Is Disruption done nicely as effective as Disruption done coarsely?

So a colleague of mine (Kim B) and I were talking about a workshop she was in last week that uses disruption in a safe way to show to participants that the more adulterated the feedback they receive the less useful it is.

It got me thinking of all the disruption I’ve had in my life- the most painful and coarsely handled tended to be the most positively impactful:

  • Being told at Microsoft (essentially at the threat of dismissal + subsequent deportation) to become a SDE level developer from being a ‘manual’ tester
  • Performance management at ThoughtWorks to work on my consultative skills, empathy, EQ etc.

I had a lot of very personal things in this list, but I reduced it down to just the few that I thought would be accessible-
The thing with my personal list as well as the two above- in every single one of those moments or events caused me to go to Zero, and rebuild again, just differently.
Also, each one of those things made me stronger in some areas, yet weaker in others.

If I were to take the lessons from each, and find a nicer way to learn it- is it even possible? Without cause and consequence, would I have learned?
Without that raw, here it is- “make a choice”, or “hey- you have no choice- just deal with it” would it have been as impactful? Are there many more situations that I’ve since forgotten simply because they didn’t happen this way? I don’t doubt that the answer is yes.
Feeling uncomfortable, unstable, like that feeling on a Sunday night of dread going into work the next day because you know what is coming- its a horrible feeling. Once you’ve experienced it you swear you never want to experience it again- and yet through the process you come out different. In time, (at least for me) I look back at the experience positively for how I grew from it. Perhaps it is that outlook that makes it different from person to person adding additional complexity. I often meet people in my travels at work who seem to have one job, its the job they’ve always had- they have no aspirations of growing and changing- they find sameness attractive. I am the reverse, I thrive in the chaos, I live for new experiences and new opportunities. I like failing as quickly as possible and rebounding. I dislike failing late and I find that painful and hugely wasteful. Perhaps- just perhaps these situations above are where I didn’t fail quickly enough and that is why the learning was so great. Is this it- the piece?

By failing often and small, we learn small pieces, but we deprive ourself of cataclysmic failure that would have taught us something big?
Perhaps, but I suspect we learn different things. For example a huge failure tends to result in “I need to plan better”, ergo- a big piece of learning that may be difficult to articulate into one piece of learning, whereas failing small and fast often provides detail that otherwise would be difficult to discover in a post mortem. In reverse though, small failure often doesn’t allow us to see the bigger picture of what would have happened if it had been allowed to continue, we can guess some of the time, but without actually experiencing it we don’t know if it is actually a big deal or not..

Just thinking- thanks for being here 🙂

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