I run into a lot of lists. Everyone says you should have them. Lists are magic. People love ’em. Mostly, they’re things TO do or NOT to do or lessons learned or what have you. Sometimes they’re aspirational, inspirational, and – lately if you believe the news – wholly sensational. Some even promise to remove belly fat with bananas. I’ve yet to figure that out…
This isn’t any of that. No, this is a simple list of things I wish people would do. And not in that ‘you’re bad, lazy, (fill in choice adjective here)’ kind of way. No, more like that, ‘I wish we could all have superpowers’ or world peace kind of way.
I wish we all could take the time. Not just the kind of time you take when you turn the pomodoro timer on or ‘block your calendar for an hour so no one calls’ kind of way – no, more like a sabbatical, ‘take time to play’ kind of way. This time would be to explore your data – wholly out of curiosity – with no limits and no requirements. I hear my IT departments cringing, my HR managers wincing, and rational explanations of why this will never fly in the real world. In this wish, this is more about novel findings, the whimsical discovery we only find when we take a different path.
This is the 10% time to other projects, the wild card on the kanban that everyone covets, or the internal reinvestment time that seems to be a myth – we all hear about it, but so few of us have it in our grasps. I wish we analysts had it and could discover something outright magical.
Maybe, its exploring our HR pipeline. And finding ways to change that process. Maybe its looking at our call patterns in a different way, finding bright spots and examples where people have done well. And helping them replicate that success. Maybe it’s using open data to understand some periphery of our business.
Driving without direction seems like a waste to so many people. It eats gas, time, and energy. But, it’s also how you learn the roadways and find the off-the-beaten-path stores and restaurants. Or, that gem of a park with a view that no one else knows about.
You expect this from me. After all, I’m one of those shark-consultants you hear about that’s also co-running a Tableau user group. Of course I’d put this here. But not just this way.
You see, I come from a practice profession. I interpreted a lot of places. And every now and then, I’d have a team, which meant I got to see someone else do my job. The best, and scariest, way to learn is to let someone else do your job. No, they won’t do it like you. And that’s just the point.
Because when people do it differently, you learn. And while it’s easy to be critical when someone else does the work, there are things you will like. Can you use it? Take this one step farther and (you guessed it) bring in a consultant. But understand, consultants fall on a spectrum.
There’s task rabbits, that do whatever you tell them. There’s even companies CALLED Task Rabbit. This is not my wish for you. Not off the bat anyway.
There’s also artisans, masters of the craft. This, this is what I wish for you. But not for a long project or to solve all the mysteries in the universe. No, my wish is that you get a quick burst, maybe enough for some prototypes. Why would I wish this? So, you can see your data dressed the way that a chef would cook out of your fridge. Will you ever get to that level? Maybe, if you work at it long enough, hard enough, and want it enough. Practically, probably not. But, you know what you like and what is reasonable for you to do on a regular basis. Just like with cooking (hello, my cooking friends!).
And then, my wish is for you to play with it. Just like you do when you reheat leftovers, add some extra spice, and call it a new home cooking so you look like a bonafide chef. Or maybe that’s just me.
Find the Flow
Ever go surfing or swimming in the ocean? There’s that one moment where time ceases to exist and you are frozen on the edge of impossibility, the second that lasts a life time, suspended in weightlessness. I wish we could all find this.
How to recognize flow – a sublist of a list:
- Are you muttering while working? Not flow.
- Twiddling with things? Not flow.
- Looking up or changing the track? Still not flow.
- Sighing? Definitely not flow.
- Getting up and walking around? Nope. Not it.
- Considering lunch or caffeine? Try again.
- Reviewing requirements? Getting colder. Try more left.
- Staring at the screen? Peanut butter has more flow right now.
Let’s try this:
- Stomach growling because you just now realized it was 3 PM – FLOW!
- People came home or turned all the lights off in the office – That’s it, more flow!
- You forgot all about checklists, to-dos and the like and have 3 dashboards – mega flow (and yes, you can do this AND meet all the needs).
People will say this isn’t practical. Art, innovation, and creativity rarely are. Instead, they’re adaptations for when practicality fails us.
These are my wishes.