What Can Engineering Leaders Learn from the U.S. Political Fight Over Healthcare?

It seems like political leaders have been arguing over healthcare for decades. In the United States, for instance, a once-motivating effort has been mired in debate and detail to the point where practically no one has the energy left to tackle the workload. (And Canadians aren’t immune from their own internecine battles over the subject.)

Here are five lessons engineering teams can learn from the recent fight over healthcare in the United States in order to move an impossible project from “doing” to “done”:

Set micro goals. A 2,000-page healthcare bill is overwhelming to consider. However, if you break the effort into manageable mini-goals, it’s much easier to conquer.

Find the right motivation. It’s easy to go nowhere when legislators have different motivations—for some, it’s about health care delivery, others, economy, and for some, political well-being. Having a clear, singular motivation can galvanize your team. Consider book Beautiful Teams, where software engineer Steve McConnell is quoted as saying: “If you’re out digging ditches, that’s not very elevating or inspiring. But if you’re digging ditches to protect your town that’s about to be attacked by an enemy, well, that’s more inspiring, even though it’s the same activity.”

Eliminate distractions. Imagine how much more legislators could get done on healthcare if that was all they had to do. If your team is able to withdraw from other projects, nonessential people and electronic distractions—even for short periods of time—you’ll power through your objectives much faster.

Ask for help. Government representatives have staffs to assist them and researchers to advise. You may be at a point in your project where you need to ask for help from people outside of your team.

Keep your eye on the prize. Projects usually start out great but then, somewhere in the middle, the finish line seems hazy and distant. One working weekend after another, what started as an inspiring goal feels like a never-ending slog. Remember the ultimate goal.

For other ideas on how to keep your team on track, and moving forward, contact us: We can help you find you find the energy and motivation to finish strong.

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