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But This Worked Before!

December 18th, 2017 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

Nothing is so cruel as to learn that the system we built doesn’t do what we thought it would.

We are good, smart, caring people. We work diligently to build good systems that serve others. We test. We really test—no kidding, no fooling around. We really test.

Then one day, someone walks in the room and says, “Hey, this doesn’t work right.” Then they show us that our creation doesn’t work right. What? Something must be wrong, and the wrong thing has been done by someone else. We, we, we, er, uh, we can’t deny what we see. The ceiling falls in on us.

We understand that this person has done us a favor by showing us a fault we missed. The fault will be corrected before folks out in the world depend on our system. Still. This is crushing.

Now we have to crawl through the inside of our system to find what we missed earlier. That is called “crawling” for good reasons. It requires getting down on our bellies and moving slowly inch by inch and gosh that is tedious and I really had some enjoyable things lined up today that I like to do and this isn’t fun and I’m going to miss lunch and and and things just are bad.

Take a walk. Five minutes, but just five minutes. Breathe deeply and slowly. Realize once again that:

  • we are human, not perfect
  • the system is the system, it is not us
  • no one is saying we are bad, they are just noticing something odd in the system

Breathe a while longer. Regain composure. Now begin the work.

Fantasy? Maybe, but it works better than other approaches I have used.

Tags: Breathe · Learning · Reframe · Systems · Testing · Thinking

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