Start Where You Are

Strategic planning, group problem-solving, conflict resolution — all are hard tasks made more difficult when people can’t find a place to start.  They worry about being ill-prepared, not having enough information, and not having the ‘right’ people at the table.

Those are all valid concerns and there are plenty of times when the gaps in the group threaten to undermine any potential products that might be generated.  But most of the time, a decently-configured group has what it takes to make good progress on a difficult task.

I tell them this:  Start where you are.  Use what you have.  Do what you can.  I heard this phrase the first time at a conference in D.C., the topic of which I’ve long since forgotten.  But I took away the most important message:  when you have a group of experienced, committed, forward-thinking people on the train, it’s okay to leave the station. 

Begin with what you know to be true at this point in time (start where you are).  Use the resources in the room – energy, experience, expertise, and commitment – to create a vision and a plan (use what you have).  And be ready to commit your own resources to making the plan happen (do what you can).

It works.  It really does!