Filling the Vacancy of Action

There are those rare people who want to move projects forward. They see stagnation around certain issues and they fill the vacancy of action. (Thanks to a client—one who does take action—for sharing that phrase.)

Some organizations thrive on lack of action, especially when it comes to branding and communications projects. Curiously, you can complete a project even with halfhearted efforts. But that leads to costly project delays, watered-down messages, ineffective results and loss of enthusiasm. No one would consciously create these outcomes. But consistently not taking decisive action becomes so habitual that few people notice it for what it is.

Loss of enthusiasm is probably the most insidious outcome of vacancy of action because everything stems from there. Little by little voices are hushed or the layers of approval are too thick to allow for wise improvements. Doubt creeps in and ideas you might have jumped on when you were stoked suddenly seem not doable.

A project is like a campfire. It blazes as long as you continually give it air and stir the wood. Left alone for too long, it withers and it takes more effort and resources to get it going again.

My client said, “Taking action usually means you have to learn something new. I’m not afraid to learn new things. Most of my colleagues think that’s too much work.”

What if you’re creating your own vacancy of action?

It pays to question why you’re doing your project. Too busy to keep it moving is often a disguise for ambivalence. A good way to tell if this is happening is to notice how consistently or frequently you actively engage with your project. Consistency, even in small bursts, is key to filling that vacancy. Have you ever waited weeks and then done a big push once you’ve not been able to stand it any longer? Phew, now the ball’s in your designer’s court. You’re safe until they give it back. But that’s coming from a powerless, not powerful, position.

Sometimes it’s better to postpone the project until you really know why you’re doing it and what you hope to achieve. Sometimes we think we know but it’s a weaker foundation than we thought. Give yourself time to dig more.

You can also break a project into distinct phases. This allows you to assess where you are, change direction or put your project on hold till you have the information or inspiration you need.

But a project filled with vacancies is surely to kill its chance for delighting not just who it’s meant to serve, but you, too.

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(Image credit: Thomas Hawk)

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