Why don't folks just take good decisions and get on with implementing them? A wide variety of motivations exist, including people:
- who are incapable of understanding or dealing with the situation or predicament;
- being comfortable with the status-quo (the comfort, money or power);
- lacking confidence in the advice they get;
- seeing/thinking that their job description says 'no change';
- overconfident and biased about their 'right' answer;
- convinced or persuaded by others to avoid it (the problem or decision);
- hoping that the problem will go away or magically resolve itself;
- waiting for a more important problem to create a distraction;
- knowing the consequences of the decision and want to avoid them;
- having competing interests that are not aligned with the evidence;
- lacking the incentive, support and fortitude to move forward positively;
- standing to lose face or popularity; and
- ...the list goes on!
So HOW do 'CAN KICKERS' operate and what excuses do they peddle?
There are a range of strategies that come up time and time again.
The origin and purpose of the delay sits on a continuum of consciousness from blind fear and re-activism at one end, to cold calculation and deliberate action at the other end.
In other words, some people don't even know they are 'kicking the can', while others make a living from doing it - deliberately and professionally. This includes some in the Marketing and Public relations industries, of whom many have been on the payroll of the likes of the fossil fuel industry for the past 50 or more years.
General theme groupings - Can Kicker Excuses (CKE's)
"You go first, no you go first..."
- The "if we go first then others will have an unfair advantage" - dilemma
- Isn't doing Transition some-one else's responsibility?
- But other countries/ industries are not moving?
"Change is disruptive and has so many downsides"
- The public won't cope, we need to keep them safe
- We need to get everything right, so no one is left behind (and we can't get blamed for anything!)
- We cant afford to be too disruptive, it's too risky, expensive and career limiting
"Transition is so big, it's difficult to make a difference"
- We are not capable or ready - we need more international experts
- We need bureaucracy and red tape, ahead of risk taking
- The market is working on it, big business will come to the rescue
"We don't need to Transition"
- The challenge is too big - we can't make a difference now
- We can stay the same, Technology is coming to the rescue
- Business as usual is fine, with 'just a few minor' adjustments, don't worry, business has everything under control
You may have noticed some of these (CKE's) strategies and 'tricks' in play? They can be difficult to spot, especially when woven into a package of different types of media, all professionally designed and implemented, often glamorously known as a 'campaign'.
The result is the same though - an incredibly stupid or wasteful decision, more confusion and delay, or less action, and all of us lined up for an increasingly dangerous future!
We all face a choice now. Either we are taking real climate action and making a genuine effort to change, or we are delaying
. Could you be part of the problem? (Past article on Problems and Solutions)
Calling out 'can kicking' can be a good start to becoming part of the solution.
Calling it out - Your three point plan to flush out (CKE's) and the level of consciousness behind them.
(Especially effective for young people to use)
- Question everything. Get to the bottom or root cause of what is being positioned, said, implied, or demanded. Try using the '5 Whys'. Keep asking 'why' and when you get the answer, simply ask 'why' again... (remember your 3 year old sibling used to do that)... it works, you end up with a deep understanding of the real motivation. Another substitute for 'Why', is 'So what?'... 'So what?'..etc
- Eventually you understand the truth at play. This person is in over their head and needs help, or this person is up to no good and is deliberately facilitating the 'can being kicked', delaying or diverting or preventing action being taken.
- You will need to decide if this is a serious delay to your Transition progress or not?. If it is a serious blocker, then you need to work out how to either work-around it or dismantle it. If it is background niggle - don't waste energy on it.
All good and bad things come to an end, the can-kicker may move on or be voted out as Transition momentum increases. Politics and economics can change slightly and dramatically, providing opportunities for change. And we can vote with our purchasing power and in elections.
This weeks quote
"When you 'kick the can down the road,' you're not just solving the immediate problem, you are guaranteeing the arrival of a new problem." - Joe Thorndike
We address this issue in more detail in the Real Transition Leaders course, if you want to be part of the evolving practice in this space, please check out the course here
Please recommend the Transition Edge to others, why not forward it right now?, and stop kicking the can !
Grant Symons - The Transition Guy