Thursday, 28 June 2007

Things I Would Like to See More In My Teams

Overall, I'm working with a great bunch of people, so don't let the topic mislead you - I'm really happy with the people I work with. However, nothing's ever perfect and there's always room for improvement. The following are things that have recently made me stop and think, "I wish I saw more of that ..."

  • Curiosity
  • Sharing of information
  • Dissatisfaction


There is an immense amount of information that we don't know. In the IT industry particularly, it is critically important to keep learning and improving ourselves. A little curiosity goes a long way on making this happen.

We all know that the technologies we learn today are often out of date within five years. Even within the same language, the change can be enormous over time. Java users five years ago would not recognize or be able to read some of the code being produced today. Constant learning is critical to a long term career in IT. For that matter, it's possible that the famous Chinese stereotype that people over 30 cannot code may just be because too many fail to learn and by age thirty, their skills are almost useless.

Keeping up with the information flood out there is of course a skill. There is no way to learn it all and a challenge to find those really worth our time. However, a little effort such as by keeping up with a few good magazines and blogs goes a long way.

Sharing of Information

Everyone has different strengths and experiences. We all have learned different things and it is much easier to learn from someone who has already learned something than to figure out things from scratch. Because of this, learning from each other is a quicker path to improving ourselves than struggling on our own.

Yet too few try to learn from each other. This comes in two different forms - some don't like to share. They do not talk about what they have learned, do not mention it to others, etc. They do not blog, nor do they present in ExoForums (Exoweb's weekly information sharing session) nor do they even mention it in conversation. Anything they learn stays with them.

The other problem is actually receiving this information. This is related to the curiosity issue mentioned earlier. Exoweb has a planet listing all the blogs of colleagues, yet there are a fair number of Exowebers who do not even bother to read this. If one will not learn from their colleagues, who's knowledge and experience is most directly related to their work, what chance is there that this person will learn from anywhere else?


Believe it or not, being dissatisfied can be a good thing if channeled properly. Dissatisfaction indicates that there is something that can be improved. By seizing upon this dissatisfaction and making the effort to ensure that improvement happens, one makes one's environment and self better.

It is too easy to notice a problem and shrug it off, accepting that it is a problem that one has to live with. Quite often this is not the case. If we invest a little of our time each day in removing the most irritating, most unpleasant annoyances in our lives, we find that bit by bit, our lives get better and better. Time and resources are limited so we can never fix everything that bothers us. However, as long as we take the time and effort to fix things, each day gets more and more enjoyable. Ultimately life is short. Why make it miserable too?

Most cultures with a strong work ethic believe in enduring hard, boring work to succeed. However, there's nothing in that ethic that says we can't find ways of doing things better. Just because it is hard or boring doesn't mean it always has to be that way. Sometimes it is far too costly to change. Sometimes it is not. Until we have aggressively investigated the problem, we will never know for sure.

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