Margaret Wheatley

Margaret Wheatley

Quick thinking not the key to success: Wheatley

There’s something lacking in many fast-paced, pressure-filled workplaces today: time to think. That’s the belief of Margaret Wheatley, a best-selling author and management consultant who specializes in organizational behavior. Speaking at the 2014 Leadership Conference in Red Deer on Monday, she described how organizations often rely on quick decision-making, which leads to unresolved problems that escalate and foster blame, resentment and denial.

There’s something lacking in many fast-paced, pressure-filled workplaces today: time to think.

That’s the belief of Margaret Wheatley, a best-selling author and management consultant who specializes in organizational behavior. Speaking at the 2014 Leadership Conference in Red Deer on Monday, she described how organizations often rely on quick decision-making, which leads to unresolved problems that escalate and foster blame, resentment and denial.

“Big issues don’t usually start as big issues,” said Wheatley. “They become big issues by our unwillingness to tackle them in their early stages.”

A good way to pre-empt such problems is to schedule time to meet with others and analyze issues before they get out of hand.

This must be a regular and ongoing commitment, held in a relaxed environment without time constraints, and following an agenda that reflects the issues of the day.

The benefits, said Wheatley, can be dramatic. Participants gain the confidence to handle complex problems, their sense of camaraderie increases, their behavior improves, they become more willing to experiment when seeking solutions, stress and anxiety drops, and ultimately, better decisions result.

“This is the single most powerful way to cure many of the issues that affect us, like morale, quality of decision-making, teamwork, trust,” she said. “There’s a sense of confidence that, ‘Yes, we can tackle all of this.’”

People may initially resist a push for organized time to think about issues, but that attitude changes after a few meetings.

“Once they experience them once or twice, they can’t wait to come back to them,” said Wheatley.

An organization’s leaders might also oppose such meetings, afraid that they’ll become a forum for “bitching and moaning.” But that’s rarely the result, she said, as members gain a positive way to channel their energy instead of voicing their anger or cynicism privately.

“You hear it in the bathrooms or the parking lot or via private email communication,” said Wheatley of unresolved discontentment.

She pointed out that most workplace disasters, including calamities that cause serious injury or loss of life, result from problems that staff were aware of.

But they felt powerless to effect change, or weren’t listened to.

“We are missing these experiences of feeling successful at solving a problem, and feeling successful at working well together,” said Wheatley of workplaces where thinking isn’t encouraged.

“We’ve got to find ways to turn our brains back on.”

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Alberta has made a more detailed framework for those looking to acquire an exemption to the mandatory indoor mask bylaw. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
Alberta changes requirements for mask exemptions

Masks wearing has been recommended for almost a year and provincially mandated… Continue reading

Alberta’a chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday that there are more than 328,000 vaccine appointments booked over the next seven days. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta surpasses 2 million doses administered of COVID-19 vaccine

Red Deer down to 835 active cases of COVID-19

RCMP file photo (Photo by Jeff Stokoe/Advocate staff)
RCMP investigating shooting near Maskwacis

Maskwacis and Wetaskiwin RCMP are seeking public assistance after a shooting has… Continue reading

Rode
Smith among impressive group of RDC soccer Queens recruits

There have been a number of cases where younger girls have developed… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools is projecting a $4-million budget deficit for 2021-22 school year. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Red Deer Public Schools prepares $124-million budget

$1 million COVID recovery plan to assist students

Bo’s Bar and Grill owner Brennen Wowk said the hospitality industry is looking for more clarity from the province around what conditions must be met to allow for restaurants reopening. (Advocate file photo)
Frustated restaurant owners want to know government’s reopening plan

Restaurant owners feel they are in lockdown limbo

Vancouver Canucks' Nils Hoglander, right, is checked by Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom during third-period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Thursday, May 13, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Lindholm, Tkachuk lead Calgary Flames in 4-1 win over Vancouver Canucks

Lindholm, Tkachuk lead Calgary Flames in 4-1 win over Vancouver Canucks

Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, right, drives to the basket against Toronto Raptors center Khem Birch, left, and guard Jalen Harris during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
LaVine, Markkanen lead Bulls past Raptors, 114-102

LaVine, Markkanen lead Bulls past Raptors, 114-102

NFL schedules get off to strong starts with Week 1 twinbills

NFL schedules get off to strong starts with Week 1 twinbills

The Saddledome, home of the Calgary Flames, is shown in Calgary, Thursday, March 12, 2020. The final three games of Canada's Secret Cup women's hockey tournament will be played in Calgary's NHL arena.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Secret Cup women’s tournament final games to be held in Calgary’s Saddledome

Secret Cup women’s tournament final games to be held in Calgary’s Saddledome

FILE - In this Thursday, July 18, 2019 file photo, Ron Francis talks to reporters in Seattle after he was introduced as the first general manager for Seattle's yet-to-be-named NHL hockey expansion team. Four years since George McPhee was a “puppet master” of the NHL leading up to the Vegas expansion draft, general managers approached this trade deadline with Seattle’s upcoming addition to the league in mind. While Kraken GM Ron Francis prepares – and maybe made a handshake deal or two already like McPhee did – Seattle was on his colleagues’ minds.(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Kraken still plan to hire coach before expansion draft

Kraken still plan to hire coach before expansion draft

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney attends a news conference in Calgary on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. Simmering internal discontent in his United Conservative caucus has boiled over into an open challenge to his leadership. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Two Alberta UCP members kicked out of caucus after challenging Kenney’s leadership

Two Alberta UCP members kicked out of caucus after challenging Kenney’s leadership

Toronto Blue Jays' Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (13) celebrates in the outfield at the end of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves Thursday, May 13, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Bichette, Blue Jays rally again to beat Braves 8-4

Bichette, Blue Jays rally again to beat Braves 8-4

FILE - Jordan Spieth waits his turn to putt during the third round of the Valero Texas Open golf tournament in San Antonio, in this Saturday, April 3, 2021, file photo. Spieth will try to complete the career Grand Slam next week at the PGA Championship. (AP Photo/Michael Thomas, File)
Momentum for McIlroy, few others going into PGA Championship

Momentum for McIlroy, few others going into PGA Championship

Most Read