July 28, 2009

Time to Move from "If Only" to Only If"

They must be the two most frequently spoken words on the planet: if only.

If only we had more time, we could develop better strategies for the future.

If only we had more money, we'd be able to add lots of special touches to this project.

If only we had a few different board members, we could be much more innovative.

But we don't have those things and most likely we won't have those things. So letting what we know we can't have get in the way of managing what we do is a copout.

It's time to move from if only to only if.

We'll develop better strategies for the future only if we create systems and have conversations that effectively use our limited time.

We'll add lots of special touches to this project only if we make better use of the dollars we have available or identify creative additions that don't cost much at all.

We'll be more innovative only if we develop a better relationship with the board so they will feel more comfortable supporting ideas they currently see as risky.

1 comment:

Fiona Leonard said...

I like this approach to turning idea on its head. I would question though whether the 'only if' approach runs the risk of encouraging people to look at a narrow range of options.

ie A can "only" happen "if" we do B. Using 'only' locks in A, which is fine as long as A is a great solution!

The beauty of your approach is not so much in the if only/only if, but the fact that you push people to see that they have a choice and options and don't need to sit around waiting for the 'if only' to materialise.