So it goes.
My friend Mick and I were talking the other day. I’d love to tell you we were enjoying a strong bevvy watching the afternoon unwind but we were both still working.
I’d called him a few days earlier for advice on a project I was looking at: he’s pretty straight forward and usually gives sound input. Finally he was able to get back to me – his work life is apparently as busy as mine – and we caught up on things as I told him what I was working on.
Closing the call I asked him how things were going, etc., the way you do with a friend you’ve known for a long time. “Oh, it’s okay,” he said, clearly sounding like a man who was not feeling okay. “You just gotta get used to living in the land of punt,” he finished.
Punt? Like football? Those little boats that used to remind us of Britain pre-Brexit?
“Punt, you know,” he said. “Everyone’s got an opinion but when somethings gotta get done everyone here punts.”
That’s pretty clear.
I’ve been thinking about his remark for several days now questioning if I punt a lot. For my non-US friends “punting” is not good. I wondered if others might describe their work environments like that. A lot of punting, or to put it another way, abstaining from action or responsibility.
Seems like we’re so focused on engagement and collaboration and buy-in we’ve mislaid a key tenet of the modern organization: they exist to get things done. Corporation, non-profit, NGO, it doesn’t matter: all exist to further a purpose. Recently I read an article about “former” market leaders that had gone to decline. Pick any industry (airlines are ripe) and you can name firms that have lost their luster or in many cases ceased to function. Pundits will give you a hundred varying reasons for this. I’ll give you one:
- They forgot how to get things done
There are many factors in organizational health and volumes of current research available to help define what an effective organization looks like, so please do your research and apply models you believe in. But somewhere along the way- especially if your firm is maturing – ask yourself a simple question: do we punt too much?
Mick’s point really means teams where people endlessly punt after endless pontification are not healthy environments much less productive ones. Imagine a work place where everyone has an opinion but very little ever happens: would this be a place the best and brightest migrate to? Probably not. And talent base aside, if the culture of your corporation is hurry up and wait, let’s think some more, and get just one more opinion, well, you probably won’t get much done.
So as you work to involve everyone in your core mission consider the imperative for productivity. Driving action with thought. And skipping the punt.
Otherwise you may have a lot of free time to enjoy your bevvies.