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What I Do 2

Since What I Do failed to capture it, I declared that I would try again. It wasn't until last night that I had any inspiration. Talking with friends, I was told that another friend had said that what I was good at was "knowing the right thing to do" and as such was suited to some form of leadership and decision making.

If I am in fact good at knowing the right thing, then I would say it is because of my information habits or hygiene. I go out of my way to make sure that I have access to as much information as I can get and involve the information I can't get into my analysis. What you can't see in any context says as much about the context as what you can see.

The primary role of group leader is to make sure that the group has an extremely high bandwidth information flow with the rest of the organization. People who are good at their jobs will be better at their jobs if they can perform them in context. A member of a functioning team should never have to ask why they are doing something, they will have already been informed.

The Rands Test has a lot to say about ensuring information flow in technology organizations. It's a pretty good starting point but I'd argue that if there are lots of one on ones or "guy/gal in charge regularly stand up in front of everyone" events then the guy/gal in charge is not doing their job well enough. Both are non- persistent events.

When you have a bunch of pseudo-libertarian-anarchist-meritocratist technologists running round the place it's important to have authority, ethics and goals embedded in persistent and depersonalized artifacts. On a third-party, not a person. That is, in writing.

The easiest way to achieve such things is for people to always be writing things down, and for that writing to be archived. Whether that archive is a mailing list, a wiki, or something else doesn't really matter. What matters is that it is accessible, easily, on the network.

The Rands Test gives a -1 for:

Are handwritten status reports delivered weekly via email?

Granted, if the status is being sent up the (reporting) hierarchy. Status reports should go the other direction.

A job of a leader is to frequently write "everything I know about our context as it stands right now and how it was different from last week and how it will be different next week" messages. These messages are full of opinions and interpretation. They are tone. They are meaning. They allow for the generation of shared understanding.

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