PowerPhrase to Move Past Obstacles from Toyota Kata

Along with a great deal of general wisdom, I brought home a PowerPhrase that I will use for the rest of my life from Mike Rother’s Toyota Kata training last week. 

“Missy” was telling us why our ideas to improve a process wouldn’t work. Mike asked her:


  • Are you giving us reasons not to do it, or identifying an obstacle we would have to address in order to be able to do it?

The tone in the room changed immediately and we moved forward with new inspiration and clarity. Missy had confused obstacles with reasons. I can’t count how often people do that when asked to try something new. 

Obstacles and reasons are not the same. But if we act like they are, and see them as impenetrable barriers before we’ve explored them, we will miss some fabulous opportunities. We need to see them for what they are – things we would have to address to move forward.

Don’t overcompensate and dismiss obstacles as if they don’t exist. That sets you up for failure. Personally, I think many people hold on to their obstacles as reasons not to progress, because they’re afraid they’ll be expected to move forward as if there were no obstacles. When you know the difference, you can move forward intelligently. 

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