Earlier this year I wrote about “us versus them”. I am sort of revisiting that post.

I don’t like the word ‘fight’ at work to describe getting stuff done. It’s the language of conflict.

“You’ll have a fight on your hands for people to value in that.”

“You have to be up for the fight.”

“We’ve got a fight on our hands.”

“We’ll have a fight with the stakeholders.”

You are having to fight against your team. You have to fight against the organisation. Your team has to fight against the organisation.

‘Fight’ says to me things aren’t lined up. Things may not be easy, but they shouldn’t resort to the clashing of two mindsets. It’s usually the meeting of a camp for change and a resistance camp.

Can you see the resistance where you are? Is it from you? Your team? Your work? Your way of working? Or your organisation? Sometimes this is the result of frustration.

Fights come when people see potential and do not have an agreed opportunity, an understood opportunity allowed to them. Frustration creeps in.

Potential is not the same as opportunity. Opportunity is when there is acceptance, when there is permission, when there is a desire to do something, to realise that potential. And, as much as I am sure we’d all love a flat structure, that has to come from the top. ‘Grassroots movement’ isn’t an excuse for management paralysis. In hierarchal organisations open, widely voiced leadership from the top matters.

Over breakfast this morning I was re-reading Martha Lane Fox’s Directgov 2010 and Beyond report, and Francis Maude’s follow-up. In the report Martha spots potentials. Francis moves to make these potentials opportunities.

But as Francis notes:

…as your report makes clear, this will be challenging for Government.

‘Challenging’ doesn’t mean the need for fights. ‘Challenging’ calls for discussion, working out a shared understanding, and acceptance of a path, acceptance of a mindset, acceptance of the opportunity. Diplomacy, maybe. But word right from the top, from the off. A sponsor, a champion, an advocate, a shield, whatever you want to call the person (or better those persons).

Francis provided that.

We all have challenges, we all want to make things better. But that rate of progress will be even slower if we spend half the time dealing with the friction.

Have a people centred mindset for the people you have doing the people centred work. Understand them. Know they understand you. Either or both. But have agreement and do work, not fights. And let’s crack on making things better.


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