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Craig Nicol (he/him)
Craig Nicol (he/him)

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Ask Your Mentor These 40 Questions : failure (Q1-10)

Lifehacker suggests 40 questions to ask your mentor. So that I don’t have to repeat myself, I’m posting the answers here in 4 chunks.

  1. What’s a big mistake you’ve made that you’d want others to avoid repeating?

Never take responsibility away from a team. Empower them and trust them. If you lead a team, don’t tell them that the buck stops with you, tell them that the buck stops with all of them. You can defend the team from others, and take responsibility for failures externally, but always make sure everyone is accountable for their own work and you all succeed together or not at all.

  1. What’s your strategy for overcoming failure?

Move on. Leave the failure in your notebook, or in your action log. Own the failure, understand why it happened and work to avoid that situation in future. Put safeguards in place, rework the environment, but don’t expect future you not to fall into the same trap as current you. Move the trap where you will notice it.

  1. What’s an essential lesson you learned as a result of failure?

An untested backup is a wish, not a promise. Test it to make sure its a promise.

  1. When should I give up on a pursuit?

When it no longer provides value. Or there is a better way to provide the intended value.

  1. Do you believe in the sunk-cost fallacy?

Absolutely. And I have worked on projects that recognised this, restarted from scratch, and delivered for less than the change in estimate to continue the project.

  1. How do you assess what feedback is legitimate?

It’s specific, The person giving it has your trust, or the trust of others you respect, It’s given in kindness even if it’s given with force.

  1. How do you integrate feedback into your work and lifestyle?

Always listen. Ask for feedback. But most importantly, act on the feedback, and show yourself acting on feedback, because that always encourages more. If feedback is lost, new feedback is never given, because what’s the point?

  1. How big of a risk is too big of a risk?

Depends on the project. A team of 1 can handle a much bigger risk than a team of 100. A team with a strong PM who manages risk well, can handle more risk than one with a weak PM.

  1. How do you determine which weaknesses can be overcome?

Ask. Whichever weakness you have, someone out there is thriving with it.

  1. Can you tell a story of how you recovered from a massive blunder?

[I deleted a database]

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