Poking the Comfort Zone @ TEDxWarsaw 2013

I have never been on a TEDx conference before. At TEDxWarsaw 2013 I have realized what is special about this kind of events – you do not attend them, you experience them.

That is why it is pretty hard to describe TEDxWarsaw 2013 highlights. I will try to list my own, though.

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I got thrilled by Jonathan MacDonald on inclination for understanding everything, which in the end makes us unhappy due to the amount of knowledge to gain rising exponentially.

Jonathan assured myself that it is sometimes OK to say stop to my mind pleading for more details and just experience the thing, even without predictability.

Zofia Borkowska asked a fantastic question after encouraging the audience to sing “Brother John” together – What was that refrained you from singing aloud? What was the thought that came to you after opening the mouth but before starting singing…?

Not being a religious person I got very positively surprised by Małgorzata Chmielewska (standing ovation!). For me, her presentation was not only about “Patching up reality”, but about the power of doing rather than planning.

Aga Szóstek, apart from showing an amazing example of user-centered design, taught me the importance of iterating the prototypes.

Mikela Eskenazi got me scared with a vision of everything mobile and online, but fortunatelly only until afterparty when we exchanged our thoughts 🙂

Cezary Wójcik on Poland – a must see for everyone in here as soon as the talks are online. I loved both the drawing on how we block ourselves from growing and the story about the camels.

Kristin Pedemonti – I cannot describe her phenomenom in words. HUG!

-Paweł

Introducing a Change – Stand Up and Make Room

Being a leader may sometimes feel like being an ambitious guy trying to sell the idea of getting up after the break and continuing hiking uphill to the group of exhausted backpackers.

How to make them stand up and go?

Stand up first

There is no other way. Just talking about any idea you want to sell to others will not work. You have to give an example, be the first one.

A mountain guide willing his group to stand up, stands up first, with a backpack on his shoulders, ready to go.

Photo courtesy of Krystyna Kupiszewska
Photo courtesy of Krystyna Kupiszewska. On the photo: Jakub Organ

Make room

OK, so we have got most of people standing and almost ready (adjusting their backpacks, talking to each other, drinking water and so on).

Now, a non-obvious trick to make the “process” of starting smooth is to make few steps forward, then call and wait for them to move.

This is important because:

  • if you just start walking you may end up walking alone and
  • otherwise, if you just stand and wait right next the whole group you are actually blocking the way you want them to go.

Introducing an organizational change

From my experience introducing a change in the team or an organization usually requires following similar scenario. If you want others to adopt a practice, after showing them an example, you need to make some room for them to start.

Understanding this is important if you want people to self-organize, or even just take over some responsibilities.

A very simple example might be introducing a habit of documenting important things on a wiki. Or keeping an eye on continuous integration system. To make this ultimately happen you need to stop doing all of it yourself  (not to walk alone) and stop reminding about this every time. Otherwise you block room for progress.

-Paweł

PS This post and a previous one are part of “What a ScrumMaster Can Learn From a Mountain Guide” – something that may become a short series.

What a ScrumMaster Can Learn From a Mountain Guide – Preparing Breakfast

Having experience as a mountain guide helped me understand how teams work in various situations. Some of the behaviours apply to the professional world as well.

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Photo courtesy of Tomasz Rosiek

Imagine you wake up on a sunny morning in the tent piched on the mountain pass. The first task for the group, after crawling out of their sleeping bags: prepare something to eat.

Process

You may count on some people being very helpful (or hungry ;)) and eager to spread jam on slices of bread, but most of your team is probably yawning or hesitating what to do.

What you need to do is:

  1. Start working – cutting the bread, vegetables, etc.
  2. Encourage others to join (inviting by name works best)
  3. Withdraw after short time, let someone else cut the next cucumber.

The most important (and the hardest) part is 3. It is easy to get involved into something, but there are probably more important things waiting for you (campfire, water supplies, plans for the day, oh, lots of stuff). If you do not start leaving work for others you will quickly end up doing more you can manage.

Tools

I have encountered it over and over again – some people do not pack knives. They are generally willing to help, but they do not have a crucial tool. I ended up bringing spare ones on each trip :evil:.

Your responsibility as a leader is to start, show an example and ensure people have everything they need to acomplish the job. After that do yourself (and your team – in the long term) a favor by taking a step back.

Why Write a Blog?

Question grunge
© Artaniss8 | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

The goal of this post is convince myself to start writing. Argh, wrong. To evaluate whether this is something I want to do 😉

So, why have a blog? I could think of a couple of reasons:

Get recognition to get a better job
Well, not for me since I am not interested in leaving my company.

Self-learning
Sounds good, but I somehow associate such a motivation with learning technical stuff and my current focus is more at soft skills. Still worth considering, though.

Fun & enjoyment
Oh, I love writing. I have recently rediscovered how much I like it, while doing copywriting for new SoftwareMill’s website (sssshhh…).

OmmWriter, which I am using at this very moment to transcribe my thoughts to words, makes the whole act a unique experience.

Change the world
or, at least, part of it. I am not sure whether I want to do that 😉 However, there are things I do not like around me, including the world of IT. With my experience I could inspire change in someone else and this is rewarding.

Get recognition – once again
For other reasons, like spreading the word about my company in a cost effective and enjoyable (see above) way. That sounds good.

Building self-awareness, getting my mind around various useful subjects
I would say this is more or less the same as self-learning, but labeled that way somehow looks more appealing to me. I may also learn something new (or discover I am completely wrong) from the responses.

OK, fair enough. Fun, self-awareness and recognition works for me, probably in this order 🙂 I am not promising you anything, but I believe now I have convinced myself, writing will be easier.

How about you? Why do you (not) write a blog?

-Paweł