Lame Excuses

Lame Crutch

One aspect that I suspect holds true for faculty developers worldwide is the myriad of excuses one hears in the course of working with faculty on why these faculty can not adopt technology as part of their teaching and learning.

So, thanks of Jane Hart, I checked out this interesting posting by Mitch Ditkoff on The Idea Champions Weblog – The Heart of Innovation blog. He lists the excuses he hears again and again on the front lines of corporate America when he tries to help organizations innovate. There are some amazing parallels to the excuses we hear, but what I found helpful was Mitch’s suggestion for overcoming these excuses. His recommendation:

1. Make a list of your three most bothersome excuses.

2. Turn each excuse into a powerful question, starting with the words “How can I?” or “How can we?” (For example, if your excuse is “That’s R&D’s job,” you might ask “How can I make innovation my job?” or “How can I help my team take more responsibility for innovating?”

3. Brainstorm each question — alone and with your team.

No Excuses

This technique could easily be applied to education!

Quoting from Mitch’s blog, here are the 100 lamest excuses (and his number one is also our number one):

1. I don’t have the time.
2. I can’t get the funding.
3. My boss will never go for it.
4. Were not in the kind of business likely to innovate.
5. We won’t be able to get it past legal.
6. I’ve got too much on my plate.
7. I’ll be punished if I fail.
8. I’m just not not the creative type.
9. I’m already juggling way too many projects.
10. I’m too new around here.
11. I’m not good at presenting my ideas.
12. No one, besides me, really cares about innovation.
13. There’s too much bureaucracy here to get anything done.
14. Our customers aren’t asking for it.
15. We’re a risk averse culture. Always will be.
16. We don’t have an innovation process.
17. We don’t have a culture of innovation.
18. They don’t pay me enough to take on this kind of project.
19. My boss will get all the credit.
20. My career path will be jeopardized if this doesn’t fly.
21. I’ve already got enough headaches.
22. I’m no good at office politics.
23. My home life will suffer.
24. I’m not disciplined enough.
25. It’s an idea too far ahead of its time.
26. I won’t be able to get enough resources.
27. I don’t have enough information.
28. Someone will steal my idea.
29. It will take too long to get results.
30. We’re in a down economy.
31. It will die in committee.
32. I’ll be laughed out of town.
33. I won’t be able to get the ear of senior leadership.
34. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
35. The concept is too disruptive.
36. I won’t be able to get enough support.
37. I don’t tolerate ambiguity all that well.
38. I’m not in a creative profession.
39. Now is not a good time to start a new project.
40. I don’t have the right personality to build a team.
41. Our company is going through too many changes right now.
42. They won’t give me any more time to work on the project.
43. If I succeed, too much will be expected of me.
44. Nothing ever changes around here.
45. Things are changing so fast, my head is spinning.
46. Whatever success I achieve will be undone by somebody else.
47. I don’t have enough clout to get things done.
48. It’s just not worth the effort.
49. I’m getting close to retirement.
50. My other projects will suffer.
51. Been there, done that.
52. I don’t want another thing to think about.
53. I won’t have any time left for my family.
54. A more nimble competitor will beat us to the punch.
55. Teamwork is a joke around here.
56. I’ve never done anything like this before.
57. I won’t be rewarded if the project succeeds.
58. We’re not measured for innovation.
59. I don’t have the right credentials.
60. We need more data.
61. It’s not my job.
62. It will hard sustaining the motivation required.
63. I’ve tried before and failed.
64. I’m not smart enough to pull this off.
65. I don’t want to go to any more meetings.
66. It will take way too long to get up to speed.
67. Our Stage Gate process will sabotage any hope of success.
68. I’m not skillful at building business cases.
69. Summer’s coming.
70. The marketplace is too volatile.
71. This is a luxury we can’t afford at this time.
72. I think we’re about to be acquired.
73. I’m trying to simplify my life, not complicate it.
74. The dog ate my homework.
75. Help! I’m a prisoner in a Chinese fortune cookie factory
76. My company just wants to squeeze more blood from the stone.
77. My company isn’t committed to innovation.
78. I don’t have the patience.
79. I’m not sure how to begin.
80. I’m too left-brained for this sort of thing.
81. I won’t be able to get the funding required.
82. I’m getting too old for this.
83. We’re too competitive, in-house. Collaboration is a rarity.
84. Spring is coming.
85. I’m hypoglycemic.
86. That’s Senior Leadership’s job
87. I’m thinking of quitting.
88. Market conditions just aren’t right.
89. We need to focus on the short term for a while.
90. Innovation, schminnovation.
91. What we really need are some cost cutting initiatives.
92. Six Sigma will take care of everything.
93. Mercury is in retrograde.
94. IT won’t go for it.
95. Maybe next year.
96. That’s my boss’s job.
97. That’s R&D’s job.
98. I would if I could, but I can’t, so I won’t.
99. First, we need to benchmark the competition.
100.It’s against my religion.

What are the top three excuses you hear from faculty?

How might they be reframed into questions for mutual exploration?

What excuse do you have not to try?

[Photo Credits: jm3, vandys]

4 comments to Lame Excuses

  1. That is too funny. I was just on that same post, reading and left a comment there, too, and then went to my reader and saw your post. Must be in some sort of lame excuses circle of thought…it is something that I deal with so often at work. If I made my own list it would contain some even lamer ones that I’ve heard, believe it or not!
    I know that it is part of human nature to resist change. I, myself, have a hard time with change. And yet, there is no stopping it. Why do you think so many teachers are so averse to innovation and change? I think I may have found a topic for my next blog post.

  2. Britt says:

    Good point, Andrea! Might be fun to start a wiki of BEST (or Worst) EXCUSES…but it would be even more fun to overcome some of them!

  3. Langwitches says:

    @Andrea @Britt
    I can’t believe this list…. and I thought that all the excuses I hear are personally directed at me 🙂 Looks like it is all across the board.

    How can we take this list, maybe personalize it and make it fit our place of work, present it at the next faculty meeting AND then let each teacher pick 3, as you suggested, and turn them into positive questions.

    Maybe some will recognize themselves when reading these excuses. Looking forward to reading Andrea’s next post about it.

  4. […] Challenge, I am discovering so many new and great blogs. One post that caught my eye today was Lame Excuses from Learning in a Flat World. Britt Watwood quotes Mitch Ditkoff on The Idea Champions […]

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