Perhaps one of the most valuable attributes in life is to judge wisely when to go with the flow, and when to resist and create our own reality.
Spring in Melbourne. Teased by the weather. Last weekend in shorts and T-shirt cleaning up the back yard, trimming, mulching, wiping down the furniture and re-hanging the hammock. Come on spring. This weekend, wind, rain and cold. Resistance is useless so go with the flow and pretend that we’re not ‘so over winter’. For us that meant an open fire (first for the year), a massive pot of tolouse sauage and borlotti bean soup and the Concert in Central Park quietly playing in the background. Donning the rain coats and walking down to Ceres to catchup with friends, and oh yeah, screaming at the screen during the AFL Grand Final.
I love fruitcake, but a good one is almost impossible to buy. I’m sure I could find a Lions Christmas cake in September if I looked hard enough but … Our local supermarket used to stock something called a ‘celebration cake’ – ordinary name but top shelf quality. Alas, no-one else must have thought so because ‘used to’ is the operative phrase. What’s a bloke to do? Go with the flow? I don’t think so.
Enter Alan Campion and Michelle Curtis’ Italian spicy fruit cake. Never made one before but when Coles lets you down what can you do? I had a slither to taste it when it came out of the oven, but decided to wait until a cup of Tetley’s had brewed later in the evening to savour it properly. Initial impressions were excellent and I wondered if I should perfect a recipe and challenge the old hands whose handiwork we had seen on display at the Royal Melbourne Show on Friday.
I was sitting in the car waiting to pick up Heidi from netball training … it was cold and wet outside and I was already tasting the combination of tea and cake. Then Zac calls. Him and two of his mates are going to the Red Triangle (iconic pool hall in Brunswick Street), do I want to join them? Opportunities to do stuff with your 19 year old son don’t come around too often. But it’s late already. The fire is still going at home. And the fruit cake. Decisions. I said ‘no’.
I sat in the car and waited for Heidi for another couple more minutes. Decisions. I had plans. Why tonight? I’ve created a nice little evening for myself. I called back…
… and crawled into bed three hours later satisfied that the tea and cake will be waiting for me another time.
Life is a relentless series of decisions. Go with the flow or create your own reality? May you make some wise calls this week.
Working away has its obvious downsides. One of the little upsides is the accumulation of hotel loyalty points … which translate into freebies. So for my birthday Maria and I did the 5 star thing. To complement the accommodation we ate up-market as well; the seafood from the Waterfront was sensational. It got me thinking about quality.
There are two ways that a commitment to quality expresses itself in delivering value at work. One is expressed through another of our participation behaviours.
But I think the more significant way that quality is demonstrated is via a pervasive attitude. It’s not so much about the little things, the extras, the fine tuning: it’s about the overall philosophy. Indeed, the ‘trimmings’ get their meaning from the context and the overarching commitment to a particular way of being.
Quality is about at least substance and design. Neither is sufficient on its own. The best substance can be lost if the presentation doesn’t invite engagement and appreciation. A business development proposal can articulate a great solution, but if it is not presented in a way that is clean and attractive the substance will likely be lost. Clearly, design without substance also doesn’t work … it leaves a hollow sense of unmet expectations.
Quality is one of those contagious things I think. A long time ago in this blog I talked about how our office helped breed an increased commitment to quality. My experience of high quality hospitality on Friday night has helped me lift the bar for myself this week.
Have a look around and see what you can plug into to lift the bar for yourself. Ponder the design of your Mac, take in the architectural genius of the surrounding buildings, listen to an inspiring speech from TED, or smell a rose. And be inspired.
I recently received a document with a typo in it. Not a bad one, but as mistakes go it was not what should have been sent to a client.
At Ergo, we have developed a custom that has served us well by minimising the errors and improving the quality of official documents. Among our nine participation behaviours which line the walls in our stairwell is this one, we call it ‘collaborate and validate’:
Collaborate & Validate
Value the input of others and be confident to offer your own. If you don’t know – ask. If you know something useful – share it. Ensure someone else has given input on the quality of your work with the opportunity to “make it better”.
The habit of shooting our work to a colleague with the subject line ‘make it better’ has helped us reduce the number of typo level errors but also allows others to offer strategic input into our work. Simple but effective.
If you are interested in our other participation behaviours, you can see them here.