#DevDaySL: Linda Rising on Fearless Change


DevDay is an annual event: a gathering of some of the best developers in the industry along with some of the best experts in the business of developing. This year, it took place at the Oak Room at Cinnamon Grand, along four tracks – Agile, Technical, Open Track 1 and Open Track 2 respectively. Linda Rising – an American author, lecturer and consultant famous for her work in everything from weapons system to Agile development – made the keynote address, a speech titled “Fearless Change.”

LINDA RISINGIn her speech, she spoke about the process of getting things done – and debunked quite a few myths in the process. “You’re not here to build software, you’re here to change the world” she began, quoting Jeff Patton, and went on to make the following points. We think her speech on that day is worth remembering:

1. Smart people are rational – A belief proven false by cognitive research. Linda encourages those who want to implement new ideas or technologies to “Be an Evangelist” and to “Be a believer” rather than to rely on rationale; basically, to have faith and believe in our ideas.  You don’t go all out with extensive and complicated plans, she explained, but rather, have small plans and build on them step by step, and be enthusiastic and passionate along the way.

2. Good always triumphs over evil – the cognitive bias that “the good guy always wins just because he’s good” is unfortunately misleading. You still have to work hard to achieve your goals if you want to progress; the ends don’t necessarily mean the journey is any less difficult.

3. Do Food – “An underappreciated pattern that works,” she pointed out, explaining that research has shown that if you feed people, they are more likely to accept your ideas.

4. “If I just had enough power, I could make people change” – Even though you have enough power to get things done, simple brute force is not acceptable. It may get work done is not accepted but it won’t win over your employees. You still need a personal touch. Address a genuine user need. Take a walk in their shoes. Just because you have data that doesn’t make it equal to empathy.

5. Sceptics, cynics and resistors are bad or stupid and should be ignored – This is a tricky situation as it can affect the entire organizational structure. You should always listen to what critics have to say and learn from them. Ideally, she explained, each team should have a champion sceptic playing the devil’s advocate.

6. If you’re a smart person, then you don’t need help from others. Bad idea. Ask for help. Always appreciate hard work of others. It goes a long way when you give a simple “thank you”.


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