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What are you going to do about it?

A couple of Days ago I finished the first “Lead Better” course for software team leaders in Oslo. It was the first time I had done this course out of Israel.

It was a great feeling to get the following email today from Michal, one of the participants of that course. In the email he also refers to an Integrity and commitment based technique I wrote about before, and that we covered deeply during the course.


Hi Roy,
I participated in the course “Lead better” 2 days ago in Oslo.
I committed to you that I would ask at least one time the magical phrase “What are you gonna do about it” to my teammates and let you know about results.
It happened sooner than I would expect. More, the problem was solved very quickly.
On a standup meeting one of my teammates said:
-          “we need to test the new configuration somehow”.

-          So I immediately asked “What are you gonna do about it?”

-          ... seconds of consternation... “eeehhhmmmm, I will figure out something”

-          “By When?”

-          “Today, an hour after scrum meeting, I will reconfigure the platform and let you know about the results.”

-          “Great” :)

And it worked! In an hour I got him with a rest of a team discussing details and in another hour, the platform was reconfigured and fully tested! It would never happen so fast if he had not commited to do so :)
Michał Wikliński

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Reader Comments (2)

Good point. To often we get in to the habit of pointing out some issue or other, and then leaving it hanging in the air as to who takes care of it. Each person assumes someone else has responsibility, or perhaps doesn't do something unless they are explicitly told. We're all busy, right? Here's an example: At a presentation, someone points out a problem with the data that was collected, which is the source for a graph. You note this in an e-mail as an item, and then go to the developer responsible for the graph, and say, "This we need to fix." The developer counters that he's never gotten the updated information from his contact. Ok, fine - for now. Left unsaid is that he will follow up with his contact, and get the right data. Of course, this doesn't happen. Was the developer assuming the contact would magically know he had sent the wrong data? Was he assuming the project lead would act as a go-between, and follow up with the contact? Or was he waiting for the lead to say the logical next question "Ok, so the data's wrong, and you need the right data from the contact. What are you going to do about it?"
Argh. This would have saved us some serious embarrassment.

February 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Sullivan

I understand the concept that you're attempting to teach and it's a good one. However, there are times when folks bring up needs and concerns like "we need to test the new configuration somehow" because they've recognized those needs and, in the interest of things like quality or "fire-prevention", don't want to let them go unnoticed. At the same time, they might not be the right person or have time to deal with it and they don't have the authority to delegate it. I deal with this often myself. I want to see issues dealt with but if I spend my time dealing w/ all of them then I'm taken away from other other priorities. I suppose at that point there becomes a need to influence others to help them see the need and take responsibility for it. What do you think?

February 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRon Ratzlaff

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