I hazard a guess that many people reading this article will own a GPS satellite navigation system (“GPS” or “Sat-Nav“) – I know I certainly do. I’ve always been very bad at both navigating and driving at the same time, so when driving in an unfamiliar city, I find a GPS sat-nav absolutely indispensable. Of course, it won’t always navigate to the precise location desired, but it gets very close.
I was recently driving around Birmingham, which is a city I visit only very occasionally, and even with automated directions, I managed to drive right past a turning. My sat-nav (GPS) registered my mistake immediately, and made an announcement that all drivers dread….
“Make a U Turn where possible”
With the help of this announcement I quickly realised my mistake, found a safe place to turn, and then I was quickly back on my way.
As I was doing this, it struck me how in business the word “U-Turn” seems to have a uniquely negative connotation. If leaders of organisations or projects make a “U-Turn” this can be seen as embarrassing; it is painted out as a lack of conviction or lack of leadership. This has an interesting side effect: It can lead to stakeholders stubbornly entrenching themselves into illogical or unsustainable positions, because to be seen to change their view could be a political and organisational nightmare—and this might be seriously career limiting! This pattern happens in organisations of all sizes; whether mid-size, small or multinational.