A little over two years ago, I stumbled over a blog post that I resonated quite well with. It’s called Go see. Stop and fix it., and it’s by Leon Tranter, a certified Professional Scrum Master from Sydney, blogging about all things Agile.
The blog post covers two concepts of Lean Software Development, which is trying to incorporate many of the principles of Lean Manufacturing to software development. In this post, I want to discuss the second concept, “Stop and fix it”, which is based on one of the main philosophies of how Toyota car factories work.
The idea is quite simple: If you run into an issue—no matter what issue or where—stop what you are doing and fix it.
Since not everyone is able to do each and everything (well), I would like to change this to “Stop and help fix it”, but the gist is the same.
This could be on a project level, meaning it would most probably be rather close to the actual task you are trying to do. It could also be on a team or region or the company level, potentially bringing your current task and the problem farther away from each other—but still related, as the problem is preventing you from completing that task.
I learned about Lean during my computer science studies, and the project manager on my team at Inpsyde was a great fan of these philosophies, too. However, I don’t think I came across “Stop and fix it” before, and yet I truly liked it—and I think I am doing this quite a bit, on all levels of (my) life, actually. Also, over the last years, this sort of thing came up in 360 and performance review feedback, both from and for me, as well as 1:1 or group calls.
I believe that, if you are able to help (someone) solve a problem, it’s your responsibility to do so—unless it’s not.
If you spend quite a bit of time working around an issue, chances are high other people will have to do the same. Let’s help them (and us!) to not have to.
This can mean that you actively tackle the issue and get it out of your (and everyone’s) way.
If you are unable to solve the problem yourself, you can still help by making the people who are able to aware of the problem. Another way to (help) resolve issues is by making everyone aware of it, by publicly reporting the issue and maybe even leaving constructive feedback (depending on the context, this might be in the form of constructive criticism).
As the blog post discusses, it’s hard to imagine everyone doing this, because—as we all know—we run into loads of issues, or meta issues, pretty much all the time. But maybe that’s just because no one fixed them yet? What if everyone did do this, slowly. Not tackling each and every problem we run into, but some or most of them? Over time, everything would get better. Wouldn’t it?
What Do You Think?
How do you feel about the idea in general? Do you think that is sensible? Valuable?
Have you been doing this yourself, occasionally? If so, what kinds of issues did you decide to (help) resolve? Why?
I feel that everyone could have benefitted from someone else fixing a problem we just ran into. Maybe they tried, but failed? Maybe the didn’t think it was worth it? Or, maybe, they didn’t they were allowed to?