Episode 224

224 - Managing Expectations

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Transcript
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My friend, trying to I'm trying to be as cool as.

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As me.

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You got a waste to go aside.

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I had to go with a son.

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I think it was fine.

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And then he threw the sun in

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I know you could be my son.

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I know.

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The secret sauce to victory is managing expectations.

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Do your stakeholders know the reality of what's going on

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with your project right now?

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Are they comfortable?

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Are they fearful?

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Are they excited?

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Do you have all of those emotions too?

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Yeah.

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It can be tough.

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That's okay.

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That's where we're here.

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We got a whole episode.

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Walking you through how to manage expectations for

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your project from the start.

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So that way, everybody knows what's going on.

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They know where things Any risks that are out there, they're

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handled ready to rock and roll.

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So stay

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What do you think is the messiest part?

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Of a project, the start, the middle or the end, the start,

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the middle of the entire thing.

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Is.

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I think the most crucial part, the messiest part of a

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project is the entire project.

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And I'm coming back to answering your question.

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If you don't set it up right.

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I think.

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I think it's a a success factor.

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If you set there's this An old project managers or PMI PMP, project managers

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talk about project chartering.

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Yeah, I think if I remember there's an entire section of the PM, the PIM Bach.

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The project management body of knowledge around project chartering.

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Now they were very checklist.

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And very document centric about it.

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But, they really focused on project chartering.

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I think agile chartering we talked, have you ever read liftoff?

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No.

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Oh, you should read.

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Lift off.

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Okay.

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It's by Diana Larson and.

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I'm blanking on Ansley knees, I think.

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Okay.

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To we'll put a link.

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Yeah.

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To women Angeles and it's in its second edition.

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But it's not project liftoff.

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I think it's just liftoff, but that's the equivalent of agile chartering.

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Okay.

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I like, starting an initiative and they bring in things like they have

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a focus on team, establishing the team and the dynamics of a team.

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How much more is that than what's traditionally been called sprint zero.

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To me spring zero was never really defined very My interpretation

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or usage of sprint zero.

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My experience in it was, it was much more of 90% of sprint.

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Zero was getting your content.

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Like in front of you or your backlog, and also validating your like doing spiking.

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Like validating your initial designs and things like that.

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That was a sprint zero and maybe 10% of a sprint zero was around the soft skills.

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The team formation, the team rules.

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Whereas liftoff is probably not 90 10, but in reverse, but maybe.

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60 40.

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Okay.

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Something like that, really focusing on team roles and responsibilities,

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guard, rails, establishing that.

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Before you start and then having clarity.

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The other thing with liftoff is I think they have a focus on.

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And I don't think sprint zeros did a very good job of this.

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If at all, is like the mission and vision of a project.

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What is the success?

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What is the high level success factors, right?

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The Y.

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It was more of a work sprint zeroes were more of a historical, like what

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do we need to do to get ready to start sprinting, to start working?

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Okay.

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So back to my Start middle or end.

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The messiest part.

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Is the whole pro if you don't start well, The.

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So I think the, maybe the messiest part of a project is the start.

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Let me, re-ask the question.

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Yeah, the messiest part of a.

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Poorly executed or poorly run project versus a well.

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Are you trying to tease out the topic for this Josh.

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I am I'm working hard.

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You are, and I'm not am I am actually, I'm not trying to be resistant.

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Medical history.

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The episode today is focused on setting expectations.

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So to me, that's a, that happens during the life of a project that should be

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happening during the life of a project.

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Or resetting expert, maybe it's called setting expectations in the beginning.

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And then resetting expectations.

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If you need to all along the way.

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And if you don't set, I think projects get messy.

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Depending on the well, a variety of factors, but there's

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a reality on the ground.

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It goes back to how well did you set expectations?

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Not just of time.

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It's a timing is a big part of it.

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Like scope and timing, that triple constraint thing.

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Yeah.

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The iron triangle.

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Yeah.

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And less on costs.

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I don't think, yes, you can set expectations for costs, but it's

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more, so time and did you set up expectations properly in the beginning?

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Over time and scope and maybe I would say risk.

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Like the level of risk or the level of ambiguity or the level of unknown.

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And something like that.

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So that to me, needs to be happening at the start.

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Now, if you don't do that at the start and a lot of projects don't, or they do a bad,

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they do a bad job of setting expectations.

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Clearly.

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And explicitly upfront then you're in, I think you're in for a Rocky ride

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because that resetting, if you didn't.

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He did a crappy job setting them.

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Then resetting them as hard.

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'cause you're surprising folks along the way.

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Yeah.

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The point I was getting to is that many poorly run projects.

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The messiest part is the end, because you're trying to scramble for that

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clarity that you could have should You were going, you were going to the end.

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Just when I think of a bulk of the companies I've walked into and the

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death marches that they are on.

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Like you think at Teradata back when you went Yeah, I would, I would buy that.

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I didn't know where you were going.

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Did you know my first book?

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We don't, I don't know if I talk about it much, but something

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called software end games.

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Is that on.

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Is that Tablet like stone tablets.

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So it's all

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It's almost.

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It's not a very, it's not very people aren't aware of it nowadays.

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It's gotten its first It's still on.

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No, at the time it, it did very well.

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I was invited to a lot of keynotes and things and the entire point of suffering

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games was that to manage that end phase of a project, because it's really messy.

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Yeah.

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Triaged.

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So defect, triage was a big part of that.

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Knowing when you're done is a big part of that managing and

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communicating expectations, narrowing down to having a release point.

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You have all this chaos upfront.

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How do you funnel it down?

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And make it more predictable.

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So very often.

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It's just a moving target to your, I think to your point, right?

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Like you don't know, scope is coming in.

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You're not sure if it's going to be delivered.

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I almost think of the end of a lot of projects, agiles as well.

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Is you like your fund?

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You're just funneling the chaos down to trying to create a release

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My argument would be that the reason, many projects don't end up in a healthy

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state is because too many folks.

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Don't know how to.

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Provider or gather the info to.

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Estimate is not the word I want to use, but to provide a roadmap of this is

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what, and this is how long we think.

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I think there's too much guessing upfront.

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I'm not going to.

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Let I'm not going to disagree.

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It's gonna maybe like to allow you to retort.

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I'm going to retort with this.

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The example that led into this Medicash was a medic casters.

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I w I.

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Just released an audio book of my bed ass, extraordinarily

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bad-ass agile coaching book.

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And I approached a good.

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A colleague, a good friend who has a wonderful voice.

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Bruce Nicks.

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So Bruce he did, uh, he's a voice actor and he sounds like, um, Oh, my God.

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Um, Who's the actor.

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You know, that's going to be my next, oh my God.

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I'm not going to voice acting age.

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Couldn't be.

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In this new voice, I just.

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I was trying to deeply into the tunnels.

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Yes with deep dark night with Josh.

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Definitely.

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No.

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But Morgan Freeman is who.

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He reminds me a bit of Morgan Freeman.

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That's a hive and he's got, he's just got this cool voice and he's

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done things like voiceover for a Fox football, commercial or something.

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So he's done some.

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Sort of snippets, but the point is I approached Bruce and he said,

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yes, and it was a win-win for me.

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Wonderful boy.

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So he's he had done a couple of other books.

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That's not each tick.

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And your stick is more commercials and things like that.

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But he but he was kind enough to say, I'll do this book.

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He had done one other agile book.

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That's why I knew he do it.

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And I approached him and he said, yeah, I'll do it.

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And I said, well, how long is it going to take?

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And he said we'll get it done by.

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So the agile conference was in early July.

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And he's like, we'll have it done by then.

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And you'll be able to announce it and people will be able to acquire it.

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So he had managed my expectations.

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He communicated.

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It.

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And this was maybe in may or something like that.

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So it was going to be a month of him recording and then there was some

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processing and things like that.

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So there was a hidden part.

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His part of recording the chapters, and then there was the

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processing part and part of the processing was quality assurance.

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It's almost like software and then releasing it.

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And and I, my expectations were set for book.

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Bye.

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Because I'm trusting him as the expert.

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Yeah.

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But I had no.

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I just went to him as the expert.

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And I really didn't challenge him.

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I set a goal of, I would love to do this in July at the agile conference.

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And he's like, yeah, we can do that.

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Maybe a little bit innovative in his voice was a question mark, but

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he was like, he didn't push back.

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He didn't give me a percentage, you know?

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It was risky.

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It was like, it can do, and then we've been off.

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And the book finally, so it passed July.

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It passed August.

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Bruce had gotten his part done right

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So his part was done before that deadline.

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But the processing has turned out to be six to eight weeks or something like

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So what was it two weeks ago or so.

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The book finally, Andy and Bruce didn't even tell me that it was released.

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I don't know if the firm he was using.

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I actually found out, cause I was, you know, me, I was checking every day.

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On audible.

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So I was literally checking every freaking day on audible.

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And finally I saw it pop up and I sent him an email.

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And then that was his.

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As the customer, I notified him that it was finally available through and

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he was using a third party service.

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To take care of the QA and all of that stuff, but

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So I that's what generated this medic casters is he did.

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I love Bruce and Bruce did a great But he did a terrible job

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of managing my expectations.

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And I think a lot of teams do that.

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Now, one of the mistakes he made is He was mad.

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I didn't know.

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So I think he totally underestimated or didn't even think about the post Bruce.

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Stuff.

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And he never talked about risk.

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It was just literally this will be available by the state.

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The thing that I want everybody to walk away with is.

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The intentional title of this episode is managing expectations,

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not setting expectations.

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That's the work that has to get done.

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And those are the difficult conversations that need to be had.

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But there is without a doubt.

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So much more appreciation for that being managed along the way.

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Then the we're good.

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We're good.

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We're good.

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Oh shit.

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We're not.

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The other thing, Bruce did it, and this is not a Bruce slam Fest because if

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he ever listened, Bruce, I love you.

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He is a wonderful guy, but we can all learn.

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We all have swings and misses.

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He didn't.

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And I think it was because it was this third party.

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There was this dance between him.

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As the recorder and the service he was using for us, but nonetheless,

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as a customer, I'm sitting out there.

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In the wind and it's like, someone tell me what's going on.

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So there's no information.

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So every inquiry I had to make.

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Which really aggravated me.

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It's like, tell me, initiate a conversation with your customer.

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Don't have the customer do that.

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So maybe that's a lesson learned to your point, managing

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expectations along the pipeline.

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The other thing is even upfront setting.

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I actually disagree with you.

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I think setting expectations is the start.

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Yeah.

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If Bruce would have said to me, Bob.

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That would've been a better way, Bob.

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I can get my part Bye.

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July 1st.

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Right slam dunk.

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I have a hundred percent confidence in that or 98% competence in that.

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With a one week variable.

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Yeah.

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The service I've only worked with them three times or whatever it is.

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I have no clue.

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They may take them a week.

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Or it may take them 10 weeks.

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I don't know.

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We'll manage that together.

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What that says is the conferences off.

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We can't do the conference or there's a 5% chance Bob, that we can do the conference.

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So don't hold your breath.

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Probably September as much more really autistic.

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Which is where it landed.

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And I'm guessing here because there's some variable and I'll give you a every

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two week update or something like that.

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And we'll manage it along the way.

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But that's not what happened, but that would have been a much better

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I've been, I wouldn't have, because you know what.

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I it's, I didn't, I wasn't upset about September.

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I was upset because my, the expectations weren't set properly.

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And then I got disappointed.

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If he would have said something, like I just said, I'd be happier than a clam.

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Right when it landed in September.

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Cool.

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That's exactly what he said.

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Yeah.

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So yes, there is value in setting expectations.

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But that will not ensure success.

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To me is the point I was trying to make.

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I didn't do a very good job.

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I'm sorry.

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No, it's okay.

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Yeah, I didn't do a good job.

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Are you apologizing?

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But I mean, software there's so many more you're leaning in any variables.

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There's so many freaking variables, but to.

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To me.

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It doesn't matter.

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Any thing you're doing that takes weeks.

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Yeah.

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Yeah.

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And even just like doing yard work or something like that.

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You have weather variables you have right now with people doing construction.

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My neighbor's getting their bathroom remodeled.

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Remodelers came in.

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I left for two weeks.

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Why did they do that?

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So their bathroom is in a half state.

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Oh boy, which kind of sucks.

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It's because of material acquisition, it's because of that flow is

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interrupted and they couldn't get stuff.

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And then they came back.

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So if you didn't manage expectations, like the complexity of flow or emergent

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or designs or surprises exactly.

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So it sounds like.

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And this is Ober over simplifying, but if you just do agile.

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And speak.

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Boldly and confidently with the reality of what's happening.

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Your butt's covered.

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I think you also have to.

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Yes and be realistic.

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Yeah, don't be hopeful.

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Don't be hopeful.

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Don't be this op I've always felt that developers in general, We're incredibly

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optimistic in their communication.

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It may still be this way.

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And they should be more, not pessimist, but more realists

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and communicate the risk.

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That's what good project managers try to tease out when they do risk planning,

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it's obnoxious like traditional project management risk planning is obnoxious.

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But what they're trying to do is tease out Some of these variables so

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that they can manage expectations.

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There's a, it takes two to tango there.

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Can I quote you on that?

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Sure.

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It takes, I don't know if I can remember this.

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Oh, wow.

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It's his bag.

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MI ladies, how's it going to be today?

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Actually listeners, it's been like this all day before we

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hit the recording button.

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I was all over Josh and And it, I know, I know I was medic casters, to be honest,

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I get so happy to see him and quote me on

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That sometimes I Really perky.

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So here's how the recording session started.

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I had spent all morning keeping the dog in a state so that she could

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go to sleep just before 10 30.

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And it's 10 20 I'm sitting on the couch.

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She just passed out.

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I'm like, okay, cool.

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I got time.

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I'm going to carry upstairs.

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Put her in the crate.

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Ding dong.

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And the dog pops up and sprints of the door and is definitely

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not ready to go to sleep.

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But we solve that problem with peanut butter and bananas episode.

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Her favorite snack.

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Yes exactly.

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But the.

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I, I believe that optimism is.

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An equal and opposite reaction to the.

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Expectations from above that are made without.

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The appropriate amount of info on how long this should take, like the number

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of places where I've seen developers get squeezed, or be asked a thousand times for

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an estimate that they've already given.

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Are you sure?

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Yes, there's optimism, but I do believe actually I believe it's

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less optimism and more submission.

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To expectations from above.

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That's my personal I might buy that.

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I've been thinking lately.

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I've seen teams lately.

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That are saying yes too quickly.

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Or just acquiescing.

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And I think to myself, Eating as a leader, I've been in a leadership role.

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And I reserved the right.

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I want to see how you react to this.

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Cause you may.

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Undercut me.

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I reserved the right to continue to push.

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Until the team tells me it's not possible.

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I it's my job to push.

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It's my it's okay for me to say, Josh.

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The market needs this in two weeks.

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And it's, I think it's okay for me to trivialize something.

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I'm I have a different lens.

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I have a market lens.

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I have maybe a trivialization at lens or whatever.

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It's okay to push.

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But what I'm want is then I need to listen to someone says, no, that's not possible.

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And I need to appreciate the no.

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And appreciate the pushback.

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Right and modify my thinking based on the pushback.

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So I think there's a T there's a healthy tension, There

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should be a healthy tension.

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What happens?

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I think his teams generally don't push back.

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They And it's almost like a, and as a leader, like they allow

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leaders to continue to push.

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Oh like to over-commit them like You know, like 200%, 300% of their capacity,

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and I'm like, you need to push back.

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Now.

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There's someone in healthy leadership.

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That overly pushes.

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But I think it's okay for me.

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It's actually part of my job as a leader.

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Those bee hags as big, hairy, audacious goals.

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That's what I'm talking about.

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Is to be.

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Exuberant about it, but then listen.

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And I th I think that establishes the balance.

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Cause I don't want to do poor quality.

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I don't want to burn out the team.

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So react to that, but I do see the teams don't push back to.

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There's no, there's just acquiescence.

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Yes, it's a submission.

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It's a submission, right?

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It's okay.

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Yeah.

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And I'm like, don't do that.

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Don't do that.

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It'd be effective with it.

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Now leaders play a part in this dance.

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Because they overly the minute, the team.

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I think you need to look at the team and say, okay, that's it takes

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tremendous courage for them to push back.

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Now I need to stop

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And start loosening.

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So I think there is a juxtaposition on the leadership side but I do think, I

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do reserve the right to be aggressive.

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I guess I.

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To me.

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I think there's, it's a gradient.

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You go back to the Shu Hari world and with a shoe team you're going to

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need to be much more prescriptive.

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And drive that a bit more than once you get towards the middle.

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I think you start to get towards that healthy tension.

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That's there to me, the issue that is exhibited most often in the real

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world is it's not a healthy tension.

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It is someone pushes until they get the answer that they want, which is so

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dumb because you're putting your butt on the line because you're telling

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somebody, this is how long it's going

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When you squoze, if that's a word you squoze your team to

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get the answer that you thought.

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You needed to provide a, now you're already in a bad spot because you.

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How do you believe that number when you know what you've done?

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Now what I will say is my ideal state.

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And maybe you'll never get there.

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My ideal state is that I have a team of commercially minded That I have educated

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well enough on our business, how it works, the objectives we're trying to hit.

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And they begin making those goals as a group, really owning their product

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and driving it in that manner.

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So to me, that's the end game.

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Has it happened for me.

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Once maybe twice.

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But that's my destination.

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See, I disagree.

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I disagree with park.

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So you get a painter, I'll try to.

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Yeah.

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Great.

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I'll try to just have you get a junior painter.

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So someone who has one year of experience.

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So they're a shoe And they come in and you say, what's it going to cost?

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To paint my downstairs and they come back to you with a cost estimate of, $2,000,

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$2,500 and five days or whatever it is, and you have to move the furniture.

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And you pushed back on them and said, no, that's not possible.

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I'm having a party I needed done in two days.

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What do you think that painter is going to do?

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Most likely they're going to.

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Submit and say, okay, I disagree.

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I disagree that junior painter.

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Not if they need the business.

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No, they're good.

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They're going to say it's already 10 a day.

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You pushed him down to it's a day.

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It's a five day job and you say one day and you can start right now.

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They beat silly.

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They would be silly.

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And there, I don't know if it's the maturity.

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I think we let people off the hook a little bit with, I read this.

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So what I, the re the read I had, or what you said is it's leaning

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into leadership needs to change.

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I know that right leaders, and I'm putting the foot back on dammit

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teams need to buck up and have some courage and speak truth to power

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to, I'm not disagreeing with that.

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I'm saying, is that the very, very end of the rainbow, the very end of the rainbow.

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Super re teams that have been together for a couple years.

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Really.

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And you as a leader have worked really hard.

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To get them to understand that.

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They will drive themselves.

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Yes.

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Yeah.

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Yeah.

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But what I'm saying is I want shoe teams to step up to the plate.

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Agree, agree.

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Step up.

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Don't be pushed around.

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We have a medic cast audience out there you're in a shoe team,

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speak truth to power a bit.

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The leaders, it's a balancing act, but I'm getting tired.

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It's almost like we not you, but we put all this impetus on leaders.

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It's not a bad leadership and bad behavior out But it shocks me.

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Sometimes the teams don't step up.

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Like I'm a good leader.

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I am not going to give you relief if you don't ask for it.

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How about you?

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I know I have a tendency to lean hard.

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But you want it.

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The feedback then.

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Yeah, but I, but there have been times.

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Well, and we talked about this in an episode or two.

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Uh, go where I wasn't good at recognizing the health of the team.

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And I've worked really hard to get better at recognizing that.

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And I've backed myself off.

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Okay.

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And that's the balance, but I'm just, again, what.

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There's a balance between us as leaders.

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I want the teams to step up.

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Yeah.

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I want, I want to stop using Shuhari.

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Marie is a freaking excuse, right for, oh, we'll do that when we

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get to re well, when the hell will that, so what does that mean?

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If you have bad leaders, you're going to have a miserable

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life for the next five years.

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If you even ever get to that state, have some courage.

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Like I wish Bruce coming back to my brew story.

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I wish Bruce would have just been honest and said, Hey, this is what I can con.

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I'm, I didn't have a clue.

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As a customer, I had no clue.

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Just speak truth to me.

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This is what I can control.

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This is what I can and realize that that start of

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That project is a really crucial time to do that.

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Agreed.

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I think we're saying similar things.

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I think so.

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As we often do, you know what I'm doing though?

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Also, Josh, remember we talked about this Medi-Cal version too.

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Yeah, I'm trying to let out my mice, the inner Bob, my inner Bob, a little bit.

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Not artificially.

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Yeah.

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But yeah, I'm trying to let my inner Bob out a little bit, so

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I don't use a Balrog in there.

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There's a Y.

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It's a learning thing.

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Oh, that's okay.

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That's okay.

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Medic casters.

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I'm sorry if that hurt you.

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Say what was, what is that?

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It's okay.

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It's okay.

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He's.

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I'm old.

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He was around before those books were written.

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So I helped write them.

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What did he do though?

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Like in the fifties or something like that.

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Yeah.

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Uh, yeah.

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Totally sure.

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Yeah.

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I think it was okay.

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It might've been earlier.

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So did we see.

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I think we covered this.

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There's no.

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Can you wrap it?

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No, there's more than one.

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A dig into a little Because.

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We lightly touched the fact that managing expectations.

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What is that?

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Let's talk about what that looks like in a healthy manner.

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Just to make sure people have a crystal clear.

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It is on a regular basis doing some of the things that Bob said pretty early

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on is, Hey, this is what happened.

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This is what's happening next.

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Here's an updated view of where we think things are going to

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be, and these are the risks.

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And most importantly, here's how we're managing those risks.

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Yeah.

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And that creates comfort.

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For everybody.

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Leadership yourself, the team in that, you know, the risks that are out there.

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You have plans on how to work around or through them.

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And then in.

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Be it a week.

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Be it every two weeks, be it a month.

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However you do that.

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But on a regular cadence, you need to provide all of that

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info to pretty much everybody.

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I think also maybe engage your stakeholders.

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I remember.

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Bruce would ask me to do something and because I wanted to hit the date.

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So even when you're communicating to your stakeholders, so like

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Bruce, would we use this system?

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To manage things.

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So I had a checklist and he had a checklist.

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And then we got to a hundred percent complete, and this is on

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the recording side, passing it

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And if, and when he sent me an email saying, Bob, you have to take action.

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Because I was interested in the day.

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I immediately took action.

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And I'm sending emails like I'm done with my part.

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Or I'm going to be two days.

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That actually that increased my frustration because here I am.

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Reacting quickly, but it's not helping.

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It's not helping move the ball down the field.

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So what I'm saying is it's talking about your status.

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It's also engaging people with what part they can do to help.

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But also managing and saying, will this accelerate it?

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Or will this not?

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Yeah.

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Go gaming help asking for help.

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So participating in the process, but also community, just

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communication, lots of communication.

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Th there is no world.

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No project, no anything.

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Where understanding.

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Risks and or bad news earlier, rather than later.

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There's no world where that's not better.

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Yeah, it's always better.

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It might be.

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Difficult scary for you to share, but again, there is no world that we live in.

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We're holding on to that hiding at pretending.

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It's not real saying, Hey, we're going to work through it.

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We'll get it done.

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There's no world war.

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That's better at all.

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Not even close.

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So do yourself a service.

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Talking early often and regularly.

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And why did you end up in a It's just, it's going to happen.

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Someone goes home.

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I remember Bruce went on vacation for two weeks.

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It was driving me crazy.

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And this was after he was done with his part.

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So I wasn't getting any communication from the vendor.

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And I wasn't getting Again, even if you go out and vacation, delegate to someone.

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You need I think maybe that's a key to this episode is continuous

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real-time communication with no sugar coating, right?

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None, zero sugar coat, maybe hope no hopefulness.

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Just real communication.

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Your leaders will love it.

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Yeah, they will.

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They will there again.

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They will love it.

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I could have handled.

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I know this isn't a software case.

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I know it's an audio book, but it's still the same thing, but

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the communication that's that would've That's what I'm saying.

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It would've made a huge difference to me.

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I wouldn't have liked it.

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But I, it I would have accepted it.

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It would've given me understanding right there.

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There's a HVHC company that I stumbled into using here.

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That I will use again forever, because when you sign up to have something fixed,

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they send you, this email of here are all the things that are going to happen.

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We and every line item has.

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This is when we think it will be done with, well, this

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requires approval from the town.

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So.

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And then every, after every step was updated, you got a

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new version of that scent.

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So you had a clear roadmap of everything that was going

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on, what the next steps were.

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Estimations of when that was going to happen.

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Risks concerns, whatever they had.

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And that's just helping manage a customer through an air

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conditioning unit replacement.

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So again, that's not, but that made a huge difference.

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I've recommended them and I will always use them.

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You know what?

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That's not even it's you almost talked.

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I don't care if that's HVAC or audio books or software development.

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Those principles are universal.

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Yeah.

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And look at the so many casters, his eyes lit up, he got animated that

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this is not, that's just effective.

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So th that's the sort of that's the shoe Hari is managing

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expectations via communication.

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Yeah.

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Yeah.

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Did we land at better?

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I feel like we did.

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I just wanna make sure people walk away with an action.

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Absolutely.

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They.

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They can, like this afternoon go.

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And take action on that action.

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I don't like that wording, but whatever, whatever it is, no, but man.

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Medicare is, I hope he took this as a, we talked about audio books.

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And HVACs and some agile, but this is a serious I'm this is serious topic.

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There's a lot of.

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Unmanaged expectations in the universe.

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I would challenge you all to get better, to look in the mirror in the

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morning and say, what are we doing at.

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At an individual level, the scrum team level at an edit

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cross-organizational of across team level.

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Are we effectively managing expectations?

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I'm going to say something you may not like.

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I bet you're not.

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Yep.

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I would agree.

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I bet you're not.

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Or step up your game, step up your manage expectations game it's crucial

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and you'll see a huge difference.

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I would be willing to say 5% of work is managed well.

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We talk about how I lit up because they manage it like that.

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You don't have that reaction when that happens all the time.

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That clearly doesn't happen all the time.

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They did that.

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That was a game changer.

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It's yeah.

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I'm willing to wager.

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Significant amounts of money that less than 5% of work is managed.

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That, that, well, Stick a fork in it bed, a big fat fork.

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All right.

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Say for beautiful downtown few quaver.

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Rena North Carolina.

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I'm Bob Galen.

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Actually Anderson shake and bake take care of y'all.