Three Words for 2014

As in 2013, I’ve decided this year to compile a list of three words that will guide by work over the next year. Each of these are fluid; they may shift somewhat over the year, but are based on what I know about my professional goals thus far.

having or showing determination or resolve.

One of my agency’s major projects over the next several years is to replace the case management system used by Washington’s Superior courts. As part of that work, there will be changes required to the applications I manage in order to make sure that the workflows of the juvenile and Superior courts, as well as the courts of limited jurisdiction, are not disrupted. Part of this effort requires me to be purposeful: purposeful in my communication with others about what changes are needed, or why certain business processes cannot be disrupted; purposeful in communicating with the users of my application to show them how the two systems will interact; and purposeful in ensuring that, when all is said and done, the courts still have working applications.

Part of my job is as technical subject matter expert for the juvenile courts; as I’ve covered in previous blog posts, the juvenile "courts" are in fact departments of each county’s Superior court. They must be represented just as well as if not better than the Superior courts themselves. This requires a large amount of coordination amongst a range of user groups. I must approach this work with determination to ensure a successful end result.

to elevate in degree, excellence, or respect; dignify; exalt

I decided to replace listening this year, as I realized that listening, for me, is omnipresent and need not take up a slot on this list. While listening is still a huge focus area for me, I opted to take a slightly different tact.

For me, ennoble refers to the idea that the needs of the users are paramount. This is not to say that they are always right, merely to say that their opinions and ideas should be elevated in respect compared to others who are not as familiar with business processes or needs. The users know their jobs best; how else can they perform them?

I think of this as a weighting method: while all voices should be heard equally, the ideas and opinions of those that actually do the work should be respected and allowed to set tone and direction.

an assistant to an important person; a servant or courtier.

Ennoble and attendant are two very similar ideas for me, but are definitely distinct. Whereas ennoble focuses more on giving ideas and people a voice, attendant is to remind me that I do not work in a vacuum. I chose this over servant, as servitude can sometimes be read as a negative connotation.

For me, being attendant means recognizing that the people around me also have things that need done, and if I can enable their work by assisting them, I should. Not all things that cause me to be attendant should be ennobled; simply because I am helping with something does not mean that it is somehow more important or requires more respect than the work I am doing for my users. If ennoble is my method of weighting requests, attendant is my method of performance.

These three words are the result of my self-reflection over what I have done since last January and reflect what how I intend to steer the work that I do in 2014. The most important part of the execution of my words this year, I think, will involve making others familiar with what they are and how they contribute to my goals, then living those words as best as possible.

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