Baby Steps

I've been thinking about baby steps recently. Someone said we must proceed with caution on a new project and used 'baby steps' as the analogy. I wasn't sure that was the right approach as it came from a position of fear and caution. And usually that position leads to inertia. Nothing gets done and we describe our progress as 'baby steps'.

But baby steps are anything but cautious. Let's have a look...

Thinking back to my own daughter as a tiny toddler making that transition from crawling to walking, what struck me was that her baby steps were a perfect analogy for any new project, not because they were cautious, but because they were bold and brave.

Thinking about that, the first thing I noticed was that to make those first steps, a baby will embrace trial and error. This is something most project teams need to get those ideas and initiatives off the ground.

And how many times have you seen a nappy-clad toddler wobble two steps and collapse onto their bum, only to get right back up and try again? Failing small and failing often is a fundamental part of the learning process for that child, as it should be for any project or business team. After all we learn more from our mistakes than our successes.

And once that toddler has grasped the concept of combining balance and motion, guess what? They're off! And there's no stopping them. The number of times we had to run to the stairs or fireplace to ensure her safety was ridiculous, but it demonstrates how babies have no fear once they start to make those first awkward steps. Once they figure out, through mentorship and assistance from us as parents, where the dangers are, they adapt to their environment, continuously improving until success becomes second nature. 

So yes, the project group should take baby steps. But in reality this means:

...Relentless trial and error until success is in sight.
...Embracing a culture of testing & trialling so that failing small but often leads to learning and adapting.
...Bouncing back quickly from any mistakes or missteps.
...Proceeding with courage, rather than fear since fear leads to inertia. 

As you can see, Baby Steps are important, but not for the reasons most people think. 

And remember, even a journey of a thousand miles begins with just a few small steps. Usually brave and usually bold.