“I like to think of ideas as potential energy. They’re really wonderful, but nothing will happen until we risk putting them into action.” Mae Jemison

In the springtime, I will often take a longer way home when I am out in the car doing errands. I do this so I can drive by cows that are also enjoying the spring.  I very much enjoy seeing the newborn calves being taken care of by their mothers.

Newborn calves are up walking amazingly quickly, but they still need care and protection. When I was watching a new calf in the field last week, it was on shaky legs, and the mom-cow was taking good care of the youngster.
The shaky legs calf reminded me of a struggle one of my clients was having.  They had put a new idea into the organization that they believed everyone would quickly adapt.  My client was surprised when everyone was ignoring it.  The idea seemed so simple and had such clear benefits.  Yet nothing was happening.

The idea couldn’t even stand up on its shaky legs.

I gave guidance that the idea needed at least three steps of care and feeding.

  1. Engage people in the idea you are presenting.  Ask them to give examples of how it won’t work.  And then ask for ideas of how it could work.
  2. Challenge one of your more receptive people to pick a small project they could try the idea on.   In doing so, ask them to define success or failure for the outcome of their experiment.
  3. Offer as much help to the project trying your idea as they will accept.

These steps may seem simple and obvious because they are.  However, too many people introduce new ideas and let them flounder without the proper nurturing.

When I drove by that cow field yesterday, those newborn calves were now running and jumping.

My client’s ideas had also now found their legs and were on the way to a healthy future.

  1. List item number one goes here
  2. List item number two or the second can go right here just after list item number one
  3. I guess this one must be the third item because here it is just after the second one
  4. And so on with items in this ordered list!
  • List item number one goes here
  • List item number two or the second can go right here just after list item number one
  • I guess this one must be the third item because here it is just after the second one
  • And so on with items in this ordered list!
They find it hard to believe that is possible to deliver defect-free software to customers.  And I am telling them our goal is to deliver near defect-free software to test. I am also working to help them understand that doing work in this was does not sacrifice speed. It is actually faster.

Yours in the calm pursuit of excellence,


Alan Willett

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