I was attending the STPCon conference in Washington, DC last week (week of September 25). As always, there were quite a lot of old friends there. Folks I usually only meet on the conference circuit.
The conference committee tried a Lightning Talk format for the first time. They invited 7-8 speakers on stage to give 5-minute, focused talks. Dot Graham gave one that is still sticking with me.
She focused on creating (fostering, inviting, inspiring, allowing) a mistake culture. One where everyone focused on two aspects of their mistakes:
- Learning from them, and
- Forgiving themselves for them.
I’ve heard the learning part many times before. But this is the first time that I’ve heard “forgiveness” mentioned as part of creating a learning culture and it struck me.
In a team environment mistakes always happen. Sometimes they’re small things. And other time, they’re large ones which have an impact on the entire team.
I have a saying that I often share in my coaching and teaching. I amplify that agile teams (all teams really) succeed and fail as a team. That is, we don’t throw anyone under the bus, but we deal with everything from the solidarity of a WHOLE TEAM perspective.
I now want to add other attributes to that description:
- We reflect as a team;
- We learn as a team;
- We make mistakes as a team;
- And we forgive ourselves as a team.
I love the Norm Kerth sentiments regarding the Prime Directive for retrospectives where he sets the stage for the “intentions” of all attendees.
Regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand.
I think this sentiment helps us in our view towards mistakes and our forgiving each other (including ourselves) for making those mistakes.
I know that I for one can be really hard on myself when confronting the things I’ve done wrong.
As Dot reminded me, I want to encourage all of you in your agile journeys to be kind and forgiving of one another. Remember, they are ONLY mistakes and we all make them!
Stay agile my friends,