Podcast S2 Ep.4 – Jonathan Blair – Part 2

Can you ever get enough of a good thing?

The answer, when you’re talking with amazing people… is Nope! 🙅🏻‍♀️

And so Season 2, Episode 4 is part 2 of Jonathan Blair (Solution Architect for Mav3rik) and me, continuing our deep conversation about life and projects.

It’s raw, candid and so beautifully human. I’m just going to leave it at that. I hope you’ll check it out.



Pei Mun Lim 00:05
Hello, and welcome to another podcast about leadership and project management and delivery. It’s called OnThePeiroll. And I thought it was funny when I came up with it many, many years ago. And it kind of stuck. Today or rather than this episode, it is part 2 of my conversation with Jonathan Blair. And I had him on a few weeks ago, and we had such a great conversation that I thought we must have a part two. Good morning, Jonathan. Thanks, again, for coming on to part two of the podcast. We were just having a conversation earlier on and I thought they’d be valuable to just turn the recording on. I was saying that I just come back from Mexico in the last, still very JetLite. last 14 hours, I had barely any sleep. And you’d offered to re shedule our podcast, and I was reflecting that. I didn’t want to do that. Because, you know, you made the time for me. And I made a slot on his diary. And it was very intentional. And I felt that to just let it go, would be like, you know, just putting a pile of money on the driveway and just walking with it felt like that to me. And we were having a conversation about valuable connections in friendship and COVID and remoteness. And you were talking about how you move to Australia? Can you just recount that anecdote again, please?

Jonathan Blair 01:47
Sure. So, first of all, great, great to chat to you again, that’s, that’s always a pleasure pay. And yeah, really into another’s conversation and that we can continue. It was interesting coming coming to Australia as me and my partner, my fiancee, you know, she, she’s taken a risk with with coming over also, because her friends and family are very much European based as, as are my friends, but I do have family here, I’ve got my brother over here. So that does make a difference. And my father’s also in Perth. So you know, you would think that Perth is quite close, it’s about five hours by flight. So it’s quite far away and hard to see. To see them during the COVID side of things. It was an interesting, interesting experience because, you know, moving to a new country. After about a year, I think after about a year, year and a half, you start to to slowly develop roots and you slowly develop deeper connections with other people. I don’t know, you know, how you are as as, as a social, a social butterfly type person, or somebody who’s a bit more introverted, honestly introverted. I get my energy from being by myself and kind of, you know, reading and stuff like that. That doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy socializing, I do. But coming to a new country, you start to make a few connections, you make a few surface level friends. And you get the opportunity to try and deepen that. But then COVID hits, you know, a month or so a year and three months into our journey here. And all of a sudden, you’re taken out by the knees. And for a lot of people, I’m incredibly grateful that number one I’ve got from my partner who, you know, head over heels with every day, which is a fantastic, it’s a fantastic thing to work on a fantastic experience to have. And it was a long time getting to that to find the right person that signs up for them seems like feel the same way. And that’s, that’s great. But there’s so many single people, you know, or people in not so easy relationships, that all of a sudden we’re forced to just confront each other and be like, Oh, God, I’ve got, I’ve got to actually spend 24/7 with this person what I’m going to do. And you know, so you got the one thing on the socialization front, you know, being able to meet people, talk to people and so on and so forth. How do you build and maintain and grow those connections? And on the other side, you’ve got our I’ve got these existing relationships. Now I’m being tested on them. Because, you know, it’s easy, that I’m just going to go really tend to go on a tangent very quickly, Russell Brand, hate him or love him. He said very something very interesting on a talk show, video that I saw where the talk show host asked him, he said, Oh, what about this actress or this person that, you know, she’s lovely. She’s been on the show, and she’s lonely. And he’s like, Oh, everybody’s nice for five minutes. You know, it’s really see them off there. So maybe I’ll just pause there and, you know, kind of get your thoughts on it too. Because I can imagine you’ve also had, you know, quite a experience in London in lockdown. Or if I’m assuming you’re in London, or in the UK and locked out? What’s it been like for you?

Pei Mun Lim 05:44
I think what you said resonated very much. So I also feel really lucky that, you know, I was surrounded by my family during lockdown my four most favorite people in the entire planet. And like you, I’m also quite introverted. So it was great. For me, it was great not having to go out and send them to activities and just being this and, but also, I recognize that for a lot of people that was quite challenging. And I don’t know if you know, by volunteer for Samaritans. And so once every week, I, you know, I’m on phones and listening to people. And Edie, it’s been a really, really tough time for so many people. So making intentional connections with people in the Salesforce ecosystem. Number one, to broaden my network, to get to know people like yourself, that I had tangent tangentially, I’m trying to say that I have come across in, you know, in, I’ve seen your name, I’ve heard your name through different people, which would be quite interesting. I went to a networking event yesterday, in London, I’m not in London. So to do something like that, it’s, again, an intentional activity for me. So in the past, when I was working in London, it was one of the, oh, by the way, I’m here already. I can just go home later in, just pop over to whatever building it’s in the effort level, you know, it’s like maybe level one, you know, it’s on the way home, could grab, you know, some way home and just go meet some people. And it felt like an easy activity to do. Yesterday was to make the effort to go in. And then I had to think, do I have an objective? To go in? Yes, I did, actually, because there were two talks. It was the London admin user group. And I’m not always giving a talk. I don’t know if you know, I’m not curvy. He’s amazing. He, again, I have to podcast him. He runs his own company. Plus, he’s an architect and he works with a lot of partners, like Gemma’s architect club. So I’ve heard his name, why a bit. And he was talking about moving from workflow rules, as are from process builders and workflow to flow. He actually wrote a song to a Disney song. And he sang it about the whole process, you know, how it hasn’t changed very much how something stays the same. And it was just such a I thought, if I wasn’t here, I wouldn’t be experiencing this. And the experience will be totally different on Zoom, so they don’t record stuff. You all you have to go there in at that time, I thought this, this is quite magical, you know, and then he did a live demo on you know, creating VAT on the opportunity. And in it was a live demo, and I thought this this this was great. That was what I wanted to say. But the accidental incidental connections with there was a speed dating event as well. Were not speed dating. Sorry, there was a Bingo. Bingo. Yes. So it says you got someone and go which box can I put you in? So in those boxes, there was a mule soft AppExchange Salesforce training, project management and I would tell people, you can put my name in project management box. Okay by right next next person. And it was fun. But again, it felt very, you know, I don’t really remember that many people I met and I doubt many people were Remember me, whom I haven’t spoken to before. So all these felt like, we had to recreate the, in a shorter amount of time, the kinds of things that we would develop organically in a non remote non COVID world, and it feels harder and but I think we can’t stop trying. But it does make us think a lot more about the nature relationships, and you were saying earlier on about surface friends and the friends that you keep in contact with in an and I like how you said, there’s some friends where it doesn’t matter the times past, you can just pick up and say, a, you know, two, three years later and say how’s it going? How many of those type of friends do you have?

Jonathan Blair 11:02
Oh, how many do I have? One one passed away during COVID. So he was in South Africa, one of my very good friends. guy called Geo. Another really good friend of mine in South Africa. Everyone who’s coming to Sydney, he’s going to come visit me in Sydney. Is he’s fantastic. Got a couple in the UK. won’t, I won’t? I won’t call out names. But I’ve got quite a few Greek friends in the UK actually who? Who are really? Yeah, just solid people, solid people. I’ve got my brother over here. So maybe five, six? If I’m lucky. Yeah, and the rest, you know, I’m sure there’s people I can phone and speak to and stuff. But you know, there’s that is that, you know, the distances has all the time pastors has taken you out of their circle and your you know, they’ve gone out of your particular circle. So I suppose. Yeah. So sorry, I was it’s interesting. It just just just made me think of God, because he was he was one of the he was one of the guys that, you know, didn’t matter what I could be. I could be stuck on a on a highway Run out of petrol or something. And I could find him up and he would, he would drop everything to to help me out. He was the kind of guy. Yeah, so I think deep connections are hard to find. And especially when moving country, it takes time to make those kinds of connections. There’s an interesting, I don’t know if I’ve talked about this previously, but I can’t remember what the book is. But they talk about game theory, and they talk about this. Dude, nice guys actually finished last, and how to be successful in what’s a good strategy to be successful in today’s world. And they call you so they have something they’re called tip for tat. So I do something nice for you. And you do something nice for me. And so therefore I have, we’ve got a good lip going, I do something nice for you do something nice for me all that type of stuff. And we have a successful Win Win kind of relationship. I do something nice for Barry. And Barry, you know, screws me over. If I’m a doormat, I go back and I say oh, he’s maybe I need to try harder. And I’ll try to do something nice for him again, he then takes advantage I try again takes advantage I’ll try again, he takes advantage and as a nice guy, I lose. So they have this concept called generous tip for tat. Tit for tat. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, where, where you get proactive people and say if I’m proactive, and I go to I go to Barry and I say I’m gonna do something nice for you. And we’ll test the relationship. And very does something not so nice to me, then I can cut it off and say okay, I’m not gonna work with you anymore. But with generous tip for tat give the option for forgiveness. So if a person then tries to make amends, then you okay, I’ll give you another chance. Do it again. And if they if they mess you around again, then it’s like, Okay, cut it off for good. But oftentimes, when when somebody has learned from their bad experience, they come back, they do something good for you again, and then you have the potential to then build up that mutually beneficial relationship. I’ve gotten really tangent there, but I don’t know if you want to unpack that a bit. It’s something I find very fascinating because I feel like I used to be at the omit. And I’ve been much more harder now. And I’m not saying okay, no, I’m not going to deal with that drama, I’m going to focus my attention on people and organizations that actually have that genuine to and fro.

Pei Mun Lim 15:19
know already that book, but as you were talking, I was visualizing in my head pruning of a bonsai tree, meaning you are creating the kind of relationships and the environment around you that you want, by as you say, you know, testing the relationship and seeing whether that’s reciprocal action. And I guess, it also matters the intention of the other person, whether it’s a, that the other person is a petrol taker. In the relationship, in which case, this is a negative relationship, you know, net negative for you. Yeah. Or it’s just someone who’s just the word that comes to mind is ignorant. But that’s not what I mean, but not aware. Not aware that they are like that they take whether what they’re doing, or being is perceived, as, you know, taking maybe somebody who has had things done for them all their lives. So I’m just going, I’m liking this conversation, by the way. So for example, when I was at make postive, in, we had, we had another team in India. And when they came across, we also had an empty house. It was quite interesting at that time, where, you know, people from Dublin or everywhere would come and stay, and they would be temporary. housemates for a bit. And one of my ex colleagues, Karl, he’s easy South African living in Dublin. It’s, you know, I’ll make from India. So messy, so incredibly messy. And I will see that at work where the mugs and things like that, and I don’t know, if you used to the London who’s, who’s not done the washing useless, the perpetual kitchen drama, or I would, I would, you know, I was one of them who, because of the way I was brought up, but I always clean up. And I never really moaned about it, because just what I did, it made place better. But, you know, at the back of my mind, I did say, why don’t we put in, you know, masks and stuff away. Or tidy up after themselves of the different lunch on the kitchen table. And I had the opportunity to go to India for a wedding. And I had the henna done on my hands, which I absolutely loved when he did this intricate painting on your hands. And I was working at the time on Indian times I was on call. While this dried in this Hiner as it dried the, the thing cracked off, you know, so it’s like, it’s not a paint, it’s, it’s quite a thick, you know, something like that it’s a little bit like mud, okay, when they paint it on you. And as they drive, they kind of flaked off. I was on a call. And I was quite horrified that Marissa was making an absent mindedly I started to take a tissue and try to clean up the mess I made. In as I was talking, I was noticing this in the lady who was kneeling next to me, and she was not talking. She was watching me and was kind of like, a bit horrified at what I was doing. And I thought, oh my god, I’m making a mess. And I suppose on the phone, I kind of carried on doing that. And I got off the phone and I apologize as I’m really, really sorry, I made the message that No, no, no, stop. This is my job. And she cleaned up after me. And then I noticed that, that they had quite a few servants. And the sevens would do everything from filling your coffee mug to taking away as soon as he finished and you didn’t have to do anything. And so I was having a conversation by my colleague about that and he said this is how we create jobs for the people. This is how they earning money to make a living to feed their families and therefore We used to do that. And then when we come to London don’t have anyone helping us. It’s embarrassing. And you know, and so we don’t realize that that’s what we’re doing. So sorry, that’s quite a long story, but it was about a shift in my perspective. No denotes Malia’s little bit spoilt. But they didn’t know any different. They had people doing stuff for them. And no one told them they just complained a lot. So sorry, very

Jonathan Blair 20:30
long. Bananas. I love

Pei Mun Lim 20:34
that about a people just not being aware in idle. Just going back to what you’re saying, about pruning your relationships and creating via Sorry, I’m giggling because there’s this person that you and I know. I won’t say his name, but he was a 14. And he’s someone who made his money with horse races, if you know, no talking about that, yes. And when I, when he was working with me, and I was just thinking, this guy just seems to be a magnet for so much drama, and so many things that happen in his life. And I think, at his core, he’s such a generous person that he gives so much of himself and he lends money and he does things for others. In other people just take advantage and thus creates the drama. In thinking if he did read the book you were talking about, you know, perhaps his life would be calmer. I wonder if it is I need to connect with him again. He’s a dad now. Yes, yes, you should say hi. But anyway, this was really good, I think talking about relating. And it’s nice, because it was an organic conversation, I think

Jonathan Blair 22:07
I I’d love to pick up an appointment to have that in mind. Because Because this reminded me of I wouldn’t say too professional story, but circa 2006 2007. I used to get a gym. So in South Africa. In Johannesburg, there is different, obviously different subcultures that you get where we’re one of the subcultures that I got in touch with after university through some university friends was Jimmy going to gym, and you’ve got a gym and a group of group of guys and some girls, and everyone just spends more time talking the next day doing gym. And do was actually one of my friends that I met there at the gym. And I had another friend of mine mentioned his name, but his his is a very good looking boy. Okay, and so he came to me the one day because, you know, I was trying to figure out my romantic strategy at the time. That’s all I’ll say about it. But I was single for a long time. So I met with him and he said, Oh, John, great thing, internet dating. Fantastic. Put my profile, I put my picture, and I’ve been on like 15 dates, two weeks or something like that. And I was I went, Oh, wow, that’s fantastic. You know, put my picture up, you know, went on the internet, David, he certainly had a makeup profile. And, and, and I just got crickets, you know, couldn’t couldn’t, then I sent messages to probably everybody on the site and didn’t get many responses. But the point I’m trying to make is apart from embarrassing myself is, you know, for somebody like like him, where he’s just, he’s an incredibly good looking guy. He just naturally has that attention and people wanting to do stuff with him and so on and so forth. Because he has that they that social status, that social value that comes with being, you know, well built and good looking and so on and so forth. And other female friends about the same thing. Where there’s this, you know, and we could talk about, you know, we could even bring it into the whole you know, what the Conservatives call the woke conversation around, you know, sort of privileged and previously disadvantaged and so on and so forth about you know, marginalized minorities. He’s and then things like that. And then it’s until somebody has walked in somebody else’s shoes and actually experienced what it’s like not to have things given to you on a platter. And, you know, me being South African. I think we’ve spoken about this in our last thing where we’re where there’s that innate kind of superiority complex. You, you’ve got to understand what it’s well, not you, it’s important for me to try and understand what it would be like to be a minority to not have things given to me on a platter to have the kind of, you know, I think they call them micro aggressions. And us to micro aggression, but it’s not just one. It’s constant. It’s everything. It’s built into the language. It’s all these types of things. And, you know, yes, I think sometimes goes a bit far. But it goes a bit far from our reference points in terms of like, I know, we’ve got, we’ve got to, like, you know, everybody gets a medal and all that type of stuff. I’m not going to get into that. But yeah, sorry, I kind of went on a tangent myself and got lost in the in the shallow end.

Pei Mun Lim 26:13
No, that’s fine. What you’re talking about empathy reading. And if I bring it back to purpose of the podcast in the first place, which is, you know, talking about the business of doing Salesforce. In today’s world, it’s about communication, isn’t it? And so, you know, I’m doing this series of workshops for my business. And if you talk about communication styles, and you Google it, or leadership style, there’s so many so many frameworks. But if I abstract it all, it’s all about, I feel, that’s just my opinion, it’s about empathy. I think, once you, if you’re, you know, just taking notes, if you’re able to, well, now never be able to walk in some shoes, but if you can imagine, or understand their mental models and their constructs? Well, I think one of my advantages is that I do this volunteer work. And I’m privy to the other side. So let’s just say this is a slightly triggering topic for me, but I’ll just share it. So I was in a very abusive relationship before I got married. Physical, emotional, mental, all of it. And I have a perception from from that relationship. Now, as a Samaritan on the phone, I talked to many people, sometimes, the abuser rings up. And I have to listen. And the conversation follows the same lines that I would with any color, that it’s an active listening process, I do not judge. And we explore how they feel. And so I have this view, I’m given the privilege of taking a peek at someone’s life, from their point of view, in sometimes it can be vastly different from what I think from where I sit. Yeah, so. So that’s an example. And then the many, many different examples where, just by having an open conversation, you opened the door. And if you don’t, if you don’t have a judging way of talking, or blaming or any of those things, or then people will let you open door a bit more, and then you get to a peek into their world. And that allows them empathy to flow and you think, actually, you know, their lives aren’t that easy, either. Or a generational one, you know, being able to speak somebody much older, you know, in, in passing, I think, Oh, that’s such a grumpy, rude Oh, man to barge in front of me. And then if you, you know, could peek into their brain you could see actually, you know, they’re in pain that was in the hospital, they’re in a hurry. You know, provide some empathy and not be angry. That that’s it, you know, like in a personal world, but if you shifted to professional one, you can probably translate it to why is that person behaving in a specific way during workshops and shutting people down, you know, having that difficult conversation but in a safe way, and trying to be in their shoes, while they’re talking, just opens the conversation a lot more. So, I think that that segues quite nicely, actually, because you’ve just finished a discovery, we were trying to schedule this conversation for a while. Just talk me through, you don’t have to give specifics. So you, you know, you’ve been in industry for a while now. And, and someone’s told you, I need you to do this for discovery. So great to hear you’re approaching from two angles. One is about how you feel. Now being you know, is it just one of those things where you go, I’ve done so many, I can do this one in my sleep. So your emotional approach to that. And the other one is, if you can just talk about the mechanics of that. Just only because I’ve just kind of finished my course, showing people how to do a discovery in how to do a, you know, what a six week one looks like. But from a project manager point of view. So if you can just, you know, share your answer from from from both sides, they will, they’ll be great, I think,

Jonathan Blair 31:35
Sure, I’ll do my best and it’ll be off the off the top shelf. So absolutely unfiltered. I just started doing a pause and say, I just want to express my admiration to you for for being a survivor. And for making it through what sounds like would have been a very challenging relationship to get to where you are now in in, you know, with the husband and the kids, and, you know, at least when I express my admiration for that, I have, you know, friends and close ones who, who have experienced that, and let’s just, well, we’ll start triggering. For me, I would say But yeah, just just just want to know that. That particular thing. Anyway, switching gears, to talking about discovery, it’s an interesting one, because I loved him discoveries, I love that design a discovery process, when we get when we have enough time to do it, and we can really go into go into depth with the customer and make the connections with the customer that allow us to you know, it’s about earning the platform to to do further work with them I think and comes back to so so when I was at foresee the CEO of foresee in Europe, the chairman of force in Europe, put your hand finish, I can never get it right as a as a Belgium name. You have fun connecting and I think he’s gonna if he ever listens to this is going to quote me up and tell me, but you haven’t fantastic guy and him and his management team over there had put together some training which they had before we joined them talking about moments of truth. And it’s a marketing term moments of truth and actually takes me back to my lrn days in 2010. Because we were the package ethics and compliance training as moments of truth. But the whole idea about moments of truth is you have a journey with somebody, and you have critical points in that journey that are really, really important to just take it out of the park. And you know, you might not do as well on the second in second engagements with them or the third engagement but because you’ve set that bar, and you’ve set that expectation and they know okay, this person can hit 100% or they can hit 95% That, you know, they’re capable, strong. So the very first, you know, the project kickoff meeting, it’s got to be really tight, good agendas. Follow the agenda actions after the meeting. First workshop, you know, really solid mirror mural boards you know, or whiteboards if you’re doing in person, have everything organized everything in place. Everybody has a role everybody has a voice and a facilitation especially online. You know I’ve done most of my design and discovery online now for the last two and a half years or two years, is to be really proactive in calling people and saying, hey, you know, Angela, what do you think, David? You know, what do you think about this? Sarah? What about this particular piece? And just just just really seeding that conversation, getting people comfortable talking? And, you know, making sure to call out everybody in the call, at least in the first 1020 minutes? What do you think about that, Dave? We’re going to talk about this, and then does this fit into your area, Sarah Sanders, so forth. So it’s kind of it’s, it’s getting people just over their first hurdle of, I can say something, and I’m safe saying something. Because my response to somebody saying something in the first place is, is genuinely, you know, oh, that’s an interesting point. Ah, you know, and somebody might ask what says, you know, other people might think is a silly question, but that’s a great question. And I’m glad you asked, because it helps me understand where you’re at, you know, instead, it’s kind of that ping, ping, ping, ping, ping, it’s almost like one of those hold. Well, I’m sure the Superfast modems do the same thing. But you know, the ping, you know, pinging from my machine to to the internet service provider and back. And then I start to build a map of who’s who, in the zoo, who’s, who’s who’s in the room. And then, kind of taking that relationship and seating it through the process. Because for me, designer discovery is predominantly around the relationship and understanding that we have with the customer throughout throughout that process, and how do we enhance and build on that relationship. And there’s points in that journey where can just fall off a cliff. And it’s important to recognize that, you know, just because you’re doing well today, doesn’t mean that the next interaction is not going to just, you know, explode funny. So it’s also about backing it all up with, you know, good governance, capturing actions, capturing decisions, getting the email sign off, making sure that we have a RACI, we have an understanding of who’s who’s doing what in each situation, making sure that the team themselves is drilled in. Okay, we have this scenario happening, customers asked me for requirements, we’ve just signed off requirements two days ago, is asking for another one. What do we do in this situation. And, you know, leading up to that point, that requirements side of making sure that the customer understands, if we have to have a stable set of requirements in order to build a solution designed for them, if we don’t have a stable set of requirements, we can’t move forward. So if you introduce another requirement after that, that’s either going to be a change request, if it’s significant, or it’s gonna impact on a selection design time. Obviously, there’s moments where you’ve got to give and give and take a bit. And then there’s this. There’s things like that, but having very clear governance around those milestone points, and following them, because it’s too easy. And I’ve done it, we’ve all done it, where it’s just just see if you can get that one in there. Just, you know, we used to call it feeding the stray cat and cow SOSUS. I think Gareth coined the term where, you know, the stray cat comes one day, this is a good bit of food, please give it a cookie, you know, the next day, there’s two strikeouts missed out this fall. So yeah, maybe I’ll pause there is that kind of the kind of, you know, approach that you were looking for?

Pei Mun Lim 38:52
Perfect, perfect. It just slides right in. I can see my seat, myself clipping this page just to say, hey, look, this is why governance is important during discovery because you really don’t want strikeouts. Actually, I’m going to interrupt you there with one of my favorite topics, which is did we talk about this last time, which is waterfall versus agile versus hybrid? Yeah, I think we,

Jonathan Blair 39:19
I think we might have bounced into but it’s a topic of conversation at the moment. I’ve literally got off a call yesterday with our team at my current company. Because there’s, you know, and it’s headed and same as the previous couple of people are trying to figure this out. And as I feel like I’ve heard a bit of your point of view around and I’d love to, I’d love to you to expand on that because I’m a I’m a great believer in doesn’t matter what methodology you use. If the clients on board, if you’re on board, if people are drilled and doing the right things, and you have the right stakeholders and buy in, and you have the right expectations set, and you’re not setting real expectations of I will deliver 300,000 points in the next sprint, you know, then it can work because everybody’s on the same page. I’m a big fan, I think in professional services. The hybrid agile waterfall agile approach is the one to use, simply because the customer constraints of budget and you know, time and so on and so forth. The customer wants to know how much they’re going to spend, and so on and so forth. And if you’re plugging into an organization that already has scaled agile or scrum agile or Kanban, or whatever working within their own teams, then you resource again, because then the risk is on their delivery, their governance, and all you are is becoming a resource against that. Sorry, I’ve just done that pitch to two people who are going Yes, John, we know how to run projects.

Pei Mun Lim 41:05
So yeah, absolutely. 100% agree, you’ve nailed it. Totally. I think the challenge has been that the word Agile has been thrown around so much that so many organizations think they know what it is. But they don’t really say they hear the bit about, we welcome change. And think that the following Park sentences without affecting time, budget, and anything else on the project. So yellow, those are all I hear a lot of situations where you get organizations going, I want agile, as long as it doesn’t impact anything else. We have loads of stray cats here, just take them into your next sprint. So that’s kind of where it falls. But I’ve heard it, you know, where all aligned, it works really well. And I use the same analogy with polyamory. And I talk to my kids a lot about this, you know, because they’re learning at school, about the LGBT kind of thing and accepting people and who they are and how they are. And they’ve got friends with two moms and two dads and things like this. And then I extend it further and say, you know, well, there are families that are more than two, you might have three or four. And the dynamics are complex and different, and none of them are the same. But if it works for all of them, it can be a really beautiful thing. Because this was something I came across. And in my mind, I think we talked about it, you know, I come from very conservative background, in Malaysia, in learning about it just it sounded like something that, you know, when against my brain, you know, like partnerships to help me be more in tune. And I read more about it, and, you know, realize that there are some situations that can be worked. So well worked really, really well, when all the parties are aligned. You know, they each have different roles, some may have dual roles, etc. And so, you know, just coming back to this, if it works for everybody, then it’s the perfect one for them. However, from a consulting point of view, again, you and I align that it needs to be a hybrid one, mainly because we do need that discovery upfront. We do need to know, the solution that we’re going to design against your timeline in your budget, Mr. Customer. There is some wiggle room for a couple of stray cats here and there, but not a huge amount, because that would have ripple effect with integration and third party API’s and vendors you might have in this program of work. So yes, sorry. I think we both violently agree.

Jonathan Blair 44:10
No, it’s all good. Do you think partners are scared of leaving agile out of their pitch?

Pei Mun Lim 44:20
Very much. So I think when I moved from Microsoft to Salesforce, and there was this senior pm and make postive. We talked quite a bit and again, he was old school, we talked about waterfall and I said I’m finding very difficult. Oh, the other shift I had was when I was working in Microsoft Well, there was very much waterfall. Not only that, but your waterfall could. There could be multiple projects overlapping so you could have one resource working in different projects, because they’re turned on project isn’t until a few Two weeks later. And so that was really good and bad and really good from a product point of view, and flexibility with the customer. That was one thing I had to come to grips with was that we were flexible with the customer, as long as the customer gave us, you know, one week notice, we could shift this resource. So this pilot project that later on, we know impact them. And then when I came over, and sales was very much agile, and I had, you know, I did a certification and all of that from pain point of view. I couldn’t see how it worked. Because you were going at a pace that a lot of companies couldn’t. And in a lot of the projects that I was on, that didn’t go fantastically well, it was because the customer couldn’t keep up with us. They just weren’t used to producing decisions and reviewing documents on top of their day job that their management team or leadership team hadn’t given them support to do. They still had their targets to meet. But now you want them to do you at you know. And so I felt that quite, you know, quite challenging trying to flip that mindset from waterfall to agile in but I gave you know, I heard I heard so much about it and Salesforce world as I have to give it a really good chance to everyone I speak to. I’m trying to find out. How has it worked in your projects. And then I realized actually, they weren’t true agile, they didn’t deploy to production, an MVP at the end of every sprint. And sometimes the sprint was six weeks. That’s, that’s like a mini waterfall. It’s so do you know what I mean? So I was going on in my head. So I’m always very curious when I’m speaking to people like yourself, you know, you’ve done big projects and small projects in how has it worked in I’m coming to conclusion that from a consulting point of view, really needs to be hybrid, for the reasons we talked about. But yes, the word agile seems to creep in a lot.

Jonathan Blair 47:20
Yeah, it’s almost like if you don’t mention it, then then the customers are proprietary, measuring agile. So yes, for me, I mean, I’m a scrum master. But I’ve only used it barely. And yeah, look, I’d love to, I’d love to work on a full agile implementation, but it would be at a Bau. At a partner, someone like I was a resource or two big insurance company over here, when I first came over from Australia, for a year. And again, it’s getting the right resources, they had something crazy, like seven, seven or eight streams of work, each with squads between 10 and 15 people on them, Respawn up a squad to do some new business work, but using the case object, and, you know, doing case lifecycle insurance or cycle on that. And, you know, we were there, we did a POC first, we earned our way into to be able to, you know, stand up a squad, and so on and so forth. But we banged the drum for a good product owner from their site for at least four months before we got one. And then we got a brilliant one, there was the right person, then they can allocate it in full time to the role. And so he was taken out of the new business team, and he was placed with us. And he worked with us and was just fantastic. And then they actually saw that they he was even swamped. And so they got into people from that team and help them with it. And it’s it’s that, you know, we come in as partners, and we say, is, you know, your this is this is the engagement, it’s going to be for 500k, you know, over a period of three to four months or however long it is two to four months or however long it is. And sometimes I think we forget now why do sometimes have the level of CapEx and OpEx investment that they have to make, not not only in the platform in terms of licensing, but in terms of the Bau staff that need to be pulled away from, you know, sometimes business critical work to be able to support us. And so there’s definitely a level of respect. I think that that has to be given to customers and engaged engagement. I’ve, I’m somebody who makes an effort to but this comes kind of comes back to the discovery thing of connecting I really well with my customers, and, you know, the clients that I work with, on a on an emotional and personal level also. Because I understand it’s, it’s, it is personal to people, workers work, and you can say it’s just business or it’s just not, but it is work is very personal. Because it’s there, it’s there, it’s there. You know, they survive off of it, they, they, you know, they thrive off of it, and so on and so forth. You know, for example, this discovery that we’ve just come off of now, we’ve gotten to a point where the design that we’ve put in front of them is not tenable, because it’s the cost to implement is too high. And so, you know, we’re still partners, and we’re gonna work with them to look at alternates. That sometimes, and I kind of saw, I’m looking back and saying, What could I have done better? And I think I did, I did really well in the engagement. And that was, what are those points in that engagement? That that that how, maybe if I’ve been stronger, and called a halt to proceedings and said, Do you understand that going full custom in this particular approach is going to cost you a lot of money? You know, in the long run, and yeah, so I’ve kind of, you know, I’m elated that it’s finished, it’s finished well, and I think we kicked a lot of goals are not so happy, because I think we’ve taken not that we’ve taken them down the wrong path, we’ve all us and a client included gone down a particular path that’s gone. That’s that’s ended up, that’s going to be very expensive to implement. Yeah, I want just makes me want to ask, when you think about the you’ve, you’ve obviously worked at Microsoft, and Salesforce, and so on and so forth also. And you have, you have, you know, pure day of capability of organizations, they do react, or they do front end work, and so on and so forth, purely outside of a platform. And then you got platforms like Microsoft, or like, you know, Salesforce and so on and so forth, that provide a lot of out of the box functionality, get a lot of clicks to code, you know, a lot of developer options, but that has limitations and constraints also. And, you know, looking looking back through my career, I would only say 20 to 30% of customers that have worked on Salesforce with me, have really wanted the, the not not vanilla, but we’re going to use the platform for what it’s designed for, and we’re not going to try and bastardize it and change it and so on and so forth. And in 70% of customers have gone, okay, we want to do our business process like this, and then we want to do another one like that. And then we want to do you know, this, this, try that one over there, and they want to just use the platform, and the operating model is so dramatically different from what the platform is actually designed to do. Or even the fact they want to use a particular feature, and you know, we get quite creative and can take some features and you know, make a process out of it. And it’s quite slick and elegant, and so on and so forth. But it’s never 70% of the time. It’s not straightforward, isn’t

Pei Mun Lim 53:37
it? I think I think the Salesforce, it’s, it’s a product of their marketing. We can look, we can do all of this. You don’t need developers, you can you know, it’s low code, no code it is. We go into so many industries, it’s a CRM, we could be customized to anything and everything. So there’s a, you know, it takes two hands to club in this situation, therefore, you set the expectations with customers already. Right? And so like myself, I’ve been in projects where they have tried to turn the bicycle into a car, you know, yes, it can you can add more meals, you can stick an engine, and you can kind of put a frame on it, but is it a car? Exactly. So, um, I think there’s a mismatch and expectations. They believe that it can do that. And then I go back to just because it can does it mean it should? And I think that question needs to get asked a lot more. And it’s a brave question to ask. Because you are, you know, from the naysayers, you’re casting doubt on the art of the possible. Right. And so it takes somebody who’s whereas if and very courageous and be able to articulate why you shouldn’t, even though you could. And I think, if more within a sales team and a marketing team, if more of them frame that question and help shape expectations, so I keep going back to the fact that a lot of situations come about because expectations haven’t been met. You know, so I’m doing a workshop on conflict management soon. And why conflicts happen, apart from, you know, fighting over limited resources, we put that aside from a project point of view, it is about managing expectations. So going back to what you were talking about, it is not a unique situation, you run a discovery and find out me and along with the customer. That has been too expensive. In I think we abstract it slightly, the situation could have been avoided, not I wouldn’t say it couldn’t have been avoided, but couldn’t manage in a slightly different way. If, again, you know, it takes both sides. If the account management team right from the beginning, already has an idea of what of their budget capabilities, the outer boundaries of where it is, and the ability to provide at the sale stage. I know, we don’t have any details, etc. But a rough order of magnitude, are we talking between two to 5 million pounds here? Or are we, you know, what the ballpark is, is a two to 5 million scary to you, Mr. Customer. And I mean, just having that conversation. And if they say well, okay, as long as no more than five, well, we can stretch to five, but I need a definitive. So you know, that’s, that’s your boundary, then when you do your discovery, mentally, you do have some idea of the costs. Talking about point to point integration, then that’s insanely crazy. I’ve had one project that, that and, you know, if you talk about mule soft, you know, whatever middleware you’re using, then you you have some idea about what that feels like. And just checkpointing with the customer, throughout me have helped that, but it takes that management setting up. So I was I was I was in your situation once. And we got to so as a project manager, I do the the you guys do the technical solution playback. This is how we going to build a system, the pm account manager, we do the commercial side of things, right? Your team have loved our solution. This is how much it’s gonna cost is a statement of work. And that’s where we go, wow, oh, my God. You crazy? Mistake expected? Yes. And then they came back and said, We expected this figure. And we don’t how did you get that figure? And company also, we did a post mortem all the way to the beginning, who really wanted to know how they thought that was going to cause a porter. There was how big that gap was. And we wondered if the sales team had lowball that in the beginning, because that’s not fair. And then we trace all the way back to one of the initial sales tax right in the beginning, where there was some options resourcing options. I can’t remember what it was, but option A, option B option C, you know, big team on site, onshore plus offshore, and another one’s slightly blended with knowledge transfer. And, you know, just it was a it was a tentative this could be what you might have to decide on. And so as they went on, they picked option C in their head, and it’s lots of different things. And then they came up with a fix. That’s how it happened, really. But it only we only realize when we did a post mortem, we set that expectation accidentally, and we did as we went along.

Jonathan Blair 59:47
So that’s fascinating as fascinating because it kind of like stuff surfacing for me around especially around people hear what they want to hear. I think and Uh, you know, so even saying, Look, this is going to be you, if you want to get pixel perfect, this is going to be really complex, it’s going to be lots of work. You know, even the t shirt sizing to help them to make a decision between two types of templates, you know, oral versus LWR and T shirt sizing, it’s his own animal anyway, because you get an xl plus, that’s 20 days or more, you know, in the sizing, so it could be 2000 days, and it’s just massive, you know. And I do, I do find it interesting, like, people definitely hear what they want to hear through it throughout a journey. But it’s also like, I’m gonna pull on a stereotype here, I’m not going to mention what which particular stereotype but you know, that old story where you get the, the husband level, the guy and his girlfriend or whatever. And she says, Oh, my brother wants to come and stay for a week or whatever. And then, you know, the brother kind of arrives and you know, a week later as 10 members of the family are still staying with them tough thing in some some cultures, that’s more normal. And I feel like sometimes that also happens within these engagements, because, and comfort boils down to one thing. And that’s trust, are we doing the right things to build the trust with the customer, where they can trust us with saying, Look, this is our budget. Because in the customers head, I know what’s happening, customers thinking, if I tell them what the budget is, they’re gonna just size it at the budget, and they’re gonna want to get everything in there. But it’s suits themselves in the foot. Because, you know, we could call and say, No, it’s gonna be double that or triple that, like, forget about it. No, no, we don’t want to tell you the budget. And then we’re going through the process of, you know, doing stuff. And I’m not talking about this particular engagement, but previous engagements where, you know, that basic trust around true partnership around budget and stuff, isn’t there. And then it ends up, you know, burning people. I love the groups of people that I’ve worked with in this discovery, I think they’re a fantastic group, really, Tebow really, really, you’re really aligned on their purpose. And they have a really great kind of, sort of strategy and program to do some fantastic things that company. And so I think we’ve had a good result anyway, because we’ve gone down that road we’ve shown them for for just a design and discovery cost, how much it’s going to be on that side. But that doesn’t recruit preclude them from doing other work on the Salesforce ecosystem. They already have other stuff on there. But just for this piece, it’s better to to, you know, look externally and API integrating to get the right functionality from the system. So yeah, that trust is a big one, isn’t it?

Pei Mun Lim 1:03:06
I think, I think it’s right. So what I always say is, discovery is the courting process. It is, look, this is how we operate. We, you know, ask the right questions, we understand you. And this is where we can show value we can create for you, if you take if you put a ring on a finger. But at the same time, as you say, not only the situation you talked about happen, but they could also look at and go, you know, I could get someone else to do this much, much cheaper. Thank you for your solution design, your documents, your integration documents, and your user stories, and we’re gonna get my cousin to join. Because it does happen, it does happen. And I’ve also had situation where they’ve come back because the we now have to unpick in enough going to cost them a lot more because there’s no technical debt to unravel. But, you know, all we can do is do our best into show integrity, and to show them what we can do. And that’s that, really, so it sounds like you’ve done a great job there already. And it’s always quite nice to come over and just comes in. That was a good one, because you came away, ticking all the boxes that you went in with.

Jonathan Blair 1:04:32
Yeah, I think on this one I definitely did. I had a great team around me and you know, the right people pulled away at the right times. And so I think we did what we set out to do and it was actually separate to that the builder proposal that kind of was was a bit of a shock. But there’s definitely a lot of value there for what the customer needs to do and the other asked Next. And yeah, no, no, hopefully we get to be a part of that journey. But there’s so much work so much work for now, if you have the same thing in the UK at the moment, we are struggling to find good resource. Probably a conversation for another day, because I think, you know, we could, I feel like we could talk, you know, talk the hump of a camel.

Pei Mun Lim 1:05:27
I quite like this. Maybe I’ll do more of the okay doesn’t have to just do with, you know, Salesforce and projects and work and talk about other stuff. I had to listen to Joe Rogan podcast this one time. His podcasts are really long, three, four hours. And I caught one where he was interviewing pizza team. And I like pizza to very much. And he’s a doctor, by the way. And that’s how I learned about fasting and things like that. So his mission in life is to get to a situation I’m going off on a tangent. But to get to a situation where you have an Olympic for the 100 year old person, what would an Olympic for a real person look like? Okay? It would be the ability to squat and pick up your great grandchild, you know, to be able to squat. So your joints have to be strong ability to put your luggage in the overhead compartment. So you know, so he’s talking about what he health and things like that. So I was really, in I thought, that’s what I want, I don’t be the fastest or you know, skinny jeans or whatever. I want to live long time and live on anyway. So I have

Jonathan Blair 1:06:54
the ability to go through the night without having to get up to pee.

Pei Mun Lim 1:06:59
I don’t know if you can actually exercise for that. Because that’s, that’s an internal thing, isn’t it? Just don’t drink. Sorry. So anyway, he was on this podcast, and I thought I’d listened to it. And I thought, Oh, my goodness, they’re talking about hunting. He was just having a casual conversation with pizza, Joe Rogan and pizza. And I discovered thing things about pizza that I didn’t know that he what he did, he did archery and things like that. And I thought, Okay, this, this podcast is a bit too long for me. And then I said, you know, when we’re talking, I felt this feels like that sort of forecast, the maybe it’s a little bit more for me than it is for my audience. You know, maybe I should do a lot more. Because it feels it feels like the conversations that everybody has, has some element of value to other people. So all our conversations around connections around people around friends and COVID and moving across, you know, I think has value anyway. So maybe we’ll just do more of these. And that means I get to talk to you more.

Jonathan Blair 1:08:25
I’d love to go to like round three and stuff like that. Yeah, it’s interesting because I think that’s part of my philosophy. You know, you asked about the discovery and client engagement is to find the human in the interaction you know, I think we’ve all dealt with people who are very much like love this business and you know, we then talk about anything outside of this box and there’s a soul crushing kind of engagements and maybe I’d go too far on the on the you know, whatever conversation and stuff side I do know that when when the rubber hits the road we all kind of alone and we get we get we get shut down. Or like my old co garath calls we get the hustle on the chair. We’re all human I think COVID is really brought that to the fore with working from home and working in this welcome to my blurry study that you can’t see at the moment in zoom you know, but I see like the lovely picture on your back wall there for example, it’s a little bit of the personal and work is personal Yes, you’ve got to have boundaries. I’ve worked at companies where leaders stopped going on to Yeah, onto one, you know, the kind of Guru want to want to be a good mentality and stuff like that. And it’s just awful get out quickly. There’s always going to be a boundary. But yeah, there’s also going to be a bit of the personal and that I think that’s really important. I don’t I don’t know how you’ve, you know, how you align to that.

Pei Mun Lim 1:10:18
100% I think I like, you know, I like having conversations with people. But at the same time, I know, Zoom fatigue is real, just difficult. And you, if you have a meeting, a lot of people feel like, you know, just taking 510 minutes to how’s your weekend just feels fake and constructed. There is that feeling even though it shouldn’t be that way? Because we have to make time for the personal things, especially nowadays. So I already know what our next topic should be for next time. I think it is the resourcing issue. Great to hear your thoughts about it, because it is painful right now. But but there’s this whole set of net new talent that no one’s giving opportunity to. So we’d love to hear a bit more about your thoughts, especially now that you’re no stranger to what you’ve seen. Over there. That’d be great. So why don’t we Oh, my goodness, it’s 120. Now much longer than I thought. So that’s, let’s let’s let’s call it day for this one. And let’s connect again, after your vacation, maybe at some point in us day, round three. Because I really enjoyed today, even though was a lot more a lot less working than normal.

Jonathan Blair 1:11:48
Yeah, no, probably because I’m getting into holiday mode tomorrow. And I think you’ve just come off the back of your holiday. So you know, I think a week now we dovetailing across the brilliance of tattoo again by and grateful for the, for the time and and yeah, I really enjoy it. I really enjoy it. You know, having having people who are interested in what what I have to say and who say interesting stuff that I’m interested in listening to is, yeah, it’s a privilege.

Pei Mun Lim 1:12:23
It’s a two way street. I’m glad that we connected and we can get to do this a bit more. So Thanks, Jonathan. And with that, I’ll say goodbye. Have a great holiday. And we’ll catch up when you get back.

Jonathan Blair 1:12:36
Awesome Pei you take care