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I moved from Europe to Bali, Indonesia 🇮🇩 2 months ago, and it helped me rediscover two principles from the Agile Manifesto and the power of cognitive dissonance
Compared to South East Asia, Europe is quite a codified area and enforces its laws rather successfully. This is especially true of driving a car. People trust in the system and that others will follow the rules.
In practice, you can think less (you still should, but that’s another story), which leads many people to drive on autopilot. As if knowing how others will behave on the road due to a standarized set of rules and interactions.
📋 Enter (in part) Agile Manifesto:
“Individuals and interactions over processes and tools”
“Responding to change over following a plan”
When driving, in Europe, we are more on the right side and in Indonesia more on the left side (pun intended).
In Bali, when a situation happens on the road (traffic jam, people unable to take a turn, an accident etc.), people adjust, support one another (giving space, helping out), inspect and adapt. I’ve seen the same in Saigon, Vietnam and… on Charles de Gaulle roundabout in Paris.
People know things constantly change in those places and are much more vigilant on the street. They don’t expect perfect road conditions. They take what is and work from there. They beep all the time but not out of anger, it’s: “Hey, I’m going to make a manoeuvre, watch out.”
🖼️This frame of mind, how we approach and what we expect from situations, is what can create tension in a team or make it ‘embrace’ change. Teams who expect to have their work laid out and just follow the plan will suffer from cognitive dissonance when working in a startup.
“Cognitive dissonance is the discomfort a person feels when their behaviour does not align with their values or beliefs. It can also occur when a person holds two contradictory beliefs at the same time.” — source.
The same goes when we are stuck in traffic. If we expect to be at home early, we might get frustrated. If we let it go, we might actually start enjoying, for instance, the music playing on the radio. We will, either way, arrive at the same time, with or without our expectations.
👉🏼 I’m not saying that you should start thinking differently, and all your worries will fade away. I’m saying — to match your expectations to the surroundings to decrease the tension.
If your team is working in an environment far from perfect, and they are increasingly frustrated, don’t promise them all is going to be fine. These circumstances may be there for some time.
Then they can use this saved energy to change what is in their control instead of frustrating over how things look like.
👀 Accept the situation and work your way up from there.