I’m both excited and nervous about the possibility to write this blog post. Actually, I think this is the very first official blog post I have ever written. Weird, right? In our generation of bloggers and in the era of social media, it feels a bit strange not ever having written one, which of course makes writing this even more scary. However, this also happens to be a very lucky coincidence for me, as my own situation perfectly links to what I want to talk about. Being open about our limits and weaknesses is essential for learning to happen. So, I decided to take this challenge and dare to learn.
In today’s rapid and ever-changing world it’s impossible to know everything or to have all the necessary skills at the ready. Thus, the skill of knowing your own limits, still being brave enough to try it and ask for help (be it Google or a colleague) is vital in learning.
Building a new digital service is also essentially a learning process. I work at Reaktor, where our small, autonomous and multidisciplinary teams work together with our clients like Finnair, Kone, HBO and YLE to answer their needs in the digital world. Aiming to constantly improve is embedded in the way we build new services.
At the start of a new project we strive to understand the current reality and the problems of the customer, rather than to decide beforehand what the details of the final product or service will look like. Instead of set-in-stone plans we want to remain open and work iteratively, building on feedback from the users of the service and our view on the world today. We tolerate uncertainty in the favor of staying flexible and being able to put our learnings to immediate use. Sometimes it means we might have to give up on our first ideas – exactly the ones we were most excited about.
In addition to vulnerability, learning requires courage too. It is easy to paralyze in front of new things. Accepting whatever fear you might have and still trying out something new is, in my opinion, in the very core of learning.
When you feel like your skills hit the wall, it’s important to have someone you can ask for help. In my case I could turn to my good colleague and friend with my first draft. She is an expert in writing, and her help in taking this text to the next level and improving my understanding was essential. Similarly, in our project teams everyone can trust others to give a helping hand. No-one can be, nor needs to be, an expert in everything. This is supported in our ways of working. For example, we hold daily meetings where everyone shares what they are currently doing and can ask for help. We also regularly have retrospectives; gatherings where you go a bit deeper into how the project is going, what could be improved and how everyone is feeling. This supports the learning of the whole group and means that the responsibility is shared with the whole team, which helps also to create a better work culture, as everyone strives towards common goals.
This approach to building digital services that I have been explaining briefly is called agile software development, and it’s the core methodology behind all our projects. Compared to the traditional model of development where you make detailed long-term project plans, agile methods advocate adaptive planning, iterative development, early delivery, and continuous improvement. This approach isn’t always easy, but it supports learning in an ideal way and, in my opinion, it is also one the main reasons behind our success.
Ok, so this was my first real blog post ever. Wow. I’m happy I did this, even though it made me feel insecure at first. I learned a lot, and I hope this writing conveyed some new perspectives for you as well.
Ps. One of my colleagues Hermanni Hyytiälä, a true expert in learning and unlearning, is joining the Dare to Learn event as a speaker in a fireside chat. I warmly recommend you to go and listen!
Talent Expert at Reaktor