”      ~ Robert Collier

Dan Sullivan and Robert Collier view procrastination in much the same way.  Collier would have us break knotty problems down into smaller parts to be solved one at a time.  Sullivan would also have us break tough problems down into smaller parts, but would then decide which parts he should handle and which parts should be delegated to others.

In his publication, “WhoNotHow,” Sullivan says when we procrastinate in the face of a daunting task, our instinct is to ask ourselves, “How in the world am I going to get this done.”  The better question he says is, “Who can I call on to get this done for me.”  So in Sullivan’s view, the entrepreneur should be focused on who has the right skills, aptitudes, and capabilities to get the job done . . . and leave the how up to them.

When an entrepreneur opens a business, there is no large workforce to help get stuff done.  There is only the entrepreneur and maybe one or two others.  Necessarily then, the entrepreneur wears most, if not all, the hats.  But if the business is successful and flourishes, the entrepreneur will be faced with a decision.  “Do I continue to wear all the hats?  If I do, since I’ve reached the physical limit of what one person can handle, the business will stall and will never grow any bigger than it is right now.”  Hopefully, the entrepreneur chooses the other course whereby he or she begins turning over some of the hats to others who are better qualified to wear those hats than the entrepreneur is.

Gino Wickman is the author of “Traction,” and the creator of the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS).  He offers some help for the entrepreneur who recognizes the need to delegate some of his or her hats to others . . . that is, selecting the right “who” for a given task.  He suggests we ask ourselves three questions about the “who” we want to select.  Does the candidate:

  1. Get it?  That is, does he or she truly understand the role being offered, the systems in place to do the job, and the company culture in which the job will have to be carried out?
  2. Want it?  In other words, is the candidate genuinely excited about the opportunity being offered and like the challenge of the work that will be required?
  3. Have the capacity?  Does the candidate have the time, intellect, skill, knowledge, and emotional IQ to do it?

Wickman also advocates an organizational structure whereby there is a “Visionary” at the top who is a big picture person and who can see where the company needs to go, but doesn’t have the planning capability to lay out the strategies and tactics necessary to achieve his or her vision.  Immediately below the Visionary is the Integrator who doesn’t have the Visionary’s gift for seeing the company’s future, but does have the planning and organizational skills needed to move the company toward that future.  We might liken the Visionary to the company’s CEO, and the Integrator to the company’s Chief Operating Officer.

So, when an entrepreneur reaches the limit of his or her capabilities and is locked into a cycle of procrastination, Wickman’s EOS provides an escape in the form of an Integrator who has the capabilities the entrepreneur lacks.

The trick here is getting the entrepreneur to realize that he or she can’t wear all the hats forever.  Sooner or later (preferably sooner), the entrepreneur needs to stop worrying about how to get stuff done and start worrying about who will get stuff done.  That’s what team-building is all about.  But if the entrepreneur fails to build an effective team, it’s unlikely that the company will grow to be anything more than a “lifestyle company” for the entrepreneur.  On the other hand, if the entrepreneur is able to assemble the right team, the path will be open to build a company that can be as large and successful as the market will allow.

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