Jay Shirley

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The Daily Practice

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Environmental friction and developers coasting along.

Published: 22 Jun 2011

I had a good conversation. It is easy to summarize.

Certain people are like rocket boosters, launching developers and giving them an impressive burst of speed. Depending upon the environment, this momentum is kept for inordinate amounts of time or it is absorbed and halted entirely too quickly.

I believe, essentially, when people talk about “synergy” this is what they mean. There are people I work very well with. However, that on its own isn’t sufficient to accomplish great things. We must also be in the correct environment. That means both parties must be in a frictionless environment (as much as possible, anyway.)

Building a low friction environment is a challenge because they aren’t grown organically. It’s developed and nurtured and is a unique ecosystem that can’t be assembled. There are no instructions or guide books. It’s bonsai, not a tomato garden.

The biggest killer is when companies see these forming and try to emulate or make them a mandatory aspect of life in a new imagined corporate culture.

As an analog, I am trying to get a well balanced pond setup.

It is very difficult. I can make proclamations that mandate the beneficial bacteria grow faster, and even add in things that help this. I can even add in the bacteria. I can buy more fish and more plants, or take them out. It still takes time and I have to see which way things go and react accordingly. Right now I’m contending with algae but I feel I’m on the right track.

Companies that throw too much into the mixing pot end up with sludge. There is too little time taken to make sure the changes are good and accepted (a good change can go bad if it is introduced too quickly). Often times there is too little attention to the details. There is no thought into tracking the all important question. Are we doing better? Repeat it. Are we doing better? If that can’t be answered, at best it’s a guess if the environment is growing positively.

To make it more complicated, a change on its own doesn’t stick. It requires constant care and the consequences may be completely unforeseen down the road. There is psychology in all this and everybody is not only unique, but the pairing of people is very unique.

The interworking relationships that develop are what ultimately determine the amount of friction. When people are able to get along well without outside interference it doesn’t need to be adjusted. Merely trying to observe this phenomenon can disrupt it. When things do need assistance in being productive, gentle changes require time to manifest themselves.

The order cannot be dictated but it can be guided. With anything guided, patience is important to track and watch progress.