Progress, not perfection
Short week this week! And a busy weekend means a short blog post :-)
On Wednesday I facilitated a session with a number of inspectors from across the country, representing different modes of travel.
During that session, I got some feedback that made me less confident about something I was working on. I had been planning to write up some findings to share with a project lead for the end of the week, but now I was less confident I was on the right track.
Instead of spending several more days working on something that I wasn’t confident in, I cut my work short and let the lead know. I shared the work in progress and flagged my concerns. I figured it was better to provide her with a couple days extra notice, rather than invest even more of my time into something that may not have been valuable.
Often we can get caught up in “delivering what we promised” and lose sight of what the intended outcome is.
When I was getting my MBA, I remember a professor saying “no one ever hires you to keep the company the same”.
While some in the government setting may argue that we actually do value longevity and continuity, I seek out opportunities to make an impact and add value. And sometimes that means not giving people what they expect or claim to want. It’s not about meeting a deadline with a perfectly polished report if the scope of the report is too narrow or the results are misleading.
Sometimes it can seem inefficient to go back and revisit established timelines and scope. Or it can be scary to admit you weren’t perfect in the first place.
It’s ok — and it should be encouraged — to revise your plans when you get new information. That’s what being agile is all about!
By having smaller, more frequent releases (this could be code, or just asking people to review your plan or report), you have more chances to course-correct. Let’s say you have 10 weeks to do something. If you only check once at the end, you could have gone in the complete wrong direction. But if you check how you’re doing every week, you can recover without having to do a tremendous amount of rework.
Working in the open and asking for feedback can be intimidating. But the further I get in my career (yes, I initially wrote ‘the older I get’ and then deleted it :-) ), the more I find myself being willing to open up what I’m working on for input. It’s actually less stressful to put out something as ‘a work in progress’ and be open for input than to try to make something perfect WITHOUT feedback. Not to mention, asking people for input is a great way to get them to buy-in and assume some ownership over what you’re working on.
Friday was fun! We held an in-person Team Lead meeting at a park in Ottawa. I had only met my manager Simon in person before, and I’d never even seen one member of the team in photos or on video. I did laugh as I walked up that this was an introvert’s nightmare: meeting people I’d never met before in a location I’d never been to.
It was.. really nice. Although I’m extremely comfortable working remotely (I’ve been doing it on and off since 2011), there is a different dynamic when you hang out with people in person. I was glad I got the chance to finally connect with people and look forward to continuing to work with them all!