Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Seek JOY: #PNSQC Live Blog

Wow, we're at the end of the day already? How did that happen? Part of it was the fact that I started a few conversations with people that cut into talks being delivered, but as is often the case, those discussions can take priority and can often be the most important conversations you have at a conference.

Long story short though is that we are at the closing Keynote for the main two-day conference. Rich Sheridan of Menlo Innovations believes that we can do work that we care about and that we can have joy in the work that we do and in the workplaces we actively move in. Rich shared his story of how he came up into the world of computers and computing starting in the early seventies and how the profession he loved was starting to sap the life out of him and how he was contemplating leaving the industry entirely. He was experiencing the chaos of the industry. Issues, bugs, failed projects, blown deadlines, lack of sales, and all of the fun stuff any of us who have worked in tech recognize all too well. Chaos often ends up leading to bureaucracy, where we can't get anything done to not being able to get anything started.

The fact Rich wants to impart is that Joy is what all of us hope for in most of the things that we do. We often see it as some form but it's often nebulous to us. Additionally, jobs and companies cannot guarantee our success or our happiness. We have to have an active role in it and be willing to make it happen for us as we endeavor to make it work for others.

Why joy? Joy is service to others and being able to see the reaction to that service. IT's why we do the work that we do. We want to see our work out in the world. We want to see it get a response. We want to see people react to it. and we want to have that moment that swells up inside of us and that cheers us and makes us jump for (wait for it!) joy.

It's one thing to say that you want to build a joyful career, but it requires human energy. In most of the work environments that I have enjoyed the most, the work has almost always been secondary. What made the work enjoyable? The people and the interactions with those people are what makes for memorable experiences.

One of the most important things to foster joy is the idea of trust. We have to trust one another. Trust allows us to be open and frank. We can get into hard discussions and deal with conflict in a positive manner. When we can debate issues with trust and consideration, while still being committed to trying to get our issues resolved, we can deal with the hard issue and still be positive and remain friends.

Rich describes his office as a hodgepodge of machines, but the most astounding aspect is the fact that no one has their own computer. People change pairs and move onto other machines every five days, and with those moves, people move onto other machines. That means there is no such thing as "it works on my machine" because there is no dedicated machine for anybody.

Simplicity goes a long way to helping develop joy. Complexity for its own sake sucks the life out of us, and Rich showed the way that they manage their work. It's all on paper. It's all based on the size of commitment, and it's all based on creating meaningful conversations. Pans are then put on the wall, for all to see so that it's completely transparent. Honesty matters and with transparency comes honesty. With honesty and a willingness to express it, empathy comes into play. With empathy, we can see what others see and feel what others feel. To borrow from Deming, as Rich did "All anyone wants is to be able to work with pride" With that pride comes joy.

Rich Sheridan is the author of "Joy, Inc." and it is scheduled to be released very soon. Yep, I want a copy :).

And with that, the two-day technical program for PNSQC is over. Tomorrow will be another work day for me, but I think it's safe to say that I'll be literally buzzing with the kinetic energy that these past two days have provided for me. Thank you PNSQC team for putting on a great event. Thank you, speakers, for sharing your insights and experiences. Thank you, participants, for coming out and participating, and especially, thank you to everyone who came to my talk and offered positive feedback (and constructive criticism, too). Wishing everyone to get back to their destinations safely, and if you are here for the extended workshop day, I hope you all enjoy it and get to bring back great insights to your teams.


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