A friend of mine, @CaseySisteron, had tweeted an article about how it is more important being kind than clever. You can find the article here.
I had thought it was one of the best articles I had read recently. It seems than sometime people believe that you need to be ruthless and uncaring to be a good business person. In fact, I would state that the opposite is true.
I have recently celebrated my 10th anniversary at Protegra. Protegra is a small consulting company based in Winnipeg that provides value to their clients primarily through two offerings; Business Performance Consulting and Software Development and Evolution. People always ask what makes Protegra special and people usually say that it is the people. I suggest that the calibre of people who work at Protegra are there because of the culture of fairness, kindness, and consideration. (and the rocking quality of the engagements) I think consulting companies have a constant reminder how important it is to be kind and considerate as clients can decide to go elsewhere on every single piece of work. But Protegra’s culture goes beyond that and extends to how they treat everyone.
I was reminded on the weekend how not all people share the quality of being considerate. I was going to get gas for a family trip to Boissevain and a car had parked in front of the pumps in the fire lane making it difficult for people to manuever to get gas. And the first thing that popped into my head was that this was a great analogy for inconsiderate people and project teams. This person didn’t care that there were rules against this type of parking or that he would impact others. Some may say that he wasn’t aware of the impact, but I think an aspect of being considerate is anticipating impact of your actions on others as well.
Dictionary.com defines Considerate as:
- showing kindly awareness or regard for another’s feelings, circumstances, etc.
- carefully considered; deliberate.
- marked by consideration or reflection; deliberate; prudent.
On a project, there are three ways of being considerate:
1. Consideration for your team mates
This consideration is probably the type most people think of. Does the person think of their team mates or do their actions cause their team mates to have to adjust and shimmy multiple times to get into that parking spot? Everyone can be a part of the team, but only considerate people allow the team to be high performing. I’m sure we have all been part of teams that have adjusted to accommodate a few members. Was that an optimal situation?
2. Consideration for your client
It is also important to have consideration for the client. There should be no us and them mentality. No anger or emotion as the client discovers new information and requires a change in requirements. There should always be kindness to the client and seeking to understand their situation and thinking.
3. Consideration for the project
I find that this consideration is the hardest to conceptualize. Consideration for the project requires that team mates stay true to the vision that the project initially had. The project is an entity itself that needs to be considered. It is not just a vehicle for what the team mates and clients want to accomplish. The project can be changed if everyone agrees in the new direction, but it is important to make sure that one or two people can’t change the project on their own. Developers or clients should not ‘Gold-Plate’ the solution in isolation. Sometimes the collaboration on changes can take the form of Change Requests but it can be as simple as a conversation. The collaboration is the important part not the formality of the method. At the end of the day, one person should not be able to change the project. Even if they are the primary stakeholder. The project exists outside of individuals and it needs to be considered as such.
I can’t imagine working anywhere else but Protegra. It isn’t due solely to the quality of people. Brilliant, talented people can be inconsiderate and unkind. But when you get skilled people who are kind and considerate, you have a family. On every project team I am part of I try to build that same family atmosphere that Protegra has.
And yes, the client is part of that family.