Well, I did recently go through an interesting adventure in my life of looking for a job in Switzerland.
During one of my application processes, I have been asked to write an essay for an employer to see if my values system fits into their. Actually, it is a series of micro-essays. And I have decided, that in all roots it happens to be not a bad thing to start this blog by doing just that – publishing it. It has been edited to remove any company specific data, but my personal specifics remain untouched. So, here we go:
What would I bring to the company?
I envisioned this company as a relatively young and ambitious one with high dynamics on the market. With company growth there will be increasing need in coaching and mentoring present in order to garden it in direction to the desired outcome.
I believe, that the most important added value, that would be brought by me is the diversity of who I am, what my experience is and how I work and interact with others. A fresh look from a person, who is not yet “guilty in love” with the idea you have, but can critically evaluate the problems your customers face. Discovering new related, co-related and unrelated problems to solve, choosing presumably the best solution to those and navigating it into the most valuable implementation – is the best I can do. Minimizing cost and maximizing value in seek of profitable change, while maintaining the quality – is my continuous and ultimate goal. As I know very little about the company at the moment, my answer cannot contain any specifics. But I am sure, that I could become a part of a story about this company, its growing as a team of diverse, empowered, self-organized, intrinsically motivated and thus efficient professionals, generating profit together.
Developing and delivering products or services, often, so-called WOW-effect can be achieved just by fully meeting customer’s expectations. Excitement is only then possible, when the quality standard is maintained and the value is persistent. Exceeding expectations in a manner of Olympic competition is rare, as expectations are usually exaggerated.
But, in the end of a day, it is always about the customer’s experience of the product and of the added value services. And in my mind, to deliver WOW, the greatest possible customer’s experience should be the top priority for everyone in the company.
Does this company aims to become the next of Zappos-kind? If so, I am voting all YES for that.
Embrace and drive changes
There is no limit of excellence. Yet, there is a fear of failure and lack of imagination that stop individuals and corporations from real advantageous improvement and not just from adapting to the constantly changing outer world. Those, who have no flexibility to adapt are weak and by the laws of evolution loose to their competitors in ever-changing environment. Those, who only adapt without testing new ways with unpredictable outcome, just for the sake of learning if those work, are with their momentary success just postponing their inevitable failure.
In order to remain on top of a success hill the company has to improve continuously, risk repeatedly in search of jump-driving exciters, celebrate small positive changes and honor errors with learning from them. Doing that not only on the teams level but on a business level as well.
Doing more with less
Doing more with less is essential for gradual and continuous evolution, which, in the moment of outcome evaluation, results into an advantage over competitors. A strive for optimization and efficiency through learning new ways for performing the same task for less cost is a navigating force for me, when choice of the right route to the goal has to be determined. Much, if not everything, can be improved and should be improved.
“There is no real ending. It is just the place, where you stop the story” – was written by Frank Herbert. And, I think, it also applies to the limits of possible efficiency.
In my beliefs, by the way, writing and reading of this essay is non-efficient way of finding if our values are aligned. Much more effective would be to talk through these.
Operating in current dynamically changing environment frequent conflicts of opinions are inevitable. Several years ago I have participated in a workshop, focused on the deep democracy principles and derivative from that approach to opinions conflict solving. It states, that it is possible to really solve a conflict by understanding a position of counter-party only when you are on the same level of power. Any utilization of higher power influence leads to the suppression and marginalization of the other side, which in time turns into damaging and often catastrophic consequences. Thus, in sake of coming to the best solution, sides have to keep their minds open to the opposing position and to grasp as many arguments as possible, accept those and try to produce a solution, valuable for both.
Being open-minded means for me to maintain the ability to hear my opponent and be ready to drop up to all of my initial points in favor of better proven ones and accept them as preferred.
Building open and honest relationship
Building open and honest relationship is fundamental for an empowerment-driven organization. No fear of help request rejection should exist within an organization with common vision and goals. The fear of punishment for failure should not prevent one from trying new ways to achieve an assigned goal. Here I am not saying that there should be no rejection or punishment. It is much better to answer or get rejected with an honest ‘NO’, if the asked one has no time or knowledge to provide particular help, than it is to promise impossible. It is vital, that those, who are failing irresponsibly and repeatedly, without learning lessons from their failures, are punished. But it has to be done transparently on causes for others and adequate to the damage. Responsibility does not translate for me into punishment. Being irresponsible does. And it includes not asking for help or being closed to help requests.
It is in most about the trust, which is never granted. It has to be earned by continuously fulfilling promises. And honesty is essential for building up the trust. One has to be honest with their peers on reasons for different levels of trust and empowerment he delegates. It is the both ways road. When one wants to be trusted, treated honestly and fairly – he should be open to questions about himself and honest in his answers.
Being passionate and focused
“I believe…” are the words I usually start my communicational transactions with. And that is because it is emotion based, appealing to the same emotions in a peer with the aim to resonate. All life-changing decisions I can recall from my biography were one way or another emotions driven or supported. No, that does not mean they were made with ignorance of the known facts or statistical proofs. More than that – they were based on such facts and proofs, as my beliefs were. And only believing and being passionate about things I do I could achieve expected result or even supersede my own expectations by sharing these emotions with others.
I have been emotionally “pregnant” with ideas many times through my career. And many times I failed to convert my passion into a birth of a real problem solution because of focusing on the wrong thing. I believe, it is not the idea that should be a point of focus, because the idea has a tendency to grow and accrete with supplementary insights and other ideas. It is the problem of the customer, that the initial idea was designed to solve, should remain always in focus and repeatedly checked for existence and importance. A few times I succeeded. I did it by doing just that – focusing on a problem with passion.
Being humble for me means to maintain a capability and courage to admit someone else’s advantage in certain area of knowledge, skills or market. Which, I believe, is essential for the ability to learn from others, from their successes, as well as from their failures. It is a clear prerequisite to the consensus and, needless to say, basic instrument for understanding. In my opinion, it does not restrict me from being proud of own accomplishments, though. In opposite, it enables and encourages for more in future. It also allows me remaining flexible, open-minded and able to solve intercultural challenges, while collaborating.
Collaborating with Scrum Team far far away
In terms of collaboration with my Scrum Team through years I have developed for myself some kind of a mantra, which I commit to follow:
I aim to be as close to the team as possible, with no doors to knock for information or help from me, with a vision and the values, shared on the walls and in minds, the personas and the goals known and understood; complying to the definitions of done, we all have accepted; striving for the quality standards, we have all agreed to; burning down the backlog, we crafted together and delivering as much of product value increment to the customer as we can, as frequently as we can, continuously improving ourselves.
I believe in effectiveness of face-to-face conversation in front of a whiteboard as the most effective way for productive discussion. Therefore, I think that I would have to travel often to my team. From my practice, it is minimum 30% of time spent in the same working environment necessary for effective collaboration and upper limit is just the ideal situation. It also helps much not to only spare working time with the team, but to make an effort to integrate into customs and specifics of living environment as well. Considering the distance and the costs of traveling to the team location, I see it to be reasonable visiting the team there for up to 4 times per year and up to 6 weeks per visit.
I do hope you enjoyed reading this. Any feedback will be welcome.
Fulfilling my promises,