The fine line between reinventing and stalling
Seth Godin's always-excellent blog featured a recent post that got me thinking. "None of us are doing enough to challenge the assignment," he writes; the example he gives is of looking at the words and fonts in a draft brochure instead of questioning the need for a brochure at all. "Every day," Godin writes, "I spend at least an hour of my time looking at my work and what I've chosen to do next and wonder, 'is this big enough?'"
His post reminded me of one of the first people I ever personally interviewed and hired, back when I was still in college. You know how, during an interview, most candidates ask you a couple of good questions about your organization or the position they're interviewing for? This person asked wonderful questions. Lots of them. Thoughtful, searching, insightful questions. We were thrilled to hire him.
Unfortunately, as it turned out, asking questions was pretty much all he wanted to do. And when you're on a tight deadline for a single-day turnaround, it's somewhat frustrating to have a staff person who seems to prefer asking questions to just getting the work done.
And of course, a lot of it is an issue of timing: A series of questions can be a game-changer during the planning process, and seem pointless and frustrating the day before a major deadline.
There has to be some point where the two lines cross--somewhere between "I never do any work because I'm so busy questioning the paradigm" and "I never question the paradigm because I'm so busy doing work." How can we, as association professionals, push our personal dials more toward the "question" side of things? And what we do to try to get those questions out there at a time when they'll be most effective?