Guest Blogger: Puzzled?

After over 270 posts to this blog in a decade or so, I have my first ever guest blogger!  Yes indeed, exciting times around the  ‘Scoop.  This guest is charming, has a great wit, is maybe the smartest person I know and drop-dead gorgeous.  She also has lived with me for the past 15 or so years, produced my three kids and stole my heart when I first saw her from across a sun-filled room of coders, testers and commercial bank business analysts.  Please join me in a warm welcome to my best friend and wife, Cindy Sutton.

Let me set the stage.  Cindy is an HR professional at a large company.  For this profession she has recently dabbled with writing a blog that can be viewed by thousands of her co-workers.  Her first three posts have seen more traffic than all of my posts combined.  This is not that first post but easily my favorite as it was inspired by one of my favorite holiday traditions in our home.  I hope you enjoy as much as I did…told you she was smart.  If you are wondering, I’m am “the completer.”

Growing up, my husband’s family had a tradition of opening a puzzle on Christmas Day and having it completed by New Year’s. This is something that we have carried forward into our own family and we love it. When we cracked open the puzzle this past Christmas and everyone assumed their positions around the kitchen island I had a revelation. Now before I share my revelation, I will caveat this by saying that I have absolutely no background in human psychology – I was a history and politics major. But my years in HR have given me some decent insight into human behavior and I am thoroughly convinced I will write a book about this, make a bazillion dollars and you will all be impressed with my keen insights and humility that I have been able to maintain in the throes of my glowing success. So here goes:

How one approaches a puzzle is indicative of how they work on teams.

Impressed yet? Stick with me here. When we opened up the puzzle we all assumed our natural roles without even vocalizing them. And over the years we have all grown accustomed to the puzzle “talents” we each bring to the table (or the kitchen island in this case) that we naturally assume certain people will perform certain activities.

“The Visionary”

The Visionary is the one that pulls the concept together, outlines the parameters and keeps the effort moving forward. In this case, this is the person that buys the puzzle, clears the counter and supplies the snacks. This is the person with the vision, sees the big picture and motivates the team.

“The Organizer”

The Organizer is the one that really gets things going. They flip the pieces over, separate the corners from the middle pieces, sort the colors and starts to work right away on the edge. They want to make sure everyone is clear on the objective and can see the size and scope of the work. In my family, this person is known to carry a tape measure and a magnifying glass.

“The Specialist”

The Specialist loves to dig into the themes of the puzzle. This person is the one that concentrates on putting together the pictures on the puzzle (“I’m working on Santa’s beard!”). The Specialist does not like to deviate from their focus and can become blind to other parts of the puzzle. Oftentimes there are several specialists working on different aspects of the projects. They can only take the puzzle so far – they need someone to start pulling it together.

“The Completer”

And that is where the completer comes in. They love the details! Shades of blue in the sky? They got it! They are the ones that relentlessly and methodically try different pieces together until there is a match. They love the challenge and are energized by the hard stuff. Their attention to details pulls the puzzle together and connects the themes. This is the person that gets the job over the finish line. The Completer is also bleary-eyed by New Years and requires a lot of coffee.

“The Dabbler”

Beware of the Dabbler. And there is a Dabbler in almost every project. This person is the consummate derailer. The often pop in and out of the puzzling at whim – moving pieces around, making suggestions, pulling things apart – all without understanding the process or the issue at hand. In the worse-case scenario the Dabbler has even been known to pocket a puzzle piece and show up at the end to claim victory in completing the project. They can be well-intentioned, but sometimes you need to be honest with them and politely ask them to step back and go watch television instead.

It is important to know the role you play on the team. And at times, to be flexible. Sometimes the team will need you to dig and be the Completer when you really want to be the Visionary. The key is to understand the talents that everyone brings to the island and use those to accomplish the goal. And try to avoid being the Dabbler – no good comes of that!

I’m the Visionary and occasionally the Specialist if I am particularly interested. What role do you play in the puzzle?

Nicely done first guest blogger to SuttonScoop ever.  Nicely done.


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