It’s Labor Day here in the US. My wife made a quick trip, and I’m alone this long weekend. So I’m writing this new issue next to my dog while he sleeps on the bed.
This past week I came across the idea of radiating intent from this post Don’t ask for forgiveness, radiate intent by Elizabeth Ayer. I liked the idea because I’ve fallen into the scenario she describes “It’s better to beg forgiveness than ask permission”.
As I thought back on these past cases in my life, I felt that there was inaction on the organization to do something, so I stealthily did it, whatever it was, building a new service, setting up infrastructure configuration, or creating a shared library, etc. These are the things a single person can pull off without openly communicating it.
But in the last week, I wanted to drive larger-scale projects, and for those, I couldn’t do them without radiating the intent. Otherwise, it would be hard to reach specific teams of broader scope. Since I had never done that before, it was a scary thing to do for me. But it was an exciting moment to reflect on why I was scared. Why do I find it hard to send that email? Send that slack message?
In the past, I used someone else’s authority to drive large-scale projects, like having a Principal engineer or a Sr Director appoint me as the person on point for a given project. Imposter syndrome was hitting hard because I’m neither of those levels yet.
To get over my fear, I decided to take it in small increments and first talked with my manager, saying that I intended to drive these large projects; she agreed as she trusted I had my tasks under control. Then I went to my skip level and again got approval to proceed.
So then I sent my email, covering the larger organization that would be involved, and either got no response (or concerns) or a positive response and an idea for the next steps.
I think I’ll keep using this idea in other areas because as my scope gets larger, it becomes more difficult to execute “hidden” from everyone else. The communication that comes from radiating intent has the side effect of leaving a paper trail of communications.
Radiating intent has saved my butt and made me way more capable and less scared in so many projects.— Jeff Hodges (@jmhodges) October 2, 2019
Radiating intent by communicating what you intend to do, and allowing for objections to come while you work to execute cuts through the beg forgiveness/ask permission knot
I also feel better about breaking that mental barrier and moving forward with a large-scale project. Doubt will always be part of working in an organization, not only at a personal level. Will I be able to influence all these people? Can I pull this project without direct reports? What does success look like for this program? But also, on the actual thing you’re trying to deliver, is this the right solution? are these the right tools? or the right technology stack? Etc.
That’s all for this week, happy coding!