Random Robert

Say hello to Robert. In Denmark nearly every lawn – public or private – is mowed by a little robot or two, discretely getting the job done. My parents got their first robot years ago, but as they have moved to a rental place, the robot I was observing was now one covering the entire communal area.

As I was sipping my cup of tea on their terrace, I could feel my stress levels increasing. Robert, the robot, was not doing a great job. Repeatedly going back and forth over a small seemingly dry and short-grassed area. Not at all giving attention to the massive areas of long, lush, green grass further along that needed the services much more.

It was a holiday, and I did have some spare time this afternoon, so I kept observing Robert. He was not mowing the lawn as most people I know would have done it. With a system, a clear structure, back and forth, back and forth, turn at the end.

No, Robert was using the most random of patterns. Was there even a pattern??? Focusing on a tiny area for what seemed like ages, then crawling down the other end to take one patch – only to return shortly after.

I do trust engineers and coders, and at that moment, I was very sure that some clever people would have coded the robot to do a great job. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be such a monopolistic market of lawn mower robots compared to the good, old hand-pushed mowers or ride-ons.

So, I ended up concluding that we all are different. And we all get to our results differently. Some use straight lines. Others prefer random patterns.

As leaders, this is an important point to remember. Because we know how diversity strengthens teams and business results. But, we’re often also painfully aware of how complicated it is to lead diverse teams and diverse brains.

I therefore decided to go back to my tea and book, and to let Robert do his job. His way.

PS.: The next day as I looked out the window, the lawn was looking lovely.