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Organizational Leaders: Forcing and/or Delaying

Posted by Mark L. Vincent on Jan 30, 2013 6:50:00 AM


Organizational Leaders: Forcing and/or Delaying

You are leading an organization, a project or a process. Matters are not going the direction you prefer, it is taking longer than you like, it feels rushed, you aren't sure you have the right talent around you, you are under pressure from above, beside or below, or whatever. What is your normal response when you want IT to be different and you feel responsible?

forcing, design group international, action reflectionForcing is a problem. You might not intend to force, but many do. Regardless, forcing is born in impatience.

delaying, design group internationalDelaying is also a problem. It too might be unintentional or deliberate. Delaying comes from trying to create distance when feeling forced or rushed.

These two responses grow when uneasiness or anxiety gets hold of a person and self-protection or escape trump all other impulses.

So . . .an organization becomes wobbly and off its stride when, instead of complimenting each other, action-oriented and reflection-oriented people shift to the shadowed side of their orientation:  action becoming force and reflection becoming delay.  Worse, forcing can be covered by goal-laden language such as "we have to hit our numbers" or even with religious language such as "doing something for God." Delay can be covered with governance language such as "someone needs to write a policy for this."  And yes, religious language such as "spiritual discernment" is used as a means to delay and create distance far more than as a means to actually discern.

A lot of forcing and delaying is instinctual, even unconscious. They are still misuses of power. And let's not forget that many consciously choose to use force or delay as a tactic. Forcing is often accompanied by yelling for the sake of applying pressure. Delay is often accompanied by asking endless questions in order to avoid, extend and distract.

Intentional engagement is the better way, a way to transcend both forcing and delay and to return them to being the complimentary strengths found in both action and reflection. You engage by both not delaying a conversation nor rushing it. It is an art to strike the balance, but it is possible. Striking the balance begins with a deep breath and a choice to be your better self, a person mindful of objectives as well as the values by which they must be achieved, a person who can apply pressure or release it in a way that gives shape rather than destroys.

We've written further on these themes in our little e-book The Tao of Action-Reflection. It is available to you with no further obligation. Just click the box below:



-mark l vincent

mark l vincent, design group international, untying organizational knotsLiturgy, whorled viewz, emell vee, design group international


Topics: process design, organizational development consulting, Mark L. Vincent, Design Group International, action-reflection, forcing and delaying


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