Musings on designing experiences & (re)engineering complexity

Mar 2024


For the past week have been sitting with the term “gateway.“ In part, a recollection of Gateway Computers (mid-90s to 2000s). Another part thinking about the types of transitional moments which happen as people, projects, and products evolve. For those in leadership roles, part of the “work” of your role is recognizing then stewarding people and processes through those changes. You are one part giving them steps to actualize a vision which was set before them. And another part bolstering their energies with experience, guidance, judgement, and sometimes even disdain. Your role is literally that to be ahead and behind at the same time.

Where you find your challenge isn’t just in stewarding the moment, but what happens in between this. In the fractional executive role, this is the fuzzy middle - where you have little tasking but much exampling. Where you can inspect whether your framework gives the feedback and insights needed, or if you should tweak your model for more advantageous feedback and outputs.

Don’t be so fast to allow others thru to the other side just because they’ve realized you are there to facilitate some transformation. No. Help them own each step towards, through, and past that gate so they can be a way point for those who might follow behind them. One of the euphemisms we use is “people don’t follow the pioneer; they follow the person who follows the pioneer.” Recognize the futility of trying to get everyone on board all of the time and identity those who are ready, willing, and able to take transformative steps. Then for them, open the gate.

You might find that many to none walk through. And well, that’s going to be the case. Unfortunately, seeing the end of the tunnel is just seeing it, it is not the invitation to meet it. Your role - as coach, fractional executive, mentor, and even elder - is to be a signpost that there’s a gate here and you are pointing the way to something else. Allow others the agency to make of that what they will. But, never stop being that needed waypoint.