Tuesday, June 3, 2008

We don't need to build the Bentley... or do we?

It's been a while since I've been inspired. Some recent experiences have pushed me to the keyboard once again.

Lately, I've been seeing a common myopia (HAH! SEEING! MYOPIA! That's a joke son! Don't you get it? I'm too fast for you! You'll never learn nothing with your nose in a blog boy!) . The people who typically surround me are overachievers and we all seem to share a passion for excellence in what we do. This is not so strange. What is strange and interesting is that when we ask for something from others and have certain constraints (like time or money) we seem to lose some ability to empathize with the passion for excellence from the other party.

In a past life, we called it "building the Bentley syndrome" - the endemic need in groups of overachievers that nothing but their best work was remotely acceptable. In trying to lead teams of overachievers, I am constantly faced with this problem... and I think I have made some sort of break-through.

I've tried the "redefine" approach where "best" is subjective and requires a balance of all constraints to little avail.

I am loathe to try the "dictatorial" approach where my option is the only option. I feel that this option is doomed with people who bristle at authority.

Well, maybe break-through is a little strong. Gained some new insight is more appropriate. Maybe what people need is a little understanding and empathy. All the people around me want to create "remarkable" solutions and feel that shortcuts and delivering to managed expectations is not very remarkable. When challenged on their approach the replies basically come to this - it
is always easy to do something poorly. I agree with this sentiment - but my new retort will be, I understand your need to do your best work. I empathize with the need to shine. Please understand that even work that is half-assed by your standards will more than likely be better than anything the client has dreamed. Please empathize with the fact that the quality of work you are capable of delivering when you are not tying up every loose end will definitely exceed what the client is willing to pay for. Sometimes, if we deliver crisply, we leave clients wanting more. And over time, that delivery focus will lead to trust and partnership. That shared trust and context will allow us to do our best work and get paid appropriately for it.

Understanding & Empathy - Like em.