Let's do something instead!

· May 7, 2013

I’m surrounded by brilliant minds at work. Both at my company (Aptitud), at my clients and in my community. They make me think a lot and quite clearly thinks a lot themselves too.

But sometimes I think we think too much (cannot wait for the reaction to that contradictive sentence :)) - and we should do things instead. It’s in doing we learn and see how stuff work out and how well our hypothesis stands up to the reality that we throw them into.

Let me give you a few … well examples and ideas that have formed my thinking around this.

Getting to know new people

| | |:————————————————————————————:| | | | From http://redstarresume.wordpress.com |

I have never been in a situation to hire someone - although I have done A LOT (50+) prospect interviews. This is a ridiculous situation; 1 hour with someone that I never have met and then asked if I think they are suitable for a position working next to me (or worse working next to another person).

Since we have just talked for an hour I just got to talked about the things that the guy in question have been willing to reveal and that we haven’t “haven’t happend to skip” by accident or willingly. I don’t know anything about how this person IS. Normally we just talk about the technology or things she will work with or around.

Here’s the thing: I already assume that you know the trade (that you know agile, that you know how to code or whatever) - I just want to know how you are to work with. My sister, Therese, is a professional trombone player. To get a job there you have to do auditions in several stages; before a jury, with the people you will play with, with the orchestra etc. When Tessan got her job she shifted from being focused on the playing to being focused on the social side of the person:

I assume that they know how to play, but how would it be to sit next to this guy everyday and have him critique my playing and talking about how to do this better. That’s what’s really matter to me nowadays.

Wise words, sis.

| | |:————————————————————————————-:| | | | From http://www.salvationarmy.ca/ |

So if I ever got the opportunity to hire people for my own money I would take a day and work with them. It doesn’t even have to be computer/agile/the work I’m hiring for. Let’s build on your porch together, let’s do a night at the Salvation Army shelter for homeless people, let’s cook some food together. Anything where I get a feel for what kind of person you are when you’re working, when you take a break, what you like to talk about etc.

It’s probably a bit more expensive but well worth it in the long run.

Team and potential problems

I’ve been involved in putting new teams together at lot, merging and splitting old groups. Inevitable a discussion takes place as the new team is forming up around; what will we do now, will our “old” backlog be considered, who will take care of X, who’s calling the shots in the new team etc.

Perfectly natural and understandable.

But quite often we create a lot of hypothetical problems that might occur or not. We might run into all of those problems, or we might hit all of them. Nobody knows. Hey - we might even run into problems that we … (gasp) didn’t even think about yet.

What should we do?

Build something together. Start delivering stuff. Put stuff out the door and see if any of the problems you were thinking of are actually is occurring or not. And then we have a context to actually try to steer away from it.

What should we start doing?

How about the most scary thing first. Or if you don’t know what’s scary - do the smallest possible thing that you think will get out of the door. Make sure it’s some business need that you fulfilling at the time and you’ll even start impressing people and building a team.

What is the right thing to prioritize now?

| | |:————————————————————————————:| | | | From http://lean.st |

If you thought that you recognized the reasoning the paragraph above you should. It’s the reasoning behind Minimal Viable Product from Lean Startup. The idea here is to create a small increment of a product for the sole reason of learning.

When you don’t know how the product you’re building will be received or the feature accepted by your customers, what can you do? Well put something out there and ask them what they think. Put the smallest thing you can think of so that you don’t overinvest in your efforts. No, smaller than that. Try again - you can come up with something smaller. I dare you!

The thing is - we’re doing stuff. Together. We’re learning about the need, the product and how we’re working together. And when we do we can start improving on that.


I’m not saying “don’t think”. I’m saying “don’t think too much before you start doing something”.

My grandma was a Salvation Army Officer (pastor) for all her life. I love the Salvation Army because it combines religion with doing stuff, the church and social work. Grandma Märta often said things like this (and I’m paraphrasing, sorry Grandma):

Praying is great and everything, but sometime we have to take down our hands and lift someone up from the gutter.

What will you learn when you start doing stuff? What will you learn about your team when you do stuff together?

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