Motivation

Dunning–Kruger effect

Kalau anda pernah mendalami dan sudah cukup ahli dalam suatu bidang/keahlian, kemungkinan besar ada saatnya dimana semakin anda belajar/berlatih, semakin rendah rasa percaya diri dan semakin anda merasa tidak mampu di bidangnya. Namun setelah mempelajarinya beberapa kali lagi, rasa percaya diri dan persaan mampu mulai berkembang dan bertambah seiring dengan banyaknya pelajaran/ilmu yang diterima.

Fenomena seperti itu disebut sebagai dunning-kruger effect.

dunning-kruger-effect-1024x724

Pengalaman saya dalam mengalami Dunning-Kruger effect

Dalam pemograman, saya sudah cukup banyak mempelajari dan memahami bidang architecture dan maintainability dari sebuah applikasi. Saya pernah mengalami rasa percaya diri yang tinggi setelah memahami N-Tier, dependency injection dan C#. Saat itu, saya berpikir bahwa inilah arsitektur terbaik dan paling mudah di-maintain. Sekitar 6 bulan berikutnya, saya mendapat kesempatan untuk menerapkan pemahaman saya dalam pengembangan di dunia nyata.

Setelah 3-6 bulan pengembangan berjalan, saya mulai merasakan masalah dan kesulitan dari arsitektur yang saya pilih. Semakin saya mempelajari lebih dalam, semakin saya ragu dengan kemampuan saya. Akhirnya setelah 1 tahun berjalan, proyek dibatalkan (yang merupakan keputusan dari sisi bisnis) dan applikasi yang saya kembangkan tidak berguna.

Kejadian ini saya manfaatkan untuk mengevaluasi pemahaman2 saya dan meneliti arsitektur-arsitektur secara lebih luas lagi. Saya mulai mempelajari nodejs dan kembali memperdalam php. Saya mulai menemukan banyak arsitektur baru dan mempelajari keunggulan dan kelemahan dari masing-masing arsitektur. Dari sana, saya mendapatkan pemahaman yang lebih luas dan menjadi semakin ahli dalam bidang ini.

Manfaat memahami / mengalami Dunning-Kruger effect

Dunning-Kruger effect adalah fenomena alamiah yang dapat dialami oleh siapapun. Efek ini juga alami terjadi dalam sebuah proses pembelajaran. Karena ini adalah proses alami, maka anda tidak perlu takut atau menghindarinya.

Orang biasa pada umumnya sudah menampilkan tanda-tanda menyerah saat mulai mengalami penurunan tingkat confidence saat baru mempelajari suatu bidang. Semakin mempelajari, semakin rendah tingkat confidence nya dan saat mencapai tingkatan terendah, mereka menyerah.

Namun sekarang anda menyadari bahwa ini adalah proses alamiah dan rendahnya rasa percaya diri itu adalah normal. Anda dapat mulai mempelajari bidang tersebut dari sudut pandang yang berbeda-beda, mencari teknik2 dan menggunakan cara-cara belajar yang berbeda. Perubahan cara pandang dan cara belajar tersebut memperbesar kemungkinan anda dalam mendapatkan pemahaman yang lebih luas, lebih dalam, dan meningkatkan confidence. Setelah itu, anda sudah mencapai tahap terakhir dari Dunning-Kruger effect dan pelajaran yang anda dapatkan berikutnya hanya akan memperkuat kemampuan dan confidence anda.

Conclusion

Dunning-Kruger effect adalah fenomena alami yang normal terjadi dalam proses pembelajaran. Memahami fenomena ini dapat membantu anda dalam melewati tahap confidence ter-rendah dan menjadi ahli dalam sebuah bidang yang diminati.

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Context Switching – what works for me

Context Switching

This article is a follow up to Pawel Brodzinski’s good article about context switching. On short note, let’s say that context switching happens when we are doing one project, then switching to another project. The tasks, information, data, code (context) are changing.

Context switching is not without cost, it consume brain power and usually need time for one developer to catch up to working condition after switching. So it is generally bad. However Brodzinski already mentioned the Zeigarnik Effect.

Our brains remember much better tasks that we haven’t finished and also have intrusive thoughts about that thing.

So we got 2 contradict situation. One where our brain is doing better when we are multitasking (switching context) and that the context switching / multitasking is costly. Let’s just say that the amount of multitask one can do will yield into diminishing return at one point. So how do we know the peak point of context switching’s benefit? Trial and error. The solution below works for me, and maybe also works for you.

My Solution

Limit to two tasks

For me, multi tasking comes with responsibility and pressure. More tasks assigned to you, more pressure and responsibility you hold. Which is why I think assigning two tasks at the same time is the best. Three is okay, but the third one must have very low priority over the other. More than three will cause queue time.

One long-running task and one short-running task

I experienced good performance when I am assigned with one project / task which is long-running (long deadline), and another which can be completed shortly / soon. That way, I can focus my work to the long duration one, then switch to the short-duration one when I get problems / stuck or simply bored.

Why not both short-duration or both long-duration tasks? I must say the mental effect comes here. A feel of achievement from clearing one task can help you boost your moods and performance. The mood boost will help when working the other one. That can only be achieved by doing two different-duration tasks.

Can focus the long duration work, then switch to the short-duration work when get problems

One higher priority and another lower priority task

Similar with before, this way I can focus the work with the higher priority one then switch to lower one when stuck. When both tasks are high priority, and you will feel very pressured. Otherwise, when both tasks are low priority, you will feel lazy / loose.

Do I feel the performance gain?

Yes it is. I don’t know whether it’s the same case with the other. However when I am stuck with a case/problem or need a long time analysis, usually I tried to distract myself from the task (usually by browsing which ended in seeing many cat pictures), or changing to other tasks. After some time, I will switch back to the problem with zero cache or memory in my mind about it, and thinking it from the start with different approach.

This way, when I have multiple tasks, I can distract myself with that other task, while both unconsciously thinking about the problem and forgetting the current not-working solution about the problem.

When I am stuck, I tried to distract myself and come back later with new approach

Conclusion

Two task, with both varies between priority and duration benefits me the most from context switching.

Which attitude for hire?

In management world, you will often hear the following quote:

hire for attitude train for skills

The quote is good and hit the point. However even after you agree that attitude is better than skills for hiring people, knowing which “attitude” that are being mentioned in the quote is important. I will say that, without knowing the attitude that is mentioned in the quote, you better hire for skills instead.

In this article, I’ll use many references from Pawel Brodzinski. His writing is insightful and he is good at management. Moreover, he also had written one article titled “Why I Genuinely Want To Work With You“, a very similar with this one.

The essential attitude : Honest, open handed and cheerful

Essential attitude are useful in any kind of job.

For me, the very essential attitude, required and isn’t negotiable is honesty. A person I want to work with, or hire must be a honest person. Brodzinski also say that in business, the trust isn’t measurable. For me, honesty is the most important part in building trust. Dishonest person won’t make a great partner, and they will even make me work under suspicion and making me take extra step to prevent them stabbing me in the back.

The second essential attitude is open handed and willing to help, If they are willing to help me, I will do the same and am willing to help them. No matter how skilled someone is, if they are not willing to help, their ability won’t be much of use.

Last is cheerful. Why cheerful? A cheerful person will bring positive energy to workplace. They will brighten other employees and they can get more motivation and less stressed. In front-desk jobs, a cheerful person will be more liked by customers rather than a gloomy one. You wouldn’t want to work with a gloomy person, right? Worse if that gloomy person is your supervisor.

Note: There may be several disagreement about those three attitudes can be useful in any job. Ex: cheerful factory worker or honest sales. It is conditional though and can be interpreted differently. Ex: the sales is honest to the company and only do small lies to the customer, or cheerful factory worker can be serious at working and fun at break time.

The job-supporting attitude

Different job need different supporting attitude. That’s why you cannot determine that an attitude will be useful for any line of job, even if the attitude is positive one. For example: a manager or CEO will need to have innovative and creative thinking attitude, while a factory worker need not to have that attitude. A non-innovative or non-creative factory worker is better than innovative one, because they can follow order and won’t complain about the current system. It’s cruel I know, but it’s what the business needs.

The same is applied with the so-called good attitude: “hard worker” and “can work under pressure”. Both of them has very specific appliances and not all line of jobs benefit from them. Managers that is “hard worker” usually cannot manage well. They often do the work themselves and leading to micromanagement. If not, they usually prefer hard-worker staff, resulting in overtime, reduced employee happiness and reduced employee creativity and problem solving skill.

In programming world, they don’t need the “can work under pressure” attitude while most company stated that they need programmer with that kind of attitude. I don’t really understand the reasoning behind it. Unless the software they are developing is used in military, nuclear plants, airplanes or anything that can involve life beings, there won’t be any meaningful pressure.

Michelangelo, talent is cheap, dedication is costly!
– Bertoldo de Giovanni

For every job that need skill refinery such as smiting, music, crafting to even programming, dedication is a must-have trait. They need to be dedicated to their job, doing and doing the same thing countless time, refining they skills anytime to make them able to provide masterpieces.

Conclusion

There are essential attitudes, where the attitudes are useful in any line of job and the other attitudes are job-specifics. Knowing which attitudes to look for is as important as knowing that hiring for attitude is better than hiring for skills. When you are mistakenly looking for the wrong attitude required, you are hiring the bad employee.

There is more than just money

Money indeed can buy happiness. If you don’t agree with that statement, at least you will agree with: having no money in society can bring you sadness. What you need at least is enough money to make you happy. If you want to be happier, the amount of money required is increasing exponentially. Not precise, but at least it is.

Well, take that aside. We won’t talk about the relation between money and happiness here. I am talking about whether you are doing your job is just for the money or not. At least for myself, it is more than just money that I’m doing my job. It’s a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction to it.

Maslow’s pyramid

Taken from wikipedia,

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory in psychology proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” in Psychological Review.[2] Maslow subsequently extended the idea to include his observations of humans’ innate curiosity. His theories parallel many other theories of human developmental psychology, some of which focus on describing the stages of growth in humans. Maslow used the terms “physiological”, “safety”, “belongingness” and “love”, “esteem”, “self-actualization”, and “self-transcendence” to describe the pattern that human motivations generally move through.

If we ordering the source of work motivation from bottom to top, we get:

  1. physiological
  2. safety
  3. love
  4. self-esteem
  5. self-actualization

Money can only fit into number 3 and half of number 4. Having money will grant physiological, safety, and love (love can’t be bought, but love’s safety can be enhanced by money). It can also grant some of self esteem up to some factor, but not all. Then what money can’t buy is the rest part of self-esteem and self-actualization.

One part of self-esteem

There is one part of self-esteem that cannot be bought by money. It is a part of pride. Even if you have money from prostitution, there is one part of pride that cannot be achieved. But Bill Gates, ex-chief executive officer of Microsoft, will have pride and self-esteem of his profession.

Meanwhile the other part can be easily bought by money, because money is socially accepted as indicator of success. Having good car, houses, watch will provide you some self-esteem.

Self-actualization

This is the source of motivation that can produce masterpieces.

Maslow describes this level as the desire to accomplish everything that one can, to become the most that one can be.

What has Mahatma Gandhi done for the Hindu is part of self-actualization, or even greater is part of Self-transcendence. He has no motivation for money, love, or pride. He struggle for what he want to do and what he feels right.

Beethoven is same. Even if his ear does not function well, it does not prevent him from creating more art works. Again not for money, he just want to do it. Now imagine if you offer him a good business that is profitable (say, restaurant), will he take it? He won’t, because he is not in passion for that.

Hitler on the other hand, is also part of self-actualization. Interestingly, his passion is drifted from the original artist path, into a nation leader and dictator. If only fueled by money as source of motivation, he won’t be as great as that.

What if self-actualization is achieved

When the source of self-actualization has been achieved, it is possible for you to be lost interest in it, be bored and even depressed. In this case, usually the person try to find another passion to pursue, or rest for a while until higher goal is set. It happened at the case of Michael Jordan. He retired when he found no challenge anymore, feels that he already achieved his goal.

Conclusion

There is more to do at working than just looking for money. It is divided into hierarchical reasons, and money cannot fulfill all the reasons. If you are working for the highest reason of motivation, self actualization, then you will find yourself at highest motivation.