Co-creation and return of the Trail Series

Well, I’m back into the swing of things. I was having a hard time; being sick and as a result not training and not eating well really took it out of me, I think. Apparently a mind is not very sound if the body is not!

Monday was still a bit of a disjointed day, in which I completely spaced on something I was supposed to do for one of our interns, and then lent out my car to a co-worker to go to the bank without realizing that I would need it back sooner than she might get back in order to drive a few of us to a meeting with the head of affordable housing of one of the biggest construction companies in the country. Oops. Well, we made it there on time but that is the sort of sloppy thinking that I just don’t do. Except that I did.

At least I finished one key thing I had to do that day, had it reviewed internally, and emailed it out. Working on my own deliverables during work hours is a big challenge for me, actually. I had another key document that needed to get done ASAP that I wound up doing a third of on my own, a third with a co-worker over lunch at Superette, and a third in the evening after work on Tuesday.

Tuesday I was much more focused but I am still feeling a bit of a sense of lack of … well, I was going to say control, but control isn’t quite the right word because I am not aiming for control. Lack of team alignment is a better way of putting it. I can, however, see how to make it right but it’s going to take a bit of time and a lot of energy. So I will characterize my concern as necessary and positive, because if you can’t see the problems then there is no way on earth you are going to fix them (unless it’s by accident).

On this subject, co-creation is a term that I had never heard of until I got to South Africa, and if anything can encapsulate what I learned at work in 2010 it is the importance of co-creation. I was familiar with the concept, of course, but the importance of this concept is second to none for me at the moment. The idea here is that by involving an entire team in decision-making, then first of all the plan and decision is likely to be as good as possible (assuming that quiet people speak up, dominant people don’t dominate, etc.), and secondly, the team will feel greater ownership of the decision or plan and will therefore be that much more tightly aligned both in terms of understanding why, and the details of the plan, and also just psychological attachment and ownership of the idea. The challenge with co-creation, of course, is that it’s expensive and co-ordinating schedules can be challenging. Having said that, it can be so much more efficient than a bunch of separate one-on-one conversations. So this is one area I want to get a lot better at, fast.

Wednesday was actually quite a good day: I rated myself 9 out of 10 for focus on this day, possibly because it was spent almost entirely in meetings. The first was planning out next steps for our affordable housing business, and the second was a looooong meeting talking through the cost and revenue projections for FoodTents, and then arguing about how to fund it.

I am feeling a bit more with it at the gym, although I’m still a bit out of shape and annoyed that I put on weight while in America. Bad habits, and it’s amazing what only maybe 85% paleo compliance over three weeks can undo! Well at least I know what I need to do, which is a heck of a lot better than the alternative. Monday’s workout was the baseline for the challenge we’re doing, and for the most part I finished pretty fast but got a little tired towards the later rounds of the clean & jerks. My form got very sloppy and I got quite tired by the fifth round of pushups or so. Room for improvement when we re-do this one in 8 weeks! Tuesday’s workout was also pretty cool: we practiced the snatch, which I hadn’t done in something like 2 months, literally. Then we did something fun: 60 seconds of max burpees, 30 seconds rest, 5 rounds. I, of course, was aiming for 100 (or 20 burpees every minute). I was on track until the third round, which I finished up at 79. Wound up with 97, but I learned that my form is not very good because Wayne was waaaaay ahead of me early on, like seriously, and in the first round you’re not tired yet so that’s all technique.

Wednesday was the first in the long-awaited (by me) Summer Trail Series. Unfortunately I missed the start of my race by about 2 minutes! The race was at Silvermine and the traffic on the M3 was just insane, and then I had to park in overflow parking and run probably 1km to the start. So that was not actually an ideal warmup, and THEN I ran a terrible race tactically because I was behind and went out too hard and then had to take a pretty significant rest period at about 3kms in going up a hill, and then I got boxed in on the single-track section. But I passed three competitors towards the end and was actually particularly proud of myself because the last 3/4km or so was slightly uphill but I decided there was no way in heck I would do anything crazy like stop and walk even though I was tired. To make a long story short I finished fourth, and my theory is that I could have been in the top three if pretty much everything that could have gone wrong had not in fact done so! Well, I’m not going to go too crazy over it; fourth is not terrible. After the race I ran into a friend who ran the long course who I had no idea was racing (!!), and then talked to the Inov-8 guy. I am still not convinced that I could run a whole race in those shoes without getting shinsplints or some sort of injury but we’ll see how I feel after sprinting in them sometime soon.

I was so mad that I didn’t bring my camera because the sky driving out of there that night was like something out of a movie, or a fairy tale. The moon looked gigantic like something from a SciFi movie, the sky was pink, the mountains by Stellenbosch and Strand were relatively clear and a gorgeous color of purple, and of course I do love the view over Muizenberg and the Cape Flats (if you can only ignore what actually is there: mile after mile of slums, actually, but the landscape is beautiful at least).

The other thing that I did this week was combine dinner and a birthday party on Monday night. A friend of mine who is actually one of the nicest, most responsible people I know in Cape Town (his employer is very, VERY lucky!) had a birthday so I stopped by for a bit before dinner. As it happened, I was having dinner with my lovely co-worker Mandy at Carlyles (chicken livers, shared salad & gluten-free pizza!), which was right down the road. I had such a great time at dinner; trying not too much to talk about work but she’s a very special person and I really enjoy the times we spend together.

After dinner I texted to see if the informal drinks were still on (silly me for even having to ask …) so I went back and I’m glad I did for a couple reasons. First of all, I wasn’t there for very long at all before dinner so it was good to be able to spend “proper” birthday with my friend. Secondly, someone I had been meaning to get together with for a while came by and that was good because we re-connected and are now talking more. Thirdly, at some point in the evening the really good wine came out. 1975 Cabernet Sauvignon; need I say more?

On a final note, I’m now talking with a couple of friends about getting more involved in their startups in some capacity. I am not really sure what triggered this drive to keep half a foot in high-tech (in one case it’s because I think the concept behind the company is incredibly powerful, and actually change the world revolutionary if it can be adopted – check out TrustFabric), but I suppose it doesn’t actually matter.

This post feels a bit scattered. I guess that’s a reflection of my brain today!

– “My traditional beer is cold.” – Adin
– “I love you, and everything you stand for.” – Craig
– “There are idiots everywhere, but not everyone is an idiot.” – Ellie
– “Australia is like South Africa because … there are a lot of South Africans there.” – overheard at a party
– “If your mind is unhealthy your body will be.” – Elodie
– “‎The rung of a ladder was never meant to rest upon, but only to hold a man’s foot long enough to enable him to put the other somewhat higher.” – Thomas Huxley (pulled from the fish bowl)
– “We don’t have time to beat around the bush. Being blunt is good.” – Ellie
– “Self-actualization can wait.” – Ellie
– “You better get used to it.” – Jaco (it being the heat, well, I suppose I did move to Africa after all)

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