Feeling stuck

I remember so well the feeling of being stuck at work. Having the trappings of status as a line manager in a big organisation but feeling powerless. Being unable to change things. Knowing that the system doesn’t work but feeling that you have no power to improve it. Having to face people who also know that it doesn’t work and who hold you responsible. I see the feeling of frustration in the eyes of so many people I deal with in all sorts of organisations. Some have given up, and some are still fighting, but most have to just go along with things the way they are.

But do they? Are we really so powerless? I used to get very frustrated at many of the changes John Birt made during his time as Director General at the BBC. Like most people I went into victim mode and complained to anyone who would listen about how wrong things were. But I did little to offer alternatives. I didn’t commit to trying to change things. Then I remember one day realising that the only reason that the BBC had ended up the way John Birt thought it should was because he articulated it. He laid out what he wanted and persuaded enough people that it was the right thing to do. He had to start somewhere. He had to express an idea and keep expressing it until it came into being. There was nothing stopping me doing the same thing …

8 thoughts on “Feeling stuck

  1. I guess John Birt was also feeling stuck (between a ROCK and a HARD PLACE). ROCK – an organisation that passionately believed in public service broadcasting and creativity, with a public perception of having a left-wing bias, poor financial governance and little commercial accountabilityHARD PLACE – a board of governors demanding value for money for the licence fee payers and chaired by a Thatcherite with a remit to 'bring Auntie back in line'


  2. He wasn't stuck, in the sense I meant to convey in the post, as he was doing something about the things he saw needed changing – unlike the rest of us who saw what was happening as out of our control.


  3. Great post, Euan! Recognize this situation… In my situation it helped to focus on small steps forward instead of focusing on big steps that are hard if not impossible to take. In this context Snowden's work helped me. He talks about probing if you're in a complex situation. Just do something (smart) and see what happens.And David Allen's GTD framework also helped me: instead of doing everything at once, what small steps can you make, to realize a project/big goal. Sometimes just downloading the Powerpoint template on your way to making that great presentation can make you unstuck.


  4. I too am a big GTD fan – and in fact got to meet David last year. You ever break something into too small steps if taking the first one moves you forward.


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