The idea for this post came to me when reading this article on Harvard Business Review.

This part made me reflect on how we do software development:

A core value at The Other Side Movers is “200% Accountability.” Meaning every employee is expected to be 100% accountable for the quality of their own work, AND 100% accountable for the quality of the work of everyone else they see. The quickest way to get in trouble at The Other Side Movers is not to fail on #1, but on #2.

If we really embrace this rule as a team, there's no escaping, you'll have to give/receive feedback at some point.

As a Scrum Master it's my job to make people aware of the importance of feedback. I often see two things happening:

  • Giving feedback: some people are hesitant of pointing something out if it involves a colleague. "What if I'm wrong or my colleague doesn't like what I'm saying?" Let me turn it around: What if you're right and you didn't point it out? This moment was a chance to improve and we didn't grab it.
  • Receiving feedback: some people feel threatened because they see feedback as a bad thing. Once you see it as an opportunity to learn, you'll grow much faster as a person.

How to give feedback?

The following steps should make giving feedback an opportunity to learn for both parties:

  1. Name (not judge!) the behaviour you're seeing, the moment you see it. If you wait too long, the behaviour will be forgotten and the message is not as strong. Talking about the behaviour, not the person, is key in this step.
  2. Tell the person how you interpret this kind of behaviour and what effect it might have on the team.
  3. Propose a new way of behaving in this situation and see if you both can agree.

Don't let emotion get in the way of providing feedback. By keeping it factual, there's a bigger chance that the recipient will accept the feedback.

One thing I liked this week #4

Netflix. I've been a subscriber since they launched in Belgium and haven't regretted it ever since. For € 9,99/month I can watch their entire library of films/series and they're constantly adding new and interesting stuff.

That's even less than one visit to Kinepolis: € 10,20 for a 2D movie!

Last weekend we enjoyed Steve Aoki's aptly named documentary "I'll sleep when I'm dead" and "Fury" starring Brad Pitt.

When we have more time, we'll definitely be watching:

  • Stranger things
  • Narcos (Season 2, releasing 2 September)

Failure demand


Failure demand is a concept discovered by Professor John Seddon. According to Wikipedia, he describes it as "demand caused by a failure to do something or do something right for the customer".

I'll give an example of something that happened to me a while ago. We needed an electrical inspection in order to sell our previous apartment. Due to the setup of our tenant living there, we had one month to make this happen before we had to hand over the keys to the new owners. One month seemed like a good enough buffer to make this happen. I immediately thought of Company A, because they left a sticker on the electrical cabinet after a previous inspection. I submitted a form on their website and got a confirmation message along the lines of: "We'll contact you as soon as possible to arrange an inspection!".

I mentioned that we needed an inspection within the next month.

The actual timeline

  • One week after submitting the form, I called Company A to ask if they received my request and explained that it was "urgent" (3 weeks time left).
    • The answer: "Yes sir, I'll inform my colleague to get to you right away!"
  • One week after my call (2 weeks time left), I called Company A to ask if something went wrong, because I still hadn't heard from them.
    • The answer: "Sir, I'll make sure that this gets picked up before tomorrow evening."
  • 1,5 week before our deadline, I submitted a form with Company B and was presented with an option to pick a date/hour for the inspection. As expected, they showed up on the requested date/hour and our electrical inspection was ok for our handover of the keys.

So you might wonder, what happened to company A? They called me one week after handing over the keys to the new owners to set up an appointment... So five weeks after my initial request and two phonecalls where they assured me this would be picked up fast, they wanted to set up an appointment. I kindly mentioned that their competitor already took care of it.

The lessons

  • Your copy on your website is part of your customer journey, make sure it fits with the way you actually work.
  • When you promise to get back to someone, do so. Even if it's just an update to let them know that the request is being processed. I'd rather receive multiple updates, than not hear anything at all.
  • If the customer is calling you to ask for a status, you're already experiencing failure demand, because of an implied expectation from the customer's side.

One thing I liked this week #3

My Merrell All Out Peak shoes! These guys made the 100km Dodentocht a lot easier on my feet than my previous 2012 edition with walking boots. The mental challenge is still the same though.

Why are you wearing trail runners for walking?!

In all the documentaries, articles and books I've read about long distance hiking (mostly in America), almost everyone is wearing trail runners instead of walking shoes/boots.

My old walking boots had served me well for more than 1.000 km, so they needed a replacement. Because of my distant dream to walk something like the PCT I thought it would be a good idea to try trail runners.

One visit to Runners' Lab and I was all set. The first 3 walks my feet had to adapt to the shoes, but after that it was all good. I've been walking on these shoes for about a year now and I'm definitely buying new trail runners when these guys need to retire.

One thing I liked this week #2

I like to watch series and the latest I started watching is Last Chance U (Netflix). I'm only two episodes in and love it already.

It's a documentary about an American Football team from a university in the middle of nowhere with an extraordinary record of accomplishments.

This place is for most players, as the title implies, the last chance to make it to the big leagues. And a lot of them did make it in the past.

There are enough shots of the games itself for the sports enthousiast, but mixed with a personal/emotional angle of what the individual players and the staff are going through.

It reminded me a bit of that other great movie: Remember the titans.

If you understand Dutch, read the article of Gumstarr, who's way better at writing reviews of series.