paging the marquess of queensberry

I haven’t used my desktop’s browser in at least 10 days, but this morning I found a tab holding a video archive of a panel of interesting folk, including Mitchell and some d.school folk. (One of the unexpected joys of Firefox 2′s session restore feature has been, for me, these link trails that last weeks. I really have no idea how I got to that page, though I suspect it involved metacool.)

Lots of interesting tidbits in there, but one that really resonated with me was from Bob Sutton: “[it's] not a good idea to tell [d.school students] not to fight, we just have to teach them how to fight, which is actually a lot harder”. I think that figuring out how to embrace and manage productive conflict in our wacky Mozilla world is a major challenge and opportunity for us, made all the harder because of our typically disconnected communication and the sheer scale of our community. Silver bullets welcome, of course!

4 comments to “paging the marquess of queensberry”

  1. entered 22 November 2006 @ 1:15 pm

    Here are some “Marquess of Queensberry” rules for you:

    http://www.hecker.org/writings/handling-disagreements

    The key premises are that all significant disagreements are ultimately about personal values (apropos of the video, I think this includes design-related disagreements as well) and that values by their nature are typically strongly held, not shared, and potentially incompatible, particularly in public projects open to anyone. The task is to make the “best” decisions possible while preserving overall group cohesion and avoiding destructive feuds and splits.

  2. entered 24 November 2006 @ 5:18 am

    To have productive conflicts, I think a team needs to have a certain level of transparency. Frank says as much in his writings linked above.

    When that doesn’t exist, a group’s approach to managing conflict becomes irrelevant because discourse is tainted by a common denominator that doesn’t have much to do with disagreements and more to do with personal respect and decency.

    Some of the bigger problems can be dissected into little conversations. I think the way we speak to each other in the tech industry is unique and could probably be examined.

    Along those lines, I’d like to see less “this is why you are wrong, period.” and more “this is why you are right, but…” overall in tech discussions. The analytical mind focuses primarily on problem solving and less on promoting positives — but most of us are human and do require a little praise and respect with our serving of cold hard facts.

    But really, when it comes to all that, the “no assholes” rule works just fine for me. Bob got that one right for sure.

  3. entered 24 November 2006 @ 9:02 am

    morgamic: you’re wrong, period.

  4. entered 24 November 2006 @ 8:02 pm

    Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.