The Ultimate Test of Agility

…has got to be early parenthood.

The arrival of that new addition to your family puts pay to even the best laid plans, regardless of how prepared you may think you are. Having experienced it myself in the last few weeks, I’ve been responding to both the physical and emotional changes it brings.

How do you communicate with someone who can’t speak, and wouldn’t know what to say if they could? How do you identify what their needs are? How do you do all of that on just 3 hours sleep?!

Early parenthood is all consuming. You spend your days trying to interpret your baby’s behaviour, attempting to understand what a particular noise means, what sends them off to sleep, and what the colour of the contents of their nappy may mean… You’ve got almost too much advice being thrown at you by parents, friends, books and web forums, but no data about your own baby.

So, what do you do? While the cost of failure is high, and usually results in further sleep deprivation or another trip to the washing machine, you have to generate some data in order to begin to understand your baby. Naturally, you experiment. You create small tests that you know you can recover from easily if they fail. You play music or white noise at night to get them to sleep quicker, and you try a different position while feeding or burping to make latching easier or reduce colic. And, slowly but surely, you begin to understand those noises, their intrinsic needs, and how you can be most efficient and effective in meeting them. Even then, they continue to surprise you.

While your baby is an irrational, sleeping, eating and pooing machine, your customers are far from it. Worse, they are rational, intelligent beings with the freedom of choice. In order to ensure they choose your products or services, they need to be at the centre of your world. They need to be at the core of everything that you do and of the way you organise yourselves, just like your baby.

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