The Action Button

Good ideas and solutions to problems are abundant. Everyone might be a critic, but often, criticism holds the kernel of a viable solution. The problem is that merely identifying a problem, or proposing a theoretical solution never results in fixing it.

There are reasons why. I’ve written before about how talking about an idea can actually run counter to implementing it. The age-old adage, “talk is cheap” is just that; talk requires nothing. It’s an idea, often poorly framed, without steps towards implementation.

So how do we move from talk to action? Without an action plan, talk is meaningless and a waste of time.

Don’t misunderstand me. Talk and brainstorming has a place. Also, clarification is important. Merely saying, “we need more _________ (fill-in the blank)” might mean something to you and absolutely nothing to me. Be clear about what you mean in delineating terms. If you are talking about community, what does this mean? Once you are clear, then it’s time to move towards the next set of steps, ultimately leading to an action plan.

The issue becomes even more tenuous when you move from individual ideas and proclamations for change, to working with groups. This is probably why so many groups spend hours, months, and even years talking about an issue or creating an initiative, and often, nothing comes of it.

Complicating the issue is the over-reliance on technology and tools. Leaving comments on Facebook doesn’t constitute community-building. Face-to-face and coming together is the first step. Of course, face-to-face is often messy.

Facilitation helps, especially if you can find the right person to perform what I believe is an art, not a science. Moving groups towards consensus and action requires a particular skill set.

Maybe you need a facilitator?

Maybe you need a facilitator?

There are tools also that work well, based on my experience. A couple that I like are flip charts and mind mapping. Of course, they’re merely tools that must be yielded differently in each situation.

Is your process stuck? Are you having problems moving from mere talk towards developing an action plan? Maybe you need a catalyst to help get the process moving forward.

I like flip charts.

I like flip charts.

Mind mapping my life.

Mind mapping an essay.

5 thoughts on “The Action Button

  1. Couldn’t agree more that a good facilitator can be a great asset. I’m a fan of mind-maps, too. In my opinion, the most important factor in converting ideas into action is leadership. Somebody has to step up and say “I/we are going to make this happen”. Leadership doesn’t mean getting your own way all the time. It is more about enabling groups to create change and make progress.

    • Dave, it’s interesting that you mention leadership; when the term “leaderless organizations” was all the rage and a rash of 200 page, paint-by-number books on the topic, my thought was, “leaderless=rudder-less.” Someone has to get the team moving in a common direction (to use a familiar sports analogy). Good leaders are few and far between.

      I like how you defined leadership.

      Leadership ought to be the starting point of our next night out over beers.

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