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Achieve Your Goals by "Kedging"

A sailing ship tied to shore, circa 1900-1920Image via Wikipedia

We all get stuck sometimes. There's something we have our sights set on, we want it really, really badly, and for whatever reason -- we're stalled out. We can't get the traction we need to move forward with our goal. Maybe it's bringing a new product to market. Maybe it's getting a key position filled. Maybe it's learning a new skill that will make a huge difference in our bottom line.

Desperate measures are needed. We must persevere.

What do you do to get unstuck in a situation like that?

  • Modify (i.e., lower) your original goal?
  • Wait for an epiphany?
  • Hire a consultant or a coach or a skilled pair-of-hands?

Have you ever tried "kedging?" Never heard of it? Neither had I. Until I was reading Crowley and Lodge's book, Younger Next Year. They explain it this way:

    Sailing ships in ancient times -- before the invention of the outboard motor -- often got becalmed and the crew had to just sit there in a funk. Which was all right some of the time, but not always. Sometimes there were enemy ships, a hostile shore looming closer, or the sailors just got bored out of their minds and started to squabble. The captain might decide to use kedging to get unstuck. He'd take a light anchor (called a kedging), load it into a longboat, and send a small crew rowing out a half mile or so in the direction the ship was wanting to sail. The longboat crew popped the anchor over the side of the longboat, making sure it was "set" on the bottom, and then everyone back on the big boat pulled like demons on the line attached to the anchor, literally hauling the ship to the anchor. Then they'd do the whole business again, until they got where they wanted to go...or until the wind picked up again. Sounds like a lot of work, but maybe well worth it if your ship was in dire straits.

I can think of instances when I used kedging to move projects or initiatives forward, not realizing what I was doing had a name. I just knew that I was desperate to make something happen.

For example, one time I called on scores of stakeholders --- one at a time -- over the course of months, spending countless hours in the process, in order to get enough agreement to make a much-needed major purchase. We were stuck; desperate needs sometimes demand desperate measures.

What about you? Now that you know what "kedging" is, how have you used it -- to avoid the enemy, the rocks, or poor morale -- in order to achieve a goal that your organization's very livelihood depended on?

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