There’s never enough time. Or so it seems.
I’d like to have more time to prepare for my next exam, my next competition, my next thing. But often we don’t control the timing; we can only control how we respond to the challenge in front of us.
I don’t have a spot at Broadcom.
A new metaphor
I had hoped to have more time. There’s something here. Not in the product (that’s awesome with or without me). Not in the team, it was a great team before and if anything they’re even better now.
There is something here about building a high-performing team of creative, thought-leadership types to dramatically impact sales results that resonated with my experience on the dojo floor.
Discussing it with my sensei at the “second dojo” (the bar after practice) her response was:
That’s interesting. You like to have a framework, and then use the framework to help students progress.
Instinctively there are a lot of parallels to the dojo, and I thought my role leading presales would allow me to explore them in real-life. I’d like to map the two in order to create a framework for creating top notch presales people, just as I try to help create top notch kenshi at Ken-Zen.
Shortly after being notified about my status, I registered a domain, mocked up a book cover using a photo from a recent seminar I taught at Ken-Zen Colombia, created a Facebook page where I hope we can continue the conversation and posted it all along with a subscribe page to Facebook. I post all kinds of crazy ideas, but this one got some attention.
One friend responded:
Every technical book I wrote, I proposed some sort of aviation angle but ultimately publishers brought me to my senses. My hobby ain’t their hobby. But the sensei angle might work.
My instinct was to push back (of course). My friend’s caution brought up a feeling that he was missing the point (of course, because I hadn’t articulated it).
It’s not about the training, it’s about the dojo itself
Many of my dojo mates would push back, this isn’t a hobby. In fact, that’s something we talk about quite a bit. It’s more than a hobby, but there’s no real work for it. A practice? A way of life? I prefer the phrase ‘a discipline.’ But that’s beyond the point for the moment.
The metaphor is not about the practice. It’s about the community. The dojo family. The thing that makes the difference between a practice being a hobby and an art. The role each person has in the context of everyone else. It’s not an American point-of-view (except that it’s my interpretation of what I see as we look to traditional Japanese dojo for how to practice more traditional).
That was my original driving curiosity, as posed to my sensei:
What if I structure the team like you have [my sensei has] structured the dojo?
How would that change priorities? How would it change our approach to “the work?” And, what could be gained by thinking of the team this way, instead of the more typical command-and-control corporate structure?
Could we work differently to give us more meaning to what we do, more appreciation for the craft of how we do it, and more celebration of the individual even while focusing on elevating the whole team, and then through that get dramatically different results?
That’s what I’d like to explore. In the short time I was there, the team evolved a lot. We changed our relationship with sales and with our customers. We changed our relationship with far-flung parts of our own organization. We started to change our go-to-market capabilities and our competitive posture.
Interestingly, because the product and team were designed around “being agile”… there’s a lot of alignment between what was in my head, though unarticulated, and the principles of being agile. The idea of retrospectives, the understanding that sometimes you can’t fix everything but you should focus on what’s next first, and the maturity of a respectful organization that’s transparent and authentic.
There’s no hiding your flaws (or your personality) on the dojo floor. In an agile organization, you can’t hide behind requirements docs, bad data, or avoiding the work. You’re working in public. Everyone is watching. You’re either delivering or not. It’s empowering and a really healthy way to work as a community (I prefer this word to team, another thing I’ll have to think about because I’m not sure why).
I need to decompress. I’ve been on the road eight of the past ten weeks, and though I’m inspired by the activity I lose my ability to focus when I’m on the road. I want to go deep here, because I believe I have a lot to offer. Not about how to do a better demo, or write a better RFP response, but how to create a better team that has excellent individual technique and as a result of their community elevates everyone with delightful results.
If you’re a software presales, sales, or marketing person I’d love if you’d subscribe below and keep in touch on Facebook. We all have a lot to learn, let’s get started.