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Why a great 360 is worth its weight in cockroaches

Recently I read a great speech delivered by Sunder Pichai - He detailed an experience where he as an observer watched as a lady found a cockroach on her blouse as she and her friends enjoyed a meal at their favourite restaurant.

What happened next was astounding. Screaming, flapping of arms and a violent swatting in the general direction of the offending insect. The reaction was contagious and immediately the other members of her party became panicky as well.

Calmly and predictably the cockroach took flight (as this was a flying type of cockroach) and landed on another lady across from the first. A similar outburst ensued except this time the offended party stood up with great force sending her chair hurtling across the floor which gave her space and capacity to dance the mad dance of an afflicted restaurant patron.

It was at this point that the waiter who had until this point been standing a little way from the commotion calmly and decisively approached the maddened lady, in the relay of throwing arms and wild gesticulation the cockroach headed for safer landings on the waiter's chest. The waiter then simply and calmly captured the insect in his hand, between forefinger and thumb and exited the unwanted guest forthwith.

He handled the chaos with near perfection restoring calm and bringing resolution to the problem.

Entertaining problem, amazing experience and quite predictable as well.

The insight gained from this simple story and observation is that it was not the cockroach that caused the chaos but rather the inability of the ladies to handle the stimuli that the cockroach engendered that led to the chaos.

The real lesson is that if we are to act appropriately in any situation we should not REACT but rather look for ways to RESPOND.

The waiter having had the time and presence of mind to observe, compute and think about his course of action  was a responder not a reactor.

Reactions are mostly instinctive.

Responses have the potential to be well thought out.

Having the output of a great tool like a professional 360 is like being the waiter in the world of unruly cockroaches - it turns reactive bias into carefully crafted responses and this always leads to better outcomes.


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