Good question to ask – What next?

April 16, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Posted in Blogroll, Out of my mind, Practice Excellence | Leave a comment

All of us send and receive e-mails, virtually all day. Many a times the flow becomes a deluge and we feel happy just to get it over with and attend to other things. In this rush after we send an e-mail, we miss to ask a very powerful question, “What next?” May be we need to keep track of it because the recipient needs to act on it and might forget to do so. May be we need to combine the information from the mail with other information available elsewhere so that it is readily accessible when we need it. May be we need to start next action as the current action is over, but because we did not do so it sort of falls through the cracks and comes back to haunt us when it is already too late. If nothing else, we might like to just delete it if we no longer are likely to need. There are many such possibilities, but the bottom line is that we did not ask this simple question which could have saved us avoidable heart burns in future.

This is just one example related to mails. However, the problems mentioned and importance of asking the question “What next?” has implications in all walks of our life. Individually or collectively in groups & teams, we have many goals to achieve. Each goal requires one or more tasks to be completed; and each task requires many actions to be taken, generally involving more than one person. Any delay in initiating the next action would in any case delay completion of the task, other related tasks and ultimately the goal. But this might be true for physical systems where linear relationships exist. But when humans enter the picture, things start getting complicated and delays can be order of magnitudes higher.

Let us consider a case where we could have taken the next action while we were at a place where we were required for taking the action. For example, the next action would involve meeting a person in another city or even another country. If we remembered to do so while we were there, it would involve only fixing the meeting. After we have come back we can only blame ourselves and wait for our next visit. Take another case, if we had started the next action while a person knowledgeable about the work and sympathetic to us was around; it would have taken probably minutes to complete. When we delay it, now some other person is to do it and this might result in delay of the work by days – even weeks. Even if we ourselves have to take next action, we may have had the time or the right tool or right information then but not so later.

To cut the long story short, there can be a million reasons why extra delays can take place, but only one simple solution. Let’s not forget to ask ourselves the simple question – what next – and promptly act on the answer. If you have had similar experiences, please share for everybody’s benefit.



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