Monday, February 13, 2017

Unsafe behaviors

Have you ever shared your concerns on challenges in how your team works, only to learn a few weeks later the information you shared is used not for good, but for evil?

This is a question I've been pondering a lot today. My team is somewhat siloed in skillsets and interests, and in the past few weeks, I've been extremely happy with the new raise of collaboration that we've been seeing. We worked on one feature end-to-end, moving beyond our usual technology silos and perceived responsibility silos, and what we got done was rather amazing.

It was not without problems. I got to hear more than once that something was "done" without it yet being tested. At first it was done so that nothing worked. Then it was done so that simple and straightforward things worked. Then it was done so that most things worked. And there's still few more things to do to cover scale, error situations and such. A very normal flow if the people proclaiming "done" wouldn't go too far outside the team with their assessments that just make us all look bad.

Sometimes I get frustrated with problems of teamwork, but most teams I've worked with have had those. And we were making good progress through a shared value item in this.

In breaking down silos, trust is important. And that's where problems can emerge.

Sharing the done / not done and silo problems outside one's immediate organization, you may run into a manager who feels they need to "help" you with very traditional intervention mechanisms. The traditional intervention mechanisms can quickly bring down all the grassroot improvement achieved and drive you into a panicky spiral.

So this leaves me thinking: if I can't trust that talking about problems we can solve allow us to solve those problems, should I stop talking about problems. I sense a customer - delivery organization wall building up. Or, is there hope in people understanding that not all information requires their actions.

There's a great talk by Coraline Ada Ehmke somewhere online about how men and women communicate differently. She mentions how women tend to have "metadata" on side of the message, and with this, I keep wondering if my metadata on "let us fix it, we're ok" was completely dismissed due to not realizing there is a second channel of info in the way I talk.

Safety is a prerequisite for learning. And some days I feel less safe than others.