“I just said ‘bubble baggage’ out loud didn’t I?”

“Yes, but I know what you meant; can I have it?”

“Feel free –that’s what I do”

That happened in a meeting recently. Fortunately, in the context of the discussion, it was understood as it appropriately explained things however you may still be none the wiser, so let me explain.

Bubble baggage currently has two meanings.

  1. Stuff you can’t or don’t leave in your world (bubble) when entering another person’s space and which isn’t relevant, wastes time, bore’s or annoys people if you mention it more than once; the kind of stuff that if it was in a bubble, and floated away, no one would miss.

The thing is, it might just come back to earth and do damage to your credibility. A bit like litter after a promotional balloon release, which seemed a good idea at the time. They are never a good idea. Ever.

Not everything in your world is relevant to new situations. If not then let it lie or leave it behind, it will be relevant again in other situations.

  1. An overly patriotic sense of loyalty to a tribe (social circle, business, organisation, silo, team; your bubble) which might stop you asking for help, associating with or also becoming part of another tribe.

This is what stops us doing things that might improve our own or others skills, knowledge and experience. Remember the Venn diagram thing from school? Jonny plays tennis and cricket, Sally plays rounders and tennis, Mary plays tiddlywinks and rounders. There are overlaps and it’s alright to be part of more than one circle without the world collapsing.

I’ve seen positive examples of both recently which I thought I’d share as examples of working out loud.

An example of the first kind was demonstrated in a planning meeting for an upcoming event. At the event we will be using a tool known as OBA – outcome based accountability. We have brought in an OBA facilitator to run the session as that is ‘his bubble’. Obviously his objective is to ensure that attendees do things that result in determining relevant outcomes which are owned. At the planning meeting he was offered time on the agenda to explain what OBA was and why we were using that approach. His response was that people didn’t need to know about OBA as it will confuse but he would explain what they needed to do. Brilliant! No bubble baggage.

The next example explains the second meaning and also shows the benefit of having a helpful network.

I’ve been writing a couple of reports which use a preset MS Word template with bullets and numbering. Long story short, after various track change responses, the section numbering was totally busted. Utterly gone. My colleagues and I (bubble) couldn’t sort it so I cried for help on Twitter and various kind folk offered to help.

On the face of it, we have a communications team who can’t sort report numbering! I bet we are not alone.

Alternatively, we have a supportive network where people aren’t too proud to ask others for help or respond and share what they know, resulting in offers of help, the solution and the knowledge so we can sort it ourselves next time.

It just shows what can happen when you get out of your bubble.

Bubble baggage – I’m expecting an entry in the Oxford English Dictionary next year. Along with ‘life leak