Remote Work

I’ve wanted to try out working fully remotely for a while. I coached a number of part-remote teams and got to have some fun in trying to make them effective. Most recently, I was thrown back to the UK after the passing of my mother and ended up coaching a team with a number of Eastern European developers.

It’s always interesting to see the attitudes which form towards a minority group of devs who are disadvantaged by being out of the immediacy of face to face communication. I’ve seen this time and time again. It becomes “us and them.” One needs to remain mindful to avoid this natural mistrust for those with whom trust bonds haven’t been built.

Anyway, I’ve started kicked off as a sole trader and am working fully remotely, towards delivering a promised outcome. This being day 1, or my Alpha as I figure things out, I thought it would be helpful to log and share my experiences.

I needed a place to capture-flow and an obvious candidate for this was Trello; which I use in non-distributed situations. I have a client I am in early negotiations with and realised that I had a lot of apprehensions. Fear of the unknown, which I’ve been trying to rectify through frequent communication.

When I was last in the UK, I was fortunate enough to get into leadership training on Situational Awareness for Leadership from my dear friend Katherine Kirk. I hope to write more about her Situational Awareness Insight Lens (which until recently she referred to as the Insight Facilitation Framework), however for the time being it is worth noting that this has provided me with tools for observing what Katherine calls “Invisible Forces” which can impede you. These are natural inclinations and tendencies which we underplay, or dress up as personal characteristics, but can directly hinder our ability to achieve outcomes. This has helped me both through mourning and coaching within a culturally-challenged startup.

Many years ago, when falling into the role of Agile lead on a large project for the NZ government, I recall telling her about a hunch I had, as I felt my way around this new role. A “gut feeling,” which surely was telling me something. Katherine told me about her techniques for validating the “gut,” without which one could simply be misinterpreting indigestion.

The techniques I’ve learned from involved capturing, visualising and measuring patterns which otherwise just become background concerns.

My own take on this has been to use mindmaps, which I did this morning. I found that I had a fear of being perceived as a disruptive newbie. Further, I also found that I had internal pressures which were causing me to cling and dwell on the safe-zone of engineering tools, rather than more obvious obstacles around not fully understanding broader details around my objectives.

This helped me prioritise and move forward rapidly. Mindfulness \o/

Written on March 11, 2019