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[XP] Re: Education and habits, comfort, familiarity, projected image

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  • aacockburn
    ... Hi, Dominic, Permit me to replay a bit of my long posting:
    Message 1 of 207 , Dec 1, 2004
      --- In extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com, Dominic Williams
      <xpdoka@d...> wrote:
      > I would like to think, however, that it would not be
      > necessary, in order to be successful, to resort to
      > sales practices that I observe to be very common and
      > which I despise (I think "manipulation" would be an
      > appropriate summary, or your own term, BS).

      Hi, Dominic,

      Permit me to replay a bit of my long posting:
      <<it is normal for humans to keep doing things that don't work, and
      gladly sacrifice efficiency for comfort, and that for familiarity.>>
      <<The sales job is not around efficiency, the easy sell, but moving
      them into unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory.>>

      Your (and Larry's) note falls fully into this category.

      When I was in my 20s and a hardware engineer, it was explained to me
      many times by many people that salesmanship and personal manipulation
      goes on all day long in all aspects of our lives, from dating,
      holding a marriage together, to getting a job and getting a raise, to
      convincing other people that our ideas are sound or better.

      As engineers, we find this uncomfortable and also unfamiliar: "I
      didn't sign up for this sales stuff." (I have said the same myself on
      many occasions).

      Well, we all got signed up for this sales stuff the moment we were
      born, and we have no choice about it.

      The tipoff word is "shouldn't" (or in your append, "I would like to
      think that it would not ...").

      The word "should" or "shouldn't" implies "even the world tells me
      that my belief about it is false, I hang onto it anyway." Which is
      the same as saying, "I have this sneaky suspicion (or I actually
      know) that I am wrong, but I don't want to face it yet."

      And guess where that puts us? Right back to the key sentence: People
      prefer familiarity to comfort to effectiveness.

      We could all be more effective engineers if we mastered the sales
      stuff and recognized that we and when we manipulate people ... and
      yet we don't go through the discomfort and unfamiliarity to learn it.

      Which is sort of the Q.E.D. of the message, and also highly
      depressing for anyone determined to avoid the sales stuff.

      So which is it that you are not interested in:
      making more money, being more effective, or having more impact with
      your ideas?
      (you don't have to answer this, I include it only to make the point)

      Alistair Cockburn
    • Dale Emery
      Hi Alistair, A few months ago you referred to Virginia Satir s phrase, People ... My initial reaction, reading this two months ago, was that it doesn t
      Message 207 of 207 , Jan 15 5:46 PM
        Hi Alistair,

        A few months ago you referred to Virginia Satir's phrase, "People
        prefer familiarity to comfort." You wrote:

        > I don't know about you, but that phrase, besides ringing true,
        > frightens the bejeebers out of me. I think that's the biggest
        > thing we're up against.

        My initial reaction, reading this two months ago, was that it
        doesn't frighten me at all. Given that I'm always advocating one
        change or another, I wasn't sure why it didn't frighten me. So
        I've been pondering.

        I think it doesn't frighten me because my persuasion style
        (developed over many years and still evolving) includes to make
        change familiar to people. I never thought about the things I do
        in those terms until I read your message, but as I look at how I
        nudge people toward change, some of it is about making the
        unfamiliar familiar.

        Here's an example of one of my nudges:

        I wasn't advocating any particular change in that situation, but
        my questions had the effect, I think, of framing Susan's problem
        so that it was suddenly very familiar to her, and then she knew
        exactly how to solve it.

        Another example:

        As I look at that story now, I think that Paul's epiphany at the
        end was largely about suddenly reframing his customer relations
        issue in a familiar light. And he knew what to do.

        Another example: What finally convinced me to try TDD and simple
        design myself was watching Alan Shalloway demonstrate how the
        rules of simple design can (sometimes) generate well-known design
        patterns. I had a little familiarity with design patterns, so
        Alan's brilliant demonstration had the effect of making something
        strange (designs can /emerge/?!) into something familiar.

        Another example of something I do often: find safe ways for
        people to try whatever I'm advocating. A small demonstration,
        maybe, or a "toy" situation to practice on, where failure doesn't
        matter. Making it safe for people to try the new idea in a small
        way nudges them to get a teeny tiny bit of experience, from which
        the new idea becomes a teeny tiny bit more familiar. Stories
        (like the ones I linked to above) can make new ideas more familiar.

        You're a pretty effective change artist, so I'll bet that a lot
        of what you do is also about helping people to find something
        familiar in something new. How have you persuaded people
        effectively in the past? Did any of that have anything to do
        with making change more familiar?

        So this idea is now in the back of my mind: If we attend
        purposefully to the idea that familiarity matters, what new ideas
        might that give us for how to encourage change?



        Dale Emery, Consultant
        Inspiring Leadership for Software People
        Web: http://www.dhemery.com
        Weblog: http://www.dhemery.com/cwd

        One half the troubles of this life can be traced to saying "yes"
        too quick, and not saying "no" soon enough. --Josh Billings
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