agreeing isn’t the last step

This was a big deal. Millions of dollars were spent to get to this point. On the call were resources in Hong Kong, S. Korea, and China. Not on the call were a team of other resources spanning from Florida to Hyderabad. The whole team would be waiting on the outcome of the discussion.

The topic, the first scheduled system outage. We needed to agree on a time and method for dealing with the interruption at a manufacturing facility. Mandarin was the primary language on the call. We let each section leader discuss the impact and their plans to overcome the disruptions of the outage.

I don’t speak Mandarin, but it was clear after about 20 minutes that we had an agreement that would work for everyone. Successful collaboration had occurred. We almost ended the call.

But agreeing wasn’t the last step.

Once we reached our consensus we needed to make sure that our plan to communicate and coordinate was smooth after all we just spent 20 minutes discussion what we’d do and when. How would we know when the when was happening?

How many times have you had a good plan go awry because we didn’t build in the communications plan?

Just as important as any agreement is the plan to execute that agreement. It may come across as tedious to talk about, but reminding your group that agreeing isn’t the last step should help them see the value in the effort.

The Right Answer

The project managers in our building sit near each other when we’re not in meetings all day long.

The other day my neighbor had applied for an open position in the company and done her interview. During the interview she was asked what one thing she would change in how the project management office is working. She shared her answer with me.

It was awesome and articulate. It spoke to a real problem. As she was talking about what changes could occur I easily found myself becoming a champion of her solution. I thought it was great.

She was disappointed in the response. I asked why.

She explained that she felt her entire answer was inaccurate. No analysis was done to demonstrate that her answer was the correct one, so while she may have articulated her idea well, she couldn’t prove to herself that the idea had value beyond her own experience.

I tried to demonstrate that it did.

She didn’t accept my perspective. She was firm that the right answer could only be a researched answer. So I decided to use a bit of a research technique to help.

The technique is the 80:20 rule. It’s known as the Pareto Principle and paraphrased states that 80% of your value comes from 20% of the effort. Now, this is a principle, not a hard fast rule. Sometimes the ratio is 73:27, or 85:15, but the idea is still the same and usually remains close to 80:20 regardless of the industry or environment.

I asked my neighbor to consider the Pareto Principle means that she didn’t need to be 100% accurate about whether her response was truly top of the list. It just needed to be in the top 20%.

The conversation didn’t end with my neighbor changing her mind, doing a 180 on her perspective, and walk away with a new positive attitude. She’s not that type of person. Some people take time to change how they see things. My neighbor is one of them. I was grateful she listened in the moment. She’s the sort of person who also listens after the moments and considers other’s perspectives.

While I don’t think my answer was life changing, I do think it was truthful and uplifting. Since that conversation we’ve shared more thing that indicate the way we talked that day help to build a stronger bond of trust between us.

Trust is a good thing to have.

The right answer isn’t singular. It’s plural. Being in the range of right is better than not doing anything. Had I tried to search for the exact right words I wouldn’t have strengthened a friendship.

Photo by Septimiu Lupea on Pexels.com

Biggest Feeling

We just finished the general conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It was wonderful.

My best memories aren’t of a specific talk, but instead a very special feeling.

God knows who I am and loves me.

I wish that my children would enjoy the same feeling today. They stayed up pretty late last night and that always makes it harder to feel the spirit when you’re tired.

Just out of reach

When we were kids we used to pretend that the ground was lava. Why? because it created a fun challenge. Who cared about the efficiency of getting from place to place? It was about enjoying the task even with restrictive rules.

In language the same thing occurs and the Oulipo movement is essentially ‘the ground is lava’ for writing.

Sometimes we put things just out of reach because achieving the goal is less satisfying than the journey.

Maybe we should remember to enjoy it instead of being frustrated from not being there yet.