What's holding us back? Why does every project take so much time in small towns?


Slow people sign

Picture of Becky McCray

We all have different titles, work in different areas or sectors, but we are all fighting for the future of our cities and rural places. We want to be a place where our children and grandchildren, our nieces and nephews can live a good life. Quality of life, a prosperous future for our cities, are points we can all agree on, even though we are working in different ways to achieve this.

We have all faced the same obstacle in our efforts. It's our own people.

  • Wheel that turns
  • Wasted effort
  • Meeting after meeting after meeting
  • Talk about ideas to death, but do not go very far

At the same time we are slowed down by all this drag, we are also facing social pressures not to fail. Nobody likes to look stupid in public. Especially in a small town, one gets the impression that everyone is watching, everyone is judging and everyone will know if you are wrong and you will never hear the end. You have seen people report decades-old chess, just to remind someone that they have already failed. Have you ever been afraid that your idea or project will fail?

Years of this pressure not to fail, of those voices that penetrate our heads, can add up.

This is reflected in the inhabitants of your city, those who have learned this lesson so well, who are so afraid of the risk that they will never try new experiences and do not want others to try new experiences. .

People who hang around most think they are helping. They told me so. This is how someone explained their desire to slow progress:

"We have too many energetic people, used to making decisions quickly. Negative people provide a balance, raising questions, slowing down the decision-making process so that we can have time to review the issues, before it's too late and we've spent money on a something that turned out to be crazy and inefficient. "

What worries them is to make mistakes. The risk of failing very publicly.

You might be tempted to agree with him on his approach to avoid mistakes, but it's a trap because we are terrible at judging the risk of failure.

We are much less likely to fail than we think.

The author, Margie Warrell, explains that by using the latest brain imaging technologies, researchers have been able to prove:

  1. We overestimate the probability that something is going wrong.
  2. We exaggerate the consequences of what could happen if things went wrong.
  3. We underestimate our ability to manage the consequences of risk.
  4. We minimize or deny the cost of inaction and maintaining the status quo.

Once we realize how much we have misjudged the risks and tried to slow things down so that we do not make mistakes, we start to see what it is doing in our communities. Decade after decade, this pressure to not make mistakes, not to fail, is part of our official organizations, our government agencies, our groups, clubs and associations.

We integrated the thread and the endless discussion in our organizations thinking that we were at risk of errors.

As Margie Warrell pointed out, we are not very good at judging risk.

The net result is that our cities are too closed to new ideas. People may take the fact of being closed to new ideas to such an extent that they end up saying no to everything.

Why this must change

But our whole society is changing rapidly. Trendwatching.com says "we are in the middle of an epic power shift far from governments, social organizations and large corporations, to the detriment of individuals. We see ordinary people doing great things, without formal organization, without structure, without responsible officers. No one to slow down.

We crowdsourcing our future, the future of our communities. The power of shaping our cities is not only in the hands of the officials, but now in all our hands. When we want to do something, we do not need to form a new committee. We can just make it happen.

What's changed? What is causing this change of power? This is our ability to communicate, coordinate and work together in new ways. Email, the Internet, social networks have all been reduced in the palm of our hand and we carry them everywhere with us.

These new communication tools mean that we are experimenting new ways of working together. This is why we are moving from formal organizations to work together informally, as needed, and to accomplish tasks without all the formalities and streaks that we are used to doing.

But it's slow, with many people still dragging their feet. We are stuck using old ways of organizing and working together. We are drowning in committees, working groups, planning groups, meetings and all the old ways of doing things that slow us down. We grew up with these methods. They are deeply rooted in our employees and our organizations.

A new method

What we miss is A method to reduce the risk of making big mistakes while working together more easily to accomplish things quickly using the tools we now have in our hands.

That's what I'm working on. I've listened to people as you write me, facing real hardships in your small towns. I paid attention to 473 people like you telling us in our second round of our Rural Challenges Survey. It is our own people that holds us back, slows us down, even with the best intentions in the world, preventing us from progressing.

I've researched successful cities, changed science, behavioral motivation, open networks, crowdsourcing, innovation and the way you build a revolution. Learning from all these experiences, I propose a method that reduces the risk of making big mistakes while allowing us to work together more easily using the tools we have in our hands.

A user-friendly method

This is called the user-friendly method for ideas, because our risk aversion has pushed us to act. unfriendly idea for too long.

You start with your main goal for your community, which, in your opinion, will improve your quality of life. You use this lens for Gather your crowd. You turn your crowd into a powerful network Build links. And you and your new powerful network achieve this goal by Take small steps.

Gather your crowd, make connections and take small steps

How to apply the Idea Friendly method in your city

To help you learn and apply the user-friendly method for ideas in your city, Deb Brown and I have created a video and action guide on SaveYour.Town. You will learn the user-friendly method for in-depth ideas, hear examples of its use and learn specific behaviors to create the most sustainable change.

It's free for you in December 2018, our holiday gift for you.

New on SmallBizSurvival.com? Take the guided tour. Love what you see? Receive our updates.

About Becky McCray

Becky launched Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share stories and ideas of building businesses and rural communities with other small businessmen. She and her husband own an Alva, Oklahoma liquor store and a small ranch nearby. Becky is an international speaker on small business.

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