A friend was recently telling me about his family’s land in South Texas. You see, while his father’s family were very hard workers, they grew up with equally meager surroundings. It was easy to acquire land back then, because it was cheap and not worth much other than herding cattle. When his grandparents died, they passed down about 100 acres of land each to their five kids. Nobody really celebrated, because there wasn’t much to be done with it.
Oil was struck in all five plots. My friend’s grandparents were walking around a gold mine without knowing it.
I smiled the entire time this story was being told because I know that exact feeling. Not that I live on unearthed crude oil (that I know of). What I was enjoying was the concept of un-mined resources, because it happens on every team I have led.
For example, one of the best assurers of quality I have is an art director on my team. The tester we have is not just gifted, she was born to test on a mobile device. So you would think we have quality sown up. When we got really heavy into the testing phase of the first release, though, I saw several bugs that weren’t related to art being raised by said art director. I started to say something, but instead sat back and watched things unfold. The QA and AD sat side by side, and would often talk about things they saw and how to best document it. As a result, we had a very solid build to deliver as a release candidate (that was also beautiful).
What would have happened if I or the QA tester had stood up and said, “that’s not your job,” to the AD? Some would say that the best artists are also great at finding bugs, but that’s not necessarily part of their scope as a designer. Many in her position would just let it go and, “leave it to QA” to do that job.
As a coach, this kind of passion excites me, and inspired me to look for further un-mined resources. The strategist, who does some development on the side, is gifted in architecting features with the right services. Nearly every developer, while not a designer, has amazing ideas on how to animate and present pixels from their fellow artists. The tester I mentioned earlier is amazing at running and documenting meetings if I have to be out of the office. A team of people that see their job description as a starting point instead of a box to not deviate from.
Imagine if we all started looking around us for resources that have been under our noses the entire time. Would we discover an entire team that can ensure quality? A few extra UX designers that have been dying to have their opinion solicited? Maybe our solution could be architected a little more solidly if we only asked for volunteers to raise their hands.
I can guarantee there is oil all around us, waiting to be struck. The question is, are you willing to ask and then do something about it when you find it?