I’ve isolated many of the problems that I’ve found in businesses to can’t versus won’t. I love working with can’t. I hate working with won’t.
Can’t can mean a lot of things. Can’t can be due to resources, regulations, education or authority. When you haven’t accomplished a goal because it can’t be done, you haven’t failed… something got in the way. Once you remove the roadblock, you’ll succeed.
Won’t is different. Won’t leads to failure. Won’t happens because of fear, arrogance, pride, laziness or miscommunication. Won’t means that the goal was possible, but someone got in the way.
In my early days as a manager, I was always challenged with the question of can’t versus won’t with my employees. Not knowing whether the issue was a can’t or a won’t made me dig deeper with the employee to find out why we didn’t succeed.
I was often surprised to find employees that wanted to succeed, but couldn’t because of some third party interference. Sometimes I was surprised because I was the something in the way. Once we removed the interference, we always got the win.
When the goal wasn’t met because of won’t, the process was much different. These were employees that needed to be removed because they were the interference and the roadblock to success.
The story doesn’t change with companies. There are companies that can’t and those are our ideal clients. We can provide them with the resources, strategy and education and help them break through. Unfortunately, we’re also met with companies who won’t. They won’t listen, they won’t change, they won’t apply the necessary resources, or they won’t because they think they know better.
We can’t help companies that won’t.