Facing the dreaded JUMBLE
This is the “J” installment of my “Alphabet for Leaders.”
Jumble means confused or disordered mass.
The need for clarity has a dangerous side.
You’re future certainly holds a jumbled mass. When you meet it, don’t jump too soon. If you can live with the frustration of jumbled thinking, you’ll eventually find great solutions. If you jump too soon for an answer, you’ll likely end up with shallow, short-term, unsatisfactory solutions.
What’s a leader to do with a jumbled mess?
Fight the inclination to jump on an answer too soon by slowing down. Welcome confusion as the context of discovery and dramatic breakthrough. With experience, you’ll learn to go beyond simply welcoming confusion to excitement. You’ll begin anticipating breakthroughs.
One the other hand, the organization, group, or team you lead isn’t comforted when you’re sinking into a jumbled disordered mass. Here are seven things to do or say when you don’t know what to do or say.
#1. Don’t pretend you have answers when you don’t. Feel free to identify with others who are frustrated by a jumbled up mess. However, don’t spend much time here.
#2. Express confidence your team can find solutions.
#3. Explain that making rash decisions is more dangerous than living with uncertainty.
#4. Identify and consult with experts. Your organization will find comfort when you explain you’re consulting with people who have found solutions to similar situations.
#5. Talk about certainties while facing a jumbled mess. However, be careful not to sound like you don’t understand current challenges.
#6. Establish an information time-line. Let everyone know when the next update comes out. In other words, take away as many points of confusion, uncertainty, and fear as possible.
#7. Be sober yet positive, serious yet confident.
What do you suggest leaders do or say when facing a jumbled mess? How do you help clients, volunteers, or employees face the jumble?
Jumble is a challenge and provides an opportunity to define structure.
And idea turns jumble into clarity. Clarity in terms of structure, strategy and process etc. The one who defines structure is a leader. And leadership journey start with structure i.e. vision, mission, objectives etc. At a juncture where leader does not have answer, he should not jump or make jugglery. In a difficult situation, he should judge and jettison unwanted burden so that he can make justice to himself and his followers. The job of leader is to turn junk ideas and people into action. He should create a platform where he and his followers can jump high.
So, people facing jumble should see it as an opportunity and find solution through ideas, experiences and efforts.
I struggled with the “J” word in this series but I see you sure didn’t! You took me on a junket of J’s.
Wonderful, creative comment.
Your addition of structure to the discussion of dealing with the dreaded jumble truly adds value to the conversation.
Ajay is a featured contributor. Read his bio at:
This topic and suggested actions make me think of the statement “the longest journeys start with a single step”. There are always obstacles, challenges, and maybe even some failure in your path. In my mind, the jumble is seeing what’s behind you, ahead, and the here now without focus – e.g. vision, mission, and strategy. It is overwhelming. A successful path forward is comprised of individual steps though – each one as important as the last, each one capable of setting a new direction. I am impressed when leaders pause and consider options and are not forced to jump by powers beyond their control. I suppose this is the platform described in an earlier response. Maybe, thats all you get – platform to work from, a piece of ground that can be taken, then given away as the next piece is taken on the path forward.
Kaboom! Focus = Vision/mission/strategy! It’s true in my own life. Vision helps me know when to say yes and enables me to say no. Having clear mission/vision truly makes a positive difference when faced with the JUMBLE.
Great advice. I appreciate your blog and quotes
You wrote: “Fight the inclination to jump on an answer too soon by slowing down. Welcome confusion as the context of discovery and dramatic breakthrough. With experience, you’ll learn to go beyond simply welcoming confusion to excitement. You’ll begin anticipating breakthroughs.”
I love this! I also think others have, and will, address what it takes to bring order to the team or organization strategy, vision, mission, structure, process, etc. But the critical success factor that “Jumble” gets at is the internal state of the leader.
You are bound to find yourself in the middle of a mess from time to time. “How will you be?” may be more important than “What will you do?” We all face issues that have to potential to make us less effective in helping others become more effective. The jumble can throw us off our game, off Purpose, and out of our best Identity, picking up from your post yesterday.
Those jumbled messes are the fires we end up fighting from time to time, either because someone did something or did not do something. Larry Dressler teaches us we must “Stand(ing) in the Fire” in his book by the same name. He is writing to professional facilitators, but I believe his book has equal value for day-to-day leaders. The subtitle is “Leading high-heat meetings with clarity, calm and courage.”
I highly recommend Dressler’s book for anyone who finds themselves in a Jungle of Jumbled messes, so when someone is needed to Jump in the fire you are ready!
Thank you for adding value to the community, again. I appreciate you taking time and sharing your insights.
“How will you be?” — GREAT thought and so true. We certainly need strategies for dealing with the dreaded jumble. However, strategies won’t help us if we are falling apart.
Best regards to you,
Hey LF readers, Mark blogs at: http://www.purposeandnow.com/
This question goes to the heart of inspiring everyone to participate in solutions. To that end, timing is everything.
Jumping in too soon as a leader just to relieve discomfort or fear of confusion can itself be deadly to success. Yet sitting idly while confusion just spins around is of questionable value.
For years I have taught internal IT consultants and project analysts how to take the jumbled picture of what a client (aka user) wants and turn it into a project plan that meets the clients’ real needs. In other words, make black & white out of gray. If you do it with the goal of ending the jumbled mess, you will miss many important components. If you do it with the goal of finding the true picture of what is needed, you succeed.
Don’t try to corral the confusion — work with the ideas and factors IN it to find the best solution to the problem. To me it’s the difference between problem solving and creative problem solving. Confusion of the jumbled mess is ripe with creative possibilities and can actually be FUN. There are many books on creative problem solving exercises that turn confusion into memorable interactions and of course positive outcomes.
That way the leaders replaces the stress of confusion with the FUN of discovery!
You are one of the reasons that comments are the best part of the Leadership Freak community. Your experience really shines through on this comment.
Don’t corral the confusion! Well said. Thats one of the important leadership lessons I’ve learned. I’ll tell you it takes patience and courage to let confusion hang around long enough… But, as you say, NOT too long.
Kate’s website: http://katenasser.com/. Look at the top banner. You’ll see a link to her blog.
Geez Dan, now you have us all thinking about the next letters in the mix…what a challenge, what a blast!
Without alliteration, leadership is all about the journey.
The journey is not always a successful path (there is at least a 3% chaos factor, black holes, etc.) so it also is about the view and vision and what we may learn if we truly see, so remain humble, own your mistakes and clean your glasses regularly.
The journey may not be obvious, nor should it be, so remain honest and steadfast to the vision…and be flexible regarding which path to take.
The journey is rarely easy, so remain open and seek like-visioned others to support and be supported. (These are the good old days.)
The journey does not begin and end with one specific leader, so never forget what an honor and gift it is to be the leader for the time you lead. Every step you take is an amazing legacy stroll. You may never know how your path and pace impacts others, positively or negatively, but know it does.
And any ‘official’ leader worth her/his legacy knows when to lead, when to walk with, and when to follow.
Finally, justifying a less than judicious au jus of jabberwocky…
The journey should be a jazzy, joyous, and jubilant juggernaut!
Just watch out for the jawholes!
You Rock again!
I feel such compassion and experience when I read your comment. I can tell the words you type come from your heart and your experience. Wonderful.
In my world… 3% chaos would be a blessing.. 🙂
I think staying humble in the jumble can be tough if you feel compelled to be right or give answers. Actually, humility is the answer for us when we begin feeling that internal pressure to solve things.
It means a lot to me that you continue to share your insights for the LF community to enjoy.
Doc is a featured contributor.. His bio: http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/featured-contributors/
Hey Dan – I detect some pre-4th delirium on this forum! Great comments, as always. This July, I’m going with Journey, which is the essence of leadership. But when everyone’s jabbering about some jumbled jam, you offer some great advice about building a decision-making process. I like to reposition the confusion as an opportunity. Sometimes we can tease apart the jumble until it looks more like the joining and junction of competing ideas and events – so the apparent chaos is really just a mixing of different juxtaposed orders. When the team has done due diligence, you make your collective judgment and jump into action, all the while juggling other priorities and jigging to jugband music…gotta stop here.
Jumpin gee Hoshifat! (I hope I just didn’t swear) I’m having TOO much fun with this whole alphabet thing!! And you are jumpin’ off the page.
I’m taking your comment, ‘reposition the confusion as an opportunity’ to the bank.
Also, couldn’t agree more on the idea of teasing the jumbled mess apart. You have to break chaos down into it’s component parts before things start making sense. Then it can be put back together to create something that makes sense.
Happy 4th to you,
Mark’s website: http://acceleratenow.fastgrowth.biz/