Working with Humans – Product Camp 2016 Wrap-up

Does your job involve working with humans? How is that going?

Tim Webster and Gretchen Pitt shared their story about working together – both the ups & downs.

Their story sounded rather familiar and perhaps you’ve been through something like this? I certainly have.

Tim introduced the preso by stating the profound and obvious:

‘working well with humans = wanting to work with humans.’

Who would’ve thought? Humans not really your cup of tea? Then it might be time to build yourself a nice cave and disconnect the wifi. Enjoy interacting with your fellow citizens? Read on.

Tim, the new employee, came from a startup background. He was bursting with energy and enthusiasm when he joined the well established company. Gretchen is a champ product owner and has been with the company for ages. Tim starts to shake things up and in the process ruffles Gretchen’s feathers. She’s not happy. So ‘unhappy’ in fact that Tim is swiftly moved to another team.

So how is it that these two came to work so well together? So well that they’re giving a talk at Product Camp? They shared some tips:

  1. Know thyself. The more you know about you and your style of operating, the better chance you have of working things out. Check out The Big Five personality traits.
  2. Beware of bias. Whether we realise it or not we’re running around with a lot of bias. Some of the forms of bias that affected Gretchen and Tim included halo vs horns. Gretchen was the company angel who could do no wrong, whereas Tim was assumed to be the devil because he was trying to make change. Another was fundamental attribution error, where we are quick to judge. Rather than giving someone the benefit of the doubt, we are unaware or making assumptions about what else might be going on in the other person’s life. Check out Cognitive biases.
  3. Take it outside…to the pub. By changing up their environment and talking through their issues over drinks, Tim and Gretchen were able to work through their differences and get a better understanding of each other. This paved the way for the collaborative working partnership they have today.
  4. At the start of the session we had been asked to write down ‘what behaviour annoys you most?’

    At the end of the session we were asked to look at our cards. Mine? Blocking ideas. We were then asked to think about when we last displayed this behaviour. A few sheepish looks around the room ensued. I think there were more than a few of us who were guilty of displaying the behaviour which we most detested at some point.

    My key takeaways?

    • Get to know yourself better
    • Keep communicating
    • Be humble. No one’s perfect

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