by Kevin Eikenberry

Regardless of your industry, organization, and position, the last year and a half has changed your experience and perspective, and likely altered the ways your organization (and you personally) could work in the future.  While the future is always unclear, the level of uncertainty is as high as it has been in our lifetimes.

As I listen to the conversations I facilitate, the comments on my social media posts, and the general chatter in life, I am concerned that there are three words that will keep organizations from moving proactively and intentionally towards a future of work that has the best chance for success.

  • Can’t. “We can’t do it that way.” “We can’t go back.” “Why can’t we do it the way we have always done it?”
  • Right.  “It’s the right thing to do.”  “It’s not right to make people come back to the office.”  “it’s not right that people won’t come back to the office.” 
  • Should.  “What we should do is…”

Words reflect mindset.

My problem isn’t with the words or what comes after them (note the varying opinions that follow the three words in my examples).

My concern with these three words is with the mindset that drives them – Can’t, Right and Should, all signify that the speaker (or writer) has already decided on the “right” course of action, and we “should” do what they suggest. “Can’t you see what I mean?”

Are you open to other perspectives about the future?

Of course, we can and do have opinions about how we think work will be done in the future.  And of course, we all have a personal stake in those decisions. The problem is starting with a position that is more than a preference, but a preconceived determination. Too often (though not always) this determination is based on personal preferences and past experience, rather than on the possibilities and realities for the future.

For all of us to create a bright future for ourselves and our organizations we must look in fresh ways at a future that can create great success for everyone – society at large, our customers, our organizations, our teams, our leaders, and ourselves. Starting with Can’t, Right and Should is unlikely to get us there very quickly or at all.

My challenge to you is it open up your mind to the options and possibilities that the future of work can hold for you and your organization.  Listen more than you speak, and be careful not only with the three words, but the mindset underneath them.

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