Humanizing Work

Attendees of the Humanizing Work Conference in Denver 2013

We have all experienced it. You grind away in your daily work environment. After a while, when things go well, they don’t really mean much. When things go slightly awry, they end up blown out of proportion. You end up confused sometimes. It’s got to be better outside of these walls right?

A group of Geonetric “agilists” (cool word, right!?) set out for Denver to attend the Humanizing Work Conference hosted by Agile for All. Among the attendees were companies from across the country, both large and small. For three days, we got the chance to look at ourselves and our company from a new vantage point.

The setup of the conference was brilliant. We spent as much time learning from the hosts and coaches there as we did from each other. We networked with peers we’d never met (some we never knew existed). When we got to take a step back from the daily grind of our own work, we got to see our work through someone else’s eyes… and it looked really cool!

I want to elaborate on a few key themes from our time out there. Not specific things that we learned, but rather, things that can control our normal work life that we might not give enough credit to.

  • Perspective – Let’s face it, we are all perfectionists to some degree. Most of us NEVER think we do a good enough job. The ongoing challenge of continuous improvement means that we are always striving to do something better. It was really great to talk to a network of folks that understood what we are doing, and wanted to know more. The improvements we’ve made up to this point have been wild and liberating. You don’t always get that feedback day-to-day. Someone who faces their own grind hears about changes you’ve made and finds an answer to those problems. I think that truly steers ones perspective back on course. We do some great things here at Geonetric, and as odd as it sounds, we just need to remind ourselves of that.
  • Validation – One of the coolest parts about this conference was the opportunity to be challenged by a network of peers and esteemed agile coaches. We make decisions and even put them into play.  Without the proper feedback, it’s hard to connect those changes to patterns in behavior or productivity. An outsider can listen to our quandaries and in a matter of seconds, say, “Why did you try it that way?” More than once, I started to explain the why and how of something, and began to realize that it sounded silly. As the conversation moved forward, we talked through better ways to accomplish the same goal. It’s not all learning though. Sometimes it’s just nice to hear someone else pat you on the back and say, “That’s a great idea!” We got plenty of that, too.
  • Celebration – We love to focus on making things better and fixing issues. But how often do we ever give ourselves the credit we deserve? We spend the vast majority of our time moving from one problem to the next, coaching and facilitating teams to come up with solutions. Once we put a plan in place, it’s on to the next issue. What about the part where we see results of that plan, and get to celebrate a bit? Some of the conference schedule allowed — and forced — us to do this. Take a moment or two, look to your accomplishments, smile, and breathe. We are doing a good job. We know we can do better. But let’s take a little time to remind ourselves that we are indeed doing a good job. You spend a lot of time celebrating the successes of others, and rightfully so. It definitely helps to do the same for yourself.
  • Logic – When you are in that daily grind, sometimes things stop making sense. I’ll admit I’m a little weird, but have you ever said a random word over and over and begin to think it sounds funny? Well, the same thing happens when we coach and help implement solutions. After a while, it’s possible to forget why we even suggested something, or put a solution into place. We have to remind ourselves that our intuitions rely on logic. Humanizing Work reminded us of all the ideals that our methods and coaching relies on. There IS a reason we do things a certain way, or suggest certain ideas. We can usually start to see it after a short period of time if it’s triggering the desired result. It’s really hard to pull back on an idea after a while and admit, “That didn’t make any sense.” When we stay grounded and true to our own line of thinking, logic often takes over. Not the logic that has been prescribed, but the logic that you inherit from all of the things you experience. Once our logic is solid, any idea that rests on that foundation is probably valid.  If the idea doesn’t work, we also have a starting block to learn from.

The Humanizing Conference was a tremendous experience. I look forward to applying the ideas and techniques we learned to our daily battles. We also created a network of like-minded people we can reach out to and revisit the perspective, validation, celebration and logic we discussed at the conference.

Feedback always welcome!

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Kevin Reiter

About Kevin Reiter

Kevin speaks two languages. English. And developer. As our Scrum Master he is in charge of continuously improving our development process. He is the force behind sprint planning and retrospectives and can skillfully balance when to say no and when to push for more results. And since we have the best healthcare-specific content management software on the market, he’s doing a pretty good job. When he’s not organizing cross-team collaboration, he’s thinking about fantasy football and how to apply Agile principles to his home life.

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