Yet another… (lock-down / climate crisis / economic crisis / financial crash)

On August 25th, 2020 I wrote my ‘Coronaleven’ (Corona life) post. At the time the Corona-virus was going through, what now turns out to be, one of many waves. Although, I still believe that, once we get the virus under control, we will be able to get a lot of our old life back, it is clear that the road there will be a long and difficult one.

The Dutch language post ‘Coronaleven’ was playing around with the fact that within the word Coronaleven is also the word naleven (meaning ‘following/adhering to’ the rules), a little tongue in cheek reference that we, as individuals, need to think beyond our own selfishness and adjust our behavior for ‘the greater good’ (which in this case is regaining freedom of movement for everyone).

Unfortunately, there are still too many people who either put their own personal freedom before that of the world (even claiming they’re doing it because someone needs to stand up for everybody’s freedom), not realizing that by doing so they contribute to the lock-down situation lasting longer and therefore actually achieving the opposite of what they wish.

Does it surprise me? No, not at all.

I see a trend that has been going on for many years now, where people have become focused on short term gains. They ignore long term gains that may be many times greater, because they are no longer looking ahead at the bigger picture. They live in the now instead of looking at the future.

It’s manifesting itself not only in the handling of the COVID-19 virus, but also in climate change, or the way businesses are run. Even governments all over the world suffer from this short term philosophy. It is almost as if people have lost the ability to plan ahead for the long term.

Plans are drawn for 4 – 5 years at a maximum, in the case of politicians it is just the current term that they are serving. What comes beyond that will be dealt with when the 4 or 5 years are up.

This lack of planning ahead is also manifesting itself in the way workloads are handled. Many companies are using Agile and Scrum as their holy grail for managing work. However, the implementation usually leaves a lot to be wished for.

We’re all addicted to daily stand-ups, retrospective meetings to figure out what went wrong, and meetings in general, to manage the workload. In many cases those meetings seem to be held just because a book says the meeting needs to be there, instead of actually understanding the importance of the meeting.

Meanwhile, project planning is considered old-fashioned. However, project planning serves one very important purpose, which is overlooked in many cases: Are the preconditions met to start the work?

I’ve seen this oversight in companies I’ve worked at. They happily add tasks to their sprint without checking the preconditions. Part of the meeting, where you add new tasks to the sprint, is to identify whether there are any issues that prevent the task from being added, such as preconditions that are not met (yet).

At the end of the sprint, the task is not completed successfully, because it got delayed while the team was scrambling to make sure the preconditions were met, so they could start the work.

When asking why there was no check of the preconditions before the task was started, I got the reply that that was not part of Scrum or Agile. I needed to read the books and learn how to do it properly.

So, I bought the books, I read the books and, of course, at the beginning of my Scrum book it said ‘You need to keep thinking while implementing these methods. They do not substitute for common sense and when something is needed that is not part of the procedures mentioned in this book to make sure you can successfully complete your sprint then you should make sure that it is available.’

There it was, chapter 1, you still need to check your preconditions are met before accepting work to become part of your sprint. It tought me the important lesson to trust my instincts when a manager tells me something that sounds like it is wrong and to make sure the world has not gone completely bonkers just yet by investigating if the answer that I received is true.

The people who truly shape this world are those who do not believe in following the majority without question. They investigate, gather information, and try to get insight from different points of view. Once they gather enough information, they start to see the truth through all of the opinions of people who either try to push their own agenda, or who are simply repeating what they have heard, because they have not realized that they need to work it out for themselves.

So, be curious, read up on topics you do not know enough about, try to get multiple views to make your own image of what is going on more complete and then use your brain, your common sense, and your ability to extract information, to decide what is true and what is false, what is right and what is wrong.

Act upon your findings to promote what is true and what is right, and stop repeating what is false or wrong.

Stop believing in others and start believing in yourself, your ability to figure it out.

Look at the long term effects as well as the short term effects and then decide which ones are more important for you, your family, your offspring, your neighborhood, your city, your state, your country, or even the world.

Don’t be a follower for the sole purpose of it being easy to just do what everybody else does. That will not get you (or mankind) ahead in any situation.

The world is led by the people who bring up new ideas that others can think about and agree with, so become someone who brings up new ideas and you start to regain control of your life, your individuality, and your freedom. Think ahead and be prepared. If you have already thought about something before it becomes a reality, you are ready to answer the questions of those who have not thought ahead, and sway opinions in the direction that you want to go.

In short, become a leader of your own life, not a follower.

About Q.R. Vermeulen

I'm a technical writer and support analyst for Exact Software in the Netherlands. Most of the time I help customers with questions about Exact Cloud Services, the cloud solution for Exact's business applications, giving you access to Exact Globe, Exact Synergy or Exact Financials as a cloud-based product with a subscription payment model. Next to this, I write technical documentation about the Exact Cloud Services, both for customers as well as internal documentation. In my spare time, I do a little programming in PHP and work on my website and this blog. Another hobby of mine is my model railroad. Besides tinkering with model trains, I also like to play on my keyboard and do some reading. As far as outdoor activities go, I like hiking (specially during the summer holidays) and cycling.
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