Should We Ask Can We Fix It or State We Can?

In a recent Sunday Telegraph column author Dan Pink draws on recent scientific research which suggests that contrary to popular belief  “declarative” self-talk (I will fix it!) may not be as effective as “interrogative” self-talk (Can I fix it?) when it comes to solving problems. He also draws inspiration from that legendary management guru Bob the Builder.

Lisa Gansky (a serial entrepreneur) says that business leaders in general, and entrepreneurs in particular face an occupational hazard that she calls “breathing your own exhaust”. Gansky goes on to say:

“When you create something, you can fall in love with it and aren’t able to see or hear anything contrary. Whatever comes out of your mouth is all you’re inhaling. But when you ask a question – Will I? – you’re creating an opening. You’re inviting a conversation – whether it’s self-conversation or a conversation with others.”

So what’s this got to do with software architecture I hear you ask? The need for solving problems, especially wicked ones where there is no definitive formulation and maybe even no immediate or ultimate test of a solution, needs an approach which is different from the “all guns blazing” we can fix anything usual style of management consultants. Some problems are so hard they may never have a fully compete solution, just a series of compromises which hopefully result in you being in a better place than you were at the start. Maybe a little humility at the beginning will help in the setting of expectations therefore and reduce the distance you have to fall if you don’t deliver to those expectations.

In the meantime here are some videos to provide you with some inspiration around the fixing it theme:
Can We Fix It – Bob the Builder
Yes We Can – Barak Obama
Fix You – Coldplay (just in case it’s you that needs fixing)

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