If a group of people look busy, but the real value that they are supposed to be producing doesn’t appear, they are in a pattern I like to call ‘sit and spin.’  The pattern is named after a children’s toy but could just as easily refer to an activity that my daughter likes to do… sit on Dad’s office chair and spin around until she’s dizzy.

Nothing gets done, but just look at her go!

We have all seen this happen.  Could be a single person, a team, a department, even an entire division.  Everyone is busy but strategic goals fall by the wayside.  The words in the management team meetings seem ‘right’ but the right stuff isn’t happening.  Credibility falls.  Morale drops.  Team members find other opportunities.  Deliverables fall apart.  It is sad.

What causes it?  How do you break free?

I have an idea…

I was reading a magazine on business opportunities recently, and saw an article about overcoming fear.  It stated the obvious: people may avoid doing the things they don’t like, but they will really run from the things they are afraid of.  The article went on to say that the trick is to recognize the fear, face it, and reward yourself for it. 

I think this is one of the main reasons that an individual may find themselves in the ‘sit and spin’ pattern.  Fear of going forward. 

So when it is not a person, but rather a team, is it still fear that binds them up?  Teams don’t ‘feel’ fear in the same way that a person does, but I’d suggest that fear can still infect a team.  Fear of failure.  Fear of looking bad.  Fear of uncertainty.  Many things…

If if you want to know where this fear is coming from, look to the top of the hierarchy.  An old expression that I subscribe to: “The fish stinks from the head down.”  If the team’s manager hits a wall of fear in their own life, in their own capabilities, then their team will begin to either reflect that fear, or revolt from that manager’s leadership.  It is inevitable. 

So if you look at yourself and your team, and you see ‘sit and spin,’ look deep.  Perhaps there is fear infecting your team.  Find it.  Face it.  Overcome it.  Reward yourself. 

Your team will thank you.

By Nick Malik

Former CIO and present Strategic Architect, Nick Malik is a Seattle based business and technology advisor with over 30 years of professional experience in management, systems, and technology. He is the co-author of the influential paper "Perspectives on Enterprise Architecture" with Dr. Brian Cameron that effectively defined modern Enterprise Architecture practices, and he is frequent speaker at public gatherings on Enterprise Architecture and related topics. He coauthored a book on Visual Storytelling with Martin Sykes and Mark West titled "Stories That Move Mountains".

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

5 × 4 =

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.