April 01, 2003

Nit pickery

Will Shetterly posted a quote from Ben Franklin yesterday:

Ben Franklin told John Paul Jones, "Hereafter, if you should observe an occasion to give your officers and friends a little more praise than is their due, and confess more fault than you can justly be charged with, you will only become the sooner for it a great captain. Criticizing and censuring almost every one you have to do with, will diminish friends, increase enemies, and thereby hurt your affairs."

And I need to keep reading that over to myself.

Brief aside:
We recently saw one of John Cleese's (of Monty Python fame) Training Videos which was all about the importance of managers giving praise to their reports. This quote summarizes the message of that video quite well.
End aside.

I was always frustrated in school when I'd get a paper back with a grade marked on it but without any guidance about what specifically was wrong, and what specifically could be improved.

I've tried to combine that frustration with the golden rule, and always let people know when I see something amiss with their work. I've become notorious with one member of my group at work for always having some little comment or change request whenever he shows me a prototype or draft. But it's not just him, I do it with everyone.

I have to stop myself from firing off email to a webmaster when I notice a typo on their site. (this is one of the reasons I love Wikis) I mark typos in books I'm reading. When I'm doing user support at work I point out when I see people doing things in sub-optimal ways.

I'm afraid that rather than seeing these actions as a sincere desire to see entropy fail, people just think I'm an annoying nitpicking twit.

I suppose both could be true.

Anyway, multiple points here:

  1. I probably need to sprinkle praise more widely so that my criticism is seen as coming in the spirit of improvement, not denigration.
  2. If, as you you encounter my presence in the world, whether virtual or actual, you see ways in which I could improve my effect, I'd be delighted to receive your suggestions.
Posted by jeffy at April 1, 2003 07:03 PM