The Muselet #58: What Can We Do?
A Dutch comedian once said:
You can split the world population into roughly two groups. But… I wouldn’t do it. It’s a lot of work.
Nevertheless, just for funzies at this last day of the year, let’s go through a quick population split exercise with managers. To enable this I will tell a well kept management secret. The ultimate way to assess a manager’s level of mastery of the profession.
We can distinguish roughly three levels:
First is level 0. At this level you are just starting out. You know nothing.
At level 1, you learn the magic of using “we” for everything. At sub-level 1a, you will still think of it as the “royal we” (really just “I”). At level 1b you’ll expand this as a way to encourage thinking as a group (“there is no I in team”). Individuality has no place here, we’re a team — we will get the project done! Ultimately, at level 1c “we” will turn into a euphemism for “you.” That’s when you are ready to transition into level 2.
At level 2, you learn the magic of “what can we do” questions.
“What can we do to bring this project back on track?”
“What can we do to make the deadline, even though half the team resigned due to burn-out?”
The magic of a “what can we do” question is only partially that it uses “we” while really meaning “you.” The larger magic trick is that it’s a trap. Saying “nothing” is not an option. The question is not “can we still bring this project on track?” The implicit assumption in the question is that yes we can. “We” a.k.a. you, the target, is forced to figure out a way how. The target doesn’t want to disappoint so will do whatever is in their power to figure something out.
It’s been yet another “interesting” year. Less dramatic than 2020 I’d say, but still challenging.
Therefore, the only question that remains is…
What can we do to make 2022 an amazing one?
Here’s a fun fact. When naming this newsletter I exercised my creative phrase turning, attempting to turn my long “musings” into short ones “muselets” (pigs, piglets you know). Leaving aside whether I actually succeeded on the “shortening” front, I only later found out that a muselet is actually something that exists (even though my spell checker still rejects it): it’s the metal thing at the top of a champaign bottle:
I wish you and your family a safe end of year, and an excellent 2022. I just realized that wishing people a safe end of year is a typical Dutch thing to do. Why? Watch this classic video of Dutch people being Dutch. If you find yourself in The Netherlands for new year’s: stay safe.