Tag Archives: Success

Only You Care How It’s Built

Remember the last time you were really frustrated when using something? It didn’t work as you expected or you couldn’t find what you were looking for. As your attention focused on the people who built the tortuous tool, do you remember thinking to yourself, “That’s OK. I hear they have a great process.” No? The unfortunate truth is that the people you are building for will not care how you got there, only whether you solved one of their problems in a positive way.

I think this is one of the reasons behind the first agile value, “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools”. It is tempting, when integrating new practices, such as with scrum, to get caught up in the mechanics of a new process. There are new ways of working and new tools to learn, and these can take a lot of time, energy, and focus. It can be tempting to do things ‘by the book’ when first starting out, but that puts our focus on the wrong goal. The team is not there to perfect a process, but to deliver value to real people.

So why “Individuals and interactions,” and not “results”? Results don’t make a product, people do. The people are the invisible force that create the product. As one of the agile principles states, “Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.”

Pixar’s Randy Nelson has a fantastic definition of collaboration not as cooperation, but amplification. A good team that works well together will amplify each others’ skills and abilities to create better results than they would as individuals. This definitely resonates with my personal experience. My best ideas usually come when I’m engaged with others, not when I’m by myself. Sure, I have a few Eureka! moments wearing headphones, pushing pixels, but the bulk of them come from the interaction with other minds approaching the problem from different directions, each with their unique personal history.

There are many elements that create an environment that a allows a team to succeed. As implied above, clear goals and measurable results is one. I’ll go into that and a few more in a future post. In the meantime, what is it about your environment that supports or hinders your team? Do you have motivated people? Do your stakeholders trust you to make decisions on their behalf? Are you focused on value? What have you changed about your environment that has had a positive impact?

As always, I look forward to your comments. Also, please take a moment to rate this post by clicking the stars below the title. It helps me know if I’m on the right track and I really appreciate the feedback. If there is a specific topic you’d like me to address, add it to the Suggest a Topic page.

Failure: The Secret to Success

Honda has produced a series of short ‘documentaries’ promoting Honda innovation. I’m usually quite critical about this kind marketing content masquerading as entertainment, but having watched two so far, I can say they are well produced, engaging,  and only tangentially talk about Honda.

This one is about failure. I don’t think about failure much, even though some might consider that I’ve been around it quite a bit. Many companies that I’ve worked for didn’t make it, or had to cut back during hard times, but I never thought of them as failures. With each one, I often had great results with my piece of the company puzzle, met brilliant and talented people, and learned a hell of a lot. For me personally, that’s a success.

Projects come and go. I try and make sure that whatever I spend my time on is going to give me a great experience, draw on my strengths and knowledge, and give me new challenges to learn from. If it doesn’t work out, I’m very disappointed, but I take what I’ve learned to the next opportunity.

Oh, and it needs to  pay the mortgage. Can’t forget that one.

From Salon (login or adroll required) via Neelakantan at Interim Thoughts.

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