Valuable Meetings

Meetings. How many of them can be changed, disregarded, and not even attended? Can one spend their time on more valuable work?

Automatically as I was writing this my only focus was on work type meetings, as those seem to be the least edifying and the most wasteful. Meetings can be beneficial:

  • Casual meetings to build relationships
  • Informational meetings to build up knowledge
  • Crisis meetings to solve urgent and hard problems
  • Regular meetings that have outcomes that are action oriented
  • Impromptu meetings that spark ideas

So not all meetings are monsters that feed on time and energy. Just ones that are poorly run.

A Proper Response

Having the right response to others makes collaboration much easier.

  1. Is it constructive or destructive?
  2. Is it positive or negative?
  3. Is it selfish or selfless?
  4. Is it based upon principle and values over compromise for short term gain?

Each interaction has the ability to be a one of a kind unique and edifying experience. Where there is thoughtfulness before the response, the outcome is usually one where both parties gain and not lose. A quick checklist to run down in your mind before answer could be:

  • Am I responding according to principles and values?
  • Am I adding to the conversation or other person?
  • Is my focus on my fellow collaborator(s) instead of self-ego?
  • What are the right words for me to use to deliver positivity?

Uncomfortable

Being uncomfortable gets my Spidey senses going. It is uncanny how I can see problems with much more clarity. The smallest details become chasms that I need to conquer or cross. Now combine being uncomfortable with new surroundings. It is like when Superman first discovers his superpowers of seeing everything blurring by and he can’t take it all in till he focuses.

This is me now, with a new job and different environment. Here are steps I am taking for better clarity that may help you.

  • Slow down. Not everything has to be solved right away.
  • Find those who are comfortable already. Listen to what works for them. Be careful not to assimilate and look for opportunities to add value to their processes.
  • Know the long term vision. Keep referring to it as you are doing day to day work. Remove the work that doesn’t progress toward the vision.
  • Embrace mistakes as valuable lessons.
  • Be bold and courageous in your decision making.

Be comfortable with uncomfortable.

Weeds and Software

Saturday morning weeding has turned into a quick 1 hour endeavor which I share with my wife.  There was one area I neglected for about a month though and figured I would tackle it head on.  As I was digging and pulling, similarities of software that has been neglected started coming to mind.

  • The more time that you let weeds grow, the harder they become to pull out.  The tiny thistle for instance, can be quickly grabbed just below the surface and usually the root just comes straight out with it.  I often see code that may not be optimal get reused and reused because no one wanted to refactor it.  The next thing you know you have a very stubborn area of your code that you will need to clean up
  • The sprawling weeds. These are the ones that don’t have a lot of roots but they pop up all over the place as little nuisances.  I liken this to inline styles in html, or a set of code that get’s copied over and over again with comments and all just to change a variable.  Pretty soon, it becomes a mess when you need to change it all up.
  • The worst are those weeds that infiltrate the root system of the good plants.  In software, you can see this manifest as design pattern overload or global variables (I hope no one does that anymore).

What are the weeds in your software?

The Balance of Self-Promotion

The older I get, the less I relish instant gratification, acknowledgement, and self-promotion.

Maybe I just feel confident in my abilities (warning: pride setting in) or apathetic to false platitudes.

Could it be that it isn’t that important anymore? The effort I put into promoting my work could be better spent elsewhere adding even more value. Surely this doesn’t cross the line of arrogance or egocentric behavior.

Reality check:

  1. We only promote work that seems sensational. Maybe that is why day to day operations work gets overlooked. Find a way to show that value through metrics and measurement.
  2. We should promote work for awareness as our primary motivator.
  3. Don’t spend hours on slide decks, when you can sum it up in a few short sentences.
  4. Realize promoting work is a tool to inform, enhance, and engage with your audience.
  5. Be humble in the promotion. Give credit to others who came along side, influenced, and sweated over the work.