Assumption: Fear causes us to build the wrong thing

The classic tale of a year-long project finally being delivered only to discover it doesn’t meet the needs of the customer sounds ridiculous in the days of short iterations and customer collaboration but I’m guessing we are still a long way from delivering what’s really needed effectively. So what’s stopping us?

  1. Is it the fear of feedback that stops us showing work in progress
  2. Is it the fear of admitting that we need to abandon the plan when we discover something new
  3. Is it the fear of throwing away work done when people tell us it’s not what they need
  4. Is it the fear of what others will say when we admit our assumptions were wrong
  5. Is it the fear of embarrassment when we discover what was really needed was much simpler
  6. Is it the fear of punishment when our boss discovers the work we did will not be useful to the customer (even though it created insight into what was needed)
  7. Is it the fear of people questioning our competence
  8. Is it the fear of what people say if we don’t look busy, when we are thinking about a different approach
  9. Is it the fear of what people say if we don’t look busy when discussing ideas with others
  10. Or are we just conditioned (by fear) not to think differently and to take the safest path

Finding the best solution to the problem takes courage, courage needs support – support through collaboration which needs openness. We are fearful because we are not open and openness takes courage.

Fear creates fear.

If we want to build the right thing we must start with a workplace without fear.

Building the right thing requires listening, patience, empathy and imagination

(resources that are scarce in the prevalent business mindset)

One comment

  1. Poor those who live and work in fearful places :-|

    Fear can mostly be contributed to lack of knowledge – in the case of developers, the knowledge of exactly what is asked for, what are the conditions, who is friend and foe.

    So let’s simplify it and just go get that knowledge. Let’s make sure that we do properly analyse the situation, ensure accommodation amongst stakeholders and get cleared out -before the fact- if there is anyone powerful who would hate to see the task completed. And then enjoy this knowledge. Deal with it. Use it.

    Prepare yourself around crises.

    No need to live in fear in the time after enlightenment ;)

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