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Building Shared Understanding Is Hard

Published: July 06, 2017

1 mB7S3wypuD9so6peD084mA We were aligned last week. And now we are not. What gives?
Correct. Building shared understanding is hard. And fleeting. You have to keep at it.

Why are the on-boarding docs in Confluence out of date?
Because building shared understanding is hard. It takes work. If we can’t keep them updated maybe they are not important. Do you care?

Do we really need another whiteboard session?
Yes. Building shared understanding is hard. It takes time.

Why do we keep having to revisit the mission goals?
Because building shared understanding is hard. Especially when we’re gathering new learnings and information.

**Why didn’t they thoroughly read my Slack message?
**Because Slack is a fire-hose. Building shared understanding is hard. Go for a walk and figure it out. Or advocate for a team agreement to read and comment on important Slack messages.

The team is super busy. But we can’t seem to get anything done!
Right. Because the stuff that matters requires shared understanding. And building shared understanding is hard. When we sidestep the hard work, we end up doing the less consequential work.

I can get so much done alone. People just slow me down.
There are certainly times for that. But if a team of five is to operate as a team (and not five teams of one each), then you have to build shared understanding. And that’s hard.

Can we just write our standup updates in Slack each day?
Conversations are important. Building shared understanding takes cadence, adding new information, and confirming our understanding. Can you do that in Slack? Give it a try…

What’s up with all the stickies? Can we get back to work?
Sure. Just make sure you are walking out of the meeting for the right reasons and not because building shared understanding is hard.

I can’t get through to people.
Yup. Building shared understanding is hard.

No one understands me.
I can relate. It’s hard. Start trying to build bridges. Build shared understanding.

Why isn’t that [shared artifact] enough?
____ is Hard. You may need more artifacts. Or more pairing on artifacts, and then throw them away once you’ve built shared understanding and captured that shared understanding in code and a usable product.

But …
Building shared understanding is hard.


Hard

So ….. Do the work!