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The Definition of Insanity


by Jack Warren

Three to four times a week, the midpoint of my run is the transportation center in downtown Normal, Illinois, where I stop for a drink of water. The first thing I typically see upon entering the building is the Amtrak departures and arrivals board. And because I run about the same time in the late afternoon, the board looks about as you see it in the photo above.

The problem is not so much that the train from St. Louis is late today. The problem is that this particular train from St. Louis is late nearly every day.

In a quote attributed to Albert Einstein it is said that the definition of Insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

It’s fairly apparent that whatever they’re doing at Amtrak for this St. Louis to Chicago train is not working. Rather than change some or all of the activities or processes that are keeping Amtrak from meeting their deadlines, they’ve decided to hang in there and live with the daily tardiness. Heck, I’m not for quitting, but perhaps at this point a more realistic goal is in order.

As we go about our daily business, it may appear that, in some areas, our team or organization appears to be “tardy” – or stuck or plateaued. If that’s the case, then perhaps it’s time to take a close look at your processes. What are you doing (or not doing) that is keeping you from reaching seemingly reachable goals? If you regularly evaluate your processes and still can’t find a problem, perhaps it’s time for a staff meeting or retreat where the entirety of the event is focused on evaluating current processes. If that doesn’t work or if perhaps you think a fresh set of eyes might help, enlist the help of a professional.

Businesses frequently bring in consultants to look at what’s working and what’s not in their organization. There’s no reason why the same processes couldn’t be beneficial to your organization as well. Lack the funds to bring in a professional organizational consultant? Enlist the help of a current or retired coach or athletic department administrator with a track record of success. You’d be amazed how much a fresh set of eyes can see.

Quite often, the reasons for our organizational stagnation is right in front of us, but we either can’t decipher what we see or perhaps we feel as if the blame would fall on particular individuals. The first step in creating fresh organizational momentum is to first identify the problem or problems and then put a plan of action in place.

Don’t wait until you’ve reached a point of no return. Ask for help. There’s no reason why you can get rolling again.

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