Getting Better at Getting Better

Wonderful article over in the New Yorker called, Better All The Time. I saw it in the context of getting better at running which someone had referenced in that regard. However, it applies to work, to running, to most things. We need to think about getting better at getting better.

I’ve started running and I’m planning to run a marathon in a few months which is something inconceivable to me just a few years or even months ago. Now I’m running several times a week and recently did a 15 mile run with my running partner which is the longest run I’ve ever done. Now I’m running half marathon lengths just to train for the marathon!

All of this running has started me thinking about how do I become a better runner who can not just complete a marathon, but actually enjoy it and finish it in a strong, heads up fashion? There are lots of web sites and training plans and tools to help one prepare for this, but what is interesting to me is the idea of deciding to get better and then doing the research and taking the steps to get better. When exactly should I drink water, or consume some energy (Gu)?

We need to do the same in our IT shops and in all our organizations.

  1. We need to measure results, times, costs, efforts, etc. in our processes. Not in a needless fashion or dumb fashion, but measure the right things.
  2. Ask the people who are doing the work how to do things better. They are doing the work so ask them what are their obstacles and what is slowing them down. Likely they know how to help get things done better and faster.
  3. Don’t be arrogant and assume the way you are doing is the right way. Keep asking questions. Ask your vendors what ways they’ve seen things done better? Be open to all good ideas.
  4. Keep looking, even when you do find an improvement because there is another one behind it.

I’ve been learning when to hydrate, when to consume Gu, when to drink Powerade and I’ve discovered I’ve been taking these things in the wrong order and not enough. I’ve also learned different training methods than I had not heard of before. I think these things will help me get better and improve my ability to be successful at the marathon.

We need to be thinking this way in our IT shops.

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