Achieving Growth Through Addressing Weakness, Revelry Style
Do you like to think of yourself as smart? I sure do. It’s great to be smart. When we are smart, a world of possibilities is opened up to us.
But I would also argue that a world of possibilities opens up to us when we are dumb. Dumb… What a word. Did I just use that stupid, moronic, hard headed synonym to convey something positive? Did I just suggest we all become… mouth breathers? (If you don’t watch Stranger Things, you should.)
Growth through addressing weakness
My logic is this: We cannot become masters before we have been apprentices. When we accept that we lack knowledge or need help in a certain area, we gain so much room to grow.
By addressing weakness, you seize the opportunity to personally grow stronger in that area. And this, in turn, creates the opportunity to improve the state of the greater whole: our team.
I have found that this principle resonates in both my time at Revelry and in the world at large, every day of my life.
The Revelry Way
At Revelry, I work with a team that pushes to deliver high quality technology to bring our clients and friends more success in their lives. Although noble, this ideology alone isn’t enough to bring home wins every time. To really dig for the best solutions, we not only have to rely on our existing processes and tools, but we also have to be aware enough to know when these things could be better.
When we do this, we are naturally ushered into having a humble, winning attitude. This opens the doors to agile, continuous improvement. It helps us grow and keeps us engaged in our development as individuals and as a whole.
Here are some ways we incorporate this ideology at Revelry:
Blockers are a major focus of our process at Revelry. We call them out daily in our standups.
If something prevents us from working, we talk about it. Even if we don’t know what is blocking us, we still call out that we are blocked.
Don’t know if you’re blocked? Here are some tips on how to recognize a (perceived) obstacle and transmute it into a takeaway for you and your team.
- Trust your team. By maintaining a team mentality, you’re less likely to stagnate and more likely to reach out.
- Recognize pain points. Having a harder time than usual? You’re making it harder than you should by white knuckling it. Pain should prompt you to do something differently. Benjamin Franklin once said, “the things which hurt instruct.” Get some questions out! Direct it to the right people, if you can; this way you’ll get the guidance or assistance you need quicker.
- Be open to alternative solutions. Through collectively working to better ourselves and the team at large, we’ve developed a high impact learning culture and a macrocosm of many different knowledge sets. Sometimes a problem presented to you is better solved another way, or even by a different person.
Again, trust your team – you’re in it together.
At the end of each week, we have our company all hands meeting, where we revel in victory, discuss challenges and opportunities, and share team news.
Early in this meeting, we participate in TWIL, which is a specific callout for anyone in the company to share what they learned that week.
The participants range from senior leadership to our apprentices – whoever wants to share what they learned, can – and they do!
Listening to senior leadership team members (who have been doing what they do for decades) share their takeaways is a humbling reminder that we can (and should) be learning from the challenges we face, even if we are already pretty great at what we do.
Each project team has a retrospective after finishing two weeks of sprints.
It is a time for us to come together and talk about the last two weeks.
During our retrospective, we address: what went not so well, what went well, and how to the make the things that went not-so-well better for the next one. We trust each member of the sprint openly and honestly share their feelings and observations regarding the decisions made and the work done.
At the core of the retrospective, we aim to improve upon the challenges we struggled with.
Revelry is a magical place where we can propose, debate, and gather insight on topics we care about.
We advocate asking questions and starting conversations to solve problems, and we have the curated the environment to do so.
We created a channel in Slack where the very purpose of the channel is “to answer questions, clarify, and make suggestions to change all things process.” Or, as Chas quipped, “philosophizing what we should do.”
Recently, I wanted to propose a new way to handle features that work in the Chrome browser, but don’t work in another browser. I wanted to stop blocking features from passing our QA process because they didn’t work in browsers other than Chrome. So, I took this conversation to the #process Slack channel.
This kind of conversation needs to be had, but when brought up in the wrong place, it can get set aside so that it doesn’t distract the sprint team from other tasks at hand. That’s why the #process channel is so valuable. Anyway, I proposed that QA should pass the feature as complete, but file a new issue specifically for making sure the feature is implemented properly in the other browser.
Our CTO promptly responded with a reason for why this would make things better. Having this conversation in a transparent place helped everyone form a takeaway that can help improve other processes. (The takeaway? It’s often the case that our applications don’t actually need to work in all browsers, and that filing an issue to show that one browser is harder to implement for can inspire a conversation with the product owner about changing the app’s compatibility targets.)
From this conversation, we changed the process. And our workflow grew even more efficient.
We encourage our teammates to be loud, and to ask questions, because conversations spark our growth.
At the heart of Revelry is our set of core values.
The third one reads: ‘Fear is the mindkiller’. Here’s how we describe this idea:
“We are the fittest, most adaptable species in the known universe. As we recognize our current limitations, we also recognize that they are temporary, and we can change them if we push forward fearlessly.”
It really comes down to trust
As you might be able to tell, Revelry is agile, highly transparent, and built on camaraderie and trust. I couldn’t be happier to work at a place that allows me to champion obstacles on the daily. In order to address weakness and improve, you’ve got to be able to trust in those around you.
I strive to follow the same ideology in my own life as well. One of my favorite reads is titled “The Obstacle is the Way“, written by Ryan Holiday. In it, he states,
“We can learn to perceive things differently, to cut through the illusions that others believe or fear. We can stop seeing the ‘problems’ in front of us as problems. We can learn to focus on what things really are.
Too often we react emotionally, get despondent, and lose our perspective. All that does is turn bad things into really bad things. Unhelpful perceptions can invade our minds—that sacred place of reason, action and will—and throw off our compass.”
The ability to stay level headed, and grateful for the obstacle, keeps us growing. How do you incorporate this philosophy into your work and home life?