Being proactive is a sought after quality
WE ALL APPRECIATE THE SKILL to look into the future, evaluate potential impediments and then spring into action in an effort to resolve/mitigate the likelihood that they will occur. This is what we look for from our leaders.
This way of being is in stark contrast to reactive managers. No one likes working on a reactive team – it’s chaotic at the very best. I think of my time as a “sustaining” engineer, on a team that released monthly bug fix patches. There wasn’t much planning, just fixing the next batch of critical issues as quickly as possible. REACTING to the deficiencies of the product produced by the “Core” team.
Where we run into issues is when the lines between proactive and reactive blur.
Sanger calls this “the illusion of taking charge”.
What he means is false proactivity
As a child of “the Enemy is Out There” syndrome, (where external forces are identified as the cause of all organizational/departmental woe) the illusion of taking charge attempts to remedy the mal-effects ahead of time –> “proactively”. But care must be taken to consider whether these in-advance solutions are changing the company for the better (accelerating learning), or if they are merely REACTIVITY in disguise.
From the example that Sanger cites, I propose a cost benefit analysis as the determining factor. If the solution is proactive (ahead of the issue), then there is time to consider (a heads opposed to true reactivity in the heat of the moment). A back of the envelope CBA is sometimes enough to determine if the solution is beneficial to the organization.