Chris LoSacco: In this analogy, Thanos is, like, the market for custom software development?
Gina Trapani: (Laughs)
Chris: And we're... (Laughs)
Chris: I'm trying here.
Gina: Attacking the market together. Exactly, exactly.
(CATALYST INTRO MUSIC)
Gina: Hey all, welcome to Catalyst. This is the Launch by NTT Data podcast. I'm Gina Trapani, and as always, I'm joined by my business partner, Chris LoSacco. Hey, Chris.
Chris: Hey, Gina.
Gina: How's it going?
Chris: I'm great. How are you?
Gina: I'm doing well.
Gina: I love recording with you.
Chris: Always a great time.
Gina: We're here. We're leading product at Launch. We're talking about product on the podcast.
Chris: Can I stop you for a second?
Chris: What is Launch?
Chris: I get asked "what is Launch by NTT Data?" about 14 times a day.
Gina: Well, I mean, you get asked 14 times a day because we're brand new.
Chris: We're brand new.
Gina: Right? We went to market...
Chris: A couple of months ago.
Gina: A few months ago.
Gina: Right? So, Launch is a new group inside of NTT Data that helps our clients strategize, ship and scale amazing digital experiences.
Chris: Oh, that was good.
Gina: Whoa. Does that sound like marketing speak?
Chris: I love that alliteration. Strategize, ship and scale. That's the way to do it.
Gina: I know. You can't say it three times fast. Here's the thing. NTT Data is this amazing giant multinational IT services company. Which is, like, basically the biggest technology company you've...
Both: Never heard of.
Chris: Yeah. It's wild.
Gina: If you're Japanese, you've definitely heard of us. Right? But in North America you maybe not have heard of us.
Chris: Fun fact, if you're walking around the streets of Tokyo and you look down at, like, the manhole covers...
Chris: ...for sewers, you see the NTT logo.
Chris: NTT is everywhere.
Gina: Totally. And, you know, my favorite fun fact about NTT, of course, NTT is a group of operating companies. NTT DOCOMO is one of them, one of the most, like, earliest wireless companies that came out of Japan. They invented the emoji.
Chris: I love that fun fact.
Gina: That's totally what closed the deal. This is the thing, right? So, NTT acquires Postlight and a few other, really kind of amazing kindred spirits.
Gina: Focused on building great product. And we all came together... like the Avengers? I'm not really a Marvel person. Is it the Avengers that are all different?
Chris: Oh yeah. Totally.
Gina: Yeah. All these amazing, incredible superheroes come together as a team. We're bringing, you know, great product and platform development...
Gina: ...powered by beautiful and intuitive user experiences, to big enterprises, small startups, nonprofits, NGOs, across industries, really.
Gina: So basically, we get to do all the things that Postlight used to do, but just at a huge scale with, like, an incredible team joined us.
Chris: Yes. And we're still shipping things.
Chris: Like, that's what it comes down to, right? If you need someone to go implement an off-the-shelf platform, it's like, you know, actually that... there are groups in other parts of NTT Data that will help do that.
Gina: That do that. Right.
Chris: And we can refer you. But if you need something that is custom tailored to exactly what you're doing, that's us.
Gina: That's just a great user experience.
Gina: Employee experience, customer experience, partner experience. Just a great experience.
Chris: Right. And now we've got a team of thousands of people that can help you do it, which is really, really cool.
Gina: Yeah. It's pretty wild actually.
Chris: Yeah. So...
Gina: That's our spiel. (Laughs)
Chris: We have a spiel.
Gina: Glad you asked, by the way.
Chris: But we have the DNA, the DNA of a startup, right?
Chris: Because we were bringing all these groups together. And so, I think what would be interesting to talk about today is, how do you maintain some of that ownership mentality when you are leading a group? Right? And why is it important for people at all levels of leadership to think like an owner? Right?
Gina: Think like an owner is so, so important, right?
Chris: This is... This was like, the... When I was thinking about this topic, I think this is the single most important piece of advice I would give to somebody in their career, especially as they jump to management and leadership.
Chris: Think like an owner.
Gina: Without a doubt.
Gina: Without a doubt.
Chris: It changes your whole perspective on what you are doing, and it informs literally every single decision you will make.
Gina: Every single day. That's right. It's the difference between, I have a job description and a task list, and I'm going to go through and I'm going to check it off and I'm going to do it well. Right?
Gina: What is the business trying to do, and how can I help drive it forward?
Chris: Yes. Exactly.
Gina: Right? It's like, thinking outside the job description.
Chris: That's right.
Gina: A little bit. It's a big mindset shift. And we see it with our clients, too. Like, some of our best clients were thinking like an owner. And, in fact, I love working with those clients. These are CMOs, VPs of digital directors, senior directors. These are leaders inside their orgs...
Gina: ...who are like, the business needs to get digital. It has a bad experience. It doesn't have an experience at all. It needs a great experience. And I'm on a mission to make that happen.
Gina: And I love working with these clients, not only because they are the ones with whom success is... (Laughs) You know, most probable.
Gina: But because I know that they're taking a huge leap by partnering with us.
Gina: Because they're putting their career on the line, and they're taking their personal mission, and saying, I'm going to get with you, and I want to do this with you.
Gina: Which is just a tremendous vote of confidence in us, and also, honestly, puts us on the line.
Gina: Our next go on the line.
Chris: But we like that.
Gina: Which also maximizes success, right? Because we have to think like, oh, this is now our problem.
Chris: This is now our problem.
Gina: And we have to help this person.
Chris: So many people are not inclined this way, because it is risky.
Gina: Very risky.
Chris: It implies that you are taking risks. You are saying, I am going to go into uncharted waters to try to do something that we are not doing. A lot of services firms also don't like this. They don't want to be in a risky position. They want to be all known quantities. We want the requirements list up front, we want the scope clearly defined. We want, you know, no room for error. Because we're going to, you know, base our billing hours off of what you are telling us. So it is very atypical, actually, to have a project and an arrangement where there aren't as clearly defined boundaries around the thing. Because you are taking some risk. But owners take risk. This is the thing. If you found a startup. Not even... it doesn't even have to be a startup. If you take, you know, take a new job where you are leading a group, you are inherently taking on some risk as you go try to drive the business forward. You have to understand where the market is and what people want, right? What your customers are asking for, or what they will be asking for, and how you orient your product or service or company around that thing, rather than, you know, the list of predefined "bup bup bup bup ba, I'm going to go down the checklist. Right?
Gina: That's right. I'm going to go down the checklist.
Chris: You know?
Gina: That's right. A thing happened in this office this week, I'm going to admit it to everybody who listens to the show, and I'm going to talk about us in the third person. So here's the thing that happened.
Gina: Gina read a business book. And with all the zealousness of a new, a new convert, came into the office and was like, Chris, I learned all these really new and important things and I want to tell you. And I just peppered you, I regaled you...
Chris: (Laughs) This is true.
Gina: This is all the stuff that I learned. And Chris was like, yeah, that's all pretty obvious. Those are pretty obvious insights. I don't know that those are the profound insights that you think they are. And also, like, these are conversations that you and I have come to and had together organically for seven years. And I was kind of like, oh. (Laughs)
Chris: (Laughs) This makes it sound like I was trying to take the wind out of your sails.
Gina: Oh no.
Chris: I was not.
Gina: You were not. I... This is total, you know, exaggeration, hyperbole. But it was, it was a fun moment. So, I read this book, Reality-Based Leadership by Cy Wakeman. We will link it in the show notes. And Cy, I hope I'm going to... I'll send you a note. I really enjoyed the book. The premise of the book is that, you know, leaders who are most effective sort of understand the reality that they're operating in, right? And they deal with that reality, right? Not the stories that they tell themselves about it, not the sort of ego, not the, like... They're just like, what is the reality of our business? What is the next step that I have to do to add value? It seems really, really, really simple.
Chris: But it's really hard.
Gina: It's really hard, right? Because, when you think like an owner, your only input isn't like, oh, this is the to-do list that my boss has given me, right? When you're thinking like an owner, your main north star is, what are we trying to do in this business? And how is the way that I'm spending my day-to-day, my to do list and my calendar, is it moving forward the things that we're trying to do?
Gina: Right? And how do I align it so that it is, is moving that forward, right?
Gina: This is, listen... This is tough. This is tough in big organizations. You know, in situations... facts on the ground change, day to day.
Gina: This is hard, right? You have to stay connected to what is, you know, this is about leadership. Communicating. What we're trying to do. Right? You know, reading between the lines, understanding the situation. I just love this premise, right? Because, you know, so, an example of a reality, right? Gravity is a reality, right?
Gina: Like, gravity exists in the world.
Gina: Like, I'm sticking to the ground right now because of gravity. I'm grateful, because I'm glad that I'm not floating out in space.
Chris: That's really true.
Gina: That would make my day a lot more complicated, right?
Gina: But gravity also requires that I need my asthma inhaler when I'm climbing a hill, right? Like, it requires effort when I'm moving.
Chris: (Laughs) Okay. Yes.
Gina: Okay, so stick with me here, right? Let's, let's say in the for-profit and the business world, right? There are certain gravities that... (Laughs)
Chris: I get where you're going. Yep.
Gina: ...that exist. Right? There's capitalism. There's a need for growth. Like, do more with less, I think, can feel like an affront to a beleaguered employee who just feels overworked and underpaid and undervalued, right? But it is literally the inevitable... (Laughs) Right?
Chris: RIght. It's like a law of the universe.
Gina: It's a law of the universe. And I don't, I don't think it makes sense for us to debate whether or not capitalism is the best system, and whether or not this... it just is. Right?
Gina: So there's always going to be a push toward, you know, in a down time, making the plan or adjusting the plan, and in an up time, you know, maximizing, you know, the wave, right?
Chris: That's right.
Gina: And I think, you know, in any business situation, you're either overachieving or underachieving.
Gina: No plan and no forecast is ever right.
Chris: ...is exactly right. That's right.
Gina: It's never right! So you kind of have to know: which side am I on, of the plan, and...
Chris: And how am I adjusting?
Gina: How am I adjusting?
Chris: That's right.
Gina: Am I being flexible.
Gina: About, okay. It's not ideal, how we're approaching this thing. But you know what? We got to do whatever it takes because we're behind.
Gina: You know?
Chris: And this is where the goals of the person and the goals of the organization may be in conflict.
Chris: And an owner will always prioritize the goals of the organization, right?
Chris: They want to figure out, how do I... It is existential. How do I survive as a company? Even when you are a big company, there are always existential threats coming from different groups or different leadership or whatever. So how do you make sure that you are putting yourself in the best possible position? Let me call in an example. Here's a typical one. I want to grow my team. A manager will say, I need to increase the size of my team in the coming year. And the reality is, an owner would not say that. An owner would not say, my goal is to have, you know, 100 more people.
Gina: That's right.
Chris: An owner would say, I need to figure out what the market needs.
Chris: And the team is a means to an end.
Gina: Right. Growth is a byproduct of that. If I'm meeting the needs of the market...
Chris: That's right.
Gina: ...we will grow.
Chris: And it is a wonderful thing to have a growing team. And it can be very, you know, professionally satisfying to have a greater impact, and to have more management responsibilities and all of those things. So I'm not saying there isn't value in that. There is value.
Chris: But the tweak is, it has to be in response to something. It has to be within the context of, what you are trying to achieve. It's not by itself a means to an end.
Gina: That's right.
Chris: And I think that there are a lot of smaller things like that, where they're one or two steps removed from the actual goal of the organization. And if you, as a manager or a leader, can figure out how to reorient your goals so that they match the organization's goals, everything gets easier. And there's an alignment there that is so clarifying when you are trying to make decisions about the guidance you're giving your people, or the things you're doing with your product, or the way you're interacting with your customers. It gets so much clearer because you know what you're going after. Versus when you are trying to jam together these competing priorities, because you're not in alignment with where the company's going.
Chris: And it's hard, right? It's hard. Because you lay out a vision, you lay out a north star, and then it's very easy to look at things that are happening on the ground on a day to day basis and say, well, wait a second. This thing that I'm doing...
Gina: ...that's not reflective of what you said.
Gina: What you said we were trying to do.
Chris: It doesn't match up. This is not the north star, this is not... But as an owner, you are thinking about where you're going, and it is aspirational. And then you are trying to match up the things that you are doing with the thing you aspire to.
Gina: Right. That's right.
Chris: And they're not always exact, right? But that's okay, because they align with survival, and keeping the thing intact, and taking the next right step, and moving forward, one day, one week, one month at a time.
Gina: That's right. I mean, the gap between current state and aspirational state, that gap, that's the work.
Chris: That's the work.
Gina: That's not hypocrisy...
Chris: That's exactly right.
Gina: That's just, that's just the work.
Gina: I think we saw this in such, just sort of stark... (Laughs) detail, like, when when the pandemic happened and we all, you know, worked from home, and the, just the need and the appetite for just, you know, great, particularly, like, collaboration tools, ways to work one on one another, remotely, just absolutely spiked. Right? And so many, you know, SaaS companies and service companies, you know, just absolutely exploded because there was just this incredible spike in appetite, right, for those services, including our business. We saw a big spike, because I think everyone went home and went, oh no, we are not equipped to connect with our customers online.
Chris: Digitally. Yeah.
Gina: Digitally. And that's the only place we're going to connect with them.
Gina: So we saw a huge spike, and I think during that time, so many businesses projected that that state would continue, that we had made a permanent shift. Right? And so, you know, now we're three or four years later, and you can look across the industry, and you see layoffs and reductions happening. Right? You see CEOs coming out and saying, we projected that we were going to be here, and that the market was going to need our services, and that the new revenue lines that we branched into were going to be... and we were wrong.
Gina: We were wrong. And so we now, we have to correct the size of our team. And I think that... that stinks, right? And I understand why people can look at that and say, you know, these greedy companies overhired, and they made a bad bet, and now the people who had jobs no longer had jobs. They're the ones who suffered. And, look. Like, it sucks. It sucks to be in a tough job market. It sucks to be in, just, a tough market in general.
Gina: But there's this feeling of, like, oh, you know, that was like, you know, we said we were going to be this thing and now we're not that thing and you're liars. And it's like, okay, I could see that perspective. But also, like, the circumstances change.
Chris: That's right.
Gina: The circumstances changed. The pandemic we could have never predicted or prepared for, right? Market changes, you know, war, all sorts of things happen. Right?
Gina: And that's just external. All sorts of things can happen internally too, right?
Gina: Changes in leadership, transformation. You know, it's just... all the things, right?
Chris: All the things. I had a manager earlier, early in my career, say, you always have to defer to reality. It's the same thing with this reality-based leadership, right? Whether or not you want it to be true, reality is true.
Gina: Yeah, the facts are what the facts are. Yeah.
Chris: You are living with... The facts are what the facts are. And so, you've got... It's wasted effort to push and push and push against the environment that you're in, as opposed to stepping back, saying, I'm going to take an accurate read of the environment that we're in, and then I'm going to chart my course.
Gina: That's right.
Chris: And that course may be ten degrees off of where I thought it was. It may be 30 or 40 or 100 degrees off of where I thought it was, but I've got to do it. Because I have to reorient around what is real. What the picture is now. Now we see this with our clients all the time too. You know? Our clients will bring us in and say, we're aiming at this thing. And then six, nine, 12 months later, it turns out we're actually aiming...
Gina: Aiming a little bit to the left.
Chris: A little bit to the left.
Gina: Or maybe a hard right. I mean, you know, like... (Laughs)
Chris: And the way that we respond to it is...
Chris: Let's shift. Because this is the kind of mindset that you need to be successful, right? In the business world, and the technology world, is you have to be able to... This is what I think.... You know, Agile gets kind of a bad rap nowadays.
Chris: This is what Agile...
Gina: This is what Agile is.
Chris: ...is supposed to be.
Gina: This is what is so important.
Chris: This is business agility.
Gina: Yes. That's right, that's right. You flex.
Chris: You flex.
Gina: You adapt. You assume that things are going to change, and you get ready to handle that change.
Gina: That's right.
Chris: And bringing an ownership mindset is the way you do it. That's how you get rooted in, how are we making the right decisions? Or at least taking the right next step? You have to think, like, I own this business. I am going to think about its survival, and I'm going to let that drive what we go do in the next ten, 20, 30 days.
Gina: Yep. I have another example. I think it's important, I think when you're working inside an org and you see something happening inside your org that doesn't make sense to you. I think that it's easy to make up a story about why that thing is happening. So like, so... So, for example, I was talking to a friend. It's like, you know, we're doing these marketing campaigns. They feel kind of weird and gross and aggressive. I don't really know why we're doing that. You know, things are changing here. Leadership is, they're just... They're just, all they want is revenue. They don't care about how it looks. You know. And it's the story of just like, a malicious intent or misguided or incompetence, right? But I think an owner might be like, we've got a top of funnel problem.
Gina: We don't have enough customers coming in. What we're doing currently is not bringing in the leads that we need. So what are we going to do? We gotta do something different.
Chris: We gotta get more leads.
Gina: We gotta get more leads. So let's try some things.
Gina: Right? And, look, we're not, you and I are not... We're not marketing people through and through, you know what I mean? And sometimes I hear about marketing initiatives and I'm like, that sounds, gosh, I just get spammed all the time with cold calls and oh, you know, like... But also it's like, we have a top of funnel problem, and we have to try different things. And this is an experiment, right? And so I think, you know, a piece of advice I would give to folks who are sort of making up stories in their head about why, why things are happening. And, you know, we said we were this thing, but we're actually not that thing. And, you know, this is a bait and switch, and this isn't in my job description. Or, why is that person getting promoted and I'm not getting promoted... You have to kind of step back and be like, what is happening in the business? Why is this happening? Sometimes it's just a conversation. Like, hey, I noticed we're doing this different thing, or I noticed that what we say we want to do is not actually what's happening. Like, like... Why that gap? And like, what could we do to bridge that gap?
Gina: I think that's, like, the way that you start to orient yourselves a little bit more around that, that ownership mindset. You know?
Chris: Yeah. So, to that end, can you talk about this SBAR thing, this acronym?
Gina: (Laughs) Oh yeah.
Chris: Yeah. Because... In all seriousness...
Gina: (Laughing) I came into the office and I was like, Chris, I got to tell you about the SBAR.
Chris: Yeah. You know, I mean, we're kind of allergic to acronyms.
Gina: We are very allergic to acronyms.
Chris: So if you come to me with an acronym, then I'm going to be like, whoa!
Gina: I immediately apologized for the acronym, because we are deeply allergic to acronyms. But I learned a new acronym. It's SBAR. S-B-A-R. And this is a tool that's actually in the, in this book, Reality-Based Leadership, which... this sounds like a commercial for the book. And... I actually didn't...
Chris: We don't know this author.
Gina: We actually don't know this author. Maybe we'll try to get her on the show.
Chris: That'd be cool.
Gina: I'll reach out. So, SBAR. This actually comes from the healthcare industry.
Gina: And, it's a way to raise an issue and get to a decision efficiently and quickly, sort of... And use the leader's time, or to escalate this in a way that, you've done all, kind of, the pre-thinking.
Chris: Okay. So how does it work in health care?
Gina: Nurse has to call a doctor in the middle of the night, wake them up. Wake her up. We got a problem.
Gina: We have a patient with a problem, and I need, you know, a green light or a red light. I need a green light on a path forward. And so, the SBAR, it stands for situation, background, assessment and recommendations. It is...
Chris: Situation, background...
Gina: Recommendations. Situation. One line. The headline. I got... I don't know, I'm not from healthcare. I got a patient coding due to this issue. Due to this reason. Background. Patient came in, gave them this treatment, they responded this way.
Gina: Assessment. We think that this is the condition that the patient is suffering from.
Gina: Recommendations. One, we think we should do this. Two, optional, you know, alternately, we could do this. Three, we could do this. So you've prepared, you prepare the SBAR, and you put this in front of the doctor. You awaken the doctor up, right? This is the equivalent, in the business world, of, like, I'm going to escalate this to my executive leadership team.
Gina: Because I got a burning fire and I need, like, you know, support, or a yes/no on this.
Chris: Right. But here's what I'm not hearing you say. I'm not hearing you say, we've got a burning fire, what should I do?
Gina: That's right. (Laughs) You don't escalate to your executive leadership, and you don't wake up the doctor in the middle of the night with, I've got a burning fire and I don't know what to do.
Gina: Because that leader or that doctor is going to say, what's happening? What was the background? What is your assessment? And now what are your recommendations, right?
Chris: (Laughs) Right.
Gina: So, so, you're doing, the SBAR is doing all that thought up front, and presenting it to the leader. And I think that, one of the important parts of, of the SBAR, right, is as you write this, as you do this exercise of pre-writing this case that you're going to bring to your, you're going to escalate to your leadership, is you gotta take all the editorial out of it. All the stories you're telling yourself, you're... It's just the facts.
Gina: You gotta drain the swamp. (Laughs) Use all... Just the facts. These are the realities. And so, I think this is a useful exercise, right? For the person...
Chris: It's clarifying. Yeah.
Gina: ...the person writing it, right? Because I think that, we're human beings. Our brains take facts and they link them together with the glue of stories. We tell stories to ourselves all day long.
Chris: We are storytellers. Mhm.
Gina: We are storytellers. And that really serves us in a lot of ways, and really works against us a lot of ways. When it's your ego that's telling you the story...
Gina: ...about the fact that you're getting screwed for this or that, or you're not being...
Chris: Or this person doesn't like me, or like...
Gina: This person doesn't like me, and they're trying to, you know, they're trying to do, you know, under the table deals to work around me. And this is, you know, I was not respected, and this is not the process, and this place isn't what they say it is... Like, all those stories, which we all tell ourselves. Every day.
Chris: I feel like I did this yesterday to you!
Chris: Like it is normal and natural. So it's not like you shouldn't do it. I mean... Or that you should never do it, right? It is that you have to be able to work through it, and recognize, okay, this is not really serving me, in order to make a decision.
Gina: That's right. You can step back and say, what is actually true about what I'm saying.
Gina: Like, what are the facts of this situation? And drop... and don't be like, you know, in last week, that person looked at me sideways, so I know that they're out to get me. (Laughs) You know, you have to drop all... right? Like, what is the situation in front of me? So, this is something that, you know, in our partnership, part of the reason why I love working with you and working, working together in a partnership, is that we help each other do this, right? Like, and I think that this is such an important technique to have that trusted person that you can just be like, can I run this story by you?
Gina: Because I'm stuck in a story right now, and I'm feeling real negative, and real annoyed. And I just want to run this by you. Does this sound right to you?
Gina: I work with this amazing executive coach who I hope... I don't think she's taking clients right now, so when she is, I'm going to talk about how great she is and maybe even have her on the show. But this is something she does for me, just so, so well. I will tell her the story of what's happening. And at one point, last time we talked, I said something like, you know, this thing is happening and it's a travesty. And she went, oh, it's a travesty? And she just started chuckling. (Laughs)
Gina: It was so, so good.
Gina: Because I realized how absurd what I was saying was.
Gina: And how, like, my language around it, like, that I had just let the story kind of take over. And I was like, oh, actually this just isn't that big a deal.
Gina: And this requires, like, a conversation. A reframing. Or, like, this thing that happened, it's fine. It takes all the sort of ego and emotion out of it, and it just... it takes all the energy. Like... like, that.... like, those ego stories require, like, just the energy that you spend, like, spinning.
Chris: Oh my God. It's all charged up, and... Yeah.
Gina: Yeah. And you're just, like, tense, and you go into your next meeting looking mad...
Chris: You don't make your best decisions like that. Like, that's not...
Gina: You don't make your best decisions like that. That's right. So, I think that part of thinking like an owner is just dealing with those facts. So, the SBAR is a, one interesting tool that...
Gina: I haven't, we haven't used in practice yet, but it's something I want to... I actually want to write a few myself, for my own escalations, before we talk to our team about, hey, can we try this?
Chris: Same. Yeah.
Gina: You know?
Chris: I'm thinking of another tool that we can give to people, which is similar to this. It comes from another book that I listened to on audiobook. It's called Turn the Ship Around.
Gina: Uh huh. Uh huh.
Chris: It's written by a retired submarine captain, like in the Navy. Who, you know, figured out how to take a submarine and its crew that was doing really poorly on a lot of metrics in the Navy, and turn it around, and make it one of the highest-performing ships. Everybody got promoted. Everybody wanted to re-enlist. Like, it was a big deal. It's a fascinating book. One of the tools he has in that book, Turn the Ship Around, is using "I intend to." statements.
Gina: Oh! Tell me, say more about that.
Chris: So here's the idea. In the military, right? In the Navy, it's command and control. You've got someone at the top who gives an order, and then the order filters down to the, I don't know the naval structure off the top of my head, but the lieutenants, and then they send it to the ship commanders and...
Gina: The sailors. Yeah. Right.
Chris: You know, and it goes all the way down. And so, when you're a new enlistee, you're just... You're getting a list of orders and you're following the orders. That is not ideal. Because it leads to rote following of what you're being told, as opposed to critical thinking. SBAR, right? Knowing the situation, getting the background, making an assessment yourself, and then saying, this is what I think we should do. So there's a, there's a passivity to it when it's just total command and control.
Gina: That's right. You're just a robot, you're a machine. You're following orders.
Chris: That's right. And so what this captain tried to do on his ship is say, no, no, no, we're all going to have some leadership involved. He called it the leader-leader structure, as opposed to leader-follower. And one of the ways you enable leader-leader is by encouraging people to make their own assessment and recommendation, right? So rather than waiting for an order, saying, captain, we are off-course, I intend to adjust the ship 30 degrees to the left. You know, there's still room to adjust, right?
Chris: If the captain is like, well, wait a second. There's a reason that we're going on this course...
Gina: Right. There's a rock over there, let's not do that.
Chris: Exactly. You can still say it. But most of the time, the captain can just say, very well. And things move along. And what he noticed in this example, and what I think he sees in a lot of, you know, companies that he consults with, is that errors go way down. People feel more empowered, and they feel more connected to what they're doing, because there's an active, you know...
Gina: That's right.
Chris: ...role to their jobs, where they feel in control. They feel like, oh, I'm using my brain and I'm going after things, you know? And I'm not just waiting for orders.
Chris: Maybe this is too far an analogy, so call me out on it. But this feels like the naval equivalent of "think like an owner."
Gina: (Laughs) It is. It's true.
Chris: It's, if you're a low-level person, you just have to think like, this is your submarine. To make sure that you're making all the right decisions. You might be in engineering, or you might be on sonar, or you might be on navigation, but you have to think about, how am I making the right decisions for myself and for the whole rest of the crew?
Gina: And when you're in a submarine, you are literally in a metal tube.
Chris: That's the thing.
Gina: Like, everyone's life is at stake.
Chris: It's life and death, right?
Gina: Right? Yeah. Everyone is very highly motivated to think like... (Laughs) Like, there's not, like, another easy submarine you can just kinda hop to if you're not happy on that submarine. (Laughs)
Chris: Right. Exactly, exactly.
Gina: Which can be sometimes different in the business world. But yeah, I mean, I love that. That seems very anti-military. How did the military feel about it?
Chris: I think he met a lot of resistance and a lot of struggle. But the results spoke for themselves. Like, he was able to do this and the performance of the ship completely, you know did a 180. And it was one of the most prized submarines in the Navy. It's a fascinating story. But this idea, "I intend to," and making sure that your team... First of all, you yourself as a leader should be thinking, when I bring something to my leadership, how am I making sure that I'm bringing a recommendation, right? Here's my read of the situation. I intend to do this. Maybe you need to talk through it. Maybe you don't know what the answer is, but you're at least saying, here are the paths I've thought through, right?
Chris: I'm thinking this one. There are a couple other options. Can we talk through them? Like, that feels like an okay recommendation, versus just, I have this problem, I'm not sure what to do with it, please help.
Chris: Or, to what you were saying before with the, you know, the gravity problem situation, where you're like, I don't like being on this submarine so I just want to, you know, why are we even here?
Chris: And it's like, well, okay, well, that's not...
Gina: (Laughing) Right.
Chris: You know, you're on the sub.
Gina: Yeah. You're on, you're here. We're here. Right? It doesn't make sense to debate why you're here, right?
Chris: Right. Maybe that's not the perfect, you know, connection point. But I do think this idea that, you gotta accept reality.
Gina: That's right.
Chris: And then within the reality, you've got to say, I'm going to make my own read. My own assessment. And the more you do it, the better you get at it. The more you can think about, I'm going to make a strategic decision that is in alignment with the north star. Or, I'm going to recognize that what the business needs right now is, like, a little less than the north star, and I'm still going to make that recommendation, because I know it's going to be moving us in the right direction, you know?
Gina: Right. What can I do within the parameters of our current reality to help us make progress, versus, say, complain about the current reality or question the current reality, or recommend things that aren't possible in the current reality? Like, let's just sprout wings and fly out of this ocean. You know. (Laughs)
Chris: (Laughs) The sprout wings solution is not helpful.
Gina: And I want to... I mean, just to bring this back to product management and to product and to building software, because I feel, I feel the need to do... Because, you know, look, I'm really attracted to the leadership topics. And I know we cover a lot of leadership topics. I think both of us are just, this is where our brains are right now.
Chris: We just like it. Yeah, yeah.
Gina: But this is the difference between project management and product management. Right? This is the difference between waterfall and agile.
Chris: Oh, interesting. Yeah.
Gina: Like, this is the difference between, I'm going to just get all my requirements and see them through, versus, like, I'm going to work in two-week sprints and I'm going to adjust as we hear feedback from our users. As we, you know, as the, maybe the business priorities change. You know, if the ship date is fixed versus flexible.
Gina: Like, all the factors on the ground change over time. Software takes a long time to build, right? But like, that, you know... Being able to operate within even changing realities in the course of a project, or building a platform, I think, is so important. And we talk about this project to product shift a bunch.
Gina: You know, a lot of Launch's customers kind of grok this, right? But a lot of NTT Data's customers, who are more traditional IT services, are looking for project management and, you know, ticket-based, hourly-based... And that's good. I mean, sometimes that's just the need.
Chris: Sometimes you just need that.
Gina: Sometimes that's the need. And that's not to say... But what, part of we do is like, this isn't about, you know, hours and bodies and, you know, exactly amount... You know, this is about, like, how do we ship the best experience. Given your parameters, your budget, your timeline, the main requirement. What does this thing have to do?
Gina: Alright. We're going to make it do that thing. Do we know all the details? No. We're embracing the fact that we don't know. We're going to focus on the things that drive the most value.
Gina: That are most meaningful to you.
Chris: That are most meaningful to you. This is... This is a whole other podcast episode, I feel like.
Gina: I had to.
Gina: I had to do it.
Chris: I feel like the title "product owner" is misunderstood, and a lot of people don't get it.
Gina: Ooh. Oh, we should totally record this episode.
Chris: You know? And, like, scrum, the scrum methodology has kind of, like, twisted, I think, what product owner means. But what you just described, what is the ideal state for a product owner? It's this. Bringing a... The company owner mindset but on the product level.
Gina: That's right. Yes.
Chris: Like, you are making the decisions that are in the best interest of the product. But so many people misjudge that.
Gina: Miss that. Miss that. That's right, that's right. It's like, well, this is the product mandate. It's like, well, but how does that connect to the business? Has to be business-informed.
Chris: Has to be business-informed.
Gina: Always has to be business-informed. Every single thing that you do at work has to be business-informed.
Chris: Yep. This was great.
Gina: Yeah, this was a lot of fun!
Chris: We're leaving people with new tools. SBAR, "I intend to," we got books to read.
Gina: I know! We got a couple of book recommendations.
Chris: The headline is "think like an owner." I feel like we should have "think like an owner" t-shirts printed out, that we could send out...
Gina: Seriously. I'm gonna get this tattooed on my, sort of, inner forearm. Because I have...
Chris: (Laughs) This is why we're not marketing people.
Gina: I, see... (Laughs) Just... This is, I have to remind myself of this every day. I think we all do.
Chris: We all do.
Gina: We all do. The great side effect is, when you do think like an owner, this is how you do well. Like, your other leaders will be like, that person is a real leader. If your goal isn't to better yourself, it's to better the business, you actually are bettering yourself. As a side, as a by-product.
Chris: It's amazing how that works. Yes.
Gina: It's amazing... We've seen so many people get promoted and climb the ranks and just, just get these huge, bigger opportunities and responsibilities, just because that's how they operate. That's the goal.
Chris: Okay. So what do we want people to do? Get the tattoo and then... (Laughs)
Gina: Get the tattoo. (Laughs)
Chris: Email us a picture? Catalyst at...
Gina: Catalyst at...
Gina: We're not getting a lot of emails lately. I don't like it. Tell us how we're doing.
Chris: I would love a note.
Gina: Yeah. Send us a note. We'd love to hear from you. Thinking like an owner is hard. And I'm imagining people thinking, like, ugh. Aren't the owners for that
Chris: I can't do that. Yeah.
Gina: (Laughs) So we want to hear that note too. Send us a note. Catalyst@NTTData.com. Thanks for listening. We love doing this show.
Chris: We appreciate you. And we will be back in your ears soon.
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