A few days ago, I started to write my big ideas on how we should improve development and operability down on paper (technically on a Confluence wiki page). Several surprising things happened:
- Felt relieved. A few weeks ago, I joined a new program and was in a lot of ways left to define how to add value to that program. Every stone I flipped over, I kept internalizing things our teams should start doing and stop doing. Internalizing these things made me tired. Writing them down helped me to get it off my mind without being passive aggressive with teams. While not every idea I mention should go forth, but ideas are dime a dozen and writing them down gives you the chance to brainstorm and be creative — kind of like therapy.
- Non-pressured buy-in. In my day-to-day, I like to offer a lot of ways we can improve processes. I tend to voice them out with the team — some of them like it and some of them just don’t know what to think. Having the ideas written down lets the team read and digest these ideas on their own terms. Best of all when using a collaborative tool like Confluence, it allows them to provide constructive feedback on other things I have not thought of. It is extremely important that you do drive your team to some consensus, but you also need to give certain team members the time. Not everyone can rationalize what you are wanting to carry out like you. This is particularly important to recognize when you need certain leadership to be on your side to go forth with your ideas.
- Support from the unexpected. A day later, I had received a raging fascination to know more of how we can implement some of the big ideas. You could say people out from the woodwork came out to ask me about idea X and stated “I heard of using that tool, but never used it first hand and I REALLY want to learn more.” This sparked an interesting conversation where they shared with me that when they joined the program a year ago they did see a lot of the process inefficiencies/frictions, but didn’t know how best to resolve it. While I don’t have all the answers, but from that conversation I got another perspective from their lens which helped to refine OUR plan to increase productivity and happiness.
- Shared the billion dollar ideas. A lead engineer came to me with such enthusiasm for reading the big ideas and mentioned “I like these ideas because you took what I had shared but you took them a step further. Why just stop at just at doing an improvement here and there? We should really go all the way!” I always like to offer or envision what are called billion dollar ideas. While I don’t always think my ideas are billion dollar ideas until — I always like to go a step further to show what really how our program can function like. This reminds me of the time one of my mentors always told me to go for the billion dollar ideas. You have million dollar ideas and you have billion dollar ideas. He always encouraged me to shoot for the billion dollar ideas. While it might seem he was just increasing my work load, that mentality has helped to expand my world of possibilities and to go bigger. More to that is when you are leading a team, this mindset helps to spark passion and enthusiasm which drives even greater product ownership.
You may have heard companies that it is in their DNA to “Write things down” (e.g. Twilio: Write it Down, Gitlab: Write Things Down, Netflix: share information openly, broadly, and deliberately). At first I thought it was really too simple to have that in a company’s ethos and felt that it is already given that we should be writing things down. It turns out after I had shared my big ideas written in a public forum, I had support and feedback from all over, even though some of these came about after having deep conversations of how their team operates. To that, it seems like people really do not share things as much and had internalize a lot of what was in their head.
So with that Write things down today. Get it off your chest! Share with the world what is brewing!