Have you ever been trying to get a project going or actually working on it and things just aren’t happening? And has that happened to you when it’s a project requested by someone who is in a position to want that project to happen because they have a need for it? The person who needs or wants it may be the CEO of the company, a managing director of a division or a well-placed person in the hierarchy of the federal government system. They know what they want. They’ve asked you to help them make it happen and you get the ball rolling. You design a system. You set up elements of the project. You attend meetings. You make calls. You work to connect with the people you are told to connect with and interface with to make things happen. But no matter what you do…nothing happens.
The Gatekeeper is In. The Doors are Closed
Let’s talk about some real world examples with the identities withheld for obvious reasons. In the government situation, a particular group has a long standing need for a particular type of supplier/vendor/contractor to improve performance. It is a well-known and recognized fact that these companies share common characteristics and needs. In surveying the possible alternatives for addressing the government’s problem, a probable solution was found. However, due to the existing and long standing “relationships,” the solutions could not be purchased and provided nor could referrals be made to the provider. Instead, the government representative wanted the solution provider to interact with various “gatekeepers” already in place and providing the new solution services.
The existing gatekeepers had stake in the status quo, so the new solution provider didn’t get in the door. Calls weren’t returned. Meeting notices weren’t sent to include the new person in planning meetings, and so on. Proposals for programs and services weren’t forwarded, considered, or incorporated. And the relationship with the government official and the solution provider withered because the person could do nothing to solve her problem. This was not caused by an inability to provide a solution. It happened because the gatekeepers closed the gate and padlocked it.
Now this happens just as often in the private sector. The case of the CEO or Managing Director who asks for information on costs or performance from a CFO, or who wants to change from cost centers to profit centers, or who wants to have financial numbers on the last day of every month. The answer is “impossible” or “we’re working on it” or “we need a new system”, or whatever. Sometimes it’s true. Sometimes it is a stall or an unwillingness to provide the information. Over the course of my career, I’ve witnessed many occasions where the information was available or could be developed, for whatever reason (some good some self-serving), however, the motivation to deliver the information was lacking,. Whenever this happens, it has far reaching impact up and down the business.
Closing Doors and Shutting Down Relationships
If you are someone who has been asking for a solution from someone you were sure could deliver and who didn’t, maybe you should check the gate and see if it was locked – deliberately or inadvertently. Sometimes the gatekeepers think they are acting in your best interest. Other times they know they are acting in their own. Sometimes they are just short sighted. Sometimes they are short changing every one.
Agent or Advocate – Take Responsibility for Change
Before you close down or give up on that solution you are seeking, take a second look and see if you and your organization just might have created a dam to keep the new and needed outside of the comfort zone of how you have always done things. Sometimes even when we think we are ready for change, we erect barriers to real and meaningful change subconsciously. We aren’t willing to go out on that limb and do what it takes to effect that necessary change because it is just too risky. We will identify it. We will invite it to our door, then we will pat ourselves on the back about how good we are — as we SLAM the door and throw away the deadbolt! Change is scary. If we are the change agents, we are responsible for the consequences. That is risky. If we be only advocates instead of agents, then leave it up to someone else to figure out how to get around all the obstacles, barriers, gatekeepers, rules, regulations, and antagonists, as well as the “way we’ve always done things”, if it fails it is their fault, not ours.
For change to happen, it requires key people to advocate change. It also requires that they stand up and become agents of change. It takes leadership to spearhead the change and hold people accountable for change. If messages aren’t getting through and you expected to hear from someone and see programs and information, then find out why it hasn’t been happening. Dams hold things back. Gatekeepers are supposed to serve as a means of controlling information. ”Dams” and “gatekeepers” are not synonymous. So – do you have gatekeepers or dams? Isn’t it time you found out?
Copyright © 2007 F.O.C.U.S. Resource, Inc.