The slow overcomes the fast.
Let your workings remain a mystery.
Just show people the results.
-- Tao Te Ching, Chapter 36, Stephen Mitchell translation (http://taoteching.org.uk/index.php?c=36&a=Stephen+Mitchell)
Whenever a manager comes in or there is a meeting to check on your progress, you can slice of something from your buffer to present. For every problem you present (from few days) ago, you can already present the solution.
Or, in other words: Your productivity is some process that you don't want to be observed directly by your manager, because you will suffer negative consequences from them detecting the exact amplitudes. You simply apply non-stationary smoothing to it.
Standup is for the team, not the manager or PM. It serves multiple functions, but the most important is the last bit: "are you blocked by something?". Most of the time, someone else on the team knows how to unblock you. Other times, your manager is better positioned to get you what you need than you are. Most of us don't care when you work, or how much progress you made today, or whatever. Our job is to keep the ball rolling, not manage your time.
The status update portion exists so that your manager doesn't randomize you in the middle of the day asking about that thing you're working on. Not because s/he thinks you're slacking, but because your work ties into a bunch of other work that's going on, and it's the manager's job to coordinate. While you may be more effective working as an information silo, your team and org are hindered by it.
If you've waited until the next standup to raise a blocker, you've potentially wasted as much as a day of your time.
If I have a blocker that I need unblocked to get my work done, I'll immediately get in touch with the person or team that can help unblock me. If I don't know who that is, or need help coordinating, I'll go to my manager, again, immediately.
> The status update portion exists so that your manager doesn't randomize you in the middle of the day asking about that thing you're working on.
That's what the issue tracker / scrum board / kanban board / whatever you use is for. Certainly some people and teams are better and worse about keeping it up to date, but a solid incentive of "if you keep this up to date we won't have to do standups" will motivate most people. As much as I hate Jira, if you eliminate a meeting from my day that I consider a waste of time, in exchange for keeping it updated, I will definitely keep it updated.
For special cases, the manager can asynchronously ask their report on Slack (or whatever) what they're up to, and the report can answer when they're at a natural break point.
This whole "we all need to be face to face in the same place at the same time" nonsense needs to go. People are remote, people are in different time zones, and they still need to be able to participate naturally and asynchronously.
If you figured that out yesterday then yes, you should absolutely go get help immediately.
Mentioning blockers in standup is about admitting you need help. Lots of developers have trouble figuring out when they're wrapped around the axle.
And it can be a little passive aggressive, but it's also a chance to point out that you've been asking for help and getting nothing. Basically you're warning the master/manager that your story is gonna slip if they don't start managing.
This. But it doesn't have to be accusatory like that. It's a way to have opportunity for feedback without having to be pressed for feedback.
The best manager I ever had was great because he totally trusted his people. Standups were a non-intrusive way to keep the overall pulse and make himself available if he was needed...that way he didn't need to vulture around to make sure he could insert himself if needed.
I'll take planned and well used 5 minutes of direct management over compulsive and nervous micromanaging anyday.
Why would someone want to admit they're blocked by something in front of everyone? Someone else will inevitably proclaim that they have the solution, however simple it may be, and make the asker look stupid while elevating themselves.
Most people know who to ask to be unblocked or can ask their manager.
1:1s are the time to sync with regards to status on projects not in the middle of the day.
Weekly roundtable meetings are the time to sync up with the rest of the team and learn what everyone is working on.
The only purpose of standups is to slavedrive people into "productivity", which inevitably ends up with them thinking of how to hyperbolize whatever they're working on minutes before standup begins. Its useless.
As a developer I've found stand-ups to be useful to know what's going on within the team and if feature A with collide with feature B.
Quoted from the article:
"The point of this discussion is not to solve my Disaster, the point is that we’re going to have a conversation where one of us is going to learn something more than just project status."
Status updates are a conducive part of 1:1s and its the perfect time to get unblocked as the quote above duly points out.
As for learning about whether "feature A will collide with feature B", weekly/biweekly roundtables are the perfect time to learn about such things. The weekly cadence allows people to find time to collaborate on the possible overlap.
Lastly, I don't think the article is even that good. It seems to make up for its lack of interesting-ness by feigning conviction and edginess. The central point of the article is highly unusual in that it lauds novelty over pragmatism.
A 1:1 should be an environment where all of what the article talks about CAN take place. But that doesn't mean it SHOULD during every meeting.
I usually know what everyone is working on (because of ticket assignments, code reviews, some occasional side meeting, etc), as I usually work with teams of 5 (or less) people.
Nope. Never once in my career have I been at a standup that was useful to me (a contributing or leading member of the team) and that wasn't simply for the manager. Your second paragraph also contradicts the first. Is it for the manager or not? Cause it sure as hell is not for the team members who are bored out of their minds listening to the other people on their team speak about their work that 99.9% of the time is completely irrelevant to one's own. This is the reality form the IC side. Maybe managers should wise up to it and stop wasting our time.
To preface, I'm assuming you are talking about daily standups. How often do you see this actually working for you? In most cases, if someone is blocked, then they would communicate that, either to a manager or a coworker. If someone is blocked for days at a time and doesn't communicate anything, thats a problem in and of itself.
I'd like to get more value from them, but most times the devolve into "status updates" and then all engineers end up blocked by the standup.
People don't always realize that their tasks is blocking someone else.
Often times when engineers are blocked, they work on a lower priority tasks while they wait. Sometimes that is a good thing but other times they get off track.
Spending 10 minutes every day resolving the communication and prioritization mismatches early helps deliver software faster.
With just weekly meetings, these issues could go unresolved for days.
But sometimes you have to do what you have to do to keep the organization moving forward.
While I do know some developers who like (or at least get enough value from to tolerate) standup, I know many more who find them an annoying waste of time. For teams that do standup first thing in the morning, it even makes them want to go to work less. How's that for starting the day on the wrong foot?
Also, anything that feels like micro-management will be considered micro-management. A daily meeting to give a status report looks a lot like that.
micro-management is if i tell you every single step that you should do, but a daily status-update is not
That could work if everyone gets at work at the same time (+/-30m) or if everyone takes lunch at the same time (+/-30m), which has not been the case in most of the companies I've worked for. It'd be better at the end of the day, assuming no one does extra hours, but then it's even less useful or at least it becomes obvious it's all about status-updates.
> micro-management is if i tell you every single step that you should do, but a daily status-update is not
It's a micro-management enabler. There's no way to know if it's used to pressure someone to deliver, or to do things a certain way, without working in that team.
The bottom line is that stand-ups are of very questionable use. There are just better, more effective ways to communicate what everyone is working on, what things are done, and when someone is blocked. i.e: ticket assignments, PRs, sporadic side meetings, asynchronous communication (Slack, emails, etc), etc.
i disagree that doing it in the evening makes it less useful.
it shouldn't matter much if i report resterdays work and my plan for today, or i report todays work and my plan for tomorrow.
and sure, people doing scrum wrong can use this as a way to enable micromanagement. but as has been mentioned elsewhere, the alternative is managers running around and interrupting you at will. it's not reasonable to blame daily standups for that and reject it just because it gets abused by some.
the kitchen knife analogy comes to mind...
i have had nothing but positive experience with daily standups. they help me focus and not spend days trailing off on a tangent or failing to ask for help because i am the junior, to shy to ask questions, or worse, harbor the feeling that no-one cares about my work. in other words, for me the daily standups acted as a team-integrator.
as a team leader and manager, daily standups help me be uptodate on what's happening, and save me from having to invest time to check myself. if anything, daily standups help me avoid micromanaging, because they satisfy my anxiety about the work being done without needing to be intrusive.
5 minutes of your time, that you can prepare for, so you are not surprised by it, and you'll be left alone for the rest of the day.
Not in my experience. Most developers I work with will raise issues in Slack as they come up. That's part of what being an owner of your tasks is about: communicating issues early and often.
My most effective managers have mostly left me alone, and have genuinely interacted me to learn what motivates me and helps me get my work done most effectively, and then has put me in the best position possible for me to be successful. An effective manager needs to do that, individually, with each member of their team.
They're also one of my easiest ways to include remote workers- they always go first. (the phone is part of the circle)
I understand the benefit of standing together, but not if you're going to add an exception for someone talking on a phone from anywhere in the world. Physical alignment is a great metaphor for team alignment, and therefore physical absence shows me someone cares more about sitting on their porch with their dog than being part of the team at work.
The current commentary might be a personality specific thing however, I've certainly seen people discuss ideas as a forcing mechanism to get them to work on them, and also people discussing ideas as a way to evaluate whether they're worth working on. I doubt it's very clear cut.
Sure, once the whole thing is done, tout the horn all you want.
“I was very careful right away, it was a gut instinct that I had, to keep it to myself because I believe ideas are most vulnerable in their infancy, and it’s instinct to turn to your right or left in that moment and tell a friend, or tell your husband, and the moment you do that ego is invited into the mix, and then you end up spending all your time defending it, explaining it, and not pursuing it”
How I Built This podcast (9m20s)
If I'd been left to try, I'd have worked hard at it, had an experienced, learned some things, and maybe even accomplished it. Instead, they did their best to stop me.
I now snap at people who do this to me. I no longer let them throw problem after problem at me, and instead shut them down before they can destroy my dream.
I accomplish a great many of the things I try, and I get exercise and knowledge from the failures.
Initial ambitions largely set an upper bound on whole project possibilities -- you generally want upper bounds set pretty high. All projects have unknown unknowns that will reveal themselves, and modeling this kind of meta-knowledge is difficult and perhaps not worth the effort.
So to offer a general counterpoint, it may be a valuable skill to listen to constructive advice including ones poking holes in your ideas. The key is to persevere in the face of problems, as long as they're not obviously intransposable (tip: don't go against laws of physics, e.g. thermodynamics or newton's laws). If those hurdles would come up sometime, it might be better to devote more time early on to overcome them.
But if I'm not actually inviting that criticism, it is neither welcome nor helpful.
Source: used this technique to overcome my own procrastination trying to launch my first app as a solo founder. It worked, and I went on to raised a million VC to see if I could scale up the vision of a social goals app.
The downside of relying on external validation, as I learned the hard way, is when your self improvement startup goes down in flames, you really feel like a fuckup.
The actual app was “mafia” branded, playing off of Mafia Wars which was big at the time. Your friends on the app would motivate you with virtual gifts and (naturally) virtual threats, like posting a dead fish on your wall.
A hazy announcement like "I'll be doing more to fight climate change" may indeed be empty virtue signaling that leads to nothing.
But what about a more precise announcement like: "I'll be writing a book on Topic X, which I plan to publish 15 months from now, and I'll be completing one chapter on the 25th of every month until then"? Now we've got intermediate deadlines, and deliverables, and at least the first stirrings of a coherent plan.
Announcements can work quite well, as long as you're willing to commit with enough clarity that your friends and rivals will keep you honest.
As a data point, if I did this, it would probably make me much less likely to work on it and very anxious about the whole thing.
I did something similar when I began my first book. It accomplished nothing. I ended up stalling for several years.
What helped was a private commitment to myself to work on the book every day. It's definitely important to have a plan, but that's orthogonal to sharing a plan.
> your friends and rivals will keep you honest.
This depends on your friends, but I think at least in the US, most friendships are based on uncritical support. They aren't likely to cause friction by calling you on things you previously committed to doing unless that commitment actually affects them personally.
Maybe that's the way to use your social network to keep you honest. Make a commitment like: "If I finish this project by date X, I will contribute $YYYY to your favorite charity." Now your friend has some skin in the game.
For me, announcing specific projects that I'm working on definitely demotivates me. After announcing personal projects that may or may not fully happen, it feels like I'm then working for others who have expectations, rather than for myself. That's not fun.
But telling people about things like changes to my lifestyle are different. I feel like it almost even helps to have people ask me if I'm still working out, motivation to fulfill that expectation.
Maybe it's because in the first example, what I want to accomplish requires creativity, while in the second, it only requires regimen. Expectations of my regimen challenge me to work, expectations of my creativity feel like boundaries, which are antithetical to the creative process.
I agree with your overall point, but I wanted to point out that this is precisely backwards. Boundaries are essential to creativity. In a way, they are the source of creativity.
Or maybe I should say it as: the imposition and refinement of self-imposed boundaries is the creative process -- from the vast sea of all possibilities, you are winnowing down to one, the thing that you produce at the end. Artificial or external boundaries at the outset just give you a head start.
But that doesn't change your point, just the terminology. I agree that announcing projects can be highly demotivating. It's sort of like the winnowing process above is no longer happening exclusively in my own head, but rather I become dependent on what's going on in others' heads in order to match what I think their expectations are.
After telling someone else, half of the sea of possibilities is gone -- but I'm not sure which half, and drive myself crazy guessing. As you say, I'm now at least partly working for others instead of myself.
That's separate from the problem where announcing a cool project delivers much of the payoff, reducing motivation to work on it.
"Nobody is excited about my plan now; nobody will care when it gets done; why bother."
It's interesting that the GP mentioned that climate stuff is "virtue signalling", but announcing that you're writing a book is beneficial. Both are absolutely meaningless claims until there is execution, and announcements are self-sabotage or worse.
The article seems to be specifically addressing the precise announcements you talk about and is making the case that they are bad because they provide an emotional response similar to actual completion.
There are many projects which I can envision completing, and which I know I have the technical skills for. But I gain a certain amount of satisfaction just from picturing the completed work, and in the end I don't actually put in the effort to make it reality.
Can't be bothered to look it up, though :D
On the other hand, the number of pieces I have stated my intention to learn, and never done so, is far greater than the number of pieces I actually know. I think it's just so easy to say "I love this piece, I'm going to learn it." Well, that took 5 seconds to say, but it will take 100 hours to learn the piece.
So, for me, it comes down to how truly/deeply motivated I am to begin with. If it's something I truly want, announcing makes no difference. If it's something I'm lukewarm on, I'm probably likely to announce something impulsively and commit myself to something I didn't think through.
But identity-based goal or not, the conclusion that you make yourself less likely to achieve a goal by telling people about it defies common sense. I mean, here's the peer-reviewed science saying my common sense is wrong -- http://www.psych.nyu.edu/gollwitzer/09_Gollwitzer_Sheeran_Se... -- but this is a psychology paper from 2009 so I'm willing to bet real money on common sense, despite seeing no obvious flaw with the paper.
I think that telling someone I'm going to do something makes me want to do it a little bit less because now I'm doing it for them, not for myself.
Eg say I make plans to go to the gym tomorrow. If I tell someone I'm going to go to the gym, I am less likely to actually do it. If I keep my mouth shut I'll probably follow through. I currently have an idea of something I'd like to do. It will take a lot of physical and emotional work. I've tried to make plans before and discussed them with some friends, and always after the discussions it never ends up happening. This time I'm not telling anyone until the plan is actually in motion.
I had thought the opposite was true. Announcing was supposed to be like committing. Curious if it just became a form of virtue signaling.
Could it be Derek Sivers' TED Talk "Keep your goals to yourself"?
Promissing to ones self, for me at least, is a motivator because I trust myself more, and the trust is reinforced as I complete goals. But announcing "I'm doing this thing" either causes anxiety, or demotivates nectar is already our there, as the article describes.
I once worked on an ambitious game for months, and then decided to make an announcement about what I was building. The reaction from most people was meh. I stopped working on it about a month later and all remaining copies of it have since been deleted by now. Never released.
I suppose I should have been more specific. I'm not talking about a public announcement, I'm talking about announcing it to my personal friends and colleagues. Whether or not they are excited by the project itself isn't really a factor -- they'll still want to know how the project is going.
I tend not to make any public announcements until at least beta.
I'm working on taking the long view, but it is hard.
These things are crutches that successful people use to improve themselves, not something that they learned in order to be successful. They'd be successful either way, this is just easier.
You are fortunate if you are an outlier in that regard.
If I keep things to myself I end up generally doing better.
Where it comes out in support of stating goals in some circumstances, and clarifies that what it's really against is saying things like "I want to be a lawyer", because then what that means is that you'll be apt to behave consistently with wanting to be a lawyer, and not with taking the steps to actually become a lawyer. (Or how my yoga-instructor friend explained it, "So then the universe responds, 'ok, poof! You now want to be a lawyer!'")
You don't "want" to stick to a vegan diet.
You have a vegan diet.
The distinction is roughly, between a goal, and a plan.
A plan is something that you can immediately begin executing upon. That doesn't mean you won't falter, or that it has to be an on/off switch style revolution, but there's a clear set of things to do.
A goal is embryonic. You don't know how, or if, you can achieve it yet.
That, or you've made a subtle joke which I'm not quite seeing :-)
Unfortunately, you cannot avoid announcing your plans if you expect others to follow you - its possible people don't understand what you want to achieve and end up just as frustrated. This is part of a leaders job.
I like what TA said about "make sure not to say it as a satisfaction but as dissatisfaction"- definitely keeping the focus on what you want to fix is better than the specific solution you've devised - you might end up finding a better solution anyway and people will help you do it.
Make announcements on small sub-plans often and follow-up even more often, so that people know feel that whatever you want to implement in your team/organization is happening. Definitely tell them a long-term goal, but keep the focus on the next task that needs to be done. And make the "small" announcements at the moment you feel you are ready to answer all questions the team might ask you, but not earlier.
So, to be effective in an organization you need to do "continuous announcing" of small plans.
The few that are trusted and have an analytical mindset are helpful for sound boarding, even if you don't exactly get them to immediately quit their jobs and join you at exciting-new-startup-here.tld.
Finally, I try to spend more time in general with those directly contributing to achieve my goals, usually in the activity itself (e.g. work, training, study). Work can be harder to navigate because, well, I'm not responsible for firing ;-) but it is possible to at least move the needle.
I know this could be understood insulting, still my observation though.
So right now my lips are sealed on the current project that I am working and it's coming in good shape as of now
For example, a couple of days ago, I implemented a 'MVP' for a sweet (my opinion ;) IntelliJ plugin, but since telling/showing co-workers I lost the motivation that got me started on it.
That's certainly been an issue with my own projects, where the 'plan' ends up being more in line with the current HTML 5 specification in terms of length.
Meanwhile whenever I don't announce my plans/write them down in any way, it works better because I just get on with stuff and stop get sidetracked by irrelevant details and extras.
Also, announcing plans publically gets everyone hyped up about something to the point its original creator may struggle to get said project to live up to its own hype.
1) A year ago, I announced to in-person friends and on FB eliminating certain foods from my diet. Afterwards, it was easy because I could always remember I publicly announced it. Last year, it was chicken. This year, I added pork, soda, and processed meats. Haven't touched them since.
2) If it's very tangible and concrete then I find it works well. I announced writing daily for 30 days on my blog and successfully did it.
But yeah, general plans like I'm going to start a business or workout more usually fizzle out after the initial excitement.
Intuitively, I always believed that announcing my plans would sort of put me on the hook for completing them. That if I announced something and later didn't deliver, I'd feel ashamed. Obviously avoiding shame wouldn't be the only thing motivated me, but I figured I could add shame-avoidance to the list of motivations and make things overall stronger.
But this is definitely something to think about, and try to apply to myself.
The modern concept of a self is a difficult thing. I don't fully understand it. It seems to include a willingness to isolate and exile part of yourself. The boundary between what's internal and external is the basis of a whole category of research, but the modern pop-psychology idea is just to run with it as if we could know.
Yet I wouldn't be so quick to discourage sharing and doing what it takes to stay motivated. External motivation is great, I wish I had more of it!
I reckon there is greater glory in stating what you will do and following through ftw... and yummy humble pie for you if you give up or fail.
When you announce your plans to people close to you, such as family and friends and coworkers, you start getting input which is not necessarily useful even if their intentions are good.
Moreover, your announcement might make some people uncomfortable to the point where they try to sabotage you, either intentionally or subconsciously.
Additionally, the same author has published research 5 years later (https://s18798.pcdn.co/motivationlab/wp-content/uploads/site...) that explains goal projection in public places is helpful as " is part of our everyday life and is fostered by high-goal commitment, perceiving others as similar, and ongoing goal striving.". So it is one thing to say you are going to be better at something by own self-study, but another when you are actually pursuing something and need help to achieve it. Announcing something allows you to connect with others sharing the same goal to get help or community, and shows you continue to be committed.
Feel free to read the studies and see if you can draw other conclusions, but this is not as black and white as the article claims.
But I had been conflating finished work with the work needed to finish things. I'm also very tempted to reach out to people about what I want to get better at since I tend to seek validation externally. But only I can actually put in any effort towards my own goals.
Now my policy is to just shut up about it and put all that effort I could be spending speaking empty promises that haven't been fulfilled into putting my head down and doing things myself. Reaching out to people comes after you have something to show.
At the same time I want to meet people who are creative and that means outing yourself as creative also if you want that connection. It's hard putting in all that effort and being unable to talk to people about it.
You should read about commitment devices in general but the idea is they FORCE you to do something you know you're probably not going to do.
A good example is to tell your friend you're going to run a marathon and if you don't you'll give her $1000.
Would Gandhi take a pill which made him 1% less likely to not commit any murders, if it meant receiving a million dollars with no other strings attached?
The answer seems to be, "he would use a Schelling Fence" if that was an option.
(tl;dr: they don't agree that announcing your goals makes you less likely to accomplish them. Which should not be surprising, to anyone who has already heard of Beeminder.)
If I announce my plans and am left without a need to follow through, that’s great. Apparently I didn’t really have a need for the thing, I just had a need for exploration, and I didn’t know that’s all I needed from the idea yet. I have plenty of things I want to do and can move on to the next thing.
The book "Ego is the Enemy" also explains this effect. (It may have been the origin idea that led me to chase down the research paper in the first place)
My friends and coworkers are aware of my work on a particular ML task and are cheering me on. Every major hurdle and obstacle I've encountered is met with support and an unending eagerness to try my product.
I am so ready to get this out the door and I'm spending all of my free time on it. It's going to be huge.
This has been a year long project that is the offshoot of another project that led me down this more exciting path. My investment is only getting more and more intense now that I've found the correct problem domain gradient to explore.
Thinking about me it is bexause others start to monitor my doings, causing pressure and somewhat forcing me to work according to others schedules instead of my own. That's what workflife is about, no?
So saying that announcing your plans makes you less motivated to accomplish them I think is too much of a blanket statement.
"Share your 'go up' goals selectively... share your 'go up' goals with everyone you possibly can"
So, if you want to give up smoking, share that with everyone including your mailman. They will help you on your path. However, beware of sharing your 'go up' goals - like starting a business - with others... they might drag you down.
Discussed at the time (and submitted by the author): https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=660720
In the opposite case, you were already rewarded before the successful action, in this case, you will only get the reward once it succeeds. It forces you to focus on accomplishing instead of on giving off the appearance that you will be successful.
Although often the former may depend on the latter.
But I mean, that doesn't let you shit on the "posers" so whatever.
But as others have mentioned, publicly committing to a specific measurable goal can help others hold you accountable.
I believe the article is saying is that announcing "I'm going to quit drinking." Is not a good way to get and stay sober.
Not guaranteed to succeed. Not doomed to fail if you announce. Just like getting dealt an ace as the first card doesn't determine if you win. Has better chances than getting a two, though.