Day 18 of 100 Learning What You Don't Know You Don't Know

June 2, 2013 — Posted by Al Shalloway

Continuing with the 100 Things You Must Know to Be Effective In Software Development

I'm writing this and the next day's blog, "The Importance of Teams and How to Create Them" (posting later today) in preparation for a webinar I am doing this Wednesday called: How to Start an Agile Implementation. I believe these two concepts are critical for starting Agile initiatives.  Too many folks go down a path that literally dooms them to failure, or, at least, makes it much harder to succeed.  Here it is.

 “It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.”  - Mark Twain

 “The problem ain't what people know. It's what people know that ain't so that's the problem.” – Will Rogers

We’ve all heard that there’s what we know, what we don’t know and what we don’t know we don’t know.  While it may appear difficult to discover what you don’t know you don’t know, when it comes to a particular field, such as “how do I do software development” all you have to do is ask others who are doing it. One of the reasons Net Objectives is one of the few (only?) companies that teach and coach in: business portfolio management, Scrum, Kanban, Lean, XP, SAFeTM, and our own Lean-Agile Framework, is that we’ve found you need lessons in the practices from all of these. With the exception of Lean, which is more mindset and a container for practices, all of the others have different levels of value in different places.  However, it is worth knowing the value of each since it provides insights into where you are.

By taking advantage of different ways different folks approach a problem, we can learn about things we might not otherwise become familiar with – and might just let you know about something you previously didn’t know and didn’t know you didn’t know it.

Here’s a list of some things that I think everyone should at least know about, that many folks don’t appear to know, and don’t seem to know they don’t know it.

  • The best place to start is often at the top, not the team.
  • If executives appear to development to be acting in a less than ideal way, it may be that they are not being presented with the information they need
  • Hacking in code is not always the fastest way to do it in the short term
  • Lean is not about going fast, it is about removing delays
  • Starting an Agile transformation by creating a pilot by picking all of the people required for it without regard if you are removing skills required by the rest of the organization may be a sure way to early Agile success while dooming the transition to failure (see Day 5 How Successful Pilots Can Hurt an Organization)
  • The right approach is not to take the time to do the correct thing, the right approach is to take the time to not do the wrong thing

There are probably more, but I don’t know them.  But at least I know I don’t know them, so I’ll keep thinking about it. Let me know any you find. Remember Nietzsche's observation:

“Many are stubborn in pursuit of the path they have chosen, few in pursuit of the goal.”

Here are two other quotes by Twain and Rogers that can provide insight:

 “A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.” Mark Twain

“There are three kinds of men. The ones that learn by readin’. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.” – Will Rogers

Learn from others, but don't discard your own experience. If one doesn’t understand why others are doing what they are doing, they may be seeing things you are not seeing and they may be ignoring things you are counting on.  I would suggest you each have something to learn from each other.

As always, if you or your company are having challenges in business, management, team agile or team technical practices, contact me so I can be of value.

Thanks for reading,

Al Shalloway
CEO, Net Objectives

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About the author | Al Shalloway

Al Shalloway is the founder and CEO of Net Objectives. With 45 years of experience, Al is an industry thought leader in Lean, Kanban, product portfolio management, Scrum and agile design. He helps companies transition to Lean and Agile methods enterprise-wide as well teaches courses in these areas.



        

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Al Shalloway
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