Look Up and Around

From Weekly I/O#63

Don't only look down. As an individual contributor in an organization, one should spend 20 percent of the time looking up and looking around.

Book: Build: An Unorthodox Guide to Making Things Worth Making

Individual contributors (ICs), who do not have managerial responsibilities, are primarily tasked with completing specific assignments. Their role is to pay close attention to details, and most ICs depend on their managers to set a destination and lay a path for them to keep their focus on the work.

Nevertheless, if an IC constantly looks down with their eyes exclusively on their tight deadlines and the minutiae of their job, they may walk directly into a brick wall. Therefore, an IC needs to spend 20 percent of the time looking up and around.

Look up means looking beyond the next deadline and looking forward to all the milestones in the next few months. Then look all the way further to your ultimate goal: the mission. Ideally, it should be the reason you joined the project in the first place. As your project progresses, be sure the mission still makes sense to you and that the path to reach it seems achievable.

Look around means getting out of your comfort zone and away from the immediate team you're on. Talk to the other functions in your company to understand their perspectives, needs, and concerns. This internal networking is valuable and can warn you early if your project is not headed in the right direction.

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