Respect the zone

Also know as

Flow, as in in the Flow

Motivation

Have you ever experienced a feeling that time stood still, or perhaps that time passed without you noticing? This could have been when you were reading a book, playing as a child, while sporting, but it could also happen when you are working. This state of mind, which resembles the state of mind of people in trance or under hypnosis has been described abundantly in literature and has been the subject of scientific research. Apart from the fact that it is healthy and enjoyable to be in such a state of mind, it has also been associated with higher productivity.

Applicability

When we talk about hyperproductivity or enhancing the productivity of creative people in general we also should consider how to keep them in the zone as much as possible.

Application

One of the most common things to do is to avoid interruptions, but also adding appropriate visual elements in a room (art instead of clutter, plants instead of machines) can help reach a state of flow. Physical exercise, drinking enough water, a healthy diet are helpful to make the mind more likely to enter and stay in the zone. Interaction with other people immersed in the same problem space can help avoid interruptions and draw a whole team into the zone. To increase this type of interaction you should ensure there is lots of physical communication equipment. Whiteboards, large papers (flip chart), markers, pencils, crayons. It sometimes helps to add toys to draw developers out of their hiding places inside their screen and interact with each other The most important thing is to let developers be in a bubble that is not often pierced by things that are not part of their zone.

Consequences

Team moral will go up when an atmosphere is created where zoning in is allowed and encouraged. Productivity will go up. When team zoning happens problems are much less often discarded as unsolvable. Symptoms that can be seen on the outside are:

  • constant soft chatter between developers
  • people moving around from desk to desk
  • more joking and laughter
  • increased use of non digital tooling (whiteboards, paper, gesturing, role play)

References

The Xebia Essentials Cards

This page is part of the Xebia Essentials, a pack of flash cards about Software Development Done Right. You can get your own deck of Essentials cards in the Xebia store.