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Monday, January 31, 2011

Why things do not work out

Last week, I found myself in conversation with some current Anderson residents. Some of them are retired and read my column on occasion. Others were young citizens who have called Anderson home. The question that we found ourselves visiting was, "What happens when things do not work out?"

We talked about everything from business to real estate development to politics to employment. There are definitely more causes for things not working out than what we identified, but the topic stirred up a laundry list of reasons that we thought might serve as interesting approaches to taking on failure or missed opportunities before they overtake you.

The overall effort was to figure out why things may not work out and properly prepare to address the problem areas ahead of time.

At the top of the list was lack of knowledge. Regardless of the project, there is always the chance that things do not work out because we don't have the knowledge base necessary to try to accomplish whatever it is we are after. Obviously this problem has a simple solution. Get more knowledge or surround yourself with people that have a working knowledge of whatever it is that you are aiming to achieve.

Another area identified was lack of resources. I have heard countless times of deserving ideas and projects that were underfunded. No matter how great the idea or how developed the plan has become, without the proper resources it is nearly impossible to achieve any level of accomplishment. On the flip side some people have a host of ideas that they present to their boss or project manager and they have no idea what their suggestion will cost the company. Every project cost something. It was determined that in trying to figure out why things don't work out that we always count the cost and identify funding sources or revenue streams to at least get the project off the ground.

Another area that seemed to top the list was a lack of influence. Have you ever seen a great idea go by the wayside? It didn't necessarily lack the knowledge or the resources, but the approval of those in authority or a group at large that somehow deemed it unlikely or impossible to achieve a proposed goal stopped everything. Identifying key decision makers plays a role in the initial perception of any project or idea. Winning their approval may be as important as overcoming any other obstacle that stands in the way of progress.

Whatever it is that is holding back accomplishment has a root. Things don't work out for all sorts of reason, but identifying why and properly preparing to address those issues might improve our success rate at accomplishing anything.

Jesse J Wilkerson is the principle of a local architecture and design firm. His column appears in the Opinion section of the Herald Bulletin ( other Monday.

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