• Carolyn Stuart

Great Endings and New Beginnings

It’s that time of the year. The really busy time, when you are trying to finish off the current year while looking forward and planning for the new year.

Great Endings

Let’s talk about finishing off this year first. It is a really busy period with a thousand things demanding your time, deadlines to meet and end-of-year functions to plan. Here are a couple of suggestions to help get you through:

1. Prioritise the important and decide if the urgent is absolutely necessary

Expectations build up over many years as we head into the lead up to Christmas. What was once just one staff party turns into a staff party, plus department parties, plus bring your children to work to meet Santa party etc etc… If it is too late to stop the onslaught this year, don’t add anything to the schedule and put a note in your February calendar to review end-of-year activities.

Whenever I get really busy I remind myself of Stephen Covey’s Time Management matrix.

Try, wherever possible, to get yourself into Quadrant II and do everything in your power to stop others putting you into Quadrant I. Remember deadline-driven projects can be in Quadrant II - simply complete them before they get urgent!

2. Cut yourself and your team some slack

Relationships are your most critical asset. Above all, at this time of the year, protect them. Do not let a short term outcome jeopardize past and future relationships. Be wise in the way you manage relationships. Sometimes the outcome is not worth the cost.

To yourself be kind. You are allowed to say ‘no’, and it is not your job to rescue people who may have left things to the last minute.

"Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the true beginning of wisdom” Theodore Issac Rubin

New Beginnings

This is also the time of the year when we plan for the year coming.

On a personal level here are some questions you should be thinking about with regards to your work:

  • Am I happy doing what I am currently doing? Am I still enjoying my current role as much as when I started? Is it time to start looking for a new role?

  • Am I still growing as a professional? What might I need to do in order to keep growing new branches?

  • Do I need to ‘tweak’ some aspects of my work-life? Are there relationships that need strengthening or situations I want to be different next year?

On an organisational level, as you plan ahead to 2020, are you asking these questions?

  • What is going well for us and how might we continue to flourish in this area?

  • What needs to change in our organisation?

This last question is a tough one because many of the things which organisations need to change have been around for a long time because they fee too complex to solve.

Image: Pixabay JamesDeMers

Sometimes these problems make you feel like you are wading through a swamp. With every step, you risk disturbing a crocodile (or alligator if you don’t live ‘down under). You feel like putting up with the current situation is easier and less risky than trying to wrestle with the complexity.

But it doesn’t need to be this way.

Here are some ideas to help get you out of the swamp:

  1. Figure out what the actual problem is that you are trying to solve. Too often we try to solve problems without spending time finding out what is the real problem. For example, people saying they don’t have enough time to do their job, when in fact it is a motivation issue underpinned by a feeling of being undervalued. No amount of time management training will fix this problem, but finding new ways to increase feelings of value across the organisation will.

  2. Identify ‘good’ practices from the past that are now slowing down your momentum.

  3. If you need to change the way your organisation functions, spend time developing a prototype of your desired final state and then back map how you will get there. Focus on the structure and processes you will need to achieve your desired state, then how you will manage the impact on your current people.

  4. Conduct an assumption audit. Find out how your swampy problem relates to the espoused values and beliefs of your organisation. Do people believe that this situation can change? Is there a belief that forces outside your control prevent you from moving forward? Surfacing assumptions allows them to be given a reality check.

  5. Explore new methodologies, especially those that put people at the centre of the problem you are trying to solve. More often than not if you can meet their needs the problem will either solve itself or you will figure out a solution that works for everyone.

We live in a rapidly changing world. The good news though is that we are learning new and better ways to innovatively move forward. Recently I have been helping organisations solve swampy, complex problems using a methodology adapted from the world of design thinking. We have come up with some stunning insights and solutions.

'Til next time,


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