Doing Fieldwork in TIM Group


How do you get a sense of the culture of a place? This is the question that Joe Schmetzer and I were contemplating at our fortnightly morning ‘get together’ where we mentor and coach each other. We’d been discussing the idea for several meetings by this point, but this time I’d been looking at the blog of Fieldwork (thanks to Douglas Squirrel for pointing me at it!). Fieldwork has been publishing a series that they call Everyday Fieldwork and provided some instructions on how to observe the unseen elements around you and see your work differently.

Armed with the discussions I had with Joe and the instructions from Fieldwork, I’ve been taking pictures of what I see around me at TIM Group. Along with each picture, I’ve been keeping a description of what is happening in the picture and some of my own thoughts about the scene. Going forward, I am planning on posting a number of these pictures and their descriptions. I hope that they’ll help me and others understand what the culture inside TIM Group actually is.

And so, in keeping with one of the phrases I hear around here pretty often, I won’t delay in posting the first one of these.

Home Office

There is a messy desk with a laptop plugged into a large monitor. A separate keyboard and mouse are in a prominent position. A cup of tea is on the left hand side. The chair has a blanket over the back, which is used to cover the seat to keep cat hair off. On the monitor is a browser window with email in it. Behind the browser is OmniFocus and Slack. I took this on a day that I decided to work from home. A number of developers at TIM Group work from their homes either most of the time or regularly. Working from home isn’t something I normally do, however, so this was a somewhat special day. Even though I don’t do it often, I was still able to be connected to everything and everyone I needed.

What I learned about self-organisation

I learned a number of things at Olaf Lewitz and Adam Pearson’s course ‘Enabling Self-Organisation: Getting Macro Results without Micromanaging‘. I think my biggest a-ha moment was that self-organisation is not something that you do to others, it is something that you do to yourself.

The course focussed on a few simple techniques to help each of us be better able to self-organise. The first is a simple system to train into yourself for evaluating the situation you are in (feel, think, act). The second is a structure to use for actively listening where you fit what you want to reflect back to someone in a conversation structured as “you feel X because Y”.

My experiences with self-organisation at TIM Group has taught me that it starts with myself. From there it expands into how I interact with others. These two systems that I got from the course will make it more likely that I’ll have effective interactions and expand self-organisation in the group.