Standing Down

Stand Down.jpeg

So there is a funny term used in government, which is to “Stand down.”


Basically, it comes from the military where it has traditionally been used to denote relaxing (or “at ease”) after a prior state of alert or readiness.


Since then it has become more broadly adopted to mean abruptly ceasing activity–and usually even all further discussion–on something. 


For example, if someone is working on a project, task, or issue, but you want them to completely halt all activities on this, you may tell them to stand down.


This happens when something, usually significant, has changed or the activity has become OBE (another military term for Overcome By Events).


Basically, something has unexpectedly transpired and the strategy and orders have now changed (maybe a complete 180). 


Often, someone up the chain has put the kabbash on whatever it was.


Either way, you go from a full-on sprint to a complete halt and you might as well stand on your head for all anyone cares, because the run to the finish line, on this matter at least, is over now. 


Standing down is very different from standing up–but you aren’t sitting down either. 


Sitting would imply doing nothing at all, while standing down implies you do something else instead–like move on in the meantime to your next order of priority business. 


Still standing down, because of it’s abruptness and completeness is a big deal–and when everything and everyone was prior in motion like a moving freight train–and someone now stands in front of it and yells “All stop!”–the rest of the train cars, all the way to caboose, can essentially ram right up into the butt of the engine causing a real mess of things (productivity-wise and from a morale perspective). 


So now everyone untangle yourself and “calm the h*ll down”–there’s a new sheriff in town or new way ahead and you better get your standing down under control and stop doing whatever it is you were doing, okay there sonny boy? 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Better Early Than Never

Zero Tasking
So I learned a new word/concept today…PREcrastination (New York Times)

 

It’s when you do things early!

 

The better known opposite word is PROcrastintion.


That’s when you put things off or delay…often until the very last minute.

 

We know why people procrastinate–they don’t want or like to do something, have more important things to do, may be overwhelmed with too many taskers, or perhaps they are just plain lazy.

 

But why do people precrastinate?

 

Well, it’s sort of the inverse of the above–they may like doing it, it may be a priority, or they just may want to get “ahead of the curve” on all the things they have on their to-dos, or they may be a Type A personality and don’t rest until they’ve “got a handle on things.”

 

Getting things done at the last minute (procrastination), can push off stress until later–perhaps a better time to deal with it, but getting it done early (precrastination), can help eliminate stress by just getting it over with.

 

Some of us who get things done right away, may be doing extra work, because at times, the necessity of the moment is “overcome by events” (OBE) later on or we may start something before we even have all the directions or information and do it wrong altogether.

 

While others who dilly-dally, may find that they waited too long to get the job done or have other things going on later that precludes them from meeting the timeline–as they say, “if you fail to plan, plan to fail!”

 

Is there a right or wrong in terms of Pre/Procrastination?

 

I want to tell you now, but I think I’ll wait until later. 😉

 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Government By Decision

What Is Your Decision?

I saw this bumper sticker on a pole in Washington, D.C.

It says “Puppet for President 2012” and I don’t know whether this was referring to Democrats, Republicans, Independents, or whoever.

But it did make a statement about the perceived ability of government to lead and perhaps that someone is “pulling the strings.”

Governance is the act of administering, managing and of course implies leadership and decision-making.

Yet what is driving the American people crazy is that our government seems for all intensive purposes broken, almost paralyzed.

Current reading are of political stalemate, problems that are too big and complex and the compromises too painful after years of excess, where indecision reigns supreme, and with that the popularity of government is at all time lows–10% for Congress and 36% for the President.

Here’s a basic example written about today in the Wall Street Journal: despite a drop in first class mail over the last decade (thanks to email and texting) from 100 billion to fewer than 70 billion pieces of first class mail and cumulative losses from 2006 to March 2013 of $41 billion, we still can’t decide whether to cut Saturday mail delivery that could save over $3 billion a year alone.

Other examples of government indecision are almost too numerous to name:

– Should we intervene in Syria’s civil war that has taken more than 100,000 lives and displaced millions?

– When should we take action against Iranian nuclear facilities that violate nuclear non-proliferation and threaten world peace?

– How should we handle militant Islamic and Al Qaeda threats that don’t seem to dissipate?

– What do we do about the mounting federal deficit with a national debt approaching $17 trillion that is still rising about $2 billion a day!

– With fiscal cliffs, debt ceiling, sequestrations, and cuts to the U.S. credit rating, can we find our way forward?

– What should we do to get people back to work with an employment level of 58.6%, still around the lowest in the last 30 years?

– How do we reign in entitlement spending that needy people depend on, but where nearly half (49%) of Americans households today receive transfer payments, and entitlement spending has risen to $2.3 trillion annually and now are over 60% of entire federal outlays.

– How do we improve morale of the U.S. middle-class when only 33% think their children will be better off than their parents?

– What should we do about so many hanging issues out there–immigration reform, spiraling health care costs, improving our education system, balancing surveillance and privacy, and much more?

However, the ultimate question really is whether no decision is better than a decision?

With no decision, the problems continue to escalate until they sort of magically go away on their own (they are “overcome by events”) or more ominously, they reach epic crisis proportions.

With a decision to act, we may make good decisions that positively impact the situation or we may make bad decisions that have a negative impact, but even with a bad decision, we can monitor the effects and course-correct until we show true improvement.

Decisions often mean winners and losers–and no one wants to lose anything–and there are lobbyists and special interest groups–and no one wants to be voted out of office…so what do we do?

Oh no, I can’t decide!

The reality is that we will will have to make hard decisions or they will be made for us–we will either be the masters of our own fate of the slaves of our indecision.

We can take back control and fix what is broken or wallow in despair and disrepair.

We can act now or kick the can down the road and have much more painful decisions later.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)