Polished Rocks part 2

Years ago I received a very nice compliment from a test manager who worked with me.  He said, 'You're one of the most positive people I've ever worked for.'

'Oh?', I said, somewhat disappointed because I'd been trying for years to come across as a grumpy old man.

'Yeah, whenever we find a defect you say "Brilliant!" or "That's great news".  Most project mangers act the exact opposite way.'

I said, 'Perhaps that's because they've got lots of defects.  We have bugger all, so finding a defect means you're doing a good job and it means we have one less defect to find!'


Over time I've come to think we should treat obstacles - which, I guess, are just defects with our process or organisation - in much the same way.  The obstacle was always there, we found it, now we can do something about it!  Awesome news!  This is how we knock the rough bits off the stones and make 'em all nice and pritty.


If you think about obstacles in the context of Teresa Amabile's Progress Principle - which says, basically, that people are more motivated and productive today if they felt they made progress at work yesterday, and they're demotivated and less productive if they didn't feel - then it makes sense to reframe finding obstacles and handling obstacles as acts of progress.  

"What did you do at work today dear?"
"I got blocked by this big nasty blocker.  I can't wait to get into work tomorrow and sort it out."

clarke chingComment