The telephone conference was well beyond hot. Tempers were frayed. Everyone was exhausted. Tension had moved beyond extreme. I had no idea where this was headed.
“We have a problem.”
“This queue should be empty.”
“How or why do you know?”
“I do not think we have gotten the transactions out the door.”
“I also agree.”
“I think we should push the items out of the queue.”
“Because they are a problem.”
“How do you know?”
“I think it is a problem.”
“I get that. But do you really know this is the problem?”
“No, but I think it is a problem.”
The question centered on a problem that could be a problem. The challenge was that nobody knew. Some wanted to act. Others wanted to know what the problem was. The impasse was growing, not shrinking.
“I would like to verify the problem before we act. Is that possible?”
“We will try, but we may not have time. We need to act.”
If I was describing what followed in sailing terms, it is simple. “They cut the anchors, loosed the tiller, raised the sail, and ran before the wind toward the beach.” (Acts 27.40) Action was needed. Results were important. Deadlines were here, now.
Even in the moment, I knew where the choices were going to lead. When everything becomes urgent, caution is the strongest decision we can take. As crisis loom, a patient mind is the most important asset we should keep. If everything screams action, perhaps it is time to stop and reflect.
Even as I debriefed with the principals afterwards, individual insights were fuzzy. Those who had called for action still felt we had to have done something, even if it was wrong. The need to act was strong. The call to do something was loud. Even when the facts showed that the assumptions were wrong, nobody was paying attention. The problem many had thought to be the problem was not the problem. Knowing what is wrong often helps one take a positive step towards knowing what is right.