On responsibility, integrity, contribution

My boss conducted a talk — jokingly dubbed as a brainwashing session — to us new hires on the team principles. It wasn’t much of a brainwash for me though since for most parts (if not all), I pretty much agreed with what he said. Either that, or I had been brainwashed. In this post I’ll just do a brain dump on three principles that were discussed: Responsibility, Integrity, and Contribution.

Responsibility – For me, this means taking ownership, doing what you’re supposed to do, and inversely, not doing what you aren’t supposed to do. A new phrase I picked up from the talk is “being cause in the matter”. I like how it goes against learned helplessness and the feeling of being victims of circumstances. Sure, you’re up to your knees in shit, you’ve cursed the world, you’ve vented. But don’t leave it at that. Do something about it. Don’t leave it all up to chance and wait till some deus ex machina gets you out of the mess that you’re in. You’re only as stressed (busy, troubled, etc) as you’d allow yourself to be.

During the talk, I was reminded of something my father told me when I got into a really bad situation in college. Pa advised: “Huwag ka magpadala sa problema. Dalhin mo yung problema.” Using Google Translate, that’s “Do you send the problem. Bring the problem.” which doesn’t quite capture it. 😛 Roughly it translates as you shouldn’t let your problems take control of you, and that you should take command of your problems or the situation instead.

Integrity – Two quotes always come into mind when this topic is brought up. First is say what you mean, mean what you say. Second is on how integrity is doing the right thing even when no one’s looking. With respect to being in a mess, this means no cover-ups and acknowledging your misses when you’re at fault.

Contribution – One of the bullet points listed was on helping vs. making a contribution. This then reminded me of a saying about a hungry man and some fish. I can’t remember the exact words but I thought that giving him fish was akin to helping whereas teaching him how to fish was the real contribution. Well, that wasn’t how it was discussed. It was more of instead of thinking of someone or something as flawed, regard it as “perfect” (this might be more challenging for a tester) and just think of how you could add more value to it.

Some related blog posts to these principles and on feedback (also discussed in the talk):

Good citizenship

I suppose common courtesy ought to fall under good citizenship.  Cockburn wrote that “Good citizenship is a matter of acting in ways that benefit others” (emphasis is mine).   Samples of citizenship coming into play that he cited includes getting to meetings on time, answering questions from other people, bothering to mention things that one notices, etc.

Going deeper, I suppose the prereqs of good citizenship include respect and responsibility.

  • respect for resources that aren’t yours — you clean as you go; you don’t print if you don’t really need it
  • respect for other people — you don’t go ordering people around esp if you’re not their boss; you don’t leave the pantry messy just because there’s Marlyn and Dendyn who can do the cleaning up
  • respect for other people’s time — you keep your email concise and direct to the point; you don’t keep a meeting longer than it already is by asking questions on parts that you missed because you were sleeping
  • respect for your time — you make the most of the hours required at work so you can spend more time for yourself after work
  • responsible for your tasks — doing what you’re supposed to do, plus doing it right and doing it on time, plus trying to find better ways to do your tasks; you don’t just dump it at the last minute to someone else on a Saturday with an excuse that you’ve got somewhere else to be — as if that someone else doesn’t have a life
  • responsible for your words — you honor your words even if it’s not in writing
  • responsible for your growth — you try to keep on learning