Friday, July 29, 2011

The implicit bias with flexible working hours

I'm a big fan of flexible working hours. I'm one of the few that gets in early and leaves early due to family commitments. I do seem to be in the minority as most techies seem to prefer to come in late and leave late. I also don't have to stress about being late, because my employer knows that I'll make up those hours.

One problem I've discovered being an early starter is around crunch times. I've found that there's an there's an implicit pressure and bias by the team to have everyone working late until the same time. This isn't so much of a problem for late starters, but for early starters they may have already put in 2 to 3 hours of work before others arrive.

All I ask for is teams with flexible working schedules accept that around crunch times early starters might stay late, but not as late as their later starting colleagues.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Is the daily standup good for the brain?

A few days ago I came across an article on Psychology Today called Is Your Brain Asleep on the Job? which talks about how doing the same thing day in day out uses the same neuronal pathways over and over, eventually forming ruts. It goes on to discuss ways of waking up your brain by challenging it, but right at the end of the article I came across the following quote:
Another way to wake up your brain is to create short-term goals for each day (or task). These tell your brain what you want it to focus on, bringing it to fuller attention. Your brain likes having a set of concrete actions to perform. That's why having and reviewing a list of short-term goals, and the tasks required to meet them, works so brilliantly. Your brain happily signs on as your taskmaster, but it's up to you to create the tasks that matter and to keep your brain alert and focused on achieving them. It works because goals wake up "sleeping neurons" and strengthen and increase the firing of neuronal synapses
This instantly made me think about the daily standup. Every day we create short-term goals and provided we stay focused we are helping our brains.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Social networking and self promotion

I'm a mixed bag of conflicting thoughts and emotions.

As far back as I remember I've had an intense desire to fit in. I'm very sensitive to established rules within a community or group whether they are written laws or unwritten social contracts. At times I try too hard to fit in which makes me seem needy or annoying (please let me know if I come across that way). Now mix that with the feeling of always being scrutinised in everything I do.

At the same time I feel the urge to rebel. So I rebel in small ways whether that's my choice in food or music, or sometimes my appearance. Also if I don't agree with something that's going on I generally remove myself from that group silently rather than going along with it.

This makes my choice of being a Scrum Master interesting, as I help teams establish their own social contracts but at the same time fight against established rules within the wider company that are detrimental. More about that another time I think.

Fortunately over the last few years I've decided to go my own way rather than conform.

So what's this to do with social networking and self promotion?

Within each of the different social networking communities there are social contracts on how to behave. The threat is that if you don't conform to these rules you run the risk of being ostracised. Some have attempted to codify these social contracts to help others not to break the rules.

One rule that is fairly consistent is not to promote yourself too much. There are even percentages of self promotion versus other activities. Even these can change within sub-communities and it also seems to depend on who you are as to how much you can get away with. One example that's given is not to promote your blog too much.

Due to my strong sensitivity to established rules I get intense feelings of guilt when I try to do any self promotion what so ever. I agonize over posting a link to one of my blog posts, or adding a hashtag, for ages before I do it. I see others who promote their own blogs and I wonder how they get away with it. So what is the magic balance? Frankly I don't know, but I do feel like some level of self promotion is key as we all need feedback to refine our ideas and thoughts.

I now see my blog as being an extension of myself and I have something to say. If you want to unfollow me because of that then go for it. Isn't having something to say one of the points of social networking?  Why should it matter if its in 140 characters or in an entire blog post.

In the future I'll be promoting links to my blog more often, but I'll try not to be too annoying (that latter part is the residue of me still trying to fit in :-) ).

I'd love your feedback. Do you agree or disagree? Let me know what you think.

Note: this entire article was written with a light heart and with no negative emotion involved