Let me start by saying that while I had reservations and high expectations coming into the workshop, I felt that my expectations were exceed at the conclusion because I was previously so blind to these concepts. In fact, I wish I could have taken my entire crew as the benefits I gained first-hand would have had multiplicative effects had they been concentrated throughout the company. Without a doubt, it is very clear to me now that soft skills, people skills, are generally lacking in the software world. I believe that more than half of all problems faced on software teams can be corrected by the understanding and application of the ideas and techniques taught by Esther and Diana in the workshop.
So why aren’t more software managers and developers focused on improving communication channels, feedback quantity/quality, conflict resolution, and shared leadership? One of the leading concerns aired at the workshop was how to apply our newly learned tools back home in the workplace. There was a general feeling that without the comprehensive experience of the workshop to lay a foundation, our colleagues back home may dismiss the ideas and concepts as “fluffy”. It’s a shame that this is the state of IT organizations, especially “Agile” teams.
In Agile teams we are asked to very closely with each other on a daily basis over extended project durations. We are pairing on problems sometimes for six hours each day. It is natural that we misunderstand each other and that conflicts arise. It is illogical, however, that we ignore these problems and fail to apply the tenacity we reserve for solving technical and process problems.
I strongly encourage software managers and developers to attend future workshops held by Esther and Diana. The experience has exposed a new dimension in my work–interpersonal issues–that requires constant attention and improvement.
I’ve posted some pictures from the workshop, too. The Kennedy School was a very interesting venue, appropriately cozy and comfortable.