Saturday, August 29, 2009

Meditating impatience

Is impatience a bad thing?

"I need to be impatient with myself to get work done".

I think this convincing statement is false. Consider that, the times that we have been particularly impatient, have been times when we have found it very hard to work. Without thinking more, we might assume that we are very impatient because we have so much to do. Then roll it round the other way, and ask, what was the cause of all the time we wasted when we could have been working? Think of the times we have had, that were most productive, and worked best, and think of the difference.

In practice, our habits of mind are so overwhelming, that these thoughts are difficult to have.

It may be easier to say this:
  • impatience is a work-style that you may prefer for yourself
  • impatience is destructive of teamwork, and we should make every effort to make sure our own impatience does not affect those we work with
How do we recognize the effects of impatience?
  • lack of productivity
  • blame
This is so, because impatience is the symptom of blame of self. It is natural that impatience in teams leads to blame of others. Blame differs from constructive criticism in that it:
  • is most clearly expressed in private to people other than the target of the criticism
  • concentrates on the working or personal characteristics of the people responsible for the problem, rather than the specifics of the problem
  • is self-sustaining, because blame leads to poor working relationships and low productivity
  • tends to come from the people doing the least practical work on the project
  • is difficult to express coherently in writing (because the content is more emotional than the originators want to believe).
The expression of blame has a characteristic tone. It sounds like a pompous teenager impersonating an adult. There is a good example in this absurd email that started the famous split in the NetBSD project.

No comments:

Post a Comment