There are many common themes amongst the conversations I hear at Pluralist Club events but the word I probably hear the most is ‘time’. Time to do all our work, time to fit in meetings, time to research new projects … time always seems to be in short supply.
However, there are also occasions when time is our enemy in the opposite way. We rush about making arrangements and plans, only to find that other people aren’t ready. We believe that we have got organisations involved, only to find that their decision-making processes are glacial, leaving us high and dry. The more people and companies involved in a project there are, the longer the chain gets and the slower everything becomes.
This can be a particular difficulty for the Pluralist, who is juggling a range of activities, has other deadlines and needs to make firm commitments (or extricate themselves) within a reasonable deadline. When you are putting your career, reputation or cash on the line, delays can cause significant problems and can even lead to disaster. If there is a significant delay in raising funds or getting support, livelihoods can be lost. Achieving regulatory approval or securing partner input can take months and more months, despite theoretical time limits.
When I find myself being held back by factors outside of my control (once I’ve got over my irritation), I work out my next move by answering the following questions:
The next step is to double the timetable and double the consequences. Then ask yourself the same questions.
If you’ve frightened yourself then you need to think about whether there are ways to speed things up or ways to put pressure on the other players. You also need to think about whether the people you are dealing with are going to cause you other problems further down the line. Maybe you can reduce your commitment or leave the project on the back burner for now whilst you get on with more productive tasks. If those options aren’t available, then the final question has to be:
Should I walk away?