An influence timeline

It’s been such a blessing to have Ben (I mean “old Ben” :) nearby to bounce ideas off of. The odd thing is that with almost every new idea he brings up with me, my initial reaction is that he’s either crazy or just plain wrong. This is expressed in the oft-heard scowled expression, “Whaat?? Nooo…” But then over time, I often change my mind and agree with him. It happens the other way around, too. Time and again this has happened, so much so that I thought it would be worth presenting a disagreement timeline…
A Timeline of Cooperative Disagreement

  • August 2006: As part of his developer trainer role, Ben publishes unit test training classes.
  • October 2006: Having already had other good experiences with ObjectMentor, I buy Michael C. Feathers’ book Working Effectively with Legacy Code (WEwLC) and begin to read through it. (Though I see good concepts in it, I am mainly interested for reasons of my own personal professional growth. Improvement of a wider scope than that is not on my radar.)
  • First quarter of 2007: I talk with Ben about the applicability of the WEwLC book to our situation. Ben is not initially impressed; neither the book nor its author is on his list.
  • June 2007: Ben starts talking about this odd thing he calls a “SEDG” (Software Engineering Discussion Group). I’ve never heard of such a thing. It sounds like “sludge”. He tells me I should help start up a SEDG discussing through the WEwLC book. The reading and meeting will be on our own time…
  • July 27 – September 26, 2007: SEDG discussing the WEwLC book with seven other co-workers. What a committed group! How encouraging it is to discuss how to get better. Ben begins to see the WEwLC book as uniquely applicable to our situation. And looking back, I see that participating in that SEDG was a watershed point for me here – it’s as if I woke up to a new level of continuous improvement.
  • January 2, 2008: I start blogging.
  • ~January 21, 2008: I talk to Ben about the things I’ve been trying to articulate: how top performers seem to feel hampered in their attempt to do things better. Ben says it sounds like an issue of “freedom and responsibility”. I think to myself that that is the dumbest phrase I’ve heard in a long time. I have not found the right phrase, but I’m sure it’s not that!
  • Later that week: I’m searching through ProjectConnections‘ list of book reviews and find Accountability: Freedom and Responsibility Without Control . Hmm…”freedom and responsibility”… it ends up that this is pretty much an exact match for the concept I’ve been trying to articulate.
  • January 25, 2008: I order the Accountability book. As it turns out, it has several helpful insights!

I’m sure there were others, but those are the ones I could remember.

I think of that verse, ” As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” That’s how it was. Thanks, Ben!

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