The NIH Syndrome.

If you were to ask Google or Wikipedia what the dreaded 'Not Invented Here' syndrome was, you would probably find a definition that reads something like this:

"An unwillingness to adopt or use ideas, technology or products created or used by others...".

The definition may go on to say that the reason for this unwillingness lies in a tendency to undervalue the work of others or perhaps an unwillingness to learn from others. This leads to a desire to re-invent the wheel because you're so sure yours will be wheelier - or something.

So in order not to suffer the dreaded NIH, be willing to explore the fruits of other people's labour - insofar as that is legal and ethical, of course.

Great! Show me some of that there Ruby code you're hackin' on, my good man!

Wait, not so fast.

See, I was introduced to the term - or more specifically the acronym NIH - in an entirely different context. I used to work with a large team of developers who all worked on different parts of a monolithic IT system that we were contracted to maintain.

Don't get me started on technical debt...

Very often we would need to collaborate with third party vendors or other contractors to attempt to resolve a technical issue. More often than not we would encounter a situation where an existing error could be fixed or avoided if one of those third parties could be convinced to escalate the problem back up their own supply chains and request a fix from the relevant source. But this was very often not done. Because it's easier and quicker to find a way to work around the problem than it would be to get it fixed.

The problem was Not Invented Here, so I won't do anything to try to fix it.

At Dauntless we take the idea of owning your lens very seriously. Every individual brings their own life experience, personality and - for better or worse - their frustrations to the jobs that they do every day. That's your lens. Your view of the world is unique to you - nobody else sees exactly what you see. Only you have the ability to make observations through your lens. So you may very well be the only one to see a particular opportunity for making improvements.

"At Dauntless we take the idea of owning your lens very seriously... Only you have the ability to make observations through your lens."

But we all live in the world together so an improvement you make will positively affect those around you - whether or not they realised there was a problem before. For instance, I never even gave a thought to the fact that every morning for the last 20 years I have been tipping used coffee grounds into the rubbish bin. I also spent money on fertiliser to get much needed nitrogen to struggling young plants. But recently a friend informed me that used coffee grounds will do the same job for free - and I get to drink the coffee too! And I subsequently discovered there are many other uses for used coffee grounds.

At Dauntless we also like to encourage the idea of making things better wherever you can.

Taking the two concepts together, this means that if you encounter a problem or see an opportunity to make an improvement, then you came to that through your lens. It is very much in your power to make that improvement or fix that problem - or at the very least to make the case for improvement to those who can. This can range from something as simple as tweaking the CSS on a website, but on the other extreme it may mean engaging with a supplier and sharing your frustrations with them - convince them to make their widgets more widgetty.

Either way the idea is the same - take ownership! Make a difference!

Our lot is not to sit idle and observe the world as it passes us by. Our opportunity is to improve the world - make it better, more fun and easier to live in than it was for those who came before.

Go on, make a difference. I dare you!