Don’t Press the Panic Button

by Onyeka Nchege on August 19, 2014

Pushing the ButtonNervousness, anxiety, overwrought, overwhelmed, fearful, agitated; these are all catalysts to one feeling like they are in a state of panic. The panic state often leads to hasty, illogical decision making, which can result in worsening an already percieved bad situation or ceasing any momentum towards a destination. Before reaching over to press the proverbial “panic button”, you have to pause long enough to ask yourself, “is there anything I can do to prevent this”?.

My answer is always a resounding YES to this question. To provide a perfect example when the temptation of pushing the panic button seems like the most viable option, let me explain a situation we are currently experiencing within my organization.

We have recently acquired new sales branches and piloted them on the first release of a new technology platform. As with any pilot, we are still resolving a host of issues and will continue to do so until we roll out subsequent releases of the platform. This uncertainty can cause a state of panic to many unfamiliar with the realities of software development and deployment processes.

Avoiding the panic button is as simple as bringing all of the issues you are experiencing to the FORE-front. The FORE-front equates to: seeking and being receptive to Feedback, taking Ownership of the issues you are experiencing, remembering the Relationships you have in place and Executing on a new or altered plan that maneuvers you around the panic button.

    Feedback – a true measure of where you are and possibly where you are heading, is to listen to what those around you are saying. Listening to those around you, especially those working through issues on a daily basis, helps you to truly assess the situation and provide sound decisions.

    Ownership – before a sound decision can be reached, the situation has to be understood in totality and to truly understand something you have to possess it on some level. Taking ownership means you have to privately and publicly acknowledge the issues.

    Relationships – people believed in you enough to put you in the position to make the decision that led to the issues you are experiencing, so the important thing to remember is they believed in you once and most likely they still do. Transparency is the key to maintaining the trust you’ve built with them.

    Execution – once you have all of the facts and assessed the issues, it’s time to make a decision to alter your existing plan or institute a new one. A timely decision needs to be made, but remember that a hasty decision can put you back in the place where you currently are.

So when it feels as though the ground is beginning to shake beneath you and your mind is spinning at the force of a tornado, remember to back away from the nearest panic button. Bring everything to the FORE-front to avoid a hasty decision that can potentially put you back in a state of panic.

Take Action: If there is something driving you towards pressing the panic button, either from a personal or professional perspective, decide today to check out the FORE-front to help you maneuver around that panic button.

Leadership on the Go…It’s O.N.

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A recent finalist for the 2017 ORBIE CIO of the Year award, Onyeka brings more than 20 years of experience leading teams, developing strategies and building technology solutions. He has also led the creation and integration of technology solutions for a network of retail store franchises and distributors across North and Central America. Onyeka contributes to CIO Review magazine and shares his insights and experience with peers and colleagues via his own blog, Before joining Interstate Batteries in 2015, Onyeka led teams at Coca-Cola Bottling Company Consolidated, where he modernized technology practices and powered business processes for daily, on-the-street use. He is a graduate of the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University and currently serves on the EVANTA Dallas CIO Governing Body. If Onyeka were not at Interstate, he’d find another way to combine his three biggest passions: his faith, helping others, and, of course, information technology. Because ultimately, as he puts it, “we can’t help everyone, but everyone can always help someone.”

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Chermaine Forte August 20, 2014 at 7:37 am

Excellent timing for me to put into practice. Often times we allow fear to stop us from bringing things to the FORE-front. Thanks for sharing!!!


avatar Onyeka Nchege August 20, 2014 at 10:51 am

Thanks CherMaine for the comments. Yes I agree….fear has a way of putting up the STOP sign that we tend not to ignore. That is one time it’s ok to simply blow by that “stop sign” and bring this to the FOREfront.


avatar Lane Buckner August 20, 2014 at 10:40 am

I find the most effective approach is to (1) stop the bleeding (2) determine the root cause of the problem (3) resolve the problem (4) communicate.

You stop the bleeding by working around the results of the problem. If your computer system failed to move inventory to the correct place, get on the phone and work it out.

Once the bleeding is being addressed, begin working on determining what caused the problem. Call in the people who have expertise in the area. You may need people from many disciplines if you don’t have a handle on what is causing it. We recently had an issue and did not know if it was our network, security, server problems or application software. It took a cross functional team to diagnose the root causes.

Once you have identified the cause of the problem, formulate a plan of attack to fix it.

Throughout the process, it’s important to maintain communications with those impacted. It will help them keep calm, and they may provide additional information you are unaware of.

If I’m focusing on this approach, I don’t really have time to panic.


avatar Onyeka Nchege August 20, 2014 at 10:54 am

Thanks Lane for the 4 points. Totally agree. When you are facing a system issue, you gotta stop the bleeding and work thru the 4 steps and especially communicate.

Thanks for sharing!!


avatar Ashley Ekola November 11, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Like the use of the word “perceived” here … often what we think about a situation or tell ourselves about a situation is what makes it “bad”; our story can be much worse than the reality! Maybe the worst thing about this is the missed opportunities that can pass us by in this state. Trying to remember this one, especially in the midst of uncertainty!


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