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Success in Spinning Plates – Know Your Buckets

Arlington, VA. January 16, 2018 – – When your complex operations really pick up steam and productivity increases along with success, invariably there will come that moment when something slips through and the proverbial plate stops spinning.  It can feel like a huge failure, and appear to be a large miscalculation.  There may be a […]

Arlington, VA. January 16, 2018 – – When your complex operations really pick up steam and productivity increases along with success, invariably there will come that moment when something slips through and the proverbial plate stops spinning.  It can feel like a huge failure, and appear to be a large miscalculation.  There may be a financial consequence you weren’t expecting or other downstream effect.  Just remember to look at this way;  You can’t be afraid to break a few plates, stay on top of the others while you work it out.  

The core of any organization is made of an operational cadence combined with all of the other “through-the-door” activities  – – plainly said all of those things that you didn’t expect or plan for.  All of that aside, this isn’t your first go at it and most likely will not be the last:

Stand tall and remain confident, you have just successfully entered the “plate spinning zone”.

Now that you know where you are, there are a number of approaches you can take in executing your activities.  The list can be exhaustive and even overwhelming at times, but I have no doubt you will be successful;  A BROKEN PLATE IS A CLEAR SIGN THAT YOU CAN OPTIMIZE THE SITUATION FOR RAPID IMPROVEMENT.

Ultimately, plate spinning and juggling your activities and priorities is an exercise in balance.  Too much attention, focus or unnecessary resources committed in one area creates an imbalance.  So how do you remedy the situation?  Understanding your requirements up front, recognizing liabilities, and learning to know your unknowns are key ingredients.

Understanding requirements is really as simple as it sounds.  All too often we let perfection stand in the way of sufficient.  It’s human nature that we want to magnificently succeed over just plain ol’ success.  Taking a moment to write down requirements as organized as a pitch deck or even on a scrap of paper with that lesser known item called a pen, repetition of the idea will further its longevity.

All too often dwelling on liabilities or putting your head in the sand is the approach.  It doesn’t have to be an either or situation, recognize the pain points, discuss the liabilities and move on.  Recognition begets recognition.

Knowing the unknown is always a paradox of business intelligence.  How do you cycle through your own risk management and what is your strategy for constantly assessing your own situation.  A continuous look across your own proverbial rolodex of areas to pay attention to will bring rewards.  Notice it doesn’t have to be specifics but rather areas.  Put items in different buckets and keep track of different areas which will lead you to finding an unknown.

I have experienced this phenomenon in any number of different situations where between the calendar, finances, and people something has fallen off the table.  Maybe I have come up short, missed a deadline (yes it has happened), or gone dark with a colleague unintentionally, there is the inevitable smash of the plate as it is hitting the ground.  I remember the mistake, I learn from it, then I move on as forward progress is always key.

So all of this to say, that when your complex operations increase in pace and intensity a broken plate is not a signal of utter defeat, but rather a bright light on the opportunity in front of you.  Know your buckets and keep spinning those plates.

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