Confessions, Weaknesses & Resolutions.
New year, new me… I’m going to get better at documenting my projects this year.
It seems that New Year’s resolutions are almost passé these days. Everyone I’ve asked since coming back to work either isn’t doing one or refuses to do one because it’s probable that they won’t keep it for the whole year anyway.
In some ways I get it… in some ways I don’t.
It’s fair because it seems daft to embark on a journey that we have no confidence in completing at the point of setting out. On the other, it seems defeatist to deny ourselves an opportunity to set out on a path of self-improvement, as there must be at least a part of us that wants to improve to have entertained the thought in the first place.
That said, there is a trend that I have seen emerging, which is about setting intentions around improvement – some professional, some personal.
These intentions have been kinder (to self and others) and also less extreme, less definite and much more open to the realities of how life and work tend to flow. One example was the decision by one of my colleagues to simply eat meat less often.
No massive declaration.
No ego-led grandiose commitment.
No self-created pressure to deliver on an almost impossible overnight habit change.
This reminds me quite a lot about both Agile and my journey via “Adventures of a Delivery Manager”.
More conventional forms of Project Management have often jarred me through their rigidness and absolute declarations of the right way and the wrong way of doing things. As have static programmes of learning where there is the right way and the wrong way to learn.
If I look back on my journey over the past 18 weeks (yes, EIGHTEEN weeks), it has taken turns and twists that I could never have seen coming and I have learned my craft (so far), often in quite a topsy turvey nature – largely based on the needs at the time.
It’s also the challenges that have grown me the most. The things that, (had I meticulously planned my adventures), I would have written out of the plan and hoped dearly for them not to appear. But, having undertaken the journey with a set of themes and intentions as opposed to a rigid pathway, I have been able to make these challenges my friends and embraced them for the rich learning experiences that they have been.
So what about my ‘resolution’ for 2020?
I really like the idea of setting intentions. Albeit I don’t think we should wait for new years or even decades to make commitments for self improvement (although I do think the G+ community would probably grow tired quite quickly of ‘new day new me’ posts)… The break between Christmas and New Year does allow for a period of reflection. The down time also allows me to return refreshed and with my brain waves being in a more receptive state.
My general intention and principle has always been that I want to be a brilliant Delivery Manager, but it always serves to be specific and I was shown a weakness of mine early upon returning to work – so this seems like a good place to create a new, specific intention.
Upon returning to HackIT, we had a session where we talked about the concept of “Minimum Viable Documentation” for our projects.
I was excited for this session, because I had struggled to fully understand how and where we consistently document our projects and had experienced some challenges when inheriting a project from a departed colleague to understand properly what had happened before me.
During the session however, as my colleagues were sharing their various methods for project documentation – it dawned on me that I really wasn’t doing such a good job on my own projects. Cate, our Head of Delivery, delicately suggested that there was a spectrum of strong to weak project documentation activity across the team and I knew that I was on the weak end of that spectrum. I was disappointed with myself, because I knew that if someone were to take over my project, they would be faced with largely the same problem that I had experienced.
Acknowledging weakness can be hard, especially when that weakness affects (or potentially affects) others. But equally, by acknowledging weakness it can be turned into a strength.
This is one of the things that I especially like about the safe space environment here at Hackney Council. Following that meeting, I felt both safe and empowered to approach Cate and ‘confess’ my shortcomings around product documentation.
Doing that wasn’t, however, an indulgence guilt admission. It was in fact an opportunity. It stands to reason that if Cate presented the concept of such a spectrum, then regardless of whether I was or wasn’t at the lower or bottom end of it, Cate would know who was at the top end of it. That was the purpose of the conversation. By openly sharing my weakness, I was able to seek help from a place of strength and Cate recommended that I speak with my fellow Delivery Manager Soraya, who (I can safely say), IS really rather good with project documentation. And who was also very willing to help!
The conversations, both with Cate and Soraya, enabled me to see that this is a need and a weakness that will require consistent work, to form a new habit. Documentation has always been hard for me – it’s one of the reasons that I was attracted to Agile in the first place, but that’s no excuse to pretend it isn’t important. However, they have kindly set me up on a path of self improvement in this area and I feel confident that the shortcoming is surmountable and that I am supported in my efforts to turn it around.
So my ‘intention’ for 2020, is to consistently put effort into project documentation, to get regular feedback and help and to get better at it across the year.
Here’s to 2020!