Full control

There is a popular meme that tells about the relationships between a job done fast, well, and cheap. You can do a job fast and well, you can do it well and cheap, you can do it cheap and fast. What you can’t do is fast, well, and cheap at the same time.

Source: The Developer Society, Good/Cheap/Fast

The meme fails to tell another truth, though. A bane to many companies. That is: you can’t do a job fast, well, or cheap if you want to maintain full control on the outcome.

You can’t do fast, because when the job is ready, there are still review phases to go through. Often featuring vague feedback, last minute changes, and unsubstantiated personal opinions.

You can’t do cheap, because all the layers you are adding have a cost. And even more expensive is the price you pay for the people who leave once they realize their talent comes after tenure.

You can’t do well, because by the time you get to the finish line, what you have is a frankestein that satisfies everyone and excites no one.

So, if your goal is to maintain full control on the outcome, any of the combinations in the meme is a much better path to execution. Change, or be prepared to be kicked out of the game.

False dichotomies

Two reasons why many arguments fail to move the conversation forward and develop the relationship – from the beautiful book by Steven Pinker, The Sense of Style.

  1. We approach the argument as if it were a dichotomy. Black or white. Right or wrong. Good or evil. For as much as this is convenient to survive, it is not a great representation of how things actually are. And it is certainly not a path to understanding.
  2. We make it personal. It is rarely about finding the truth or the better course of action. It is about beating your opponent. Who is motivated by the wrong values, less intelligent, and not as refined.

When we avoid falling into these traps, we find the place for learning and growth.

Arguments should be based on reasons, not people.

Steven Pinker

Support

What do you do when someone comes to you with an idea you find hopeless or inadequate?

You denigrate the idea, saying it is a bad one and it does not deserve any of your time.

You force change onto the idea to make it fit with what you think might be a better idea.

You begin a conversation and try to compromise to get the idea nearer to you.

You support the idea and say you will do your best to help.

I guess much depends on how invested you are in the topic. A manager might find it difficult to support something that might take time and resources and return no results; a friend might be more open to keep their opinions to themselves and help instead.

Relationships are built and broken on these type of choices. Get to them with intention and care.

Companions

After one year (and counting) dealing with social distancing, isolation, uncertainty, fear of sickness and death, confinment, lack of freedom, impossibility to meet family and friends, video-conferencing, constant worrying.

We are all exhausted.

So if you are too, that is fine.

If you struggle to find motivation, if you do not want to get started, if you would rather call in sick, if you start thinking it’s not worth it.

You are not alone.

Reach out to somebody today. Tell them about how you feel. Listen as they tell you how they feel. And find a companion.

We all need that now.

The receiver

In University, I was taught that communication, in its most basic form, is the cooperation between a sender and a receiver to get a message through a shared environment.

And while that certainly holds true still today, I am more and more convinced that in business, communication is in the hands of the receiver.

Think about marketing: the receiver is forced through a myriad of messages and decides what to dedicate attention to in a matter of seconds. Think about internal communication: the receiver can call bullshit on any message management is sharing if that does not reflect their day-to-day experience. Think about presentations: the receiver is so fed up with bullet points and animations (particularly after one year of virtual meetings) to the point they can check emails or write a report while you are struggling to make a case.

The receiver is central in any form of corporate communication.

And the fact that we spend so little time trying to figure them out is the most widely overlooked device a professional has to leverage to get their messages through.