I grew up in the country and spent my summers during highschool working on a nearby vegetable farm picking produce. Collaboration in that environment was pretty easy. We each had role – you drive the machine, you pick the cucumbers, you pick up the full buckets, etc. – and as long we each did our thing we didn’t need to worry too much about what others where doing. We also got plenty of exercise – the good ‘ole days right?
But now I am a software tester, a knowledge worker, and effective knowledge work requires collaboration. In fact, I think figuring out how to effectively collaborate is one of the biggest challenges we face in the software industry and this also effects us as testers. For any number of reasons, from things like trying to apply manufacturing management strategies to knowledge workers, all to way to company cultures that encourage a individualistic hero mentality and many other thing in between, we struggle with the idea of collaboration. We have a lot of learning and growing to do in this area.
Becoming a software tester also means that I spend most of my days sitting at a desk manipulating computers. I finally realized last year that this meant I needed to go to the gym regularly, and I have been doing pretty good on that front, but just hitting up the gym for half an hour before work isn’t enough to keep me healthy. There is plenty of research that shows the importance of getting up and walking around throughout the day, so how do we integrate more of that into our lives?
My thought for today is that maybe we can combine these two things into one. In fact, I have tried to do that in my life. If I need to communicate with someone in the office, I will walk to their desk to talk to them. No chats, emails or phone calls. Yes, sometimes they are busy or can’t talk and that’s fine. I got up and walked around which is good for me anyways so there is really nothing to lose on my end. It also points to one of the things that is valuable in collaboration, namely that the richest communication medium is face to face conversation with someone. We can communicate a lot of information in person that we can’t via email or other media, but there is more too it than that. We also build relationships and rapport when we see and interact with each other in person. This is how you build collaboration: one relationship at a time.
So get up. Walk around. Talk to someone. Maybe you’ll end up with some stronger relationships and maybe you’ll even be lucky and get rid of some of that undesirable stuff that’s making it hard to button up your pants in the morning. Worth a shot right?