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upstream thinking

Perry Timms
Perry Timms

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03 June 2019 Perry Timms

We must be more upstream in our thinking and approach in the workplace, says Perry Timms.

When we’re looking to use hydropower from a flowing river or building a dam to irrigate barren land, we know where upstream is and we plan to harness that power.  

So when we’re trying to solve business issues, forge relationships with people to be more comfortable in collaborating with them or create a new venture, are we only looking downstream?

We tend to view people, problems and possibilities from the starting point of now and into the downstream of the future – missing out on a story, channelling energy and clarity of purpose by overlooking upstream.

Consider a senior leader restructuring an organisation. He or she would review customer needs, people in situ and future needs (in this case, expansion). They shift people around, recalibrate the work and responsibilities and communicate with people their vision and wishes. 

Strong and stable leadership, right? Wrong. It’s missing out completely on the source of what’s there now, which may not be perfectly aligned but has drawn things to the now. No looking upstream. The result? Dam holding back a force of nature. Dam breaches in undesirable ways – toxicity and stagnation. Evaporation.

We’re too obsessed with looking forward without seeking counsel from the past.

Following the trail requires insight and imagination but also using more proof than is immediately before you.

Upstream for a new member of your team requires you to find out who they are, what they love and loathe, and how they describe their moments of confidence and uncertainty,.

Upstream for a team you inherit requires you to explore them individually and collectively. Look at the flow of work and influencing factors and how you overlay one onto the other (people and skills to work and process). Visit tinyurl.com/PerryTimms for the full article

Perry Timms is founder of PTHR