Saigon, The Saigon Parkroyal
Patience is power.
Patience is not an absence of action;
rather it is “timing”
it waits on the right time to act,
for the right principles
and in the right way.
― Fulton J. Sheen
Must I at length the Sword of Justice draw?
Oh curst Effects of necessary Law!
How ill my Fear they by my Mercy scan,
Beware the Fury of a Patient Man.
– John Dryden
adjective pa·tient \ˈpā-shənt\
: able to remain calm and not become annoyed when waiting for a long time or when dealing with problems or difficult people
: done in a careful way over a long period of time without hurrying
Full Definition of PATIENT
I’m sitting in the bar at the Saigon Parkroyal enjoying a Tiger Beer. It’s been a long day of travel.
In one end of the lobby, a crew is busy packing up a wedding. There’s something inherently sad about the scene, as the breathtakingly beautiful bride sits alone on an empty stage, a stage that just moments ago was filled with light and laughter. Vietnamese weddings end rather abruptly – they’re know for that – and if I were ever to visualize the word “anti-climax” – this would be my mental mood board. She looks happy though. Yet tired.
At the other end of the lobby, a group of upper middle aged Germans are making some noise, bursting into that kind of raucous laughter that only a risqué remark of some sort can produce. If the sound of that laughter had a smell, it would be a mixture of Old Spice, Nivea After Sun and a discreet hint of acetic acid. You can tell by the atmosphere that a hotel room key party is only one more round of Jägermeisters away.
I’m sitting in the middle of these two vistas, and I cannot help thinking that the two scenes are snapshots from two different phases in the life cycle of marriage. We all know that making a relationship work is hard work, and that it takes a whole lot of patience.
And patience is at the core of work when it works. Consider continuous improvement. It takes patience. Not only in itself, but also because it requires learning and change. We know that the most powerful and sustainable way to promote learning is to let people figure things out for themselves, understanding that we learn when we fail and reflect on our failures and our own lessons learned. This leads us to the concept of Wu-Wei or “just don’t do something, stand there”. That is a gruesome yet rewarding exercise in patience.
And take a quick look at the eight principles of Lean Software Development. It makes you realize that if there’s one ingredient that’s absolutely necessary for any of it to work, it’s patience.
1. Take the long view
This often means saying no to something good now, in order to get something even better later.
2. Eliminate Mura, Muri, Muda
This is at the core of the continuous improvement. It takes a lot of patience. And it never ends.
3. Build Quality in
This too means moving slower now, in order to go faster (and better) later.
4. Create Knowledge
Caring about things like knowledge and learning means accepting the iterative “learning as we move along” mindset.
5. Defer commitment
Means not rushing into decisions and instead playing the waiting game, making decisions when more information exists, instead of less. At the right moment.
6. Respect people
Means, among other things, listening to people. Inviting them to have a say. This takes more time than the autocratic command and control approach that some might be used to.
7. Deliver fast
Is actually the only principle that doesn’t require patience. 🙂
8. Optimize the whole
Is simply harder, and makes things move a tad slower at first.
Earlier post on Not even Wrong
- So I’m writing a book
- The model
- About the title
- Reality Check I
- Why this book?
- Who am I?
- How to write a book
- MVU & IF this THEN what?
- A few words on yet another model
- More words on Model II
- A few words on speed – from signal to cash
- The Holistic Product Dashboard
- Reality Check II
- Reality Check III
- Reality Check IV
- Reality Check V
- Initial thoughts on strategy
- Thoughts on levels of abstraction
- Wheelan, Integral Theory and the evolution of organizations
- The Soulless Professional
- Thoughts on the organization as family metaphor
- Why transparency might just be your number one organization health check metric
- More on levels of abstraction
- The state of Strategy
- Simplicity, Patience, Compassion
- On Compassion
- On Simplicity