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Before the cart and the horse

I’m reflecting on the adage, “Don’t put the cart before the horse.” There is truth here. Too often organizations begin at the end of a process and end up with unintended outcomes; they put the cart before the horse. In the end there wasn’t the needed energy or passion or drive to keep the process moving forward. Or in the worst case, the cart is wrecked as it cruises out of control as it is pushed by the horse.

Even organizations that begin by going out to the barn and hitching the cart behind the horse may miss the road. They rush into the latest idea and fad, rolling down the road, chasing their perceived competitor at top speed with their best people holding the reins. But they’re on a road to an unknown destination.

In my experience, it is most helpful to spend time reviewing values, philosophy, and history before heading out to the barn. Time spent considering how the process fits the organization, its people, values, and dreams can allow the process to be tailored to reach the goal. Or in other words, the process will be designed for finding the right horse and the right cart and the right road for that organization.

Spend time designing a process before considering content. As Alexander Graham Bell said, “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”

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