So, let’s hop in a time machine and travel over 12 years back. I had just recently started at Solita as a Service Manager. Solita service desk was just an emerging concept and some preliminary set-up was in place. Our small team was learning how to implement and adjust ITIL and service management processes. Our Manager gave me the task to prepare a presentation on how to develop customer care and service management. So, I prepared a presentation and gave it to the team.
After my presentation, I was expecting maybe a nod or two, or just moving to the next topic. However, a vivid discussion started. My team members brought up additional viewpoints of what we could do better, what should still be considered and how the plan could be improved. I wrote down the ideas while trying to hide how shocked I was.
Remember the note in the beginning: some of the companies from my earlier career had a culture of “no mistakes allowed”, let alone I would have allowed them for myself. My earlier experiences when presenting was typically not receiving any feedback and if any, in most cases it wasn’t positive. So, with this learned mental landscape, I went to the bathroom and cried. It felt as if my colleagues had pointed out flaws in my presentation. As if all the discussion and comments were a token that I had failed to deliver “a perfect presentation”.
I thought about being fired during my probation. Feelings of failing myself, my team, and my manager crawled on me. Not only that the presentation wasn’t good enough, but I wasn’t good enough. I felt so ashamed.
We are more than I
My team Manager, a long-time Solitan, noted my shock. The Manager checked on me a few hours later, asking me how I felt about the presentation and discussion. Crying again, managed to share the feeling of being a failure. The Manager calmly started explaining that the presentation was good and served its purpose. The Manager explained that Solita as a company always strives to be a bit better than yesterday and that we believe that WE are more than I. The presentation was “perfect” as it triggered so many ideas, such a vivid discussion and improvement ideas. “You had managed to create a simplified structure so that others could identify its composition and start innovating. Our people are passionate to think about what can be done better. They do care.”
It took me a while to really understand this, but this has become one of the most important lessons of my career. No one has or can have all the answers. I don’t have to be perfect. It’s of value to put together something that is barely sufficient so that you can collaborate further. Our collective brain is so much bigger than any of us. We really are so much more than any of us alone.
Values are true every day
A year after that presentation, Solita’s values: caring, courage, passion, and easy-going, were defined amongst Solitans. I couldn’t agree more, and I still feel we live by those values. Even after all these years, every day I have a chance to learn from so many, tease someone’s brains to share and collaborate on ideas or scrap something altogether. It is a privilege to be a part of such a community.
Why did I write this, you might ask? When asking people, why they have not shared great stories of their learnings or ideas, or the impact created with our customers, sometimes the answer is: “It’s not ready, it’s not perfect, someone else probably already knows this, there’s this or that person that could tell it better” or jokes about imposter syndrome. Please stop saying that. Quit being afraid or seeking for the perfect presentation. Go ahead, present your barely sufficient stuff (and trust me, it’s better than you think!) and rely on our community to get ideas and make it better.
Collaboration is what makes us awesome. Sharing is a gift that keeps on giving. Thank you all who have shared so much. And thanks for reading my story.