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Building a culture of integrity

Written November 15, 2007 at 22:32 MST Tagged general

I had to laugh a little. The one blog post that I wrote this year which also generated the most comments is the only one with a hint of negative sound to it!!

I have to stress one thing and people need to hear me when I say this. I am completely in acknowledgment of the fact that people make mistakes. As a sinner saved by grace, I am reminded of this fact daily. I make mistakes on a daily basis. If and when I get the opportunity to meet you, you will find that I wear my emotions on my sleeve and am extremely passionate about what I do for a living, and because in this past year I have been blessed with the opportunity to influence others on a larger scale it has raced to the forefront of my mind the importance of integrity in the role of leaders.

In my last post, people were quick to jump on the fact that I seemed to be singling out some people in the community with the comments I was making. And that is definitely not the case. Let me also quickly state that regardless of how people read into that last post I in no way hold myself in any higher regard than anyone else.

What I do hold myself to is striving to daily achieve a level of excellence for myself in the arena of software development. I strive to foster a community that cares as much about quality of character as much as it does quality of the code that is produced by a development team. I am not against people being out in the community sharing information that they have found to be useful for themselves. I personally feel that everyone who is out there sharing information should be letting people know that whatever knowledge they are sharing is based on their current level of knowledge and is information that, in my opinion, should be validated by a group of peers who are able to challenge the ideas that they are presenting.

What I am asking for is for people to stop worrying about being politically correct (good point that was brought up from an attendee of my last course) when it comes to challenging 'the experts' whether it be me or anyone else. I want developers to be more honest with themselves and the people they are engaging about the skillsets they have. I want developers to not have to feel stressed about the fact that a position is asking for skillsets X,Y,Z and they only have strong knowledge in one of the 3. For myself, I have found it such a freeing experience to be able to speak open and honestly with both clients and peers about where my skills do and do not lie. This completely changed the landscape of the interview process for me. I can be completely honest about what I do know and what topics I personally feel very strong in. I can also,be brutally honest about what I don't know and what is currently not on my radar to look at in the immediate future. If one of these areas is a skillset that will make or break the deal, then so be it. I will have been given the opportunity to meet a new set of people and the decision will now be in their court and they will have been given information in its rawest form to make a decision that benefits them and their current set of needs.

What is the point I am trying to make in short?:

( IsABlogger() && HasAnMVP() && HasDoneLotsOfPresentations()) != IsAnExpert()

All that the above points identify is that an individual has all of the prerequisites that need to be in place to be recognized as a community influencer. It does not make them an expert. Expert, IMHO, is a very relative term. If you bring me onto a project and I am not able to deliver effectively with your team, then it does not matter how I was selling myself to the interview team, the developers that I am working with will be able to weed me out quicker than management potentially could.

For myself and others (involved with community or not) I would like to see us be more honest with ourselves and the people we come into contact with on a daily basis about where our strengths and weaknesses lie in the realm of development. I would like developers to be able to drop the facades and set client expectations early in a very realistic way. I think if this were done on a more consistent basis, it would make for a much less stressful situation all around.

As for people who were asking me to name names, I am not going to. Part of my responsibility as someone who has witnessed and experienced this is to challenge and have conversations with the parties in question. All of these conversations that I have had over the year have ended in positive outcomes. It does not negate the fact the practice is there and there are changes that can be made to completely eliminate it from our everyday development culture. I would hope that if and when I start making claims about myself that are not true, somebody would be brave enough to step up to the plate and personally challenge me about it. Maybe that would be all I need to put my focus on integrity back into check.