Why did you choose the story to be about a Barista and a Young Manager, and the journey he goes on?
Pete: We wanted something that could connect with everyday life. We don’t give the Young Manager a name so anyone can identify with him. There are some hidden messages in the story as well. For instance, the group of companies in the converted power station where the story is set is called ‘The Collective’. We’ve always believed in the power of people coming together to create change. And, in a busy working life you just get a few moments in your day to reflect. This might happen when you’re queuing for a coffee. A barista might help you disconnect from your distractions and reconnect with yourself for a moment. We wanted it to feel modern, relevant and familiar.
Mark: The Barista represents those little moments in the day where people actually do take to disconnect a little bit from the fast paced world around them. We’re constantly surrounded by technology, emails, phone calls and so on. But people do usually prioritise their coffee, and that gives them a little window for a human connection.
Pete: This is important. When we get stuck we often feel like we need some big, miraculous solution to our problem, while what we actually need is some common sense, everyday wisdom. Perhaps someone behind a coffee counter could give this to us.
Which aspect of your method do people struggle the most with?
Pete: The gold nugget metaphor. It’s about finding exceptions to problems you feel are always there. We are so quick to generalise, in our language and due to our biases and the limitations of our minds. It’s when you assume the problem occurs all the time, in every context, no matter what you’ve done, even though this isn’t true. This is what holds you stuck. You need to get curious about the times the problem does not occur, what the circumstances are when it does happens, and see the problem as a special and unique occurrence. This is a fundamentally different way of viewing the world.
Mark: I agree this is what people struggling with the most, because you’re asking them ‘when is this problem not a problem?’ We tend to use emotive language and general statements like ‘always’ and ‘never’, and people struggle to accept that it might not be a problem literally all the time. So for instance, when someone says to you that their colleague is never on message during meetings, this can’t be completely true; there must be moments when they are. People are so fixed on looking for the problem after they’ve defined it, finding it just reinforces the idea it’s there all the time.
Pete: This can be a pride issue as well. For example, if you feel like you argue with your partner constantly, and you feel like you’ve tried everything to solve this with no results, you might be stubbornly holding on to this idea that it’s a constant struggle rather than a circumstantial one. Ask yourself, do you argue in the middle of the night? Probably not, because you’ll be asleep. During the day you’re both likely to be at work so you can’t argue then. If you go through this process of elimination, as silly as it may seem, you may find the problem only with a very specific recipe, for instance after work in the kitchen when you’re cooking together.
Mark: And that changes the frame of the issue from it being a ‘relationship problem’, which is huge, to a ‘we argue in the kitchen after work problem’, which is a lot easier to solve.