Be the footnote you want to see in the world


I stumbled up the website of Gwern Branwen recently for something tech-related and, as I usually do, clicked on the About Me / profile link to find out more about the author. What I found greatly reminded me of Peter Drucker’s exhortation in Managing Oneself to take responsibility for your relationships:

Even people who understand the importance of taking responsibility for relationships often do not communicate sufficiently with their associates. They are afraid of being thought presumptuous or inquisitive or stupid. They are wrong. Whenever someone goes to his or her associates and says, “This is what I am good at. This is how I work. These are my values. This is the contribution I plan to concentrate on and the results I should be expected to deliver,” the response is always, “This is most helpful. But why didn’t you tell me earlier?”

Under the sub-heading collaboration style, Branwen says (my emphasis):

It is much better to find some people who have tried in the past to solve a problem and bring them together to solve it, than to solve it yourself – even if it means being a footnote (or less) in the announcement. What’s important is that it got done, and people will be using it. Not the credit.
This is an ethos I learned working with the inclusionists of Wikipedia. No code is so bad that it contains no good; the most valuable code is that used by other code; credit is less important than work; a steady stream of small trivial improvements is superior to occasional massive edits.

I can’t tell you how refreshing this is to read. 

CC BY Early Novels Database