This week the assignment in the academy was to learn. Not necessarily technologies that will be needed during our course through the academy, but more about soft skills needed to adapt to the culture at Nearsoft.
What I have understood throughout my interaction with Nearsoftonians and the orientation classes during my two weeks, is that Nearsoft is about teamwork. One of the videos seen talked about the religious experience of the diminishing of the “I” to become the “we”.
Although I disagree with his views on “religion” in the way he put it (let's face it, it's extremely hard to agree with someone on religion) he makes an interesting point about teamwork. When a group of people comes together united under one goal, amazing things happen.
When we understand that no man is an island, but part of a continent, we face the challenge of communication; even harder: effective communication. The ability to give a presentation, message or meeting, where everyone understood what the speaker intended to say.
This is a challenge because every listener in the room comes from a different background and has a different way of thinking. They have their own worries and their own desires. So the challenge comes in uniting them under one same rallying cry—willingly.
One of the readings was a whole book explaining how to be able to tune a message to the “frequency of resonance” of the audience. Personally I believe that this doesn't apply only to presentations, but to effective communication of all kind, especially among teams or with clients.
The tool most used for communication in the work place is the tried and true email and skype. With the ideas presented in a google tech talk and the ones given to us by Julio in the communications class, I propose a small system to use these tools.
This system consists of identifying and separating the important and not-so-important email. Three large categories: Urgent, Important, Not-so-important. The urgent email would be client or team work related stuff. Say if the client's server is down and needs help, that seems pretty urgent. Important stuff is stuff that definitely needs attending, but not necessarily immediate. Not-so-important could be spam-ish stuff.
This is done in order to be able to use email more effectively and not waste time. Urgent email should be checked every few often. Maybe implement some sort of desktop notifications, or phone notifications for emails that come from the client.
The Important email should be checked every hour or so. This is because humans are not capable of multi-tasking, despite what many people try to argue. If you lose focus or attention on what you were doing to check email you'll lose the idea, and it will waste time trying to recover it.
Distractions consume a LOT more time than we're aware of. The idea is to NOT check the important email during times of concentration. But since they are important, they should be checked every period or so of time, and act immediately on it. Say you got an email that requires a response, but it's not urgent. You let it sit there while you finish your hour or so of concentrated work, or until you can come to a pause. You then check the email and respond immediately. Having resolved the issue, go back to work. Effective and non-time consuming.
Part of the vision of nearsoft is to become a leader in innovation in Mexico, and some of the videos and readings we saw were very interesting regarding innovation. It's incredible to see how wrong I was on innovation.
A very interesting read was about the 10 myths of innovation. There was also two videos of lectures from the author talking about innovation, where he exposes his research on innovation. I found it so interesting, I purchased his book. To my surprise, I believed several of the myths of innovation. Too extensive to go into it here, but basically he says that innovation comes from hard work, smart work, dedication, and most importantly: the freedom to think.
The idea is to not be afraid of ideas, but to explore them before killing them. One safe way to explore new ideas and their acceptance into market is called pretotyping. This concept was developed by Alberto Savoia who studied success and flops in business.
He realized that some ideas that had great acceptance and were invested in were total flops, while other rejected ideas became success. So he proposes a way to test the ideas before actually investing time and money in them.
The best example would be speech-to-text by ibm. Instead of investing time and money in building a machine that converts speech-to-text, have a person in another room typing what the user is saying. Then bring in customers to test the “machine” and see if they would buy it. Turns out they wouldn't buy it, and they saved loads of time and money by NOT building something that no one would buy.
To wrap things up, there were also several life lessons learned during this week. About how personality can change, about how fast learning beats already known knowledge, about the perception of problems and oneself against them, about how society sets labels on people and can't get past them, and even about how relationships die.
All in all there was a lot of learning material, a lot to ponder on, and most importantly, a lot of habits and ways of thinking to adapt to myself. I consider myself a flexible person who will embrace change and pursue it, if it seems better. I will try to embrace all the stuff that promotes positive change in myself learned this week, and seek to make them my habits, mentality, and culture.