In Jerry Weinberg’s Secrets of Consulting, he talks about becoming “pickled.” When you’re a consultant, the value you bring is that you are outside the environment. You have an external perspective. If you stay with just one client long enough, it’s as if you are a cucumber in a barrel of pickles. You can’t help but become pickled.
I know of consultants like that. In the agile community, they might be Scrum advocates. Or, they are kanban advocates. It doesn’t matter what you say to them, they cannot change their minds. They are pickled in either Scrum or kanban. (I like both the iterations of Scrum for cadence and the ability to visualize work in progress for kanban. I’m an “and” person, not an “or” person.)
I met a number of romance writers at a local writer’s conference last week. Some of them were looking forward to meeting agents. Why use an agent? “To help negotiate a better contract.”
There are so many problems with that answer I could barely see straight. Agents aren’t lawyers. They take some percentage for the lifetime of the contract. And, from what I’ve heard, they don’t negotiate so well.
There are some publishing houses that only take agented submissions. Okay. What’s the value of going with those publishers? “They’ll do the marketing for me.”
No, they won’t. They’ll expect you to do your own marketing.
I bet consultants and writers aren’t the only people who get pickled. We become pickled when our mental models do not allow us to see alternatives.
Here are some questions that might help you think about your pickle-ness:
- Am I doing this thing because I have always done it this way? (Am I managing a project, writing code, cleaning the house, whatever, because I have always done it this way?
- Can I think of three other ways to get what I want? (It’s that Rule of Three again. Can I imagine three different alternatives to managing the project, to writing this code, to cleaning the house?)
- Do I think something will “just” work because it works in one context? (I see this in “scaling” frameworks: if it works for one team, I can just scale it to many teams.” No. That’s when you get bloat.)
Here are some tips to know if you are in danger of being pickled:
- It doesn’t occur to you to question how or why you take a specific action.
- You haven’t been specific with yourself about what you want.
- You hear yourself saying, “just.”
I bet there are more signs that we pickle ourselves.
I see these things—and do them myself—unless I catch myself. Pickling is more our default than not.
We can be more adaptable. We can decide what we want. We can choose from multiple possibilities. We don’t have to lull ourselves with words such as “just.”
For me, it’s about being specific with my wants, needs, and desires. What do I specifically want? What do I specifically need? What specifically do I want as an outcome?
Dear adaptable readers, that is the question this week: Are you pickled?
- What’s Your Audacious Idea?
- How Much Support Do You Want or Need?