You Get Out What You Put In

Photo by Juli

Photo by Juli

“Garbage in, garbage out” seems to generally understood, but how often do we wish it wasn’t true?  If the results are related to the effort we put into something, then we should take responsibility and reflect on what we can do differently when we don’t like the outcomes we’re getting.  Bye-bye, blame and justification—those won’t help here!  We see the impacts of garbage in, garbage out in software often:

  • Don’t like the quality of your software product? How are teams trying to bake quality in rather than add it at the end?
  • Don’t like the features that have been delivered? How are requirements being communicated?

It doesn’t end there.  Don’t like interacting with a particular coworker?  How are your actions contributing to the situation?  Yeah, that’s right—the problem isn’t solely on the other person.  There’s an issue within the relationship, which means you can make changes to improve it.  And that can be really hard.  We want to stay in our comfort zone, even if it means being a victim.  We don’t feel strong enough to make the change, whether it’s behaving differently or saying our truth to the other person.  Or the possible benefits don’t outweigh the perceived effort on our side.  It's ok to not change as long as you realize the impacts.

So the hard truth is that we might be getting the results we deserve, whether we like them or not, and changing the results requires work that we may or may not be ready to do.  But being a professional means recognizing the part we play in the world around us.

Allison Pollard

I help people discover their agile instincts and develop their coaching abilities. As an agile coach with Improving in Dallas, I enjoy mentoring others to become great Scrum Masters, coaching managers to grow teams that deliver amazing results, and fostering communities that provide sustainability for agile transformations. In my experience, applying agile methods improves delivery, strengthens relationships, and builds trust between business and IT. A big believer in the power of community-based learning, I grew the DFW Scrum user group significantly over the five years I served as an organizer. I am also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a foodie, and proud glasses wearer.

Responsibility and Transparency in Teams

Photo by mollybob

Photo by mollybob

I've heard people say that teams need people who will take responsibility for work, and today I heard a story that makes me think responsibility is not enough:

A developer checks in some code, tests it, and realizes there is a minor defect.  He takes responsibility for the defect.  Wanting to get more feedback about his work and knowing that he will go ahead and fix the defect he found, he tells his QA team members to start their testing.  They do, and they report a minor defect.  The same one he already knew about and was fixing.  QA finds out he was already working on a fix and is frustrated that the developer didn't tell them about the defect earlier. 

As I heard the story, the mental image that came to mind was something like this:

It's great that the developer found the defect and took responsibility for fixing it, but not being transparent to QA about it diminished trust within the team.  The ball got dropped even though the developer and QA both took responsibility for their work--there was a lack of transparency.  More communication was needed to maintain trust within the team.

How are you transparent about the work you're responsible for?

Allison Pollard

I help people discover their agile instincts and develop their coaching abilities. As an agile coach with Improving in Dallas, I enjoy mentoring others to become great Scrum Masters, coaching managers to grow teams that deliver amazing results, and fostering communities that provide sustainability for agile transformations. In my experience, applying agile methods improves delivery, strengthens relationships, and builds trust between business and IT. A big believer in the power of community-based learning, I grew the DFW Scrum user group significantly over the five years I served as an organizer. I am also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a foodie, and proud glasses wearer.