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Pendulum Swings

February 23, 2017

Pendulum Swings: Right-Sizing Initiatives


by Jeanine Izzo

There are few experiences as freeing (and accessible) as swinging on a swing.  Being powered by your own abilities, feeling the wind on your face, the butterflies in your stomach…ahhhh…remember?  If only the pendulum in the workplace was as consistently predictable.

The pendulum in the workplace refers to the back and forth shifting from too little to too much, too simple to too complex, and then the over-correction back to the opposing side…or perhaps not adjusting at all and prolonging the pain and drain.

Yes, some fluctuations are to be expected, even healthy.  However, too much swinging or constant pushing of the edges causes employees to disengage.  Some areas where these extremes can show-up:


Not enough and it’s easy to get off course, feel unimportant and disengage.  Too much and there is a feeling of mistrust and lack of confidence leading to dutiful compliance or unproductive conflict.


Too much time in meetings, planning and collaborating doesn’t allow for autonomous work to get done, hence the schedule slips and expenses rise.  Not enough time together and the common goal is not commonly understood, integration points are missed, hence the schedule slips and the expenses rise.

Goal Setting

Typically, when the goals are too easy and too flexible…they inspire boredom instead of greatness.  When they are too difficult and too rigid, they can burn people out and make them feel unsuccessful…even if they were able to make great progress.

Process / Systems

Too complicated creates confusion, frustration, resistance and hidden work-arounds.  Too simple leads to undercutting potential value of features/standards, uncertainty and proliferation of individual tools/divergent behavior.


Over-accommodating one generation  may be ignoring the value of other generations.  Not accommodating them at all may limit important perspectives and skills.  Same goes for personality types (i.e. introvert / extrovert).

With many options between the extremes, the right sized solution is based on your industry, the stage of growth, the goals for your department/company.  It may sound obvious, yet if forward movement seems disproportionately difficult and sluggish…perhaps the approach has been over or under-sized.

Forward Moving Tips:

  1. Know how your initiative serves the strategic path of the company.
  2. Make sure those you are working with have the same understanding.  If not, seek clarity.
  3. Go to the ends.  What does too simple look like?  What does too complex look like?
  4. Overlay the abilities the organization has now, with the future vision to identify what areas of the approach are over-simplified and over-complicated.
  5. Utilize employees who will ask questions to deepen their understanding, contribute ideas to make the project more successful, raise issues and provide solutions for hiccups along the way.  Note: Optimists push the bar so you won’t settle too low (yet can tend to miss their targets) and pessimists are typically grounded closer to the reality of what usually happens.
  6. Do not adopt trends for the sake of adopting trends.  Find the benefit within the trends and introduce them thoughtfully with clear intent.
  7. Be willing to adjust when more is known and experienced.  Message adjustments, and expectations, early and ofter to prevent confusion.

Of course, the path toward progress is not a smooth or straight line.  However, by striving toward a right-sized approach throughout, it can become more of a continuum of progress rather than an uncertain swinging from too simple to too complex.

For assistance with right-sizing your approach…Contact Viage Partners today.

© Viage Partners 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Viage Partners with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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