Skip to content

Listen to your instincts

… if something irritates you, fix it.

The majority of us always have something to moan about. We don’t even notice it really; it seems to have become a part of our culture to complain. Do you disagree? Listen carefully the next time you have coffee with someone or bump into them in the passage. Does our culture encourage moaning or fixing?

In agile we strive for continuous improvement. That means not just accepting the status quo, but challenging it and changing things that are impediments. This is counter to our complaining culture. We need to change our mindset from moaning, to fixing. So if you are going to get this right at work, how about trying an experiment in your personal life first.

Think about something that is annoying you. How long have you been moaning about it? Can you imagine a life without it? Would it be better? In my day-to-day life I can quickly come up with : traffic, bank queues, broken coffee machine, price of petrol …

Can’t come up with anything? If something has been an annoyance for a while we sometimes don’t notice it anymore – it becomes just how life is. Try noting every annoyance or time waste you have for a week, try to see patterns.

Figure out what really irritates you about it. Use the 5 Whys to get to the root cause, because that’s where real improvement lies.

Not really sure if this thing needs fixing? Another trick is to avoid that thing for a week; does it improve your happiness? If so, then it needs fixing.

All these annoyances are impediments to your functioning and to your happiness.

Notice how this irritation impacts you. In your work life think of what happens to your happy state of mind when the following occurs: broken build, critical bug, overtime, broken coffee machine (yes, I love my coffee!).

Think about whether you can fix this or not. If yes, what are you waiting for? If no, see if there is something you can do to improve on it. Try the problem solving tree technique (look for upcoming blog post!). Does it waste time? How much? Use this to justify the cost of fixing it.

Here are 2 examples of what I’ve done:

Bank Queues – Get internet banking and avoid queues. Sometimes you have no choice but to go into the bank though. I bought a kindle and catch up on reading whilst in the queue.

Traffic – Wake up earlier, drive to gym near work and go to gym before work. I also bought some books on audio that I wanted to read and listened to them whilst driving – this actually made me look forward to the drive home in traffic!

What are you going to improve today? This week? We would love to know – leave a comment!