Appreciating Delay LO6029

Virginia I. Shafer (
Thu, 7 Mar 1996 10:55:14 -0700

In his introduction, Peter Jones wrote:

>One aspect that fascinates me is the DELAY. My day to day experience
>tells me that it's easy to be wise after the event but not so easy to cope
>with a DELAY when you're actually experiencing it. And yet how we behave
>in DELAY situations seems to be critical. [snip]
>In my business for example I may present several clients down here in New
>Zealand, with training proposals etc. I then wait for a response. And
>wait. The question then arises: Do I keep putting in new proposals with
>new prospective clients or do I wait? I know my resources are limited and
>I don't want to let any of my clients down. So I put in another proposal
>and hope the timing works out. If I wait I might go out of business. If
>I don't wait I risk not being able to give the standard of service to my
>clients that I want to give them. Understanding the system dynamics
>doesn't necessarily make it any easier to cope with. Delays are hell. Any
>suggestions would be welcome!

I would suggest it appears, or one feels, as if "nothing is happening"
during the delay. It reminds me of gardening. I prepare the soil and
plant the seeds, but then "nothing happens" for a while. I have to make
myself remember to water the soil because there are no plants asking for
water. However, I know the truth to be the seed is actually doing its
thing--feeling the warmth of the sun, detecting a light source, processing
water, minerals, sending out the tap root, breaking open the seed coat,
sending up the first probe to assess the environment. Aha! Now I see the
shoots. They're growing. The delay between proposal and decision is just
as full of activity (which can include ignoring), we just can't see it.
If the soil was properly prepared and the environmental conditions are
compatible, then the proposal will sprout.

Have you thought of designing in a feedback interval? Recognize the need
for delay and give it two weeks. A deadline usually works. Say, "I'll
get back with you in ten work days unless I hear from you sooner." Even
my seed packets say, "Normally, shoots will apear in five to seven days."
If I haven't seen anything after an arbitrary ten days, I evaluate. Did I
plant the seeds too deep? Were the seeds out of date? Was the soil
prepared correctly? Sometimes I have to dig up the seeds to check them.

Will you really go out of business if you have so many prospective clients
you can't wait to get to the next one?



Ginger Shafer The Leadership Dimension "Bringing Leadership to Life"

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