Archive for February, 2008

Endings and Beginnings

Coping and Communicating, Musings | Posted by Doc
Feb 11 2008

From Teamwork Is An Individual Skill by Christopher Avery:

I won’t pretend we can do much to avoid endings. They are as inevitable as beginnings. But I have observed that we can improve the quality of endings by avoiding three things:

  1. Burning bridges
  2. Harming reputations
  3. Being inhumane to oneself and others

Reading this took me back to the first time I was an owner of a company. I had a partner, Duane Roberts, who is 12 years older than me. Our company was what would be called an outsource software developer these days, based in Silicon Valley. We had one customer who was becoming very troublesome and obnoxious.

I wanted to just cut them off and tell them what I thought of them.

Duane said “don’t burn your bridges – you never know when it’ll come back to bite you.”

Wise man, Duane.

It’s so easy to leave the intimacy of a team, relationship, environment and figure you’re just done. “Ah, hell, I’m gone – I don’t have to worry about being nice anymore!”

Not so. You never know when someone you used to work with will be in a position to make a difference in your life or career.

The golden rule: treat others as you would like to be treated (my phrasing).

The platinum rule: treat others as they would like to be treated (also my phrasing).

I don’t know of any rules that say “treat others like crap.”

What’s in it for them?

Agile & Lean, Coping and Communicating, Musings | Posted by Doc
Feb 04 2008

Originally posted on another blog on February 4, 2008


As I’m reading (and sometimes re-reading) Christopher Avery‘s wonderful book Teamwork Is An Individual Skill, my thinking gets stimulated. I really like Avery’s perspective on things that relate to teamwork, team building, and our personal responsibility.

Here’s a great excerpt:

Examine the logic contained in the following five statements:

  1. Everyone alive has hopes, dreams, and wants for themselves.
  2. People who have no hopes, dreams, or wants are dead.
  3. When people get out of bed and go to work, they have linked what they are going to do that day to their hopes, dreams, and wants in a way that makes sense to them. Or they wouldn’t get up, would they?
  4. Therefore, all of us have our own excellent reasons for investing in work projects–even if we have learned to deny or hide those reasons, sometimes even from ourselves.
  5. The best way for me to serve fellow workers is to help them uncover and focus on their own motivations–even if they attempt to convince me they have none.

If you agree with this logic, you can stop trying to dictate other people’s motivation today. The next time you need to motivate someone, try asking, “What’s in it for you to work on this project with this team?” and keep the other person in conversation until he comes up with the personal benefits that motivate him.

Isn’t that simple and lovely, yet exceptional. Ask the other person for their motivations. How well that ties into the concepts of teamwork.

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