I will win Wimbledon !


When watching a tennis match together with members of my tennis team, it is often fun to comment on the match, comment on mistakes of the players and what have could have done better to win the point. So it will not take that long until somebody says that if you really play as good in practice as you're able in theory, you will win even the Wimbledon championship ! Everybody who ever saw my tennis play in practice is pretty sure that I will never win any championship.
But why I'm telling such a simple story ? I was wondering for quite some time why some people are very shy to do many of their technical discussion open in the public. So far I have heard the answer, that doing work in small, closed teams is much more effective than doing this is big team. And I wasn't able to prove the opposite. The story of commenting a tennis match gave me finally an idea for the reason: Just commenting a match has almost no effect. I'm not the person on the playground being responsible for the result of the match. Although my comments and advises are correct, I am finally not able to give the right response because 1) I'm not the player and 2) even if I would be the player, I would not be able to give the right answers - in practice, because I have not the power or the resources for the right answers. Even worse, if I would hear in that situation some comments on how to give better answers, this would make my play worse because I would get angry about these "advices". Even if these advises are correct and given with the best wishes for me, they will be destructive for my play.
I guess the same applies for some of the related discussion on OpenOffice.org, people don't want to hear any advise if the originator of that advise does not have the power to help with the appropriate action.
So my lessons learned are:
  • I only will participate in discussions where I'm ready to help in an active manner, if I'm only able to give an advise without sustaining help, I will shut up. I will assume that the actors also have read the right books and doing the right things that there are able to do.
  • I will do as much discussion as possible do in the public, but I will use also as much filtering as I can for those people which are generating noise without really providing help, but I will carefully listening to people which are 'literally' helpful.
  • A person who is "responsible" (in German "verantwortlich", not "zustaendig" how many Germans are sometimes misinterpreting the term "responsibility") for something should be able to give answers to any (maybe silly) question, if a person being in charge of a certain project will act in a closed environment, he will never be able to be responsible !

So in short:
  • Be open, otherwise you will not be able to get new, unexpected help and you will never be responsible for your project !
  • Only give advise if you are able to help !
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Martin Hollmichel

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