Breaking the idol - Whyable

Breaking the idol

Being a vegan, feminist, non religious individual who is active on social media means I spend a good amount of my personal time in debate. While I am careful enough (lessons from past experiences) to engage in a debate only when a debate and not an argument can be had and that too a civil debate, I see one recurring folly that prevents many of us from truly growing and changing. What is that folly? Hold on to that question while I show you a few scenes a day at Whyable.

Scene: The Whyable Weekly Sergio Leone meeting (aka) The good, the bad and the ugly

Co-founder and CTO: So, what was not okay with your work this week newly joined member who is less than a week old?

New team member who is less than a week old: I feel the company-wide daily scrum meeting you conduct everyday is an utter waste of my time. Half an hour of listening to people speak about things that add no value to me.

Scene: Towards the end of a feature solution review discussion

Architect(sketches block diagrams and JSON objects furiously on paper): You see that? This would be a solution that will cover all scenarios and work efficiently.

Developers: Hmmm. Yes, that sounds okay. But we are not convinced. Let us go to this next meeting and come back and discuss.

Scene: This next meeting

Co-founder and CTO: What I need from you guys is commitment that you will take care of project delivery so that I can free my head and focus more on growth, sales and technology strategy.

Developers: Sure, that is fine. We can take care of delivery, but we need you to commit to devoting time to review solutions and owning the quality of them.

What is that folly that I think prevents us from growing and changing? The folly of sanctity. The folly where we take an idea, an opinion, a role or a person and sanctify them with the holy water of our belief and lock them up in sanctum sanctorum, beyond the reach of criticism and correction. The moment anything or anybody reaches this sacred pedestal, from that point onwards that thing or person gets fossilised, preserved from change. You know what such an unchanging permanent state is called? Death.

When I met my mentor and boss from my previous company two days ago, the one thing that I told him I was really proud of at Whyable was how right from my partner Tom, to the U.K. and India team, we had a culture where no idea, no person was sacred, nobody was beyond reproach and criticism.

And the reason we practice this actively at Whyable is because we don’t work at Whyable, but we “are” at Whyable. We live, change and thrive by constantly putting each other’s ideas on the dock and criticising them in a merciless but civl manner.

That is why at Whyable, when a new team member says the company wide daily scrum is a waste of time, we immediately introspect and see if the meeting is a waste of time and if we can make it useful and engaging instead of making the meeting mandatory.

That is why at Whyable, when developers trash an architect’s solution, the architect follows up the discussion with rational justifications until the holes in the solution are exposed and corrected.

That is why at Whyable, when a CTO demands a commitment to delivery from the team, the team can immediately demand commitment to vision and quality from the CTO.

That is why at Whyable as a client you always get honest clean solutions because nothing is holier to us than integrity and quality.

Because at Whyable, nothing and nobody is sacred and we intend to break down all the altars until only unbiased truth remains.

Have you and your ideas descended from the holy altar today and seen what you and your ideas are worth in the dust of the road?


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