People around us need help. Our inclination is to rush in, fix the problem, and rush out. After all we have stuff we need to do, ourselves. But we can get stuck. And stay stuck. For months.
Dan Dickson wanted his friend’s pet project, a wine store in Manhattan, to succeed. Dan had the skills to add online transactions to their web site. But, he didn’t want to get stuck doing all the work forever.
Dan Dickson built the new site, and created the wine database structure. Because he didn’t want to create a dependency, he left the work to the store staff. They added a few new entries were made to the database, but they were incorrect.
Through a couple of tries, and many months, it never went live.
He set everything up not to get stuck. And there he was: stuck.
He commiserated with Mirela Petalli MSN-ed RN, Dan R Greening, and Matt Zimmerman on the Mindful Agility team.
Hidden challenges were the problem. Dan Dickson couldn't find a path forward, until he looked at the bigger picture from a mindful, agile lens. And then, things started improving.
Call to Action
The CAVU company sponsored Scrum training for Mirela Petalli and Dan Dickson a couple of months ago. CAVU is a benefit company that teaches Scrum to both commercial and underrepresented communities. Christopher Sims and Dan Greening were co-trainers. Mirela and Dan Dickson are now Registered Scrum Masters and Registered Product Owners.
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[00:00:00] Dan Dickson: What was happening in parallel with me is that I was getting more and more of an exposure to agile management and thanks to Mirela to mindfulness and
[00:00:08] Daniel Greening: Yeah.
[00:00:09] Dan Dickson: at things in a different way and realized that everybody was hesitating to launch this until it was perfect.
[00:00:17] Daniel Greening: It takes us a while to expand our observations to the point that we say our striving for perfection is causing failure. That's like a very interesting statement, and in many cases it's true, right?
[00:00:33] Mirela Petalli: my favorite,saying on perfectionism is, you are perfect as you are, and there is room for improvement.
[00:00:43] Dan Dickson: for improvement. There you go. All right.
[00:00:47] Daniel Greening: Welcome to the Mindful Agility podcast. I'm your host, Dan Greening. Our co-host is Marella Petalli. The Mindful Agility podcast focuses on helping you make purposeful progress
[00:01:01] Today we have Dan Dickson talking about how he got stuck. He was working on a wine store because he was obligated to his friend to help out with this wine store. We can get stuck when we have an impediment that we don't know how to overcome.
[00:01:23] And the problem is we don't do anything at that point. We haven't worked on it for a while. A month goes by, we're still stuck, but we can't figure out how to start and not be completely obligated for the rest of the year or our lives And so instead of actually starting, we start ruminating.
[00:01:49] We start thinking about what happened in the past and the mistakes that we made, what's happening now, and the mistakes that were just made that caused you to be stuck. And we get frustrated. and all sorts of things happen. Sometimes, people stop talking to people that they're working with because they're afraid of the embarrassment of being in this stuck situation.
[00:02:16] I actually remember when I was working on my graduate degree and there would be periods where I wouldn't have made any progress and I just didn't wanna meet with my advisor because then I would have to either admit that I hadn't done anything or try to cover it up somehow. And neither of those seemed good. So I just wouldn't schedule meetings with my advisor . Anyway, I think we all do stuff like that.
[00:02:43] Dan Dickson: That's the classic no problem is so big or complicated. You can't run away from it.
[00:02:48] Daniel Greening: That's great. That's great. And so our colleague, Dan Dickson, was involved with a wine store situation, which he will tell you about and had some of these characteristics.
[00:03:02] I believe it was who said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again
[00:03:06] Daniel Greening: Yeah.
[00:03:07] Dan Dickson: else to. I was very much in
[00:03:10] I had moved back to New York from the West coast. I'd been involved with tech companies in Silicon Valley and, was brought into a wine retailing company by an investment group I had worked with.
[00:03:20] It was a brilliant concept. I loved it. It was a very different way of marketing wine. It was laying a store out, like a wine list as opposed to a regular wine store. And the founder, and I became very good friends and working partners because it was a classic partnership where everything he could do I couldn't do and vice versa.
[00:03:38] So we collaborated on that. We got the company really going, we sold it to the A&P grocery chain and we had such a good working relationship and a good friendship that we continued on with a little consulting company in the wine industry and did a couple of other projects.
[00:03:52] This is how I got involved in the wine store. The wine store was a legacy of the A and P acquisition. It was a small wine store on the upper West side. And
[00:04:01] Daniel Greening: Hmm.
[00:04:01] Dan Dickson: historically our relationship was that he would be the wine guy, I'd be the business guy. And it went that way with the wine store. I didn't work in the wine store, but I just gave guidelines and okay, here's how we're gonna set up a point of sale system. And that's how, price products and manage inventory. Here are the guidelines for staffing and things of that nature. I was an occasional, participant in the operations at the store, but the store was pretty much operating without my direct involvement.
[00:04:26] And it was doing pretty well quite honestly. ,the good news and bad news of doing well is that it basically was just operating as a little retail store. It had an online presence in terms of a website, but you couldn't order from the website. It was not a fulfillment capability or anything like that.
[00:04:42] And,so it was basically behind the curve as far as most retailers were concerned.
[00:04:47] Daniel Greening: Right,
[00:04:48] Dan Dickson: Covid hit, obviously retail changed fundamentally. the then store manager wanted to just shut the store down. We said, No, but we're gonna change things around so that we can do, curbside pickup and things like that.
[00:04:58] Daniel Greening: Right,
[00:04:59] Dan Dickson: And we put together a kludge where, people could call in. The wine store was an interesting concept that it only had basically 200 200 SKUs at any time, give or take.
[00:05:09] Daniel Greening: Right, it was tiny. I remember I walked into this wine store with you at one point and I bought a bottle of wine, but it was such a boutique experience and it was super simple. It was really, you didn't have to like decide that much between different things. And most of us when we buy wine, we're confused anyway.
[00:05:28] Mirela Petalli: so having fewer choices, but having really good choices made me feel good about buying that wine,It makes me think that would make the online transition a little bit
[00:05:39] Daniel Greening: Right.
[00:05:40] Dan Dickson: And, but that was the brilliance of the concept. the retail concept, again, there were eight flavor categories for wines as opposed to all kinds of varietals.
[00:05:47] Daniel Greening: Okay.
[00:05:48] Dan Dickson: categories in the red category, for example. Big Juicy. And, I think Smooth was the third one. And so if you like a big red wine, you go to the big red wine section and it may be a cabernet, it may be something else. so you didn't have to have a whole lot of wine knowledge.
[00:06:02] But the point was that, you decide what kind of wine you like, we're gonna help you pick it out. And so based on that,
[00:06:09] Daniel Greening: Hmm.
[00:06:09] Dan Dickson: have relatively few but really satisfied people. So it was a great concept it wasn't just the store, this was the concept of the retail company we sold to the a
[00:06:19] Daniel Greening: see.
[00:06:19] Dan Dickson: store.
[00:06:20] Daniel Greening: Got.
[00:06:21] Dan Dickson: but
[00:06:21] Daniel Greening: anyway, but
[00:06:22] Dan Dickson: hit, we,came to the realization, we've gotta do
[00:06:24] Daniel Greening: we've
[00:06:25] Dan Dickson: We've got to basically
[00:06:27] Daniel Greening: gotta
[00:06:27] Dan Dickson: an online capability where people can order from a website. we can't go through this kludge of where people have gotta call up and
[00:06:34] Daniel Greening: call
[00:06:35] Dan Dickson: So anyway, we decided that okay, we're gonna go ahead and launch this initiative to put in place,an interactive website.
[00:06:43] Now the good news is that I mentioned earlier about point of sale system. The point of sale system that the, store had, that managed the retail operation had a back-end e-commerce plugin. So from that standpoint, it was really easy to implement. in other words, think about inventory.
[00:06:59] That's the inventory. It would between the two concepts. You wouldn't have to
[00:07:04] Dan Dickson: APIs and interfaces.
[00:07:06] Daniel Greening: Right.
[00:07:06] Dan Dickson: we did have to do is we had to build a major database with record structure, which reflected, okay, how do people pick wines? You got red, white, rose, fizzy, you got, things
[00:07:16] that.put all these things together and that's what I did cuz I'm pretty good at that. And built them a database, populated the database. got everything set up where we had descriptions and cross references and things like that, and he said, Okay, here you go. And,basically shook hands and said, I put together all kinds of processes, procedures, things of that nature.
[00:07:35] Daniel Greening: so this is with the staff of the store
[00:07:38] Dan Dickson: well,
[00:07:38] Daniel Greening: I think what you're saying.
[00:07:39] Dan Dickson: manager primarily.
[00:07:40] I see. So you went through all the things you had to do to maintain this database and to keep the thing running and I guess it was ready to go, but you didn't turn it on because it was not yet maintained, or why didn't you turn it on at that point?
[00:08:00] Dan Dickson: it wasn't my role to turn it on. I wanted the store
[00:08:03] Daniel Greening: I see,
[00:08:03] Dan Dickson: responsibility and there
[00:08:05] Daniel Greening: I see.
[00:08:06] Dan Dickson: here, is that this particular store manager was a good retail manager, but that's all he was. and he, quite honestly, he was the one that wanted to just shut the store down Covid
[00:08:16] So he
[00:08:16] Daniel Greening: right.
[00:08:17] Dan Dickson: that motivated in the e-commerce direction.
[00:08:19] So Mirela, what do you was going through this guy's mind when he's getting this technological solution and he's a retail store manager, first I would ask had this person, Any experience or any training in Maez or being able to work with the website at all?
[00:08:39] he didn't really need any training. basically what it was is that effectively you get a new product.
[00:08:44] Daniel Greening: right?
[00:08:46] Dan Dickson: procedures in, You go through and look in the database. You check, is it a red wine, is it a white wine? Is it rose? And you check the boxes and that's all you gotta do.
[00:08:54] Daniel Greening: Yeah. was, he didn't have to, he didn't have to know anything about really
[00:08:59] Mirela Petalli: Right. The other thing I'm thinking about, because you said he was a good retail person and he had this idea that the store, the pandemic hit, They're closing down. Everything this is done, we should close down. And
[00:09:13] when you start off with a preconceived belief and opinion that this is how things are, it takes us so much more to be open to a new direction, to be open to an alternative.
[00:09:26] So maybe this person wasn't ready they didn't buy in the idea that this could work, that having online presence could make the store keep going. So maybe it was
[00:09:39] just about
[00:09:40] Daniel Greening: I, I,
[00:09:43] Dan Dickson: That is a very good observation because there's another little bit of information here. he didn't want, he wanted to close the store, but he didn't wanna let go. He wanted to keep on getting paid.
[00:09:51] And so what
[00:09:52] Daniel Greening: Oh,we came up with this interim solution where, okay, we published a list of the wines and somebody can call up.
[00:09:58] Dan Dickson: He insisted, and again, he didn't work for me, I was just an advisor. He worked for my partner who was, basically call, let's call him the store owner. And, one of the wonderful things about my business partner, he's a wonderful human being, but he hates confrontation.
[00:10:11] and so what this manager did, he effectively relocated to Connecticut with his wife's parents, but he was still taking the phone orders from the store. So if
[00:10:21] Daniel Greening: Oh, weird
[00:10:22] Dan Dickson: the store, they would go to his cell phone, he would write down the order, he would call the store, have them fulfill it. And I said, This is really stupid.
[00:10:30] And then he got turned into a real emotional problem because it was like, Oh,
[00:10:35] Daniel Greening: Hmm
[00:10:35] Dan Dickson: to get rid of me, and stuff like that. Mirela, you're absolutely right in terms of that observation, is that he didn't know how to cope with this. he technically, from the technical standpoint, he could cope.
[00:10:45] cuz again, you check boxes. This is not any high level programming or anything like that. But from an emotional standpoint, he couldn't.
[00:10:52] Daniel Greening: Yeah. And the other thing that I was thinking when you described this is someone who isn't familiar with technology, it may seem to the rest of us that all of it is super simple, but without having enough experience to know, it's super simple. I can imagine this guy feeling a lot of fear, fear that he was gonna lose his job or fear that it wasn't gonna work and the customers were gonna abandon the store.
[00:11:23] And so he couldn't think of any solutions that would work. And then he advocated, let's just shut down the store , I see this all the time, right? Like that people They are no longer open to new ideas or maybe they never have been open to new ideas and then it's, it becomes a big problem, right?
[00:11:47] Mirela Petalli: It doesn't matter what you do. You have very highly skilled professionals, You have people who have a broad knowledge of things, and they're very competent in what they do. They're very skilled, and they still can be very resistant to change. They can still be very resistant to, try new things, especially when the old and true has worked.
[00:12:10] Dan Dickson, would you have done anything differently knowing what you know now about that particular person and their particular perspective, what might you have done differently?.
[00:12:22] you just,reminded me of something else. Now, during this entire period, Mirela I hadn't even met you. And Dan, you and I had known each other forever, but we didn't have any in-depth conversations about this thing going on.
[00:12:33] Dan Dickson: And
[00:12:34] and I was covid too.
[00:12:35] Dan Dickson: And so anyway, operating on my own trying to figure out, oh God, what am I gonna do? And, my partner, again, like I said, we've got complimentary skills, but, complimentary means that he can't really think in terms of what has to happen and this side of the business, if you will.
[00:12:48] So things were just spinning and nothing was happening. I did check back in. Nothing had happened in a positive matter in terms of getting the website launched. things had happened in a negative matter because things were getting entered incorrectly in the database.
[00:13:01] even though it was a very simple process, it was just not being done correctly. And so everything was completely messed up.
[00:13:07] Daniel Greening: Mm. this is the situation where I had a, I don't wanna call it an obligation because it sounds like it was something I didn't want to do. I'm very close to this guy, my business partner, my friend.
[00:13:19] Dan Dickson: And I felt, I really a responsibility, to help him get
[00:13:23] Daniel Greening: Yeah.
[00:13:23] Dan Dickson: straightened out. So I got back involved and, what also happened during the same period is that the store manager left and a new store manager took his place
[00:13:32] Thisnew store manager, it was a, she, was very excited about the website and my thought was, Oh, okay, here we have the solution now.
[00:13:40] is good.
[00:13:41] Daniel Greening: Right.
[00:13:41] Dan Dickson: work. Because we got somebody who's really motivated and she understood, eCommerce and marketing through a website. her head was in the right place. So I effectively repeated everything I did before in terms of getting everything up and ready and running and all the products straightened out and all that kind of stuff.
[00:13:57] Daniel Greening: Yeah.setting up the procedures and processes but you said, I understand what needs to be done here. I get it. And they said, Okay, great. Turn the thing over.
[00:14:06] Dan Dickson: And, basically went on my merry way. I had other things going on and checked back in a couple of months later. And lo and behold, first of all, the site hadn't launched. And secondly, how long ago? How long was this
[00:14:19] Daniel Greening: that you tookyou checked it?about three months.
[00:14:22] Dan Dickson: I wasn't completely absent, but I just wasn't in terms of being detailed in terms of, Okay, explain what's going on like you would in a typical, like a business meeting, if you will.
[00:14:31] Daniel Greening: Yeah. Yeah.
[00:14:32] Dan Dickson: But, anyway, and I started looking at the database and I said, Oh my God, everything's all screwed up again. And it turns out that, what had happened, and this is when I became to have the realization, and Dan, you and I started talking about this. what was happening in parallel with me is that I was getting more and more of an exposure to agile management and thanks to Mirela to mindfulness and
[00:14:56] Daniel Greening: Yeah.
[00:14:57] Dan Dickson: at things in a different way and realized that everybody was hesitating to launch this until it was perfect.
[00:15:04] in retrospect, had it launched, some of these problems would've,surfaced immediately cuz people would've caught them. But, they didn't surface because the website wasn't launched. And then I found them. and so what I decided to do is I said, Okay, I'm gonna go ahead and do this one more time.
[00:15:18] Mirela Petalli: It sounds like this second time around there was a new manager who seemed to have a
[00:15:23] Dan Dickson: Mm-hmm.
[00:15:24] Mirela Petalli: experience and be more familiar with technology and also be more excited and motivated to have this thing implemented. so it sounds likeyou approach okay, now I have a solution, now things are going to work.
[00:15:38] then you found out that it actually didn't, So maybe you found out that there was a deeper problem that wasn't just about the person who was on the other side executing the plan.
[00:15:53] Dan Dickson: Yeah. And I think the deeper problem is that wanted everything to be perfect, including me. you asked me a question about the earlier manager, Is this something I should have done differently?
[00:16:02] And the answer is absolutely right. And what I should have done differently is what I learned, number one in the Scrum training that Mirela and I went through. And,
[00:16:11] Daniel Greening: Hmm,
[00:16:11] Dan Dickson: in our conversations, Dan, about just agile management and experimentation in general. Is start with low risk experiments
[00:16:19] Mirela Petalli: But that's
[00:16:20] Daniel Greening: hmm.
[00:16:20] Dan Dickson: so
[00:16:21] Mirela Petalli: right? Because we, we went through the scrum course together and, I've been doing the Mindful Agility podcast with Dan and practicing, Agility for almost a year now. And this is one of the hardest things for me to be able to let go of perfectionism and say, That's okay. Let's release this pretty rough draft that I would not otherwise release. yeah. that is one of the hardest things to do, especially when you are a very highly motivated, perfectionist person who really values people's feedback or how, what other people are going to think or, there are so many factors that, that make it so hard for us to be comfortable with,releasing to customers a product that we are aware it's not perfect.
[00:17:14] Daniel Greening: this is the point at which we should apologize to our listeners because they might not have known, but we were releasing things, that might have had imperfections and if we had bet better people, we wouldn't
[00:17:27] have done that.
[00:17:28] Mirela Petalli: we, and we really
[00:17:29] Daniel Greening: Right.the love and that they have shown us and still saying that
[00:17:34] Dan Dickson: And,
[00:17:34] Mirela Petalli: we
[00:17:34] Daniel Greening: right.
[00:17:36] Dan Dickson: And that applies to this episode as well,
[00:17:39] Daniel Greening: Oh yeah. Yeah. Please love us
[00:17:43] Dan Dickson: Yeah. (omg this part bout applozing for past episodes is hillarious) Despite our flaws. () but it was interesting because it's actually, this was not just coming from me, it was coming from the store manager, it's coming from the owner. everybody
[00:17:49] Daniel Greening: Hmm.when the things ready, we'll launch it and everything's be fine.
[00:17:52] Dan Dickson: And it goes back to Ron Johnson. It's just light the fuse, off it goes. What would be fine? And
[00:17:58] Daniel Greening: Yeah.
[00:17:59] Dan Dickson: is, again, is in, through these conversations with both of you, is that, wait a minute, this thing does not have to be perfect to launch. And if we could launch it in a controlled manner with controlled audience, we can actually have it surface its own problems rather than me having to dig through and figuring things out or anybody else.
[00:18:15] And so it's
[00:18:16] Daniel Greening: Right?
[00:18:16] Dan Dickson: double solution.
[00:18:18] so what I did is that, Went through, I fixed everything all over again and, had a conference with the, store manager and the owner, and I said, Okay, we're gonna launch this website.
[00:18:29] Daniel Greening: So when did you do this? Whensay it was done, finished about a month ago.
[00:18:34] I see.
[00:18:35] Dan Dickson: Okay.
[00:18:35] And then we had this conversation is that, okay, we're not going to do this anymore in terms of trying, launching the, gonna launch the website this week and we're
[00:18:44] Daniel Greening: Hmm.
[00:18:45] Dan Dickson: with one beta customer, that meaning you, pointing at the owner, and we're gonna act just like you're a regular customer.
[00:18:52] he started saying, I'll text you when I do an order. I said, No you won't. gonna act
[00:18:56] Dan Dickson: customer and place an order on the website. We're gonna see what happens.
[00:19:00] Daniel Greening: Right on, man.
[00:19:02] Dan Dickson: sure enough, there were problems and things got lost and screwed up and all this kind of stuff, but Okay, fine, we can fix this.
[00:19:08] And we did fix it
[00:19:10] Daniel Greening: Hmm.
[00:19:11] Dan Dickson: In the meantime, I was getting the rest of the website straightened out so that the, everything was fixed on that site.
[00:19:17] Daniel Greening: I see.
[00:19:18] Dan Dickson: happy to report that in the last week we have actually opened the website to a small, more than one group of beta customers. And
[00:19:28] Daniel Greening: Right. So you're
[00:19:29] Dan Dickson: problems, which is okay.
[00:19:31] And I said, Look, it, here's what we're gonna do. Give everybody a $25 gift certificate, Tell 'em to go on the website and order. And
[00:19:38] Daniel Greening: Hmm.
[00:19:39] Dan Dickson: a bug reward thing where, you find a problem, you get a free bottle of wine. But I said, no, that's gonna be, but anyway, anyway.
[00:19:45] got in the spirit of it in terms of, we can fail, we can, this is gonna help us get the website going.
[00:19:51] it worked out well. the point is, I never would've gotten out my rut, had I not had the conversations with you guys and brought this different point of view, it would still be the exact same thing. It would've continued
[00:20:04] Mirela Petalli: That's very when
[00:20:06] usually, when something is not working and we feel stuck, we either look outside Oh, it's someone else's fault. it's, I don't know, it was person's fault or my boss didn't support me. Or, it was raining anything. we turn to blame ourselves and, put ourselves down and say, Oh, I'm not worthy. I'm not good enough. I haven't been working hard.
[00:20:28] Dan Dickson: Mm-hmm.
[00:20:29] Mirela Petalli: We sometimes forget to look at the process. To look at the whole picture and see, might not be anybody's fault. It might be the process that needs to be reviewed and changed and improved and adapted. this sounds like it is a case of that, that it wasn't nobody's fault in particular, that things weren't working.
[00:20:49] It was just that the approach was not working and that needed to be changed.
[00:20:55] Dan Dickson: Yeah. And that's
[00:20:56] Daniel Greening: Hmm.
[00:20:56] Dan Dickson: right. it was a situation about, and again, it goes back and this is a classic thing about yeah, look yourself in the mirror. And I should have known, I was familiar with agile management. I'm familiar programming side. I was familiar with the idea of experimentation, but just being familiar with something in a sort of an academic way and actually practicing it are two very different things
[00:21:18] Daniel Greening: Um, "
[00:21:19] Dan Dickson: Gee,
[00:21:19] Daniel Greening: yeah.
[00:21:20] Dan Dickson: I do this before?"
[00:21:21] the solution after the fact was blindingly obvious. I don't wanna get off a tangent here, but when I was doing my parachute CEO work in Silicon Valley, one of my standard, statements, and it was true, I believed it, was that, look it, I'm no smarter than anybody else here at the company, but I am a different perspective.
[00:21:37] Dan Dickson: And so I can help with a fresh set of eyes here. And I always preach about how easy it is to get stuck in the weeds and being able to,
[00:21:45] Daniel Greening: Right.
[00:21:45] Dan Dickson: different perspective.
[00:21:46] So the lesson to me is that you've always got Second guessing or at least questioning yourself
[00:21:51] Mirela Petalli: This reminds me of This Buddhist story about an elephant and six blind men. They had no idea what an elephant was. So each one of them was touching one part of the elephant and was describing what they were touching.
[00:22:05] The first man said that the elephant is a pillar because he was touching the leg. The second one was touching the tail and the said no, the elephant is like a rope. The third man who was touching the trunk said that the elephant is like a thick branch of a tree.
[00:22:24] The fourth one touching the ear of the elephant said, no, it's like a big hand fan. The fifth man who was touching the belly, thought that the elephant was like a huge wall. And finally the sixth man thought that the elephant was like a solid pipe because he was touching the tusk.
[00:22:45] To each one of them that was what the elephant was like, because that was the only part of the elephant that they were touching. And then they started fighting each one defending their own point of view or of touching in this case. It sounds like maybe this describes your exprience with the wine store, Dan. it's back to Dan, your opening for this old episode in terms of how do you get unstuck if you're stuck,
[00:23:08] Dan Dickson: and how can you effectively remind yourself is that there are different perspectives.
[00:23:12] if you and I hadn't started discussing this situation, , I think it was just an informal conversation that we
[00:23:19] Daniel Greening: Yeah,
[00:23:19] Dan Dickson: on.
[00:23:21] Daniel Greening: Yeah, this solution wouldn't have appeared. Iit was,and I think that's the mindfulness lesson for me. it's just, agile management because I intellectually knew that, it's,
[00:23:30] Dan Dickson: a second, stop. What you're doing is not working. You need to think it through. You need to maybe get some different perspectives from different people and, try something different.
[00:23:39] Mirela Petalli: What happened was that focusing on one link of the chain. Like why on the causes and conditions when you examined those, the causes and conditions of why it failed, why it didn't work. You were looking at something different. You weren't looking at the fact that the website needed to be perfect before it launched.
[00:23:59] You thought that the problem was somewhere else, then it took you the second try for then to realize that wasn't the problem. The problem was exactly the fact that you all were trying to get the website in a perfect condition before it launched. So I think looking back, you probably did need to go through that process of making mistakes and learning from them get to the final solution,
[00:24:25] Dan Dickson: Actually, you know what? You just hit a bullseye. And the reason I say that is because both the owner and I were sitting there is if we had a different store
[00:24:32] Mirela Petalli: right?
[00:24:32] Dan Dickson: be a problem. And
[00:24:34] Daniel Greening: and.
[00:24:35] Dan Dickson: a different store manager and lo and behold it was still a problem.
[00:24:38] Mirela Petalli: right?
[00:24:39] Dan Dickson: we, No, so that was, That's a very good, we basically misidentified the problem.
[00:24:46] Daniel Greening: yeah.
[00:24:48] Dan Dickson: is
[00:24:48] Daniel Greening: And
[00:24:49] Dan Dickson: been a very good conversation for me. even though it's a relatively, you look at it in terms of your career and all this is a relatively small little incident and so forth and. . I have learned a lot from this conversation and this whole episode.
[00:25:01] This is really interesting.
[00:25:03] Daniel Greening: Oh, thanks. you know this, and Mirela knows this, and some of our listeners know this, that we are now exploring how to expand your, observations beyond your narrow focused, trying to get this done sort of perspective, to think about all of the characteristics that may contribute or inhibit your, path to achieving something or overcoming a problem or building something.
[00:25:33] And I love this story that you're telling Dan Dickson because it has many, aspects of this. It takes us a while to expand our observations to the point that we say our striving for perfection is causing failure. That's like a very interesting statement, and in many cases it's true, right?
[00:25:57] Daniel Greening: We know plenty of people whose perfectionism inhibits their ability to succeed. but nobody ever actually says that,
[00:26:05] Mirela Petalli: Yes.
[00:26:05] Daniel Greening: Isn't that funny?
[00:26:06] Mirela Petalli: perfectionism and also it's about
[00:26:10] Daniel Greening: Yeah.
[00:26:10] Mirela Petalli: to expand our observation, be able the bigger picture, take a step back, like you said, Dan Dickson, take stock of what's going on, is important because it takes us away from that tunnel vision.
[00:26:23] This is the problem. We can step back and we ask, do really have all the information that I need? Do I know everything?
[00:26:33] Daniel Greening: Hmm.
[00:26:33] Mirela Petalli: to know about the situation? am I sure that this is what's going on? Questioning ourselves like, and doubting
[00:26:42] Daniel Greening: Right.
[00:26:42] Mirela Petalli: our knowledge is, and , feeling comfortable with that uncertainty that we might not have the whole information.
[00:26:48] We might need to look at things from different perspectives, and that's okay.
[00:26:51] Dan Dickson: Yeah. that's, I'm gonna push back a little bit on that because I have all the information I needed, but I just wasn't interpreting it the right way. And that's
[00:26:59] Mirela Petalli: Mm.
[00:27:00] Dan Dickson: Because
[00:27:01] Daniel Greening: Hmm.
[00:27:01] Dan Dickson: don't know anything more now than I knew three months ago, other than the fact that what I was trying to do wasn't working.
[00:27:07] But,that may be part, may have been part of my problem where it wasn't a question of not having the proper information. It was a question of not having the proper perspective.
[00:27:15] Mirela Petalli: there's sort of two parts of this in my mind. There's perfectionism,and Agile combats that in one way, right? We accept the fact that it's imperfect and we push all the way to exposing it to a customer or the CEO in this case. When we are Mindful and Agile at the same time, then we can accept the reality that are not able to deliver a perfect product. And if we do strive for that, like Dan Dickson's example showed we're gonna fail.
[00:27:48] Dan Dickson: It's the idea of mindfulness and agile being parallel here because by delivering this website to a small group of people and experimenting, that is the only way to get to quote perfection. it's not gonna be
[00:28:01] perfect, but to make sure the thing is working correctly, you can mull over it all you want internally.
[00:28:07] but until in this case you actually launch it, you can't, it's like debugging software. You can't know everything that could possibly go wrong. So you have to be
[00:28:15] Daniel Greening: right.
[00:28:15] Dan Dickson: again, with launching on a controlled risk basis, my favorite,saying on perfectionism is, you are perfect as you are, and there is room for improvement.
[00:28:28] Mirela Petalli: Yes.
[00:28:28] Dan Dickson: for improvement. There you go. All right.
[00:28:31] Daniel Greening: kind
[00:28:31] Dan Dickson: that, that may be the, that may be the way to, to wrap this up.
Perfect is the Enemy of GoodSummary
[00:28:36] Daniel Greening: Focusing on a problem can help us finish routine activities. We cut out distractions that derail our focus. But focus can prevent us from seeing the big picture. And this story, we saw that the wine store project got stuck when Dan Dickson focused on finishing a new online ordering system and simply handed it off to his wine store staff.
[00:29:05] Nothing happened. He first blamed the staff, which was partly right, but there was a bigger problem.
[00:29:13] When we get stuck, we need to try creative approaches. We have to detach and unfocus from the approach we've been using that keeps And think about a variety of approaches that might work. We have to look at the problem from a more open perspective, shedding our assumptions. Sometimes we have to reframe the problem itself.
[00:29:39] In this episode, Dan Dickson initially tackled the technical work to get an online ordering system working. And assumed he could just hand it off to a competent store manager to finish the job. When the first star manager didn't bring the site up. Dan assumed the fault lay with the store manager.
[00:29:59] When the second store manager, didn't bring the site up. Dan got very frustrated, but Dan Dickson couldn't solve the problem until he stepped back to look at the bigger picture. He came up with two approaches.
[00:30:13] First. Everybody needed to step away from perfectionism. Seeking perfection was causing the project to fail.
[00:30:22] Author Anne Lamott loves the notion of shitty first drafts. She claims I think correctly. That all good writers write shitty first drafts. This is how they end up with good second drafts and terrific third drafts. Bystanders tend to imagine, perfection just flows out of great writers, artists, engineers, podcasters, and so forth. Nope.
[00:30:48] This very podcast episode had a shitty first draft in that now discarded episode, Dan Dickson was ready to give up on the wine store. We were going to run an episode, talking about how to know when to quit. We recorded and edited the episode. It was actually scheduled for release. But then Dan Dickson said, Hey, Dan Greening. And Mirela Petalli. I gave the wine store one more chance. And I'd like to rerecord that episode. This episode is the result.
[00:31:25] Perfect is the enemy of good. As Voltaire once said.
Low-Risk Short Assignments
[00:31:29] Daniel Greening: Second Dan Dickson set a tight deadline for a low risk experiment. He said. We have to get this online ordering site up and running in a week and we will deliver it to a beta customer. To keep the release low risk, the customer was the CEO of the wine store. The CEO liked to avoid confrontation, so he suggested he would alert the team when he made an order.
[00:31:57] Nothing doing Dan said. He wanted the team to test whether the site alerted them to process the order. When we create barriers to getting feedback, we delay getting feedback and our own improvement. Feedback can help us figure out what to do next, how to do it better, how to do it more efficiently.
[00:32:18] Daniel Greening: What are the takeaways here?
[00:32:20] When you get stuck, broaden your perspective. Try to detach from your specific frustration and look at different people, the processes you're using your motivations.
[00:32:33] Ask yourself, whether perfectionism is getting in the way of progress. Are you failing to learn because your perfectionism is keeping you from getting feedback.
[00:32:44] And rather than trying to reduce the risk you might fail, which leads to perfectionism and a lack of creativity. Think about how you might reduce the cost of failure. So that you can fail one way to reduce the cost is to share your work with a limited set of people after you're done.
[00:33:06] For example, we always send our podcast episodes to beta reviewers who are mostly friends of ours before releasing publicly. Another way to reduce the cost of failure is to limit the time you work on something before sending it out. Agile folks call this time boxing.
[00:33:25] Finally go easy on yourself. We only learn when we take risks.
[00:33:33] Daniel Greening: Many thanks to Dan Dickson for joining us in this episode.
[00:33:37] The CAVU company sponsored scrum training from Mirela Petalli and Dan Dickson a couple of months ago. CAVU is a benefit company that teaches Scrum to both commercial and underrepresented communities. Christopher Sims and I were co trainers. Mirela and Dan are now Registered Scrum Masters and Registered Product Owners.
[00:34:00] We have recently held live online meditations and classes. If you'd like to get notified about those, do one of three things. Join the Facebook group called Mindful Agility community, or like the LinkedIn showcase called Mindful Agility, and we have an email list at Mindful Agility dot com.
[00:34:24] You can help us out by giving us a written review on apple podcasts or by sharing our episodes with friends. I'm Dan Greening.
JokeCreditsClosingCall to Action
[00:34:35] Daniel Greening: Um, Morel. And I authorized Matt Zimmerman to use our synthesized voices in our podcast editing tool. This has resulted in some questionable and fake discussions.
[00:34:50] Here's one of them.
[00:34:52] What did the grape say when the elephant stood on it?
[00:34:54] Mirela P: I don't know. What did the grape say?
[00:34:56] Daniel Greening: Nothing, it just let out a little wine.
[00:34:58] Mirela P: Oh, that is very sweet.
[00:35:00] Dan Greening: Really? I thought it might be too dry..