Do you ever feel like your credit union team is bogging down and going nowhere when you are trying to solve a problem,  working to come up with a better way to do something, or seeking to get a new initiative off the ground?

I’m not talking about those times when everyone is distracted and its hard to get them focused on the project because there are too many other things on their agendas.  That’s a common problem and a different challenge, and it’s one that usually works out over time.

What I’m talking about are those times when it feels like there are too many ideas, too much talk, and too little action. Times when each proposed next step seems to explode into more and more work for the team.  Times when everyone starts not only to wonder whether the effort will ever get moving, but to question whether in fact it even should. Times when the process of achieving the desired outcome becomes more of a challenge than the original situation that led you to seek it in the first place.

No doubt you could come up with a quick list of times when this has occurred in your credit union.  But what matters is not so much defining examples as identifying a solution that will work for you the next time you are in such a situation.

The reality is that there is a solution that works every time:  Make it Simpler.

Here’s how you implement it:

1. Redefine the problem, opportunity or initiative in simpler terms.  Sometimes this will mean breaking it into smaller pieces.  Other times you’ll want to step back and start the process over again, essentially hitting the reset button and giving everyone permission to take a breather and return to the issue with a fresh perspective.

2. Establish intermediate milestones. Seeking big results is challenging and can at times feel daunting to the team. Consider what intermediate outcomes will indicate that progress is being made toward the larger goal, and create several milestones that will allow you to celebrate success along the way.  It helps everyone see the big picture more easily so they can connect their actions to the ultimate outcome, allowing what feels like a huge task to be seen as a series of smaller steps that are easier to take.

3. Revise your vision. Sometimes we can get carried away in creating the vision for what we want to achieve.  We look for an ideal outcome and as we map out the plan for achieving it we become overwhelmed by the complexities and the unknowns.  And that often leads to analysis paralysis where we fall into an endless loop of searching for a way to get something done.  If you opt to revise your vision with an eye on simplifying the end game, you’ll find that progress can made quickly in the direction you want and need to move.

The bottom line is that making it simpler is almost always the best solution in both the short-term and the long-term. By breaking the project down, redefining expectations, and looking to achieve the outcome in the simplest possible way, the situation becomes much more manageable.  As a result everyone is able to engage in pursuing what now is an end that is within reach, and that leads to progress, and progress always rules over perfection.

ACTION ADVICE: Take a look at your major projects list.  Which ones are not moving ahead at the pace you would like or in the way you would like?  For each of those, answer this question: How can we simplify this so that progress can be made in the next week?  Armed with your answer, empower the responsible people, which may just be you, to take that action. When the action is completed, celebrate the progress and repeat the process until the project is completed.

It’s Your Turn...Tell us about your experiences in situations like this.  Do you have any examples of times when you have used the rule of simplicity to move something forward that seemed to be stalled?  Do you have any current projects where you can apply this that you are willing to share with us?  Please share your thoughts and insights in the comments area…we’d love to hear your take on the idea that Simpler is (almost always) the Solution.