Sunday, September 21, 2008

Parrot Lines

It is often a sub conscious act that we make monotony of ourselves by repeating our pet ideas, themes, defenses for our line of thinking, with various people, forums, and rake the topic when there is a minimal pause in conversations. Think of times, when you spoke of a topic with same sentences with same group or multiple people at multiple instances. You will often see it when we say the same story over and over again.

It is important to understand the power of this situation - "Parrot Lines".

Parrots are used in India to forecast your future (Still very popular). They are trained to see the color of a card deck and say exactly the line that is appropriate for the card. So the foreteller person,plays a mind game with you. He says that the parrot has intelligence that it chose a color card and after completing his reading, the parrot will speak a line that is apt to the contents in the color card. He says that what he said by seeing the color card that Parrot picks up is validated by parrot again. Hence, having an alibi say the same thing, makes you believe that it is about "YOU" and so the future truth is bare open by parrot and not the foreteller person.

  1. Parrot lines are instruments that serve the cause of focus and discipline. Saying them again again in same way, seeks to drive the seriousness of the point and hence rallying teams is easier. At times, they signal closed mindset as well. Rephrasing the parrot lines and reasoning the various other thinking hats, may seek to open the person for better insights, or you know where you are headed if any good discussion always ends with the same parrot line.
  2. So be it a peer, juniors/seniors, bosses, customers, vendors, partners, it is important that they know a consistent picture of you when you are not around. Parrot lines help this cause.
    • For example, when my boss asks any of my team members about a task/assignment, the member will recollect to give an answer that satisfies me and then my boss. Because, my questions are parroted every time in more or less the same sequence, the team member will exactly know the questions, will answer according to my order.
  3. Parrot lines can also serve a good reminder message for the critical success factor that is in consideration.It could be like:
  • We need to be careful if this would exceed the scope. The scope is for 80 screens. In our recent project, this is the favourite line, I start with and end with in a discussion.
  • I would prefer to put more resources and effort, but still schedule constraint may not be addressed. In one of the projects,that I am unable to close (yes, my failure as on this writing date), this is the parrot line, I repeat to customer for every request.
Parrot lines, help a manager to rally the team to a cause with commitment on "passion" than just monetary considerations.
  • Imagine the cognitive load, you are putting on me and other reviewers for this output. Can't you make it more easy to comprehend? My favourite line to all my team members, to push them for better output and buy myself more time for task on hand. ;)
  • What is your value in this system if you are just a postman, transferring deliverable from one to another? Again my parrot line to all my team members to think of their value in their system. (inherently to reduce the cognitive load on deliverables, that would have been passed without you in the system)
Parrot lines are important to put things in perspective. Perception is built over a period of time looking at consistent and inconsistent behavior of group (mostly senior management leading by example, needs to be careful about this one). When I need more than realistic expectation, my parrot lines are:

1. Let us get it done for leaving a legacy and add it to our portfolio first. It is up to company to leverage it or not.

What parrot lines do you have in your arsenal and are you conscious about it?

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