Why we rush to fix before we understand

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In my blog, What is The Field Model™? I talk about the three elements of our model: Understand – Diagnose – Fix. In this blog, I’m going to look at the final stage – the fix.

A lot of people are natural fixers at work and in their personal lives. Many of us don’t like the feeling of chaos, or of things being unsettled, so we rush to solve issues or help people out. Complete focus on financial aspects, high staff turnover, people off sick with stress, toxic working relationships or loss of purpose are all examples of chaos. And no one wants chaos like this, so we rush to fix.

Our bias is towards taking quick action; we’re more comfortable with doing something, even if it’s counterproductive and leaves no time to understand or diagnose what’s wrong. But a true fix is about making changes that last. Quick fixes tend to relate to short-term thinking and are very different from gaining a deep understanding and seeking a diagnosis of the cause of organisational or team chaos.

If this is something you see in your organisation, it can be difficult to stop. I encourage the leaders I work with to step back from rushing to fix issues and instead take a more strategic, long-term view.

The fix is the final stage of The Field Model™ because it deals with the how. This is often lacking as we explore purpose or strategy. Bringing the focus to diagnosis of what’s wrong means we can prioritise and talk about the practicalities of calmness.

Can dysfunctional organisations or teams be fixed?

There are lots of ways to fix organisations and teams once you understand what’s at the heart of the chaos. It’s about fixing what needs to be fixed, rather than what you assume is the issue. We need to use our natural curiosity to find out what’s really happening inside the organisation or team.

Fixing can be done in a variety of ways – from quick wins (these are different quick fixes) to larger projects that work through the things that need to change. This often involves looking at the messy, hard issues to do with relationships, changing behaviours and processes.

Without doubt, it will involve some difficult conversations. Change is hard. The fix for every team or organisation is different, but the key themes that come up almost every time are leadership, blockers, culture and strategy. And overarching all of these is purpose.

Fixing what’s broken, reinvention and innovation will always meet resistance. As a leader or line manager, what’s essential during this process is to invest in yourself to manage the fix; you need to have the skills to communicate with impact, manage conflict and change, while being mentally resilient.

It’s not always pretty – it’s about being vulnerable, exposing our flaws and changing people’s minds, which isn’t easy. In their book, Mistakes were made (but not by me), Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson look at the neuroscience behind the difficulty of changing our mind: “Neuroscientists have recently shown that these biases in thinking are built into the very way the brain processes information… These mechanisms provide a neurological basis for the observation that once our minds are made up, it is hard to change them.”

It takes resilience and guts to critique what’s accepted or “how we do things around here”. And to put steps in place that address the chaos. That’s why there’s no such thing as a quick fix…  but there are ways to build better, calmer organisations and teams.

Is rushing to fix something you’ve experienced? If you’d like to find out more about The Field Model™, take a look at our dedicated page. And if you have any questions, please get in touch with me at info@redefiningcomms.com. I describe The Field Model™ in detail in my book, Influential Internal Communication, which will be released in April 2021. Please click here if you’d like to be kept up to date about the launch and find out what you can expect to learn.

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