This is a continuation of my mentoring post made a few days ago but on a more fundamental level. I have no doubt that within every organization, every team and their members are thinking the same thing, but no one is saying it. There's a lot of reasons why and none of them are good. So what's the problem? Communication. People are afraid of looking stupid, asking a dumb question and generally don't want to look like the guy that doesn't know. Well, I usually don't know, so I ask and I've noticed a trend that doesn't surprise me - discussions begin to spawn awesomeness but they're not happening everywhere.
A perfect example came around a few weeks back. I got some time to sit back and learn something so I asked Jon Kruger about what I should be learning next? It's a huge, open ended question but he had a quick, exact response - learn TDD. He didn't say read up on silverlight or ruby or any thing else, he went right for a practice that he's using, regardless of its language. Ok, great, so I asked him "point me in a direction" ... he didn't find anything that was particularly good so, bonus, it spawned a lot of discussions and a few blog posts ...
TDD Starter Kit - Sample Projects and Links
What should you learn next?
Even more important, he did a Lunch and Learn -- we had a full house, around 60 people showed up. That's a great turn out and even better for Jon (people need to listen to him) but when I left I noticed yet another issue ... a group of people, 5 of them were discussing among themselves how they didn't understand where his mocking came from and how his structure map was working because "it was a custom written thing". The fail was simple : They didn't ask. If they would've went up and started talking to Jon about it, I'm sure Jon would have tore it apart and showed them anything and everything -- maybe even wrote a supplement post on it. But they didn't and the general take away was "I don't know how this part works, so I don't need it". Again, this is the fear of asking stupid questions in it's perfect sense.
So what's my point? Start the discussion. Take a chance, ask and find out. The excuse of being silent and pretending "I get it" doesn't apply if you sit back and don't ask. The biggest result that can happen is a wide, sweeping discussion that hashes out a ton of stuff that no one knew everything else is thinking.