Procrastination and The Cartesian Questions

Yesterday I was following up the progress of a project with a Client. The project has been initiated by them some eight months ago but as of yesterday it still hadn’t got off the starting blocks.

The initial flurry of activity, the project scope, the thought processes, the resource allocation and presentations, we’d done them all, but the Directors had the project on hold- sound familiar?

There are of course a multitude of reasons as to why a project is put on hold and when in doubt…don’t do it! so I don’t have any really issue with the Directors decision but on my drive back last night it did set me thinking.

If you have a problem facing you, what would it be like if it was solved or on the way to being solved? What would that be like for you?

It brought me to the Cartesian Questions formulated by the French Philosopher René Descartes; I apologise in advance if you’ve heard them before.

Here are the four questions.

Take your time to really consider all of your answers before moving on to the next question.

Ask them in the order presented and after asking each one, ask “and what else?” You need to drill down to get to the underlying belief and reasoning.

  • What will happen if you do ‘X’
  • What won’t happen if you do ‘X’
  • What will happen if you don’t do ‘X’
  • What won’t happen if you don’t do ‘X’

This isn’t an ephemeral diversion into 16th Century philosophy but a very real question for today.

What is stopping you making that change and if you did change, as I asked earlier, what would that be like for you?


About Michael Carr

Specialising in Strategy, Systems and Organisational Design I've had a varied and rewarding career and been fortunate to work for some superb companies such as Courtaulds, Unipart International, Akzo Nobel and more recently Jaguar Landrover, all luminaries of a solid, disciplined and a conservative, though never lacking in innovation, approach to business management and development. Augmenting my career with studying for my MBA at Warwick in the early 90's has given me a balanced and I believe rich resource set to draw upon in my Consultancy Practice. My Clients have been good to me, tolerating my idiosyncrasies, giving me enough rope to go along the journey that I was taking them and hopefully in return I've been able to repay them by raising the bar and their business performance, giving them the results and achievements they were looking for. I really enjoy my work and love the challenge - isn't that what it's all about?
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