The Power of Real

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photoEvery morning, I stand in a circle with members of my team. These are statisticians, engineers, content folks, and researchers. Together, we participate in a standup, a time when we each share what we’ve done since yesterday, what we plan to do today, and where we’re stuck.

As we share how we’re stuck – maybe it’s a difficult analysis, engineering problem, platform content challenge, or research method – we speak up if we can offer a concrete, next step solution. Otherwise, we remain silent.

There is no ego, there are no wasted words, and there is no judgment. There is no shame in saying, “I don’t know.” Instead, it’s a common occurrence. If you’re solving difficult and interesting problems, it’s likely that you’re not going to know what to do every step of the way. If you always knew, the problem probably wouldn’t be all that interesting.

When we offer solutions, they may take the form of online content – a video, a website, a code base – an expert someone knows, a promise to check a social networking site for more information, and a video, to name a few. The goal is to get unstuck, so we support one another in doing that in any way possible. No one waits around for permission to take action or to offer advice.

When I look around the circle, I see people of all shapes, sizes, colors, appearances, and skill sets. I see novices and experts standing side by side, all respecting one another through the power of the standup.

My first standup was over a year ago. I kept waiting for the smart remark, the ego check, the gossip, the cynicism, or the lack of agency.

I have to admit – I saw and felt those things quite often in schools and non-profits.

I never see them here. It’s incredible how real work with real deadlines and real interdependencies breeds a different level of interaction. All the crap fades away. It’s more fun. It’s more challenging.

It’s more real.

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