“If James sees the world in a whole new way, not as a set of unbending rules, but rules in the context of reality, how competent is James at this new approach?” I asked.
Marie was quick to answer, “He’s terrible at it. He appears unsure, he questions, so the people around him question. I agree that it is a better idea to check the project status before we show up, but now what? His crew becomes disorganized, they don’t know what to do.”
“Do you think, with more experience, that James will get better at anticipating project delays and get better at deploying his crew in a different direction?”
“Of course,” Marie replied. “It’s just, that it’s a mess now.”
“When James showed up on schedule without regard for the project status, how far did he have to think in the future?” I asked.
“Not very far,” Marie observed. “It was easy, plan for the project schedule, whatever the schedule says, is what he planned for. He didn’t have to think that far into the future.”
“And, now that James checks project status before he shows up, how far does he have to think into the future?”
“It’s much different,” Marie replied. “He has to think ahead and create contingency plans so his team knows what to do in the event of a schedule change.”
“So, he is getting better at detecting a schedule change, AND, he is in learning mode in creating contingency plans. You’re his coach, you now have some direction on where he needs your help. What questions can you ask James, where he focuses a few more days in the future and confidently directs his team in a different direction? What you are observing in James is a maturation in timespan. Maturation doesn’t move from one level of competence to another level of competence. It moves from a level of competence (always abiding by the rules) to a level of awareness (the rules don’t always fit reality) that creates confusion and a bit of struggle. Help James through that struggle, he will become more competent, in due time.”