A Brief Cogitation on Continuous Improvement

Job titles have always eluded me. I’ve been called things – and they are mostly fitting. But in reality, I come up with solutions. I’m decisive. A smattering of things happen when you constantly improve your surroundings:

  1. You end up with a load of lists filled with new opportunities
  2. You realize that continuous improvement is mostly about decisiveness and action
  3. You start a collection of random tools and wood scraps

Living in Abundance (of lists)

If you are anything like me, you have a massive backlog. Thankfully, within the last 5 years or so, I discovered Bullet Journals. I’m a big fan of pen and paper for managing work because it forces careful cultivation of priority.

With many lists, come many priorities. How do I determine what is important? It depends on the impact and the pace of value delivery. In recent years, my team has carved out time specifically to work on technical debt projects that accelerate flow of value to the business. Some examples of this: source control on all software and database projects, test-driven development when appropriate, and automated integration tests and delivery pipelines. Picking what to work on is another challenge and leads directly to the next topic.

Being Decisive on Competing Priorities

I have found that picking a direction is often the best method. Fear of failure can be debilitating to some, however, failure is defined by lack of action. Failure should be embraced. The benefit of picking a direction and going for it is that failure shows up quickly – and then can be iterated on quickly.

When I really dove head first into Database Administration in 2012 and 2013, I needed to get my hands on the hardware. So, I did what any aspiring engineer would do. I purchased a decommissioned rack-mounted server from eBay and installed it in my living room. I will admit, my wife did not love it at first, but when she saw my passion, she learned to live with it. Although our apartment at the time was a bit louder and often warmer, I was able to pick a direction and the skills I developed in networking, infrastructure, storage, databases, etc. paved the way for my engineering career.

Collecting Random Orbital Sanders and Jigs

I do love tinkering with things. My wife had a shiplap thing (infatuation) a few years ago, and I am ashamed to admit the job title that I was forced to assume – Weekend Warrior. The epic was disguised as home improvement and the lists – honey do’s. If I said I didn’t enjoy working in the shop, I’d be lying. It is quite the therapeutic mental break from engineering things on a computer all day.

Perhaps the woodworking is more than meets the eye. Improving our home does have impact and value in our daily lives. For me, I am always looking for opportunities to improve either in myself or my surroundings. The key for me is always moving forward and finding something new to improve.