Leveraging Holistic Synergies

'How' trumps 'hope'

Hope is a feeling, how is the way.

Hope helped both a presidential campaign and a fictional galactic rebellion succeed, with varying degrees of credit. We refer quite reasonably to a situation being “hopeless” as a bad thing. Hope or the lack thereof can be the difference between failure and success, even death and survival.

Yet in the way we commonly use the word and engage with hope it too becomes a weasel word, a soft feather bed strung perilously over an abyss.

  • “I’m hoping to get this new feature finished next week.”
  • “We hope to half our churn next quarter.”
  • “I sure hope our team wins today!”
  • “I sure hope someone finds us in these here woods pretty soon!”

‘Hope’ becomes a prayer to some unnamed [and impotent] god that absolves us of the need to figure things out and take directed action. It’s not that hope is itself a problem, but without a “how” it’s blind surrender to someone else’s throw of the dice.

  • The problems and work in the feature can be broken down further, work requiring other people’s input can be front-loaded to create slack, and external risks like interruptions can be anticipated and hedged.
  • The causes of churn can be identified and the customers renewing in the next quarter identified, even talked to to see how they’re doing and what they need, and
  • A coach is going to prepare the team before the game physically and mentally, identify the strengths and weaknesses of each team and build a game plan with contingencies accordingly.
  • You can follow basic survival strategies, like staying in one place, using signals like mirrors and whistles, even build a fire, which I presume is still considered acceptable in an emergency (though I think anyone can be forgiven for ignoring unknown numbers calling their phone, no one wants to hear about their car warranty when they’re lost in the woods).

Hope may be the glue that holds your strategy together, but only how makes up the building blocks.

This is written as a reminder to myself and not an indictment of anyone else.

Published: October 30, 2021

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