Three Blockers

~ by Randy Wagner

Three Common Blockers to Success

I came across a TikTok observation on how to succeed that I find translates well to project work. We begin each project with that blush of maximum potential.

We’re going to do great things for the client and find ways to improve over last time.

Then days turn into weeks and weeks turn into months and we find ourselves in a groove. We understand the work, the people, and the environment. We have learned to overcome or work around obstacles and find tips and tricks that get things done. We begin to coast through the project with this methodology that we’ve defined for ourselves.

The speaker on TikTok noted that there are three common blockers to success, which are as follows:

  1. Comfort Zone
  2. Learned Helplessness
  3. Path of Least Resistance

Whether we are doing a major project initiative or maintenance on an existing policy administration system, it doesn’t take long for these three blockers to creep into our daily work.

Blocker #1 – Comfort Zone

The first blocker, comfort zone, usually happens without our even recognizing it. Our bubble develops but nothing is truly stagnant. People move within organizations, environments are updated, and tasks change as the project moves onward but our perception doesn’t always follow along. The comfort zone becomes an illusion and—if we aren’t adapting to the multitude of changes—we’re becoming less effective.

Blocker #2 – Learned Helplessness

Learned helplessness is probably the trickiest of the three. Maybe we’re putting up with certain challenges because of system limitations or because a project actor wants things a certain way. Making changes like adding time travel environments or changing methodology can hit the budget or cause friction so we avoid the conflict. Most organizations only adjust because of pain points so wherever you see them, use them to your advantage to solve the problems and make improvements.

Blocker #3 – Path of Least Resistance

Path of least resistance is a fact of human nature. Whether you run a team or only manage yourself, it’s easy to let things slip from Friday afternoon to next week. Do you schedule that call later on Friday knowing time is critical or not torture people who want to leave early? Some company cultures strongly push back against behaviors that demand effort late in the week.

Other situations are more serious. For example, do you remove an underperforming staff member now or limp along until the end of the phase or project?

I read a great quote that I wish I could find attribution for. It goes something like this:

It’s not hard to do what’s right. For a good person, once you know what the right thing is, it’s hard to do anything else.

Blockers Can Become Blind Spots at Work and at Home

As you’ve probably already assessed, these blockers affect us in our personal lives as well. How we communicate, chores around the house, career training, and so much more are influenced by these self-imposed limitations. And the worst part is that they either are, or they become, our blind spots. It’s easy to believe we know the truth when we may be relying on the truth we’ve created.

There are numerous impediments to (a project’s) success but the three discussed here address areas both within and outside of our control. Daily assessment of all work areas is critical even for those that seem most trouble-free. There’s always a better tomorrow waiting.

Randy Wagner is Director of Quality Assurance for CastleBay Companies.  He has 20 years of consulting experience across private and public sectors, Guidewire InsuranceSuite, InsuranceNow, and Duck Creek, with specializations in quality assurance, project management, configuration management, and automation.