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Focus And Curiosity

I like using tweets as a source of blog posts. This one by Tom Peters captured my imagination:

Too much vertical focus and there’s no growth or development. Too much horizontal curiosity and there’s no accomplishment. However, the right mix of focus and curiosity provides for both personal growth and accomplishment. As the state transition diagram below illustrates, I always start a new software project in the curious state of “not knowing“. I then transition into the focused state and cycle between the two states until I’m “done“. Don’t ask me how I decide when to transition from one state to the other because I don’t have a good answer. It’s a metaphysical type of thingy.

I start off in the curious state to gain an understanding of the context, scope, and boundaries of my responsibilities and what needs to be done before diving into the focused state. I’ve learned that when I dive right into the focused state without passing through the curious state first, I make a ton of mistakes that always come back to haunt me in the form of unnecessary rework. I make fewer and less serious mistakes when I enter the curious state at “bootup“. How about you?

Since bozo managers in CCH CLORGS are paid to get projects done through others, they implicitly or explicitly assume that there is no need for a curious state and they exert pressure on their people to start right right out in the focused state – and never leave it.

Good managers, of course, don’t do this because they understand the need for the curious state and that dwelling in it from time to time reduces schedule and increases end product quality. Great managers not only are clued into the fact that the curious state is needed at startup and from time to time post-startup, they actually roll up their sleeves and directly help to establish the context, scope, and boundaries of what needs to be done for each and every person on the project. How many of these good and great managers do you know?

“If I had an hour to save the world, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute finding solutions” – Albert Einstein

Don’t you think Mr. Einstein spent a lot of time in the curious state?

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  1. May 13, 2011 at 10:08 am

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