8 Ways to Vanquish the Mighty Muddler

The Magnificent Chameleon has been exploring the world of The Mighty Muddler and has some advice about how to vanquish them.

What does the Mighty Muddler do?

As you might imagine, The Mighty Muddler has the power to create confusion and sometime to leave a trail of destruction behind them. They can cause distractions that send team members off on the wrong tangent or even in completely the wrong direction.

The Mighty Muddler wastes time and gets in the way of individual and team effectiveness. They hold back the good information that can help the business move forward and they talk about the stuff that really doesn’t matter.

How can you tell if The Mighty Muddler is active in your organisation?

Here’s what you’ll notice:

  • Procrastination on the important stuff
  • People are busy doing nothing
  • Decision making stalls
  • Communication is irrelevant
  • People are frustrated
  • Potential & capability are wasted

And this is what you’ll hear:

“The left hand doesn’t seem to know what the right hand is doing!”

“I’m not really sure about what I should be doing next.”

“Well….that was a complete waste of time and effort!”

“Do we actually have a plan?”

Often found working within teams who are based remotely, The Mighty Muddler thrives on the communication challenges that these teams face and makes the most of the muddle and confusion that can occur.

The Mighty Muddler will sometimes lay the ‘Busy Fool’ trap to ensnare individuals or whole teams. This acts as a smoke screen to confuse the situation. People seem occupied and busy, but direction and purpose is lacking, so this energy and activity often has little positive business impact.

Once you’ve identified The Mighty Muddler is at large, how do you stop their villainous ways?

Here are 8 tactics you could try……

1. Weaken The Muddler by asking specific questions that give you clarity about the purpose of the task at hand. Ask what you and your team are here to do. Push hard, but politley, for a straight answer.

2. Pause for a moment and consider what’s happening right now and the impact you are having on each other, your customers and the business. Draw up 3 headings [Stop * Start * Continue] and list all the things that you could do under each to improve your effectiveness.

3. Use collaboration as your weapon against The Mighty Muddler and ask everyone for input as you work together to establish an agreed direction for the team. Do keep the Muddler up to date with your thinking though!

4. Banish overlap and duplication of work by taking time to regularly update each other on projects and progress. Schedule a daily team huddle, either face to face or virtual; it can be fast too, just put a tight time limit on the huddle and stick to it by only talking about the mission critical stuff.

5. Introduce simple thinking structures to help you to banish muddle and establish priorities. Make sure you know what’s really important as well as what’s urgent so the team know where to place their attention and energies.

6. Create a visual reminder that shows the team’s vision and agreed path in glorious and vivid Technicolor. Put it somewhere prominent that works for remote and centrally based team members. Review it often. Use it to check that the work you are doing right now is part of the intended journey and not something accidental that could take you off your agreed path. We love Big Picture for this.

7. The Muddler will be vanquished by high quality conversations that track progress, and unpick team successes on a regular basis. Reflecting on how you are achieving success will give you clues as to how you can do it again. Don’t miss the opportunities to review in this way so you can be effective next time.

8. Raise your eyes to the horizon and focus on what the organisation wants to achieve over the longer term; the next 3 years or 5 years perhaps. How does what you’re doing today pave the way for the work you will do in the future?

These are just a few of the ways that you can help to vanquish The Mighty Muddler in your workplace and we know that there are many, many more.

Why not join in the conversation by hopping over to our Pants People Group on Linked In and share your own wisdom; we’re talking about The Grey Cloud this week. We’d love you to work with us to help organisations banish these villains once and for all……go on, grab your mask and cape and be a superhero!


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