February 22, 2016

Fear only hides the problem

On the topic of software development and project management, or management in general - this video is worth watching. MAKE the time for it. See it in parts, but see it.

I attended a seminar here in Düsseldorf recently, and Richard Sheridan from Menlo Innovation was the speaker. Sheridan is the author of the book Joy, Inc, about joy in the workplace and how to combine that with a very successful business.

I found this specific video when giving a good friend who had some things he wanted  feedback on, regarding some team challenges - our discussion made me remember the talk with Sheridan, and I decided to try and find an inspirational video - and I did.

In the video Sheridan gives us some very valuable advice, among them to create an environment where people feel safe and can express their concerns - this helps improving productivity in the long run, and creates a sustainable work environment.

"Fear makes bad news go into hiding. Bad news doesn't go away, they just go into hiding and then you don't end up not making little mistakes quickly, you end up making one really big mistake very slowly."

Another very important one is "I don't care about individual performance". He also mentions something very important, about 40 minutes into the talk, during the Questions & Answers section; If you focus all your work in progress on the highest performing machine and that machine breaks, the entire plant could shut down, quoting Lean manufacturing, something I have been very involved in. And Sheridan is totally right; You need a strong team, and you need to develop that team, and let the team grow with the task. 

I like things to be as transparent as possible to make sure the team doesn't stand or fall with a single individual. I want to be able to go on holiday knowing that things will be taken care of, and I believe that is important for everyone - but as managers and leaders we have to promote that team work, that sharing. THAT is what should be noticed, as much as possible. 

And a piece of advice from MY side: 
 I know it is very tempting to put people in charge of things they are really good at - but ask them what they want to BECOME good at, and let  them work in that field; That's when you will see the real commitment. We all have to do what we are really good at too, at  times, but most people will grow with the challenge - everyone will, if the challenge is one they picked for  themselves, is my experience. 

Being inspired is what makes us great, in the long run. Without it, eventually we will lose our edge.