Las Vegas 2023

Q&A and Role-play Session with Paul Gaffney

EXCLUSIVE

Paul had made the observation that many technology leaders might be doing their subordinates’ jobs instead of their boss’s jobs. So, during a breakout session, I asked him to do a role-play with Jeff Gallimore, where Jeff played his boss, demonstrating a lack of interest in having Paul take over his role.


It was an exceptional modeling demonstration of how to initiate such a conversation, and what to do when there are clearly issues that need to be fixed beforehand.

PG

Paul Gaffney

Chief Digital Officer, Omni Logistics

Transcript

00:00:13

I don't mind what happens. It's actually not my line. That's, uh, Krishna Murthy. I don't know if any of you follow sort of the, the people who think about how to be calmer all the time. Um, but you know, there is something to not being worried about what might happen if you say something. And because you've come to my a MA, you need to know that I might say anything. Um, so this is not only a MA ask me anything. It's, I might say anything. Um, so, uh, with that, like this is a, this is a totally impromptu a MA I'm humbled that you're actually interested in asking me some questions. Um, I'm Paul, I've been hanging around here for, this is my second DevOps conference, but I've known Gene, uh, for quite a while. Jeff's got a mic, um, and the floor is yours.

00:01:11

Write a book share. All

00:01:14

The question is, am I going to write a book and to share all of my, if I had a crisp purpose for the book, yes, I, I am gonna write a book. The problem is I have in my head six very incomplete books. So, um, but the, what, you know, it is helpful to me to know what's on everyone's mind. I've had a, um, uh, just because I've been doing this for a long time, I have a lot of experiences. And because I've done it, I've done what I do in a number of different places. I have a variety of experiences that makes me not completely unique, but a little bit. Um, so I'm trying to figure out, well, what's valuable? Like, I don't think people just want me to talk about me, but to the extent that I can talk about stuff that I've learned, that's helpful. I do want to do that.

00:02:11

So during your talk, you mentioned, uh, we need to make it okay for people to ask, are we writing, working on the right things? Yes. Yes. How,

00:02:21

Uh, it's interesting. I, I do think, um, I might turn some of these questions and give both a specific and a, and a general answer. 'cause again, the spirit of, of this impromptu gathering is Jean has noticed that people are bumping up against some barriers to maybe their own personal effectiveness or making their org more effective. I have found that finding, um, a, an intervention that is, um, consistent with the culture that you are in that can serve as kind of the, the pause button. That if you're trying to change a culture from A to B, and you can come up with a non-threatening and high buy-in phrase that gets people to kind of take notice that, oh shoot, we've gotten stuck back in a and we need to go to b. Um, at Home Depot, when I joined Home Depot in the summer of 2014, it was a company that had, um, largely completed a turnaround led by Frank Blake, who's the CEO at the time, from a near death experience, uh, during a cultural near death experience and a business value creation near death experience, uh, during the reign of Bob Nardelli.

00:03:39

And the company had rejiggered almost all of its component parts. The technology organization was kind of stuck in a very old school, uh, sweatshop, um, uh, big project, um, and kind of death march sort of culture. And one of the reasons for that is, uh, a lot of people were just kind of feeding this beast of project project, feature, feature. And I observed that a lot of folks couldn't even describe what they were working on, much less why they had a basket of tasks and they couldn't affiliate it with anything. And the, the, the seminal moment was we did this review. I think I'd been, um, with the company for maybe like a month or two, and we're reviewing the 700 approved projects for the 2015, um, technology budget. And, and like, nobody actually likes that there's that much. So, and, and believe it or not, it's a super large company.

00:04:42

I sit down one evening with the CFO and um, her lieutenant, who's now the CFO, and we're, we, we get the CEO in for part of this and we go through 700 lines, like none of us actually know anything about any of these 700 things. And I just, in that meeting started asking the question, do we know what problem these projects are solving? 'cause that that audience cares about problems solved, not about projects done. And it just turned out that that phrase actually was quite useful to those people. So your question is, when you want to change something, but you're running into resistance, one technique is find that thing that's gonna get everyone say, oh yeah, we are, we're trying to be better at this. And at Home Depot, that ended up being, and I hear that they still do it all the time when something's going off the rails in terms, you know, a a meeting's getting sort of way prematurely deep into solution space, someone will say, Hey, do we all understand what problem we're solving?

00:05:43

And that's a, uh, antiseptic non-threatening reset button that allows people to take a breath and to say, oh shoot, we, we got stuck in that old pattern of just like, sup. 'cause it is a, a culture that very much values execution, but it learned to be clearer about directing that execution energy to the right things. And, and in some ways, before I even put that label on it, moving from efficiency to effectiveness was, was that what you were asking? Okay. Yes. Wait for the mic. We're gonna try and like, see if we can find a pattern in any of these questions.

00:06:25

So you spoke about gracious perseverance, um, the other day. So how do you kind of approach that, you know, and twofold, like without banging your head against your keyboard all the time. 'cause you kind of have to keep pushing, you know, why, what are we doing? What problem are we trying to solve? And then also not become that, that person, that jerk where like, everyone groans when you show up to a meeting, like, oh no, they're gonna ask, like pushback or ask why we're doing it. Yep.

00:06:56

Yep. It's a great question. And, um, I, I really don't know the answer, but I'm gonna share what I do know. Um, the gracious part is really important and the perseverance part is really important. Separately, they're not so useful. So if you're just gracious all the time, you don't make much progress If you just persevere all the time, you become that person, uh, who nobody wants to come into the meetings and, um, kind of standard deviation of my own behavior is higher than I'd like it to be. Uh, so, uh, I try to work really hard on knowing when am I so frustrated that I'm probably not gonna be able to be gracious? And how do I figure out, uh, how to, how to avoid that? Um, like it's much easier for me to be gracious at the beginning of the day. And if there were a meeting on the calendar at the end of my day and I knew it was gonna require like a lot of Paul being good, I'd like try to move the meeting.

00:08:03

So part of this is getting to know yourself and when can you, what are the circumstances where you can be your best? And can you match the high stakes discussions to the circumstances where you can be your best? Right? We can't all I I've not met anyone who can be their best all the time, though Gene kind of is sort of a role model for that. I, this might be a better question for him. Um, so match the circumstances where you can be your best with the stakes of the feeling like you're gonna need to, need to persevere maybe more than be graceful. Um, you do, I I would encourage all of you to not be alone agent. Um, if you're trying to bring about a change and you, and, and the voices supporting that change are a, a narrow group of people, people will get tired of that narrow group of people.

00:08:59

Um, so I do think a early part of the change mission are to find the, the triggers for changing behavior that a lot of people can buy into, and that a lot of people will repeat themselves without you in the room. Um, and then as you, you're all on a version of your own leadership journey, and some of you may be pretty advanced in that leadership journey. So you already know this. Get comfortable with the fact that until you are sick of hearing yourself talk, no one's really hearing you. Right? Everyone's got a lot of stuff going on, and a leader has to be willing to repeat a message in a, in a careful and in a way that matches the needs of the audience, but in an incessant way. Um, another way folks have explained this to me is it's only when you are sick of hearing yourself talk about something that the audience is even starting to listen. And that can be very frustrating because you can misinterpret that feeling of, oh my God, I'm so tired of saying this as they don't want to hear it. My coaching is interpret that as you haven't said it enough yet. Did did I answer that? Okay.

00:10:31

Uh, yesterday you talked about countering opinions with facts. And when you have somebody that is always bringing strong opinions and you're trying to present those facts, uh, how do you do that in a way that's just not like I'm here to prove you wrong, but I want to, I want you to see the reality and accept the reality and move us, move us forward in that way. Yeah.

00:10:51

Um, Courtney was supposed to be here with me today, and she got sucked into some like thing that she gets paid for that, uh, took her time. And, and she and I reflected on this. Like, we, we, um, we had a narrow time slot yesterday and there were a couple of super nuanced points that couldn't make the final cut, and this was one of them. Um, and I don't take any credit for this one, actually. Um, uh, this one got taught to me. Um, and, and this is sort of an adjacent lesson that you can all create too. You'll know you've been really successful when you've created enough space that someone on the team can teach you something by leaning into the space that you created and finding something in it that you didn't know existed. And, um, I've, I've talked about Nob Savage, I talked about him last year.

00:11:39

He was a, um, young product manager at Dick's, and he, unfortunately, he died prematurely, um, about two years ago. Uh, Dick's has named their annual, um, uh, technology award after Norb. And the description of it is the person who has done the most to help the organization see what the customer really needs, uh, despite what they might've thought the customer needed in headquarters. And Norab was so good at this, right? So Gaffney falls into the trap that you described, right? Someone keeps coming with opinions and I'm like, you know, if it's, if this is a battle of opinions and I'm the most high powered person, we'll go with my opinion. Um, or, you know, why do you keep bringing me opinions? So do you not know how to get facts? You know, but don't, don't do any of that.

00:12:27

Do something like Nob did. So Nob found a home for invalidated opinions alongside validated experiments. And, and Nob created a nice canvas and was very accepting of, okay, uh, this is an opinion. It is, it has a place on the canvas of things we might be considering. Now that place was color coded to indicate that there's no evidence to support this thing. Um, and it was racked and stacked with other things based on, well, if we had some evidence, is there some explanation about how this opinion might translate into economic results? Um, and you know, over time, if you are affiliated primarily with these things that get coded as no evidence came to some wack nut in a dream, but nor is nice and includes it on the sheet, you know, most humans stop doing that repeatedly. 'cause you don't want to be, and, and in a magic way, nor was creating space for everyone's ideas.

00:13:36

And at the same time grading them and not grading them in a judgmental way, but just grading them in an honest content way. And that just, that that sprung from not the opinion thing at all, but I think you should all be engaged in the practice of, if you're working on something, what gives you conviction that you should be working on it. Um, so you know, if you have some evidence that should give you more conviction than if you have no evidence, if you have no evidence, the activity you should be, um, engaged in is not a like, try and make this thing work. It's a try and get some evidence. So having a nice system about what is this thing, what stage is it in? And getting people like to understand, oh yeah, this sounds cool, but we don't have any evidence and we really prefer things where we have evidence, even if they might not sound cool. That make sense?

00:14:36

Nob had his version of an, um, an outcome-based roadmap. So his outcome-based roadmap, um, this is an interesting thing that the industry like just hasn't standardized, right? Um, and I think because we all inherited generations of time-based roadmaps and like, we can't get our heads around, we don't exist to deliver the calendar, we exist to deliver outcomes. And so norm's, um, x axis on his roadmaps were, um, things that the customer should be able to do big buckets of, of outcomes. And so from left to right, they were also things that were kind of very easily understood by everyone and no one could disagree with, um, on his outcome-based roadmap for, um, finding information about merchandise in a Dick's store, the left most column was customers should be able to find the product. Way, way on the far right was, um, customers should get a pretty good explanation of the, um, the sourcing pedigree of the product.

00:15:45

And, and along the way was a store associates should be able to offer, um, compelling alternatives either when the product is outta stock or when the customer demonstrates that they might trade themselves up to a premium product. And then underneath all of those headline outcomes, which Nob did a really good job, and I think the best product managers do a good job of this at describing this in terms of the condition that the humans might find themselves in, not in terms of how the system might work. Um, and then try and sizing that prize, right? How good are we at this now? Um, what might happen if we were better at it? And then there were feature lists and it was in the feature lists. That was the, the color coding of is this a feature that we've actually done an experiment on and we have some evidence? And those would tend to bubble up. The, the y axis descending was the likelihood that we're gonna work on this now, next or later. Um, the Gaffney map would have a never, um, but I wouldn't do that either, nor didn't have a never. Um, did that make sense? Yeah.

00:16:52

So you, you've talked about,

00:16:53

Um,

00:16:54

Trying to change companies from the inside. Let's say that you're have a transformation going on and you have an opportunity to hire somebody and you're kinda looking for that happy, engaged leader to come in. What kind of questions are you asking to identify the type of people that you wanna work with

00:17:09

To hire someone, um, potentially as a, a new member of the team? Like,

00:17:13

Or a change agent or somebody's a member of the team? Yeah.

00:17:15

Yeah. Um, I, I don't know that there's one answer to this because every company is a little bit different. I think, uh, some of it is the, the basics that you probably all know, right? Like to what degree is this person the cultural fit with the current culture, uh, to the extent that you're looking for a change agent, you're probably looking for someone who's gonna stretch the culture a little bit. But do they have a history of stretching the culture without breaking it? Um, I think there are a lot of people who are not willing to, um, do a thorough situation assessment before applying their play. And so figuring out, are you dealing with someone who has a track record of, um, doing discovery before solutioning? And, and it's I think the ultimate irony that most of us want to create an environment that says, well, don't prematurely solution.

00:18:16

Make sure you have more thorough understanding. Make sure you've fully explored the problem, which may have only presented a little facet of itself. And then a lot of people who come in from the outside that they want to do that, but they have a very specific play for doing it. Like they don't do discovery on their own work. So that's important to me. Um, and then trying to get a sense of what their motivation is. 'cause if you're trying to change a culture, um, I think the people who do that best are the people who are not looking for any personal credit for doing that. They're actually interested in making life better for others. And just so you all know, um, like I can't see anybody <laugh> other than the, other than the folks right here. And several of them are friends. So like, give me some cues about whether you're getting what you're looking for out of this. Thank you.

00:19:23

And so yesterday you talked about, you know, potentially, uh, things that are limiting careers is a focus on efficiency over effectiveness. So if, if we're in one of those, uh, roles where we're, we're focusing on efficiency over effectiveness, how do we break out and, and get a focus on effectiveness instead

00:19:44

Effectiveness? Um, I'm, I'm gonna answer that question. Um, you've, I I'm, I'm also, I'm gonna take a little bit of license 'cause I think you introduced a broader question and I think the broader question is, um, what might be pushing people to down back into efficiency, even if they're trying to help more with effectiveness? So let me ask answer the more precise question. Just being aware of it, um, is quite useful. I find it helpful that when I'm working on something specific on me, like when I'm working on me, um, I will put something on an index card and carry it around with me and put it down in front of me even if I'm on a Zoom meeting or enemy to remind me, that's the thing I'm working on right now. And so for some of you that might be, you know, efficiency in the arrow up to effectiveness to remind you.

00:20:43

'cause sometimes it's just easy to keep doing what you're good at and it's harder to start paying attention to the thing you want to be good at. So whatever works for you. The index card thing works for me, but some kind of reminder, um, some people do a little end of the day check-in with themselves on, you know, how did the day go and was I actually able to spend 20% of my time focused on effectiveness? So I, I would create some system, whatever system works for you. Um, evidently I learned in one of the lightning talks yesterday, somehow, uh, generative AI can help with this. I couldn't actually quite connect the dots on that on the New Year's resolution thing. But, you know, find, find some tool that can remind you that you are actually trying to change something about how you participate. I think on the broader question, and I had an interesting conversation, um, with, uh, Ian from US Bank yesterday 'cause he's noticing a, a similar problem.

00:21:40

And, um, this is my first year being a co-author on a forum paper. The forum paper about, uh, it's titled Talking Business also addresses this. I have found, I think others have observed, um, Ian very clearly observed this. And I, I think many people are seeing this when very senior people look around and try to figure out who, who would replace me if I left or if I got promoted. They see a lot of talent on their team, but they don't see that talent has become ready yet. Uh, most of us think that that's a problem that, that we created. Um, but in the same ways, I think it is wrapped up in this, it's very easy to keep doing what you're doing. And, and in some cases the language that you use to do the thing that you're doing isn't language that's helpful with the next level of conversations.

00:22:34

And so finding some ways to figure out, hey, how does my boss talk to his or her peers? It's probably very different of how you talk to your peers and how might you practice that. Um, and the, um, increasingly, and this is why I was on a little bit of a, a terry yesterday on the efficiency versus effectiveness thing. Um, and I saw Gene stepped in, but he stepped out. But I told him this anyway, I think we got too much efficiency talks in this conference. And it kind of, it, it reinforces this, well, yeah, this is what we do. Um, and it's you, one of the reasons we do it is another common trap. And this is probably something I've tried to pay a lot of attention to this. I've coached everybody who, who's worked for me on this. I coach everybody who I formally coach on this. Really be honest with yourself about are you doing your job or are you doing your subordinates job?

00:23:33

And, and really like, think critically about your week and your month and were you engaged in activities that were primarily your job? Or are, are you allowing your team to delegate things up to you or are you over helping them? And there's nothing morally wrong about this, but those are the kinds of things that get you stuck at your level because you're at your level, but you're actually behaving as an a player of the level below through your subordinates and you're impairing your subordinates progress and you're getting, there's no time left on your calendar to start to learn how to do your boss's job. Is that what you were looking for? Great. As the world's most overqualified micro, I'm silly

00:24:31

<laugh>.

00:24:38

Um, yeah. So my question is kind of building on what you just touched with. Are you doing your subordinate job? 'cause you also me, uh, talked about yesterday shifting from, uh, relation of power to collaboration. Yeah. So how do you, as a leader, how do you delegate your work to your subordinates without being in that power position and being more in a collaborative?

00:25:01

Yeah. Great. Great question. Um, and uh, people who know me well, know me, know that I'm usually hyper careful about language. Um, and so thank you for calling me out too on using power language. 'cause subordinate is a very hierarchy reinforcing, uh, concept. And I only mean to acknowledge that we do work in a workplace where people have assignments that are at different levels. Um, and I do think it's very, very important to try to find a way to do your assignment in a non-hierarchical way. Um, and the question about then, how do you, maybe maybe your question, I'll rephrase it a little bit. How do you get somebody to step up without like ordering them to, um, I, I think there are a lot of ingredients to that. It starts with, well, how do you behave, right? How do you express expectations? Do you express expectations in a dominant way as you know, these are the job requirements, or do you express expectations by affiliating them with a larger goal?

00:26:02

And I, my I've been much more successful when I can get people to see their role, not in the context of making their boss more successful, not in the context of making their team more successful, but in the context of achieving a more broadly shared goal. And to get people to really think through what, uh, what's on their mental task list that should be delegatable by them. And when I use the word delegate, I mean just allowing someone else to completely own it. Not not in the concept of this work isn't worthy of me. I want, I I'm gonna force you to do it. Um, but in the context of this is something that we should be able to accomplish with a lower cost person or with a less experienced person, or maybe even with a third party. Uh, and I find if you're more aggressively cultivating that sense of do we have the right kind of resources deployed against this task, you're getting people more focused on, okay, I I maybe shouldn't have to be so so in the weeds on, on this thing. Or I maybe shouldn't, maybe this shouldn't be consuming so much of my time. Um, but I do think the aspirational tactic for that is to explain. 'cause hopefully you have goals that are actually difficult to attain with your current capabilities. So you have to be growing capabilities. And a lot of cases, growing capabilities means that individuals need to be growing their own skills. It's really hard to grow skills when your time's devoted to things that you already know how to do.

00:27:51

Other questions well, while other people are figuring, figuring theirs out,

00:27:58

You go ahead, but we gotta

00:27:59

You got another, it's allowed. Well, as long as Paul will allow

00:28:05

It, I, I'm, yeah. I allow anything.

00:28:09

All right. Maybe very different question. 'cause this is an a MA, um, so I see that you work for a three PL now. Yes. And I work in supply chain as well. So what are your thoughts on how one could influence change in the industry? So example, we do really old school things like the file exchange. Like I send files to my distributors or my three people.

00:28:38

Oh yeah, yeah. At least you send files.

00:28:40

Yeah. <laugh>,

00:28:42

You want me to say EDI <laugh>. So how can we influence change in the industry with like our external partners?

00:28:51

Um, this is a great question. So I, I mean, I'm actually, um, doing what I just told you all we all need to do. I'm, I'm in a space now where I am am not as experienced and skilled. I've been alongside distribution, transportation and logistics my entire career. I've, I've run big, um, consumer organizations of the global supply chain, uh, problem just to level set everyone. The, um, global marketplace for distribution, transportation, logistics is a $3 trillion marketplace. That's not the value of the goods moved. That's the revenue garnered for moving the goods, right? So that's an extraordinarily large marketplace. Um, it affects just about everything that, that uses goods, whether they're component parts or finished goods. Um, it remains super highly fragmented. There's no other multi-trillion dollar marketplace that is as fragmented. And it is, um, it is populated largely by people who have spent their entire career in a very specific mode of transportation.

00:30:05

You'll find people who are 40 years into their career of moving ocean freight. And you'll find people who are 40 years into their career with the railroad and people who are 40 years into their career with over the road trucking. And you encounter a person like that and you say, I have this customer problem to solve. And their answer is largely, oh, I have an ocean freight solution for that. Like, if they're an ocean freight carrier. Um, and it's also a, um, uh, I, I expect you have the same experience, unbelievably chaotic environment. Like I actually don't know how the economy works now that I better understand the, the movement of goods around the planet. Um, and it's been around for a long time. And so most of those people, they have dealt with this chaos and they have dealt with their skills, uh, basically by waking up every morning and saying, alright, I'm gonna move as much freight as I can today.

00:31:00

And usually in moving that freight, uh, it is intensely physical activities with historically very little regard for the information about the freight. Um, and the result of that is most of the intercommunication, um, files and EDI is advanced technology in this industry. And it's used for maybe 15% of the freight that moves. The rest is done by faxes email. Um, and the number one technology on a loading dock is chalk, right? 'cause you use chalk to mark the exception boxes and you chalk off a section on the floor. And, um, and, and look, you see the videos of the highly automated warehouses. Nobody does the videos of most of the warehouses <laugh>, most of the warehouses are not the ones that you want to go watch. And you go in there and you say, Hey, these things with the, with the white x chopped on there.

00:31:54

Like, is, is anybody gonna, you know, are you asking anybody for help on this? No, no, no. We're gonna solve that at the end of the day. They're like, okay. So the people who created the problem don't know that they created a problem. And so those of you who have any engineering mindset, you understand that this is a massively out of control system. Were none of the exceptions are noticed because they're all, I'm, I'm being a little bit provocative, but I'm not being that, um, this is not, this is mostly true. So this question about, okay, how do you come into so abstract this out? You might all find yourself in sort of a chaotic situation like this. And you come in and you're like, oh my God, this, like, there I got a list of 17 things that could be better. I think the only way anyone can go about trying to make a difference in bringing order to chaos is to start to build some empathy for why are things like this?

00:32:48

Um, and, and what is it about, I mean, I haven't met a lot of bad people and I haven't met a lot of dumb people. Um, but I've met a lot of overloaded people. It's, it's a systematically overloaded process. Um, so I'm trying to find some interventions that take some of the load away rather than coming in and saying, oh, I sort of know how to make this all better. It would be easy to theoretically drop. Yeah, if you get some of these processes under control and get better information flow. But no one has any time to listen to you <laugh> in this environment. They're like, yeah, I'll listen to you tomorrow when it's less chaotic and tomorrow's never less chaotic. Um, so I, I think, um, I would encourage everyone, whatever situation you enter in when you're new, one of the things you should start with is, how am I gonna do a decent situation assessment here that isn't colored by my own biases?

00:33:41

Um, that doesn't dismiss the existing participants, uh, as a bunch of idiots. I tried that in my career. That was, that was not an effective section of my career when I like started by everyone in here must be an idiot. 'cause the results are useless. Um, so you, I mean, you might have to try that yourself to just be aware. Um, and, uh, and, and I think the, the, maybe the most important thing though is, is to recognize that we do live in this really steep part of the Moore's law curve. Um, and to hold yourself accountable to figure out is there a way to relieve some of the pressure on the current participants by using technology in a way that hasn't been used before. Um, so we're trying to use large language models to harvest. Um, it's close to 60% of our bookings and inquiries are in email and our responses are in email. Um, they're not in in any other system. There's something in there that's gonna give us some insights into how might we make a big swath of this work go away just using current technology. Was that helpful,

00:34:56

Paul? I've got, uh, you're gonna love this one. Uh, gene has texted into questions

00:35:02

It in. Okay.

00:35:03

No, it gets better. It gets better. Paul, uh,

00:35:05

His texts are never short

00:35:07

True to form, right? Okay. No, it, it gets even better than that. Uh, so Jean quite literally did text these in. I love your comment that many leaders are actually doing their subordinates job. Let's talk about this, right? Uh, instead of their bosses job, I've totally heard this before, but my observation is that most bosses of people in this community aren't going out of their way to train, grow, foster this community to do their job. Maybe it's out of ignorance, or maybe it's because they're too busy, or maybe it's self-preservation. This is where it gets really good. Could you do a role play with me? With you, with me? Yeah. No, now it's, yeah. Now I will play the boss. Yes. And you play the role of someone who wants to start a conversation about how you can do my job. Okay. Okay. Can I start? Yeah. I'm the boss, right? Yeah, yeah, yeah. <laugh>. So, so

00:36:02

We're in a power arrangement here.

00:36:05

Go ahead. So, so when can I get those TPS reports? <laugh>? Uh,

00:36:10

No, go

00:36:11

Ahead. That was it.

00:36:14

Um, do we wanna do a little role

00:36:16

Play? Let's try it.

00:36:17

Um, Hey,

00:36:18

What could go wrong? Hey,

00:36:19

Hey, hey Jeff. I mean, you know, we've been talking, um, I have aspirations to create more value for the company, create more value for myself. Um, I see like you are really flat out all the time. Is there something on your plate that I could take off, maybe make your life a little bit easier and kind of start to scratch my itch for learning how to operate at your level?

00:36:46

I so love this discussion. I am, I'm all in on this discussion. Tell you what, let's talk about two things. One, I would love to know what it is that you would like to learn. Where do you feel like you're, like, what are the interests? What are the things that you see that you would like to get more involved in? Yeah. Yeah. And the second thing I can do is probably just go through the stuff that I do and give you some more visibility into that. That

00:37:11

That'd be awesome. The number one thing that's on my mind is, um, I know you spend time, uh, in meetings with, with folks who see are seemingly super important about like what the company's doing, like your peers in finance, um, and your peers and a couple of other critical uh, organizations. One of the things I'd like to do is I'd like to know what's, what's the content of those discussions? Um, and you know, if I could either shadow you or maybe debrief after a couple of those meetings and you could just help me understand, like what do you talk about?

00:37:46

Yeah. Um, that's also an excellent question. Sometimes even I don't know what we're talking about. Yeah. Yeah. So maybe there's some things that I could get your perspective on and insights and maybe even more interesting. I could maybe ask you some questions and get your thoughts so that I can take those into the conversations and maybe get some of those questions answered that provide some of that perspective, see how it lands.

00:38:08

That would be awesome. Because, you know, Sally on my team, who as we've talked about in succession planning, is my absolute, like, if I get hit by a car

00:38:19

Tomorrow, win the lottery

00:38:20

And win the lottery, I might stay at work, um, by a car. It's like I don't have a chance. Um, Sally's the one, and I I know you agree with that, and I think others do too. She's really well regarded. I'm having her shadow me, um, in, uh, collection means not everything. I'm not doing the Amazon follow Jeff Bezos around or the, the guy at the guy. Do you know the guy who founded, uh, GitHub? He had a digital shadow, was like there all the time and sometimes people didn't know. Really? Yeah. Yeah. But I'm not doing that crazy thing. But I am having Sally, um, see what goes on in some of these meetings. It's been a little countercultural around here. I had to do a little bit of work in, in other meetings to, um, you know, pre-meetings to let people know why I am doing this. Um, but I think it's really helping her, it's creating some more bandwidth for me. So I'm, I'm super excited.

00:39:13

So let's work on that and figure out what those right situations are in the context where we could maybe do that. Yeah. And that would be fantastic. And then one more thing I wanted to ask you, see if you'd be interested in this. You mentioned that I'm like, I think you said flat out that's pretty, pretty true. There's a lot of things that I would love to get done that I don't either have the time and frankly I might not even have the experience or the perspective on. Would those some of those things be interesting to you maybe as stretch goals?

00:39:40

Yeah. Well, I mean, I'd love to learn what they are. Yeah. Right. But, you know, and, and I'd love to try. I can't guarantee that I'd be really good at all of them. That's

00:39:49

Okay. Trying is what counts.

00:39:52

Fabulous. Okay. This is a great discussion. Thank you. I can do

00:39:54

That

00:40:01

Critique

00:40:02

I was expecting. Yes. Go past response to the

00:40:07

<laugh>.

00:40:11

What was on my mind in that conversation?

00:40:16

Oh, he's back. He's actually back there. He's gonna turn me into that box. Hang in. No, that's

00:40:36

Fine. Okay. That's

00:40:37

Okay. Okay. I think I ending

00:40:40

Part two.

00:40:40

Okay. Let me see if I can set this one up in. Okay. All right. Hold on a second. Alright, so the, so for anybody that didn't hear that and for the benefit of the recording, Jean, who's still in the back of the room, uh, said replay round two, respond first with, I really need you to focus on the TPS reports and then go from there. Okay. So rewind where those TPS reports. I'd like to do your job better. Yeah. I think you really need to focus on the TPS reports.

00:41:15

I, I get it. Um, and I feel terrible that you have to keep bringing this up. I have been working with Joe on my team, actually. I've been working with Dana on my team, and Dana is really struggling. I've asked Dana to automate the TPS reports. My goal is that you never have to ask this question again. Um, and, and I'm gonna go get some more help on making sure the TPS reports are more reliable, clearer. Uh, it's consuming too much of my time. Um, so I'm, I'm sorry we have to have this conversation.

00:41:46

Well, I'm, I'm really glad that you're actually bringing this up 'cause the TPS reports are really important. Uh, but it sounds like they're a blocker for getting other things done. And while we really wanna be focusing on effectiveness of the organization, we've got some efficiency problems that are getting in the way of that. Okay. So what is it that you need for me to make sure that that problem goes away and we get the things that we need and so that we free up some space from you and Dana to be able to work on other stuff?

00:42:18

I need you to talk to this Gene Kim, fellow <laugh> who, who runs the report infrastructure. His team's incompetent. And one of the things that Dana's running into is she can't get this reliably on her own. Um, and, um, if you could have some influence to make sure that the infrastructure aspect of this is as much a priority as the delivering it to you is, I think we can get this resolved in a couple weeks.

00:42:49

You you got another idea, <laugh>? No. If that's what you need, I'm gonna go have the conversation. I'll bring it up. I have a great relationship with Gene and his team. Um, and we'll, we'll figure something out. Great.

00:43:03

Great. Uh, now the, the, you know, the camera's, the next scene is Paul's back with his team and Paul's describing, Hey, remember this ongoing discussion we're having about, we don't want to climb the skills and exposure ladder. Um, hey, we're working on that and, and my boss really, really is supportive. Um, but we have a problem like we're failing on the TPS reports. And this isn't about the TPS reports. We've allowed the TPS report problem to get in the way of what we all really want to happen. So even though this is primarily Dana's responsibility, how we all gonna get together and make this problem go away? And, and how are we gonna do that like in the next two weeks? Not because of the TPS reports, but because the TPS report problem is impairing this much more useful goal for us,

00:43:58

Uh,

00:43:59

Jean, how do we do?

00:44:06

Um, I, I wanna underline two things in there. 'cause my goal here is to be helpful. Um, I do think that the more you can find a comfortable way to assert your needs with your boss in a way that's affiliated with good outcomes for the company, don't assume your boss is gonna read in there. Right? So, um, and, and you heard me remind, um, Jeff that I have talked to him before about my aspirations for bigger things. 'cause at some point the conversation might be, Hey, here's my resignation. I'm taking a bigger job. And ideally the way that conversation goes is, yeah, I I'm sorry we couldn't find a way to satisfy your ambition. 'cause you've really done everything we've asked and we just haven't been able to make this happen. You don't want it to be, ah, this is the first I've heard that you were like interested in bigger things and it's a bit of a cha character, but yeah, that second

00:45:11

One, that second one with the TPS reports, so your play there was political capital. And I'll come back later when this problem's fixed. Um,

00:45:21

Because like, like if

00:45:22

I was to play out the team thing, I'd be like, shit, you know, you went up there and asked for some stuff and we got stuck with TPS reports. Again,

00:45:29

Um, this is where the device kind of falls down. Like we're, we're now totally in, in the TPS report part. We're totally in a caricature. Yes. And, um, I think the meaningful thing is you're gonna have some version of that discussion with your boss. Um, and, um, I think in general it's good to own it rather than to try and take it off the table. But your mileage will vary. This will be very circumstantial. Like Gene didn't give us any context. Has the TPS report problem been a problem for a year? Has it been a problem for a week? Is it actually a problem with the report or is Jeff getting in some trouble because he's gotta go to a meeting where there's some info in there that he doesn't have and he looks like an idiot. Um, and you know, so is there another way to solve that problem then to fix the whole TPS report problem? Right. So this, this gene meant well, but the, as soon as you get into a super caricature, it's not as, not as useful

00:46:34

And context matters.

00:46:35

And, and like my, my offer stands to any of you, if you have a specific situation like that where you're like, your boss keeps asking you for something that is essentially your subordinate's job. I I can help you think through the specifics, uh, much more than I can give you any general advice.

00:46:50

Uh, okay. I've got another question from Jean. Yep. This is a little more straightforward, I think, without all the role play. Uh, I've noticed that you've purposely created your roles over the years to be beyond just the head of technology. Uh, for instance, you were the CTO and head of supply chain. Can you describe the method to your madness and describe how that type of thinking might be useful to people in this room?

00:47:14

The second part is much harder. I, 'cause I don't know that it's been useful to me. Um, the, uh, you're all in technology roles and so you kind of know this, um, technology roles have in some ways the unique, um, uh, feature of bumping up against every part of the company. And so, you know, all of the places where there are problems, you know, all of the places where there are inefficiencies, you know, all of the places where the company could be much more effective in business, excuse me. In businesses that have supply chains, it's almost inevitable that a meaningful fraction of your team's activities are gonna be working on supply chain intelligence, warehouse automation, like a big chunk of your technology spend if you are in a business that moves physical goods or, or has physical goods delivered to you. So it's just been, uh, out of self-preservation to say, Hey, if I had more of a definitive leadership role in this space, here are the things that I see we could make happen differently.

00:48:18

And in in particular, in complex supply chains, there are lots of these communications problems, communication handoff problems that we've explored in several sessions here about how do those communication handoffs problems make software projects go bad. The same kinds of things make supply chains, uh, implode. The costs are actually much more perilous in supply chains because those handoff problems can often result in either way too much inventory. 'cause that's the way to overcome impedance mismatch between nodes and the supply chain. Too much inventory leads to really depressed return on, uh, capital investment. This is generally really bad for the firm. So the specific answer to jean's questions, I've found myself in several cases, uh, in a situation where the technology organization cannot be sufficiently effective without also addressing some defects in how the supply chain operation operates. Um, and, uh, I, I don't know, I'm a glutton for punishment too, so, but I I do, you will find these situations don't, um, don't fall back into what is now your kind of suboptimized outcome world, right? If you find a part of your technology domain is constrained in its effectiveness by, uh, another part of the organization, advocate for having more influence in that part of the organization, whether that is sitting in the staff meeting, whether that is traveling with the operating heads, you know, it does to me start with, okay, we can only do so much without this other function changing their behavior. How do I get inside that function in a way that's, um, seen as symbiotic and not parasitic?

00:50:18

I I think you've probably answered part of this question with what you just said, but other than your gluttony for punishment, can you talk a little bit more about what

00:50:26

Drives your ambition?

00:50:34

Yes, I can. Um, most of you don't know me well, so you're gonna have to take this with a grain of salt. Um, for the last 15 years of my career, I have been primarily motivated by can I create an environment where lots of other people can do things that they didn't think was possible. So it does really motivate me to create environments where, um, before I try to improve that environment, people feel constrained. And after people feel like they've been able to accomplish things that they didn't think were possible, that inevitably leads me to running up against, um, psychologists draw these two circles. The one circle is the first circle that you draw and you could label that your circle of, uh, of influence. That's stuff where you can feel reasonably successfully influential. And then there's this other circle around that, which is your circle of interest.

00:51:42

Things that you're interested in, you care about, um, you would like to, uh, and then ambitious people want to expand their circle of influence to approach their circle of interest and intellectually curious people when they're successful at doing that, they then further expand their circle of interest. Um, when you can't get your circle of influence close to your current circle of interest, you will not enjoy what you're doing and you'll try and find a way to make that happen. And this is happening with everyone on your team too. So when you capitulate, you just accept this gap between your circle of influence and your circle of interest. And most people can't live happily with that gap for a long period of time. And so they try and find other ways to fill that gap. The path to other ways to fill that gap often makes them less effective at their current assignment. This is really the psychological case for allowing people to expand their circle of influence. 'cause they'll find a way to make their life interesting. So it might as well be worthwhile to the company too.

00:53:01

Great.

00:53:09

Um, if you look back at the sessions of the past few days, was there a session that really stood out in terms of effectiveness?

00:53:20

The, um, I, I know Matt, um, and Amy, well from John Deere and I've been, had the pleasure of observing their journey and I actually liked how they, um, they have to work on both efficiency and effectiveness. These things are symbiotic, right? Like you can't actually even talk about effectiveness if you can't get stuff done. Um, but they led every slide, like the left hand side of every slide was an effectiveness intervention and the right hand side was an efficiency intervention and their next round is this value maximization thing in there. And they got themselves in a position where if over the past year, plus they might have been 80 20 efficiency effectiveness, but still leading the dialogue with effectiveness, they're now positioned to be maybe 50 50 or 60 40 effectiveness focused on value creation. I, that was really powerful. I, I didn't know what they were gonna go through and it, um, it was sort of super helpful to me. And then I think, uh, Christophe from Google, um, his, uh, his presentation was all about effectiveness even though it was very nuts and bolts. It was all about effectiveness. And in some ways the metaphor that, that his presentation leaves me with, and I, I posted it in the live slack. Um, if you're in a culture that primarily rewards firefighting, it's super hard to get people invested in fire prevention careers. But fire prevention careers are effectiveness careers and firefighting careers, our efficiency careers and Google SRE is all about trying to make the whole place more effective by, um, preventing people from making it inefficient.

00:55:11

Okay. Thank you for these, uh, examples.

00:55:17

And an exercise you all might do is like go through the roster of the presentations and just s score 'em, was this an effectiveness presentation or is this an efficiency presentation and calculate the ratio and then hold the programming committee accountable to improving that ratio. <laugh> next year.

00:55:34

Well played Paul. Well played. Alright, well we're gonna wrap it up, uh, with that so that we can get, uh, get a break and, and get into the final plenary talk for the summit. But there's one more, one more ask I've been tasked with by Gene in the back there. Um, was this valuable to you? Yeah, not, not a surprise at all. Uh, so if it was in interesting and valuable to you and you would be interested in staying connected and hearing more, um, if you would, who's is everybody in Slack? Everybody. Okay. If you are in Slack, uh, dmm me with your email address and we will get you added to a mailing list and then, then we'll figure out how to make sure that this group, what's that? Yeah, right.

00:56:29

No, I'm gonna delegate this to my boss, <laugh> d dm, dmm, Jeff, I don't, um,

00:56:35

That's not how that works. That's not, wait, how do I respond to this again?

00:56:39

Well, you're very susceptible to doing your subordinates job. Totally. So I'm taking advantage of that <laugh>. Um,

00:56:45

And you do know me, don't you? Yeah,

00:56:46

I do. Okay. And, and, um, and like I, so I haven't, uh, pre-cleared this with Jean, but I, I I, but Jean has asked me to kind of help address this leadership development, uh, challenge which, which is less conducive to some of these kind of situation report things that we do and even maybe even less conducive to these sort of expert witness things that we do. So this is, we are in, uh, discovery mode on this. How might we help this community more with these leadership issues? So you just participated in sort of a discovery expansion of Thank you for that. I hope it was worth your while. Um, we would like to make sure we fully understand the problem and, and then we'll field some potential solutions, um, that might involve a whole variety of things. Um, but I don't think we know what those things are yet 'cause we haven't fully discovered this problem. That's

00:57:44

Right. Okay. So they're DMing me. Okay. Alright. Jeff Gallimore in Slack. If you dmm me with your email address, we'll get you outta that mailing list to figure out how to keep you connected. Yeah.

00:57:56

Thank you all.