I’m reading an autobiography of George Carlin – one of my favourite comedians. This biography is much more than an autobiography – it is more like a spending an endless evening with George sitting across from you with copious amounts of whatever your choice of poison and hearing him tell you everything. Some of it sounds pretty far fetched. But that is the how life is.
So it got me thinking. What if I was simply a character in a tale told in a bar by some boozy raconteur to a spellbound audience on a cold wet night someplace cold and wet?
And if I was – which would explain a few bizarre things that have happened in my life , not to mention being Serendipity’s play thing – how does this story end?
If I’m a character in a story – perhaps you are too – who is telling yours?
I recently showed my son to use a toilet brush to clean up a mess he made.
Of course he turned his nose up and made the face that says ‘this is a shitty job’. It is.
Life is full of shitty jobs – crappy things that you sometimes have to do as part of the other amazing, interesting things there are to be done.
Some shitty jobs are cleanups of a mess you made.
Some are cleanups of a mess that others make.
Some jobs are just shitty.
However they come about – there is learning and character growth in this work. It teaches kids to be prepared to do necessary messy jobs and the humility to value all labor – even that of dealing with crappy work.
My life’s work is to bring up my kids to care about the world and to treat everyone with respect by default. The nature of people’s labor has become a way to discriminate and in some cultures – yes you India! – it has become institutionalized discrimination. I’m against treating people badly because of what work they do and this is a principle I teach my kids.
Helping your kid recognize they made a mess – in my son’s case a rather unsightly cluster splatter – and supporting them to clean it up is an opportunity to help them grow. It is an invitation to a conversation about who would do it instead and what that would mean. It is a ticket to explore the bigger idea of what it means to be in a family and the distribution of work in a unit that exists together and individual responsibility in that unit.
When I was a kid, someone taught me to use a toilet brush and it helped me value all labor and to be prepared to do even the stinkiest work and not let that work define me as a human being.
How often have you met people – usually executives and management at conferences or other spaces outside of their company and they proudly proclaim ‘we do Scrum’.
I meet them alot – not only at conferences – on planes and more worryingly in their own companies. It’s like the Sixth Sense – only with Process.
Then with the slightest of prodding – examining what they produce, how they produce it, who they produce it for, what feedback they get – and how often they get it, what they use the feedback for and how quickly they apply it – the delusion begins to become clear. This is what I call the Process Delusion:
The Process Delusion is the pretense – for whatever reason – that you are doing something a certain way for certain benefits but there is little or no evidence that you are doing it or getting the expected benefits.
Let me say straight off – I applaud the willingness of anyone in any organisation who tries out any process to get some improvement.
It takes recognition that something needs to improve. So many just live with the gross imperfections – often the downright insanity – of how they work. I’ve met them. Through whatever path they came to this point, they don’t really give a crap about what they are asked to to do. They’ve arrived at a place where they gave up or never started trying to improve things for themselves or their organization. But I digress.
So, willingness to try is wonderful. But it is – sadly – not enough. It is like taking out gym membership. You get kudos for recognising you need to get fit and ‘well done’ for taking out the gym membership. But the real applause comes when – most importantly – you start to see actual improvements. And that takes persistence and focus.
How does the Process Delusion play out in your team or organisation?