by Asim Jalis
THE IMPORTANCE OF REFLECTION
There is a value that is pushed in XP and also in business
school, which is that action trumps speculation. However, despite
believing this for some time, I have not harvested any
significant gains from this. Action is pointless unless there is
reflection. We act all the time. It's only by reflecting that we
can make progress.
Consider, a principle such as LowerTheBar. This is a profound and
deep principles that has alters how a person does work and his
productivity. And yet this is a product of these conversations
and reflections. If I had acted mindlessly my whole life, I would
not be any closer to discovering this.
The risk-reduction techniques we talk about are really useful for
getting things done when work is necessary. Things like paying
bills and running errands are much easier now than they were
It is possible that executing less and reflecting more is the
mode we can operate in most effectively.
THE TURNAROUND AT K-MART
Instead of pushing harder, one solution to achieving more is to
I was reading in BusinessWeek about Eddie Lambert who bought out
and has essentially turned K-Mart around. (Not related to our
main point, but this is nevertheless interesting: he was
kidnapped at gunpoint and was able to persuade the kidnappers to
lower their demand from $4 million to $40,000.)
The things that Lambert did to turn around K-Mart are standard
business practices. The basic principle behind all this was that
he spent more money. The previous management of K-Mart was so
terrified of bankruptcy and so fixated on cost cutting that they
had essentially stopped all spending. Lambert hired expensive
companies to redesign the stores, create new advertising
campaigns, and looked for other ways of increasing the value of
The main point of all this is that sometimes you have to get away
from your goal, to get closer to it. I.e. you have to increase
costs instead of reducing them. The more desperately one desires
something the less attainable it becomes.
Most stories of burnout have this pattern: one element is pushed
really hard and other equally important things are not.