All we do is looking for some way to fulfill our needs.

środa, 12 marca 2014

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Being busy is an easy way

I have had a great opportunity to take part in some kind of experiment. I consciously got rid of most tasks from my personal and professional life that I considered not be fully joyful and purposeful. What I expected was that I would be more focused on things that really matter to me and I could consciously choose what to do (and what not to do).

I stopped checking my phone every 10 minutes, including Facebook, Endomondo and Twitter. I and Michal decided to strongly simplify the way our company works (including the employment decrease). I stopped to start new books (I used to start many and finish few). I stopped to obsessively do tasks from my TODO list. I stopped doing most stuff that everyone does. I focused on family, my core professional stuff and running. I have created a lot of space and time to think.

And you know what? It is hard. It is extremely hard. It is not easy to find out what is really worth doing. It is not easy to make decisions with full awareness. It is a big relief when sometimes I forgot about my experiment and start doing things compulsively. I don't have to think! Of course I am doing much thinking then, but it is about solving a particular problem. I more react to circumstances than I am aware of what I am doing. Like a drug. Doing anything is like a drug. You loose your conscious thinking and start compulsive, reactive thinking (which may require a lot of IQ).

Now I think I fully understood (or would be better to say "I internalized") that:
Doing anything, being busy is an easy way. Because (what is commonly known) it is extremely hard to do the right things. And it is really much harder to figure out which thing is right rather than do it. What I notice is that we are not taught to think this way and not used to it.

Being busy is a sickness of our times. It is motto of professional life. Most decisions are made because there are so many things to do and we have to react in some way. But these are not conscious decisions. These are reactive decisions and many time destructive ones.

(photo from:

wtorek, 4 marca 2014

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Task-doing vs. responsibility taking - a subtle distinction

I have been reading a book on a fathership recently (yep, tech guys also read such books:-)) and there has been a discussion about responsibility. Even when fathers devote their time to spending time with children and doing some tasks related to children and family they may still don't take responsibility for it. So you can take your children to doctor when they are sick, bring them to school or kindergarten everyday, go with them to a playground... and still not taking responsibility.

How come?

Because responsibility is not about doing (at least in a first place), it is about having in mind what you are responsible for and taking care for it (ie. anticipate and respond to the situation).

Common! Fuzzy? A little bit :-)

Let's go back to the children example. You may go to doctor because your partner told you to do it ("Honey, I have an important meeting in the morning, please go with Kate to doctor"). This is just a task. If you accomplish it (or you can't for some reason - for example doctor is not available today), you are done. Now it is again your partner's worry. She still has to think about it. You have just done you task. To take responsibility is to think about the subject of responsibility (to have in mind) . Example: As a father I proactively think what to do when my child is sick (organize a medical appointment, a babysitter or go to a sick leave) and in longer term to remember about immunization, important dates etc. Then you can tell you take responsibility for your children's health. It is more about thinking and being aware than doing (which is also important after all).

Ok. But what does it have in common with my team? Many leaders want folks in team be responsible (and what is funny they are not able to define what it means).

In business context we very often use the word responsibility mostly in context of a task. "You are responsible for this task", what usually means: do it from the beginning to the end. But in such situations it is much like going with child to a doctor. It is task-doing and not responsibility-taking - for your team, process, product. Being responsible just for tasks makes folks passive, creates the illusion they have no impact on what is happening around you, that the "others" decide. And then they feel powerless and their work becomes boring. It takes juice of life out of you. Who likes it? Hands up!

What to do in real life:

  • If you are a leader: Discuss with  your team what "responsibility" means. Create your own definition. It is unique because of your different expectations and past experiences.
  • If you are a leader: Create environment where people can are encouraged to take responsibility (and not only for task-doing): let people estimate, let people choose task they do (according to priorities), let people influence the way they work (through retrospectives) etc.
  • If you are a team member: Suggest such discussion in a team. Discuss difference between task-doing and responsibility taking and how it harms you.

To sum up let's define what responsibility means when applied to different "things":

  • task responsibility - doing the task from the beginning to the end, anticipating problems and proactively looking for solutions when problems arise; it is situation when nobody else have to take care of the task (unless it is shared task);
  • team, process responsibility - being aware of what is happening in the team/process and proactively looking for ways to improve the way it works (yep, in my opinion it is not only team leader job); look for ideas, improvements, experiments, insights, questions that can influence what is now;
  • product responsibility - consciously, sometimes critically looking at a product evolution, look for ideas and express them (and it is not only your Product Owner's job).  
To clarify: take a context into account, because sometimes you may be just a small planet at the edge of Milky Way (let me emphasize: SOMETIMES).


poniedziałek, 3 marca 2014

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I'll be there (for you) ...

I am very excited and happy to announce that you can hear my talk at two Agile conferences in Europe:
Agilia Conference 2014 in Brno (I'll be speaking on 25th March)
Optional Conference 2014 in Budapest (I'll be speaking there on 8th April)

I will be presenting talk titled:
Structured soft skills (not only) for Technical Leaders
You are not a born leader. You haven't been prepared to be one but you were chosen to be. And then everything changed. Now you should be a good communicator, negotiator, mediator, facilitator, motivator. You have heard that you should be a servant leader, should prefer collaboration over contract negotiation, people over processes but … you think: „What the heck should I exactly do?“ Most of the leadership hints are general, fuzzy and unstructured. If it sounds familiar to you, this is a talk for you.
We will talk about fundamental soft skills in a structured way. You will see a lot of schemas, diagrams, algorithms, dependencies you weren't aware of before. This way misty soft world will become familiar and easier to understand for left-brainers (people loving to think in an analytical way).
What we will talk about?

  • How to resolve tough (conflict) situations.
  • How to find a problem solution.
  • How to conduct effective meetings in a way nobody told you about earlier.

Who will benefit from this?

  • Technical leaders, team leaders, any other kind of leaders working dealing with software development.
  • Leaders and all technical folks interested in developing their soft skills.
  • Technical guys (developers, testers, ux designers) at least having clue that soft skills might be really important in their work.
I am excited and a little bit stressed as these will be my first talks in English.
Keep your fingers crossed and come if you can.