Aug 252017
 

Wednesday the 23rd was a town day for me and included cheese cutting for a cheese delivery to Seaman’s. I experienced mold when preparing to cut the cheese and was uncertain how to deal with it so I consulted Constantine when I did not find any accessible information in the Google Docs. The following is a transcription of the exchange; I am using PR to represent myself and CF to represent Constantine.

 

PR: (sent with a picture attached) “Is this mold anything to worry about?”

CF: “What does the other side look like?
And The bottom”

PR: (sent two photos) “Other side is relatively flawless. Bottom had some mold”

PR: (sent 1 photo) “Some mold in box”

CF: “Though the sight of that mold might be looked upon unfavorably by many of our Seaman’s customers, there is some awesome tasting          cheese under that there mold.
I suggest cutting your wedge on both sides if there mold, and generously enough to then cut a half inch or so off the outside of that               edge, and bring it home. You’ll end up with mold free shorter wedges.”

PR: “So cut the wedge 1/2″ back from the mold on both sides?”

CF: “What do you mean both sides? Cut a wide 2 lb wedge top to bottom from the wheel, spanning both sides of the mold.”

PR: (sent 1 photo) “Copy that, I think we will end up with more than 2 lbs”

CF: “Lay the wedge down and cut off 1/2 – 1″ from the widest side of the wedge, with all the mold and side wax on that rectangle, and your          knife never touching mold.
It is suggested to sanitize as needed with quat, knife as well as board.”

 

Constantine was looking for 2 rectangular pieces of moldy cheese rind with 1/2″ of cheese on the inside of the rind to be brought home. What was brought home was 2 wedges of cheese with mold on the rind. How did this happen? How could we have improved the exchange so that the desired end product was produced?

I think an emphasis on the end product may have increased understanding. Before diving into the instructions for the cuts, Con might have described the end product he was looking for, 2 rectangular pieces of moldy cheese cut from two wedges of cheese, roughly .75″ wide.

I likened this exchange to putting something together from a kit using instructions. Because I did not have a clear picture of what I was trying to build or produce, I misunderstood the instructions and did not know the questions to ask to get me back on track.

Constantine was trying to have me cut one 2 lb wedge of cheese that had a stripe of mold on it, then cut 1/2″ of cheese behind the mold off this wedge, reserve the moldy cheese separately, then clean my knife and cutting board and cut the clean cheese left on the wedge into .5 lb portions for retail sale. As I continued cutting cheese and reached the second mold spot, I would repeat the process I used for the first piece of moldy cheese.

My key misunderstanding was a fixation on the idea of cutting both of the mold spots out of the cheese at once in one big wedge; because of this, I could not adequately process what Constantine was trying to convey; this led me to proceed without a full understanding and to a less than idea end product.

 

Below I have repeated the instruction that I did not understand clearly and below that have created an edited version of the instructions that I think would have made the instructions clear to me:

“I suggest cutting your wedge on both sides if there mold, and generously enough to then cut a half inch or so off the outside of that edge, and bring it home. You’ll end up with mold free shorter wedges.”

I suggest cutting your first wedge on both sides of the strip of mold on the right, and generously enough to then cut a half inch or so back from the inside of that moldy edge, and bring it home. You’ll end up with a mold free shorter wedge that can be cut up for Seaman’s. Repeat the process when you reach the other strip of mold.

I think these changes to the original instruction would have emphasized that I would be dealing with the mold spots separately, and that I would only be removing as much product as necessary to maximize the amount of product going to retail.

I am hopeful that we can continue to improve our communications here at AO to streamline our operation and promote understanding between ourselves and others.

 

8/25/17 Cheese Cutting

  3 Responses to “8/25/17 – Communication Improvement Opportunity”

  1. Kj comments to:

    PR log 8/25/17 – Communication Improvement Opportunity
    http://interns.athensown.net/82517-communication-improvement-opportunity/

    kj summary and comments:

    focus: is mold anything to worry about and if not, how to deal with it.

    synopsis of situation:
    – Intern in town cutting cheese, mentor somewhere else
    – Intern looked for guidance material but found no google doc info

    Intern contacted mentor
    Intern provided conversation transcript
    interesting dialogue
    hopefully provides some insight r/t trouble-shooting and what info is needed when seeking assistance from a mentor
    reminds me of what one needs to provide when asking for mushroom identification assistance.
    Mentor requests description of all sides, bottom
    Intern replies with more pictures
    Mentor provides insight and instructions
    Intern asks questions
    Mentor provides more info
    Intern did not understand, offered input as to what mentor might have said to facilitate understanding.

    Kj reads and interprets the situation in the following way:
    wheel of cheese, assignment to cut cheese to put on seaman’s shelf but the cheese is moldy…what to do?
    mentor says:
    Cut wedge big wedge, more than 2 lb.
    Clean knife and board
    Cut ½” – 1” off exterior sides, knife never touching mold, to produce a mold free wedge to wrap for Seamans, bring the rest home.

    Intern reports:
    “Constantine was looking for 2 rectangular pieces of moldy cheese rind with 1/2″ of cheese on the inside of the rind to be brought home.”

    But, Kj doesn’t comprehend what the mentor is looking for in this manner at all. It wasn’t about what to bring home but rather what needs to be done to get clean cheese into the store.

    Interns says:
    “What was brought home was 2 wedges of cheese with mold on the rind.
    How did this happen? How could we have improved the exchange so that the desired end product was produced?”

    Kj also wonders how that could have happened. Why was it not understood that the purpose of the whole exercise was to get mold free cheese cut and wrapped to put on the shelf at seamans?
    What was to come home was just the discard, even tho that moldy cheese is really good.

    Ok, so what could have been said, written to help produce increased understanding?

    Intern thinks:

    “I think an emphasis on the end product may have increased understanding. Before diving into the instructions for the cuts, Con might have described the end product he was looking for, 2 rectangular pieces of moldy cheese cut from two wedges of cheese, roughly .75″ wide.”

    Hmmm… kj thinks that getting an intern to understand why they are doing a job is important but in this case, did the intern not understand that he was cutting cheese for the store? The emphasis on what is coming home misses the point.

    I think the emphasis on the end product was and is always a clean, mold free product for seamans…not what to bring home.

    Wasn’t the town assignment ‘cut cheese for seamans”?

    Kj likes the intern’s feedback toward improvement processes and it is possible that the task assignment was not clear.

    But, kj does not understand how the cutting of cheese for seaman’s switched to the emphasis on what to bring home. And, the fundamental misunderstanding/comprehension of the task at hand appeared to cause the confusion.

    Intern continues to report:
    “Constantine was trying to have me cut one 2 lb wedge of cheese that had a stripe of mold on it, then cut 1/2″ of cheese behind the mold off this wedge, reserve the moldy cheese separately, then clean my knife and cutting board and cut the clean cheese left on the wedge into .5 lb portions for retail sale. As I continued cutting cheese and reached the second mold spot, I would repeat the process I used for the first piece of moldy cheese.”

    kj wonders if it all didn’t get over-complicated, possibly because the whole goal of getting ½ lb portions of mold-free cheese into the store was forgotten and/or that the intern’s brain was somehow thinking mold would be cut out of cheese. I am not sure.

    Intern possibly identifies root cause, i.e. personally fixated on “cutting both of the mold spots out of the cheese at once in one big wedge…”.and goes onto say “… because of this, I could not adequately process…”.

    kj agrees with the intern here … preconceptions, assumptions, projections potentially prevented the intern from hearing what the mentor was trying to get across; on top of the fact that the fundamental goal of the task appears to have been forgotten.

    Okay, so then the intern tells the mentor what he should say to facilitate understanding which he describes here (the mentor is suppose to say the following):

    “I suggest cutting your wedge on both sides if there mold, and generously enough to then cut a half inch or so off the outside of that edge, and bring it home. You’ll end up with mold free shorter wedges.”

    kj thought that is actually what the mentor did say, but it must be remembered that kj has also had a lifetime of experience cutting a variety of cheeses and also understood that the goal was to cut/wrap mold free product for the store; bringing home the excess so it would not go to waste.

    Intern goes on to tell the mentor to say:
    “I suggest cutting your first wedge on both sides of the strip of mold on the right, and generously enough to then cut a half inch or so back from the inside of that moldy edge, and bring it home. You’ll end up with a mold free shorter wedge that can be cut up for Seaman’s. Repeat the process when you reach the other strip of mold.”

    Intern then says: “I think these changes to the original instruction would have emphasized that I would be dealing with the mold spots separately, and that I would only be removing as much product as necessary to maximize the amount of product going to retail.”

    The mentor could not have known that you were bound and determined to deal with the mold spots separately, etc. Kj thinks that if the intern had told the mentor what he was thinking right out of the gate, the mentor could have re-directed him.

    And, of course, kj appreciates the positive goal oriented feedback toward improvement as Intern closes log with:
    “I am hopeful that we can continue to improve our communications here at AO to streamline our operation and promote understanding between ourselves and others.”

    However, it appears to kj that it was the intern’s inability to clear preconceptions from his mind that prevented the successful relay of clear instructions.

    Kj thinks that perhaps the intern should make sure the assignment and goal are clear, i.e. my mission is to get ½ lb packages of mold free cheese into the store. How to do that?

    kj encourages people to develop practices to help clear one’s head, reflect upon the situation, pull together one’s own thoughts, suspend the assumptions before contacting a mentor. If one has a whole string of preconceptions and assumptions it is very difficult to listen to any mentor.

    In other words, if an intern already thinks they know what and how, then it is going to be very confusing if the mentor provides instructions that don’t fit the assumptions. It is not necessarily the mentor’s shortcoming.

    So, Kj isn’t sure the emphasis should be on telling the mentor what they should or should not say but rather to further develop listening skills, active and reflective.

    And, to be fair, it sounds like the intern did not have any experience cutting cheese, any previous history with mold and had not been walked through the process with the guidance of a mentor.

    Was the intern sent to town with an assumption that he already knew how to cut aged cheese, that almost by default has mold on it, for display in a store?

    So, again, kj appreciates the interns efforts to address communication challenges but in this case, it appears that the burden of responsibility may have been shifted toward the mentor instead of the intern accepting responsibility to go slow, avoid making assumptions, avoid taking things personally, and clearing his brain prior to receiving new info so that the mentor’s instructions would be heard and if not, to seek clarification every step of the way.

    kj thinks it might help interns if they first acknowledge: “I have no idea what I am doing here, what my mentor wants, so I am going to step outside to take a break, clear my head and reconsider the whole situation.”

    What is the goal?

    Kj thinks it is fabulous that the intern thought to look for guidance in google docs but also wonders if the intern has up-dated the google docs guide materials after all of the time that was taken to explore this topic and write this log entry.

    After all, a future intern may find themselves in the same boat.

    However, kj is not in the position to assign any such task.

    Thank you for the opportunity for me to share my perceptions, comprehension and $0.02 on the topic.

    I am not seeing any reply from the mentor and am wondering what he thinks about this extremely valuable log entry. Of course, communication is my passion so I may be more inclined to participate in such dialogues.

    • Hi kj, thanks for the input.

      I realize my frame of mind may have been the leading cause of this issue.

      I recognize a need that I have for developing better skills for clearing my head and refocusing on the goal(s) and task at hand after being disrupted. I hope to work towards establishing a personal practice for this.

      On updating the Google Docs, this has been discussed with CF and the project is not currently being pursued.

      I would also like some feedback from CF on this post.

  2. Cheese wedge photo added to original post.

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