Archive for the ‘Misfit’ Category

barkis1

 

Indeed Barkis is willing. And he has his reasons. In Charles Dickens’ “David Copperfield” Mr. Barkis is a character who is interested in marrying Peggotty based on her cooking chops. He sends a simple message via David to Peggotty: Barkis is willing.

Now perhaps we would prefer maybe that Barkis had a different motive for wanting to marry Peggotty, such as her beauty or her charm or gentleness. But Barkis is willing to marry for his own reason. And in the context of the book we have to accept that.

In the change world sometimes you will have the fortune to run into Barkis. Barkis is often not who you were expecting. Whoever it is, whatever there motive for wanting involvement in your vision, ignore Barkis at your own peril. Barkis is a seed that has germinated. Give Barkis the right amount of love.

We tend to ignore Barkises  when they’re not in the appropriate position of power. We tend to ignore Barkises when they’re not totally aligned with us. We tend to ignore Barkises when they’re on the periphery of the project. It can be easy to dismiss Barkis.

But I repeat, do not ignore Barkis. Barkis is displaying interest and desire, sometimes even passion. Desire is the mother lode. Grab onto that.

This falls under the greater category of Take What the Beast Will give. We work so hard to educate people and inspire them to have vision and create motivation and focus towards that vision. I know it’s hard because we fail so often to generate inspiration. So when hear Barkis is willing, stop and listen.

Why is Barkis so important?

Like I said, desire is hard to create and find. Don’t squander the opportunity. But it’s perhaps the underlying impacts that a Barkis can have that make this important to nurture.

Desire and passion are contagious. They are palpable. Just like when you genuinely smile at someone they are more likely to genuinely smile as well. And smiling feels good. So does desire. And at work how often do you get to feel good? The key to change is changing culture, perceptions, moods and so on. What better to influence these than a collective increase in a desire to be part of a vision.

Credibility. You are dead in the water without it. And believe it or not the best credibility you can have doesn’t come from you. It comes from someone who probably doesn’t have a stake in the game. You and the management tasked with a project don’t count. Someone who’s gotten the vision, found some passion around it and is willing to talk about it will bring credibility to the vision that can’t be bought.

As with many things it’s your job to nurture your Barkis, mold your Barkis and of course not let Barkus go too far off path, which is why having a good vision is so important. You can be flexible without losing sight of the goal.

Because in the end it’s about Barkis and his friends changing course, not you.

vision

Do you have visions? Dreams of what the future could look like?

You should. You better.

When I say vision I don’t mean some crap ass mission statement about being the best. I mean envisioning a perfect future state. Whether for a small or large project, for your team, for your company, for your own job, you need to have visions.

Even Misfits need vision. Even if they are abstract and hard to define. Can you see it? Good. Then start talking about what you see (or writing about it if that is better for you). Maybe at first you’ll have a hard time describing it. That’s OK. Bounce it off people. They’ll poke holes. That’s OK, too. Every new concept has holes to fill in.  If you have passion for the vision, let that shine through.

And then start telling your customer about the vision. Start selling your customer on the vision, on the possibilities. Don’t confuse this with telling them what to do. This is about opening their eyes to opportunity. The what to do will come later. Create the desire first.

“If you want to build a ship, don’t herd people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

So we have desire. Now we can put the shared vision to work. As we take our first steps we can look ahead to the vision and ask where are we trying to go, what are we trying to accomplish and then finally we can ask what are the very first steps to move in that direction. Having that vision means we don’t have to have some detailed plan on how to get there. We just have to keep taking the next best and available step toward the vision.

Knowing the destination will allow us to make a wider range of choices, to use more discretion in concocting actions and behaviors that are conscience of the ever changing environment around us. We’re agile. We’re not tied down to the baggage of a plan concocted long before enough information was available to make good choices.

We have to get used to making directional, non-linear choices. And for many of us the only way to get used to that is to start doing it and working through the discomfort. This is important because we’ll never each a perfect future state and we have to learn to be comfortable that.

And sometimes we’ll be wrong. That’s why it’s uncomfortable. That’s OK. The advantage in going step by step by step is that if we are diligent at the wheel we can never get to far off track. And we always learn more from mistakes. It’s kind of like managed play time. But instead it’s managed mistake making.

I was reading an article the other day about re-inventing the public library. The author basically stated that if we as library managers are not making mistakes we’re not pushing hard enough to keep up with the changing times.

We have to push ourselves into discomfort and risk, knowing that our vision is our safety net. That is the ticket to the future.

As to how to cultivate visions, that belongs to a different post.

eyesofsauronmisfit

I don’t know when it was I realized I had my own personal philosophy on how to get things done. I suppose it’s unique in that it’s my own alchemical amalgamation of existing philosophies. Perhaps this was bound to happen since my basic view on life has always been that there is no one method or school of thought that has all the answers. I suppose a quite pragmatic view at the end of the day.

Perhaps it was my dislike of absolutes and excessive certainty that led me to my alchemy. Consistent run ins with consultants and experts excessively tied to their methodologies rankled my sensibilities. I naturally rebelled.

At the end of the day that probably wouldn’t have mattered much (you see us process people have large egos and we all think we are right), except that I noticed the reactions of the people they were supposed to be helping. Defensiveness is natural when trying  to “help” an organization. So that was never alarming. What was alarming was the unnecessarily high levels of distrust and dislike exhibited by the organization. Exhibited in reaction to the ego-driven, heavy handed, unempathetic demeanor put forth. A serious turn off.

I didn’t want to be like that. I couldn’t be like that.

So while other engineers were designing their future states, I was building relationships. Methodologies were useless if no one wanted you to be there. So that’s where I began to diverge. And that’s when I became a misfit.

Now there are many other qualities that make me a misfit that we’ll get to eventually.  But I like it. I find advantage in it. And it works.

So we’ll talk about those kinds of things. And some of it you’ll love and some of it you’ll hate. And that’s just the way it will have to be.

Cheers