Battle Ready

View from an airplane window at the wings and flying over a scenic landscape of green hills and rivers

Battle ready. That’s my hope. It’s my current perspective. This morning I am plotting out some important tasks that need to be managed this week and I am shocked by the complexity of the systems I face. I am feeling like I am suiting up for a major effort, some of it probably easy and a lot of it very difficult. For example:

  • We are dealing with an insurance claim at our home (a 50 year old retaining wall and deck collapsed) and we are trying to get it settled. The insurance company has been amazingly efficient. Our mortgage lender has been impossible!
  • We just got a boat (a birthday present from my sister!) and it has to be registered, insured, licensed. I understand a sales tax also has to be paid. This means the motor vehicle department and the IRS. And then there is a tune-up and a required Coast Guard safety course.
  • School is beginning in two weeks for my high school sophomore and there are school supplies to purchase and an impacted course schedule to adjust. This means a visit to the office supply store and guidance counselors.
  • The American healthcare debate and the American political theater…what more to say?

As I head into the week, I lean into my skills as an organizer and problem solver, and I try to maintain an efficient stride as I persevere. Trying to have a sense of humor (and a good book for the long waits) is good too. And I just get so curious about how we humans got ourselves so overburdened by systems that no one can understand or manage. Who can understand the IRS or the insurance industry or the home mortgage industry or the public school system? Who?

What does the preparation for this kind of systems engagement look like for you? How do you keep it simple, clear, in perspective, productive? How do you hold people (usually un-empowered workers) in the system accountable for their responsibility to the system? What’s it like knowing you have a miniscule presence in a gargantuan system? If we all individually work within the system and the system appears to work, does this mean the system is functional? What power or responsibility do we have to impact (or fix? or streamline? or eliminate?) systems that are no longer useful or too unwieldy to be effective?

And what are you aware of when you consider the systems you have created in your own life? Or organization? Or relationship? Or team? What do you notice when your non-profit organization’s board begins to look so weighted down in muck like the IRS system? What do you notice when your marriage begins to sound like an endless chain of voice mail and robot sounding automated voice prompts (push #1 for accounts, push #2 for payments, etc.)? When you notice your system has become [fill in the descriptor of your choice here], what next?

I am getting ready for my week. Off to races. Into the battle. Ready to be patient. Ready to smile and be kind. Ready to complete forms, write checks, gather and present papers. Ready to manage my frustration and celebrate the moments of surprise. And all the while I am going to observe the systems I encounter. Will you join me?

I will report back!

Enjoy the week.


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Gary M. Groth, MS, PCC, CPCC

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