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“It has to be perfect!”, he said. “You know the analysis is for the Board Meeting tomorrow and you have not sent me your data in the format I have requested you to. Why are these columns green when the profits are not there yet? And what’s with this pie here? They won’t be able to see the month-by-month progress this way!”

This was the usual monthly dialogue P had with his team at the beginning of each month. Everyone was already exhausted when the end of the month was near, even before starting the reporting out, as they knew the reports needed to be perfect for P to present them to the Board. So, as always, everyone did overtime to finish their part, so everyone was ready except for the two new colleagues, U and R. And, just between us, this was kind of a crisis as it has never happened before not to have the reports perfectly ready on time.

U and R? Yes. You’ve got that right. They were not losing time to call each other’s full names, anymore. They needed to be efficient. Losing precious time was not part of P’s department’s procedures, so everyone was calling each other by their initials only.

U: “I didn’t have time to finish this. I didn’t. I’m new and there are too many rules and procedures…and colours I need to follow. I don’t even know them yet. And I’m not sure I need to know them. By the way, why do we need to keep all these rules as they are?

P: “I don’t have time to have this conversation with you now. Did you ask why? For a zillion reasons. We need the data to be perfect because it allows us to do our job right and the Board can take the right decisions only if having the correct and clear data on time. As for the procedures in our department, they are crystal clear to everybody. We have so many of them as I need to adjust them from time to time to perfectly address each situation. These were the procedures that allowed us to be one of the best departments in the company as we are today.”

So, you do change procedures!” … said U very excited, as if that was the only thing that reached him.

“What do you need to believe about a procedure to consider it needs change?” asked U rapidly just to build upon the momentum.

“That it doesn’t perfectly address anymore the situation it was initially designed for.” said P with a lower voice, understanding this was not the way he has initially envisioned this discussion forward.

U: “Since we don’t have time to deliver the reports today, in the initial format, who will have to lose if this turns out not to be perfect?

P: “The Board. The decision-making process…. investments. Every one of us?” concluded P, not so sure about the benefits of perfection any more. 

R: “Then, when can Perfect not be perfect anymore? And what do you choose instead? And once doing that, who do you become, P?” said the other new colleague across the room, gaining a louder voice once U cleared the way.

Definitely too many questions in a row, but R made a point there. 

P had a lot to think about and it seems the conversation continued as realising more and more that perfection was like an old jacket that did not fit him and his team anymore. He did not want to be Perfect any longer, so he needed to decide who he wanted to become instead. When we left the room, he was not there yet, but he will be as he started to trust the process. 

Rumours are there are new procedures in his department and they are not perfect, so that’s a start, right?

After all, sometimes it’s really good to have a pair… or two of fresh eyes that join a team. Unlearn and Relearn were those eyes in P’s department. Well… Haven’t I mentioned it? Those were their real names and eventually, everyone found them out as they did with each other’s names in the whole department. 

This was P’s story and in case you are wondering how the dialogue ended, it did not stop there and neither should yours. You know you can always count on Unlearn and Relearn. They can be your own fresh eyes, your colleagues or, sometimes, even some plain coaching instruments that can help you with your own “perfections”. Or… shall we call them patterns? What do you say?


Photo credits: Unsplash


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