Category: General Musings

The Importance of Creating Psychological Safety

December 7, 2020
We've all probably experienced some truly amazing teams and some dreadful ones. What sets them apart? It isn't pure happenstance or a roll of the dice. The foundation of healthy teams and cultures is a concept called Psychological Safety. While this concept has been picking up buzzword steam, it has been around since 1999. In her paper, Psychological Safety and Learning Behavior in Work Teams Amy Edmondson defined team psychological safety as "a shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk taking". Why is this so important and how can teams work to create it? Within any given team, it is necessary to engage in learning behaviors. Learning behaviors are a means for the team to collect and process data…
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Giving Ourselves Space to Create

December 1, 2020
This year has thrown in my face that I have an overcommitment problem. It's easy to get wrapped up in exciting things to solve, experiment with, or people to interact with. Unfortunately, too much of even good things can have strong negative consequences. One of the associated problems with overcommitment is burnout. How can we create and produce valuable content, code, thoughts, when our brains and commitments are brought just shy of our breaking point? It's an unsustainable pattern and eventually something will give. I've been talking with friends about my desire to start writing again for months, but never actually made any progress. The truth is I was beyond exhaustion at the commitments I had made, perceived or actualized. Creative…
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Embarking on the Year of Creation

December 29, 2020
This past year I embraced the idea of creating a theme for the year. Themes are more robust than goals or resolutions, because they allow for adaptation in the face of unknown factors. The ability to adapt in the midst of a global pandemic helped my own well being. My theme for 2020 was the "Year of new"; I wanted to focus on trying new things. Over the course of the year, I experienced many growth opportunities. I gave a talk on Declarative and Manageable State Management with XState at my first virtual conference, found a form of exercise I enjoy, and most recently have been re-imagining my note-taking and writing process. I could not have guessed that I would have done any of these at the start of the year. However, the yearly theme…
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Serendipitous Collaboration in Unlikely Places

December 30, 2020
A little over a month ago I joined a shameless self-promotion channel in a Slack group to get notifications of colleague's blog posts and occasionally share my own. I expected it to serve as a means of constraining the firehose of information to alert me about new things I cared about. It has achieved that goal, but has morphed into something well beyond that. This group has become a safe place for people to share ideas and be vulnerable about unfinished concepts. We continue to grow and learn together, spring boarding ideas off of each other and providing alternative perspectives. It's also a place where people have great conversations about each other's ideas, celebrate and support each other's work, and regularly provide follow on posts…
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Overcoming the Fragility of Goals with Themes

November 30, 2020
I’ve never been a fan of New Years Resolutions in terms of making life changes. They often were lofty aspirations which were thrown out after the first few failures. The problem is that these resolutions are often too specific and don’t account for the inevitable unknowns of the future. This excessive rigidity creates the perfect foundation for failure. Short term goals can help mitigate some of these concerns by forcing a more constrained mindset around what can be completed in that timeframe. However, my personal experience has been that these continue to adhere to a similar pass/fail paradigm. In contrast, themes provide a flexible construct that is able to adapt and refocus as the unknowns of the future come into light. A theme is a…
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