I love reading science fiction and fantasy books! This blog combines two of my biggest interests; reading fiction and thinking about collaboration, learning and adapting to change. I’m Marcus Degerman and I work at Incredible mess as an organizational developer, I also love reading science fiction and fantasy books. The quotes that I like or made me think ends up on this blog with some thoughts.
There is but one reality; that is true—but the two of you experience it in slightly different ways.
-The Cinder Spires by Jim Butcher
Based on your experiences, goals, and personality you will experience the world in a different way than all other people you meet. The difference might be really small or very big. But we all focus on, see, and remember different things. This will cause a lot of conflicts and frustrations. But it will also create amazing solutions, make us learn new things and see problems in a different way.
We often need the similarities to start collaborating and getting to know one another. Then we need the differences to creates something unique.
“Well, in his experience, soldiers spent little time doing soldier things. They instead spent ages walking places, waiting around, or—in his case—getting yelled at for walking around or waiting in the wrong places.”
-Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson
I think most jobs are like this. We rarely push our skills to their limits, and we spend most of the time at work doing routine stuff. This can be boring but it can also be used to replenish our energy and improve ourselves. It is not sustainable to always be on our toes, always creating, and always stressed. The challenge comes when we spend too much time in the routine or too much fun stuff that pushes our limits. One leads to stagnation and the other leads to burnout.
You can’t compare sports to normal work but if you look at elite athletes they spend at lest 90% of their time practicing and 10% competing. I admire their commitment, willpower and grit. Their amazing achievements comes from spending so much time training for one thing.
It would be very expensive for everyone to practice the same way in most organizations. But I think most companies need to focus more on making sure everyone learns and develops more during everyday activities and continues to push themselves to become better at their jobs.
There has never been a military in the entire history of the human race that has gone to war equipped with more than the least that it needs to fight its enemy. War is expensive. It costs money and it costs lives and no civilization has an infinite amount of either. So when you fight, you conserve. You use and equip only as much as you have to, never more.
– Old Man’s war by John Scalzi
An organization will need trained people, resources, equipment, and support to succeed.
The question is:
- Do you want the best people?
- Do you need as much time and money as possible?
- Do you need the best equipment?
- Do you need all the help you can get?
Or can scarcity increase creativity and help people focus on what is really important?
“She crouched in a dim room, hands touching the smooth stone floor, which had been eroded by thousands upon thousands of footfalls. If stone met a man, stone might win—but if stone met humanity, then no force could preserve it.”
–Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson
One small change will rarely make a difference when trying to change behaviors in an organization. It takes focused and continuous action towards a clear goal to make a real change. That is why Big Bang changes rarely work. It is the small steps that happen daily that shows the people in an organization what behaviors you are promoting.
“She had seen her home distilled into a sterile list of facts. Each was individually true, but the list conveyed nothing of what it sounded like when a flock of ravens wheeled into the sky…”
–Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee
Many people wants to make decisions just based on facts, believing that they are objective and rational human beings. Even if you create the most objective and rational decision making process. A subjective human being has created the process and chosen the facts to look at.
The other problem with just looking at data points is that you miss the context they are created in. Data points can’t be interpreted without connections and stories. And stories without data can be unreliable.
This is the difference between Big data and Thick data: Big data, gives us a lot of data and facts. Thick data will instead gives us the context and the stories. Both are needed.
“Would you like to come inside,” she said. It wasn’t a question. For a sentence to be a question, you had to care about the other person’s answer.”
–Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone
Lots of leadership courses focus on teaching people to ask more and better questions. The challenge with asking questions is that you first must want to listen to the answers, and then you have to have the time and will to use it.
Many people have already decided what to do, but still try to include people by asking for their opinion. Other people don’t want to hear the feedback and will change the questions to make it very clear what they want to hear: Was the presentation good? Do you like it here?
You first have to make it ok to fail and be wrong in your organization, before people will start asking better questions.
“I think I was afraid to go all in,” she says. “Because all in is terrifying. With all in, you lose everything.”
– Dept. of Speculation, Jenny Offill
It can be a project, a meeting, a coffee break conversation, playing with your children, or talking to your loved one. You can try to be fully present in that moment or you could check your phone, read your emails, or plan the next day. There is something scary about being fully present in most things, because if you are then you might miss out on something else. You might not respond to that email fast enough, or be the last one to share a funny video on Facebook. What else is scary about being present it that it might require a bit more of yourself to stay present; that you actually speak when you don’t agree, and that you actually take the time to really think about and feel what is happening with the people around you.
And that you leave if you would rather go all in somewhere else…
She has wanted to sleep with other people, of course. One or two in particular. But the truth is she has good impulse control. That is why she isn’t dead. Also why she became a writer instead of a heroin addict. She thinks before she acts. Or more properly, she thinks instead of acts. A character flaw, not a virtue.
– Jenny Offill, Dept. of Speculation
Sometimes I would rather have less impulse control instead of overthinking everything. At other times I’m really happy that I thought a bit longer and not just said whatever was in my head.
All strengths are great until you overdo them and then they become some of your biggest weaknesses:
– Attention to detail vs pedantic
– Funny vs mocking
– Caring vs over-protective
– Good listener vs Silent
– Storyteller vs Talkative
Not for the first time, a cold fist appeared deep within her stomach. Never in her life had she worried about credits or having a place to go home to. But with the last of her savings running thin and her bridges burned behind her, there was no margin for error. The price of a fresh start was having no one to fall back on.
– Becky Chambers; The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet
When we start something new we loose a lot of security, but it also means we can start over, learn new things, and meet new people. I read an article a few years back we should change our career every 7 years. This was based on the assumptation that it takes 10000 hours to master something (that may or may not be true). The thought was that if your goal in life is to develop as much as possible you should change your job after you have mastered it. If you stay in the job then you may produce a lot of things but you might also get bored.
I agree with the thought that we should change what we do when we stop learning because if we can find a new place that we learn it will be more fun and I think we will get a bigger sense of accomplishment by learning something new. It will also be really scary as you are forced to continuously learn and develop throughout your life. I remember talking to a 70 year old woman about this and I loved how her response was: “Then I should have time to master at least two more things in my life.”
What do you want to master next?