Tag Archives: foodforthought

Food For Thought #13: Less distraction, more ideas

Distraction
http://www.flickr.com/photos/30228426@N03/2832163100/

Do you know these moments, were you’re between two tasks and don’t have the energy to start with the next one? I know these moments a lot. It’s same when you’re working on a task and you’re stuck. This is the time when a lot of people search for distraction. At least that’s what I did in the past. You open your web browser and start surfing the web, reading your Twitter timeline, checking for mails on your 11 different email accounts or check who is online on Skype. Nowadays it’s easy to get distracted. There are hundreds of ways to waste your costly life time. The main problem is, when you get used to this behavior, your productivity decreases over time. In the end your not able to concentrate on a single task and even get distracted by simple things DURING a task (like e.g. an incoming email or DM on Twitter). You don’t have the energy to start any task (maybe smaller ones). Don’t tolerate this behavior, stop it! Now! Did you hear me? Stop it!

The next time you’re having a break between two tasks, lean back and do….. nothing. Yes, exactly. Just do nothing. Don’t try to fill these breaks with some distracting activities. Try to withstand the impulse to open the browser or anything else to fill this gap. Just sit there (or stand) and wait. After a while the magic will happen: New ideas will come up into your mind. Your mind needs these breaks to get back into creativity mode. This isn’t wasted time, instead it’s one of the most valuable things you can do with it. In my experience the best ideas are created during these mind breaks.

Try it out and tell me your observations and experiences in the comments. I’m already looking forward to read them.

Food for Though #12: Dogma sucks

Dogma

Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or a particular group or organization. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioners or believers. Although it generally refers to religious beliefs that are accepted without reason or evidence, they can refer to acceptable opinions of philosophers or philosophical schools, public decrees, or issued decisions of political authorities. The term derives from Greek δόγμα “that which seems to one, opinion or belief”and that from δοκέω (dokeo), “to think, to suppose, to imagine”. Dogma came to signify laws or ordinances adjudged and imposed upon others by the First Century. The plural is either dogmas or dogmata , from Greek δόγματα. (Source: Wikipedia)

Dogmatism is a wide spread bad habit in our industry.  You can find it nearly everywhere. There are the vi dogmatists against the Emacs dogmatists. The C dogmatists against the C++ dogmatists. The Java dogmatists against the C# or C++ dogmatists and also the agile dogmatists against the rest. IMHO dogmatism sucks. It does not only suck once it always sucks. Dogmatism blocks progress and impedes yourself to look beyond your own nose. It does not help to bang your head against a wall a thousand time, just because this is part of your dogmatic believe. It’s not always true that your Scrum implementation failed because you did it wrong. There are a lot of cases, where a plain Scrum implementation won’t work in your environment, in your context. In such cases, it doesn’t make sense to increase the number of prayers to your Scrum god. It won’t help you. The only thing that helps now, is to stop being dogmatic and look beyond your own nose. There are a lot of interesting practises also from other “religions”. Even the evil god of “waterfalls” had some good ideas.

But dogmatism also blocks your self development. There a people who are dogmatic about there belief that they can’t sing, dance, write, coach, code, learn an instrument, you name it. In some rare cases this may be true, but in most cases this is bullshit. The human being is an awesome creature that can do the impossible. One first step could be, to leave your dogma behind you. Let’s try it out and leave a comment about your experiences.

Food for Thought #11 – Checking In With The Kids

Bed
http://www.flickr.com/photos/taste-bittersweet/309718707/

The first time I read about the Core Protocols was about one year ago. Yves Hanoulle and a bunch of other people wrote an awesome article, describing the Core Protocol using a conversation between Yves and a fictional character. Simply said, the Core Protocols consist of a set of commitments and communication protocols, that can help to create high performance teams.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to try these protocols with one of my teams, yet. But I’m already looking forward to try it out. In the meantime I’m using my family as guinea pigs.

A few weeks ago I had the idea to use the “Check In” protocol with my kids, when I bring them to bed. Bringing my kids to bed is quite a ceremony. We start with reading two books, then I’m telling them a home made story and last but not least I sing a song. Now we added the “Check In” at the beginning at the ceremony. The “Check In” consists of 4 steps:

    1. Speaker says “I’m checking in”
    2. Speaker says “I feel [one or more of MAD, SAD, GLAD, AFRAID].” Speaker may provide a brief explanation.
    3. Speaker says “I’m in”.
    4. Listeners respond, “Welcome.”

We found out, that this is a great way to close the day. Additionally, we as the parents get to know, what is really on the mind of our kids. Sometimes, it is really hard to keep your mouth shut, when one of the kids is checking in and telling something interesting. But most of the time we’re able to leave the check in uncommented. I think this is also something our kids really like about checking in. They can speak free without explaining oneself. On the other hand, this is also a tool for us as parents, to tell the kids what really got on our nerves that day.

After starting the “Check In” by myself on the first days, my kids took over and started to explicitly ask for checking in. Even my youngest, who is 2 years old, participates. We’re using the “Check In” now for three weeks and everybody loves it. It’s a great way to start our bed time ceremony and helps everybody to come down and get to sleep mode.

I encourage you to try this with your kids, too. I’m really looking forward to your experiences, so please leave a comment.

Food for Thought #10 – Bring food

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeff-anderson/4385042770/

Have you ever been invited to a wedding without food? Have you ever been to a birthday party without a cake? What about a barbecue without the meat? Watching a football match without chips and beer? Even at a funeral they serve some food. Usually when people meet, there is also something to eat (and to drink). People love to socialize around some (great) food.

So why don’t you serve some food, when you have a meeting in your company? I attended an awful big number of boring (and even some interesting) meetings without food. But what I did observe is, that food is one of the secret ingredients for a successful meeting.

Continue reading Food for Thought #10 – Bring food

Food for Thought #9 – Be honest

http://www.flickr.com/photos/60852569@N00/2204909532/

Are you honest? Every time? To every one? In every situation?

Oh, come on, be honest! Most of us aren’t honest every time, everywhere and in every situation. And, to be honest, this isn`t implicitly bad. There may be situations were the truth isn’t appropriate (at least for the moment). But most of the time it is and the only thing that stops us, is our comfort zone. Unfortunately, the truth is not always positive; otherwise, it would be easy to tell. And so it is often a matter of leaving our comfort zone.

My wife is one of the honest persons I know. In the beginning of our relationship, it wasn’t easy for me all the time. I had to learn to cope with her straight honesty. But now I really love it. Most of the time I know the score, and that’s a great thing. What if everybody would be more honest? Wouldn’t this be great?

I bet every one of us knows a scene in a movie, where the main actor has to confess something, but he didn’t do it. In the end, everything escalated, just because he didn’t confess right at the beginning (OK, I know the movie will be crap if he does ;)). But I’m sure if you think for a second, you’ll find similar situations in your life. For me honesty is also quite important in agile teams. Without honesty in your team, you won’t be able to benefit from Scrum, XP or any other agile toolkit.

Honesty is also important for your self development. The first step is to be honest to yourself. But to be able to evolve positively,  you need the honest feedback from other people around you. Without their help, you’ll fail. But it is also important to be honest to others. If they ask you for your honest feedback, give it to them. Stop beating around the bush even if it unpleasant some times. Most people will be thankful for this. And if you aren’t asked for feedback, give them uncalled feedback.

And now give me some honest feedback, because I want to improve my blog posts. Thank you!

My wife is one of the honest persons I know. In the beginning of our relationship, it wasn’t easy for me all the time. I had to learn to cope with her straight honesty. But now I really love it. Most of the time I know the score, and that’s a great thing. What if everybody would be more honest? Wouldn’t this be great? 

I bet every one of us knows a scene in a movie, where the main actor has to confess something, but he didn’t do it. In the end, everything escalated, just because he didn’t confess right at the beginning (OK, I know the movie will be crap if he does ;)). But I’m sure if you think for a second, you’ll find similar situations in your life. Honesty isn’t for nothing one of the core values of Scrum. Without honesty in your team, you won’t be able to benefit from Scrum, XP or any other agile toolkit.

Honesty is also important for your self development. The first step is to be honest to yourself. But to be able to evolve positively,  you need the honest feedback from other people around you. Without their help, you’ll fail. But it is also important to be honest to others. If they ask you for your honest feedback, give it to them. Stop beating around the bush even if it unpleasant some times. Most people will be thankful for this. And if you aren’t asked for feedback, give them