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Summary and Resources
Let me share some stories today that will present at least 5 ways pride kills a software project. At the end of the video I'll share three strategies I've used to fight pride.
The first way pride can kill a software project is when we become too proud of an opportunity to lead.
At the beginning of my career, I had an amazing opportunity to lead a team to build a software product using a new technology. I was inexperienced, and my pride caused me to be resistant to work with more senior people. It didn't take long, but half my team was resistant to my changes and they wanted to see me fail. Ultimately I was given the opportunity to work on a different project but it was really because I was so difficult to work with.
The second way pride can kill a software project is when we become too proud of a select group of people.
On a project where I was able to work at a new company with many people I'd worked with before, we created a clique and didn't respect and work with the existing teams at the company very well. In short time our project's success was at risk because we didn't get buy-in from the others on the team. We were too proud of those we trusted, and didn't work hard enough to get the others we should collaborate with to understand that we respected their value.
The third way pride can kill a software project is when we become too proud of past successes and efforts.
I was helping a client at the consultancy I worked for, and there was a person there who was very senior and experienced, but he wouldn't change. Everyone in the company respected him - and they wanted to see him rise to the occasion, but he just wouldn't budge. When we become too proud of the work we've done to gain skills, we can start to get resistant to doing the work it takes to stay relevant and GROW. Eventually this individual did come along to his senses, but it was painful and wasteful for a long time and caused work to be difficult for many others until that happened.
The fourth way pride can kill a software project is when we become too attached to our ideas and their potential value.
I was helping another client where they had asked our consultancy to build a product. We warned this client that what they wanted to build was too risky, and that the budget they had allocated put too much risk in all of their ideas being good. Though we tried hard to convince the client of the importance of our approach, and how software development is different from manufacturing, ultimately we did the work the way they asked. The end result was that the business folded, because they didn't profit enough off their ideas to pay back the investment in the development.
The fifth and final way I've seen pride kill a software project is when people have too much pride in the way a process was done before.
At a company I worked with, the process that was used for selling needed a change. Many of us at the company had seen a shift in the industry, but key people in the sales department refused to entertain our ideas. Though it was understandable that as not being in sales outside "technologists" trying to influence their process may have felt off-putting, it was out of our genuine concern for them. We wanted them to see that customers now wanted lean software development, and our company culture had to change to continue to deliver what the market wanted.
There are a few ways we can also fight pride.
The first thing we can do to help fight pride getting in the way of our career growth and successful software projects is to simply cultivate gratitude. By being more grateful of what we have, we have less attachment in being right, rewarded, or having certain outcomes - and this gives us the courage we need to try new things.
The second thing we can do to help fight pride is to see the potential in other people and the value of their ideas. If we always look to others to do things how we do, and we only evaluate others based on how often they are supporting our ideas, we miss out on the ability to benefit from what they might bring to the table. It helps us be more humble when we keep an open mind to the value of others at all times.
The last thing we can do to help fight pride is to encourage risk taking at our company and with our people. With risk comes reward, and working at companies that only take small, calculated risks only produces minimal improvements. It also creates a culture where people are unable to be as creative, and produce the innovation and efficiency breakthroughs necessary to really move to the next level. A leader of a team who knows the importance of this will harvest the best ideas from their people.
Have you seen challenges with pride in yourself or your team when delivering software? Leave me a comment below.