Since, we learnt about rapid prototyping and learning faster by failing early at work, we’ve embraced this concept with a vengeance.
I’m always always at some stage of prototyping at work.
I LOVE but also HATE prototyping. (Why is everything love-hate for me?)
I love how much we learn through the process of prototyping. I love how the process of prototyping draws from the wisdom and experience of the people who try our prototypes out. In a recent game we had developed, the prototyping experience provided so many ideas and solutions that really contributed to the growth and complexity of our final product.
But I also hate it.
I find receiving feedback so difficult. Even when the idea is still at its nascent stage. Even when I haven’t spent that much time developing the idea.
I once shared, in an auditorium filled with people, that one of the things we’ve learnt in our team was not to hold on too dearly to our ideas. With rapid prototyping, your ideas can be thrown out in a jiffy. Cardboard prototypes you put together, can get thrown into the recycling bin even before the fine paperknife-cuts on your fingers begin to heal.
I understand all this cognitively. I just haven’t been able to grasp it emotionally.
Every negative feedback that is given, is like a knife that stabs me through the heart! Even if I spent only the last 10 minutes putting the prototype together. Even if I know that I haven’t thought about it enough. It still feels like Jack the Ripper is shredding through my torso.
It is painful.
It takes all the focus and determination in me, not to react to the initial sting of the negative feedback and go on the defensive.
Sometimes I wished I were more like David Beckham. Apparently, according to Alex’s Ferguson latest biography, David was the only player he had every coached who was totally unaffected by his mistakes.
“He could have the worst game possible and still not believe that he had under-performed in any way. He would dismiss you, tell you you were wrong. He was incredibly protective of himself…….You had to admire that. In a way it was a great quality. No matter how many mistakes he would make (in my eyes, not his), he would always want the ball. His confidence never suffered.”
Well, ok not exactly like Beckham, but a stronger shield to protect myself would be useful. Instead, I usually feel bruised and upset. And it takes a lot of focus to open myself to the feedback, the ideas behind the “This was so not fun” or “This was too difficult” or “It’s crazy that you think this is possible”. But not too open, that it leads me to believe that everything is negative and everything is beyond redemption.
Before you get the wrong impression, let me clarify, as I had to the Abang-cashier at Times when I picked up Ferguson’s autobiography- I am NOT a fan. I was just curious.
He looked at me, grimaced and under his breath muttered ,”Liverpool”. With MUCH DISDAIN!
|Ipin in Man U kit and Ihsan in Liverpool kit. My dad actually said to Irfan ,” Why are you wearing Man U? Wait, Atok throw you into the dustbin”.
Yes, the family is that serious in its allegiance to Liverpool!
Look, the truth is, I am NO football fan. I have some allegiance to Liverpool, but its largely because my dad and brother are fans. Ok, so maybe I am a sort-of fan. I did buy Liverpool kits for my boys when I was in London last year and flatly refused to buy Man United kits that hubby had requested. And yes, i do celebrate, quietly, a little bit, when Man U doesn’t do so well in a match. (Please don’t hate me Red Devil friends). But really, I’m not a fan.
I picked up the book and paid $39 bucks for it because I was curious. I really was. I do think that Ferguson was a successful football manager and I wanted to hear what he had to say.
To be honest, I didn’t appreciate all of it mostly because he talked a lot about matches that Man United played (I hardly watched any), and players he had recruited, sold, etc. I only know players who are good-looking or if they are Spanish. E.g. Iniesta is not good looking but Spanish, so i know him. Actually, that’s not true. I know Rooney, and he’s neither good-looking nor Spanish. (Who cares if you’re not good looking if you’re a multi-million dollar footballer with a solution to your receding hairline?)
But I did enjoy the book in general. It game me a sense of the man. How important football was to him. How important the club was to him. What the club meant. What it stood for.
It was also interesting to read his thoughts about some of his players. How he selected them. What he looked for. Players that weren’t only talented, but fit into the tradition of the club. That had the character to stand tall in the eyes of the club. That could handle the pressure that came with being a Man United player.
I know it wasn’t meant to be a management guidebook, but there were some gems hidden between the pages of the book. A lot of it, for me was about character- knowing and protecting the character of the club (or organisation), knowing how to bring the best out of your team (when to call it quits with a player) and knowing your own character as a leader, what you stand for, what you are willing to sacrifice and what you are never going to tolerate.
While, I was blowing on the mental wounds, post-prototype today, I thought about Ferguson.
Football managers are always trying out new configurations. In an intense league like the EPL, you have players that get injured or need to be rested, and you just have to try new stuff out. They study the game, they strategise and then hope for the best.
And if doesn’t turn out great, the media and fans, they slaughter you.
“I couldn’t allow the press conference to become a torture chamber. It was my duty to protect the dignity of the club and all that we were doing. it was important to be on the front foot and control the conversation as much as possible.
Before I went through that door to face the world, I trained myself, prepared myself mentally. Experience helped.”
Obviously right now, the feedback during prototypes is about the work, the ideas. Not about me. It’s never been personal. Not yet.
But at some point, in my future, I could be receiving feedback that is personal that may suggest, I’m not good enough. I’m not doing my job well. That I’m the problem.
Obviously, today- I’m not ready for that sort of feedback. In fact, some of my colleagues witnessed me disintegrating into shambles, in an episode earlier this year, which involved feedback that I took very personally.
I’ll obviously never be a Beckham (Although, he could just be masking his vulnerabilities. Ferguson doesn’t think so though. Ok anyone that looks THAT scrumptious in nothing but Armani briefs, can’t have any insecurities right? Ok i believe Ferguson). But i could learn to protect myself a little more.
And maybe, hey people! It may be useful to remind ourselves when giving feedback even when it’s for an idea that is still in its nascent stages, that someone gave birth to the idea, no matter how silly and it takes some courage to ask for feedback. So be gentle. We shouldn’t sugar-coat everything so that the feedback disappears in all the sweetness, but we don’t have to be so direct, that it cuts either.