Being in The Right Forest
Once in a while, especially on occasions like the new year, I like to stop doing what I'm doing and think about whether I'm still in the "right forest". The idea of this comes originally from Stephen Covey, who used a little anecdote to explain the difference between leadership and management. It goes roughly like this: A group of lumbermen are cutting a road through a dense forest. They work on their task with great vigor and efficiency and congratulate themselves on the excellent progress they're making. However, as one of them eventually climbs on a tall tree to survey their situation, he notices that they have cut down the wrong patch of forest. Ouch.
I think this story teaches us a lot not only about leadership and management, but also about personal goal setting: Today it is easy to forget why we're doing what we're doing, and instead only focus on becoming more efficient in our daily activities. Someday, we might then wake up to realize that we have in fact been getting better at the wrong things. Hence, I think it is invaluable to step back from what we're doing once in a while, take a bird eye's view of our own life and ask ourselves if we're still in the right forest.
So, which forest am I cutting through right now? Well, I'm passionate about using technology and science to empower people and help them to deal with complexity. As I see it, we're about to enter a period where most if not all areas of our life will be redefined by technology and data. To deal with the resulting complexity, we will need better and more intelligent tools. I want to help build some of them.
With my current project, QuantifiedCode, my co-founders and I want to help programmers to deal better with the complexity they're facing when writing code, and eventually help them to write better code. To accomplish this, we're completely rethinking the way code analysis is done, relying on data and machine learning instead of hand-crafted code and algorithms.
What about you? Which forest are you cutting through right now?