Procrastination is one of the greatest enemies of productivity and can play havoc with project management. On top of that, it can chip away at self-esteem. How can we help ourselves and others to overcome something so insidious and yet so common?
Can’t Do Won’t Do?
One of the reasons for procrastination is reasonably simple to deal with. People put off doing thing because they’re not actually sure of how to do the task at hand. This can be because there has been a lack of explanation or clarity and the person feels inhibited about asking for more detailed instructions. Whether the task is something that should be done by someone we are responsible for or whether it’s something that we ourselves are not sure about, there’s a tool that can really help. The Transition Tree from the Theory of Constraints is all about giving clear instructions.
A Transition Tree (TRT) conveys understandable, usable, and comprehensive knowledge aimed at executing a precise task with very little variation. Transition trees are developed any time it is necessary to convey to somebody a precise procedure to transform an input into an output.
TRTs use an extremely powerful cause-and-effect suffciency logic; in other words, every intermediate output is checked in terms of the suffciency clauses that determine it. The transition tree is built by stating the final result we want to achieve. The basic, repetitive, five-block structure of a transition tree is the following:
(1) A starting situation, (2) the prevailing logic of the situation, (3) the need triggered by the prevailing logic, (4) the action taken to satisfy the need, and (5) the logic of the action—why we have taken that action.
Putting off the unknown
Or we may be dealing with a new situation and procrastinate because we’re not sure what to do. The Transition Tree can still help. Even if we don’t actually know exactly how to do something, we can try and figure it out for ourselves by working through the steps of the Transition Tree. As a result of the action taken, the reality will change to a new state and we can easily verify if we are getting closer to the final result we want to achieve with the TRT. At every step, we can scrutinize the effectiveness of our action, the validity of its logic, and their coherence with the identified need.
But what if we know how to do something and we still put it off? It probably means that we are facing a conflict or dilemma. So we have to go deeper and figure out what it is that bugs us about doing the task at hand. If we want to overcome procrastination then we need to know how to identify such a conflict clearly and how to move through it so we are no longer stuck. For this purpose, the Conflict Cloud is invaluable both for individuals and people who manage and lead others. Every Project Manager needs to know how to work with a Conflict Cloud. See our post Connection and Transformation with the Conflict Cloud Tool.
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About the Author
Angela Montgomery Ph.D. is Partner and Co-founder of Intelligent Management and author of the business novel+ website The Human Constraint . This downloadable novel uses narrative to look at how the Deming approach and the Theory of Constraints can create the organization of the future, based on collaboration, network and social innovation. She is co-author with Dr. Domenico Lepore, founder, and Dr. Giovanni Siepe of ‘Quality, Involvement, Flow: The Systemic Organization’ from CRC Press, New York.