Take Some Responsibility

You probably heard the news: Air Canada had to pay up for something an “AI” chatbot said. This story saddens me as I love flying on Air Canada. Honestly in my trips up there the flight is often part of the fun.

Basically a guy asked an Air Canada chatbot on advice on canceling due to bereavement, it gave him advice on refunds that was wrong. He followed the advice and of course when he had to cancel, he didn’t get his refund, and made a small claims complaint to the appropriate body. Air Canada argued – seriously – the chatbot is a legally distinct entity and that the guy shouldn’t have trusted the advice, but followed a link provided by the chatbot which had gotten things wrong.

Obviously, that didn’t fly, excuse the really stupid pun.

As an IT professional who’s career is “older than One Piece” let me weigh in.

I work in medical technology (indeed, it’s my plan to do this for the rest of my career). We vet everything we install or set up. We regularly review everything we set up. We have support systems to make sure everything is working. This is, of course, because you screw up anything medical and bad things happen.

Also it’s because someone that goes into medical anything is usually pretty responsible. We IT folks are in the mix everyday and know the impact of our job. We also work with – and sometimes are or were – doctors and nurses and other medical professionals who get it.

I love working in this environment. If this appeals to you, I can honestly say check out working in medicine, medical research, and education. It’s awesome.

Know what? Other people using technology can and should take the same level of responsibility.

Technology is a choice. What you use, how you implement it, how you expose people to it, all of that is a choice. You built it or paid for it or whatever, you take responsibility if it goes wrong, be it a life or someone deserving a refund.

If the product isn’t what you thought? Then those who made it owes you an apology, wad of cash, corporate dissolution, whatever. But either way someone takes responsibility, because technology is a choice.

We’ve certainly had enough of moving fast and breaking things, which really seems to just result in enshitification and more and more ways to be irresponsible.

Besides, reputation is involved, and if nothing else saying “we don’t care of our technology on a website goes wrong” is going to make people question everything else you do. I mean, if you were on an Air Canada plane after hearing about this “sorry, not our fault” approach how safe are you going to feel?

Let’s try to be responsible here.

Steven Savage

You’re Responsible To Share Creative Power

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Creativity is a tool for freedom and a tool for a functional society. It enriches and empowers. It provides new ideas and lets us see old ones in new lights. It topples tyrants and leaves potential tyrants in fear. If you’re a creative person, you’re morally obligated to empower others to use their creative abilities to ensure freedom and a functioning society.

To help people be creative means that they can think outside of the cages built around their heads. It means they’re harder to rule and control, and more able to be responsible citizens. Creativity is freedom – but also it’s a chance to take responsibility in new ways.

Helping people to be creative also gives them options that go beyond thinking. It may help them find a new job, freeing them of financial chains. Creativity gives them abilities to find solutions to problems, allowing them to fix things as opposed to following snake-oil charlatans.

Showing people the power of their creativity and how to use it finally means happier people. Creative people don’t just have the chance to be freer, more responsible, more powerful – they can experience joy more. When you can dream and imagine, you can find what you enjoy kand new ways to enjoy – and happy people can be hard to control.

How you help people be more creative, however, is a trickier bit. Each of us has our own creative tools, methods, and inclinations – these may not fit those we want to help. Each person we wish to aid has their sown situations and challenges and desires. To share creative power means asking what you can share and how to share it – it’s a journey, not a destination.

An excellent place to start is to ask how you got inspired, who helped you be more creative, what helped you see what you could do with creativity. This may be only relevant to you (and probably is), but analyzing the experience will help you find lessons to apply to others. If a supportive parent helped you, then you have a place to start – be supportive as they were.

Finally, keep in mind that this call to action is not one of superiority or a chance to lord your creativity over others. We’re all links in the chain; others aided your creativity before, and in turn, you pass it on. Each person you help is not “beneath” you – sharing and supporting is a mutual learning experience, because you will learn from everyone you want to nurture. Be humble in helping because then you’ll learn (possibly about your flaws).

So let us inspire others, share power, encourage creativity. We’ll empower and guide, help people be more, and build a stronger society. It’s a responsibility, but such a glorious one.

Steven Savage

My Agile Life: Only Me

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com, Steve’s LinkedIn, and Steve’s Tumblr)

(My continuing “Agile Life” column, where I use Scrum for a more balanced and productive life continues).

The Blame Game is the bane of good organization, good companies, good productivity, and happiness. Yet, how many times do we blame others for problems automatically? How many times have we been blamed for problems automatically?  How many great projects have failed because people fling blame at each other?

OK we know the answer; a lot.

When I began doing my Agile Life, I had a most interesting experience; I had only myself to blame for anything.  I was the only responsible one when most anything went wrong.

Something was late? My fault. Something not done well? My fault. Very, very few cases of things that wreren’t due to me. To blame anyone else would have required a Herculean effort of self-delusion that I just don’t have the energy or lack of morals for.

This was awesome.

Because I am the major or only cause of failure, I am aware of why things go wrong.

Because I am the major or only cause of failure, I know what to improve.

Because I am the major or only cause of failure, I must acknowledge my flaws.

Because I am the major or only cause of failure, I am the major source of success.

Agile is about a mixture of heavy personal responsibility and team responsibility teaches you a lot about dealing with failure.  This personal Agile experience is an excellent compliment to group Agile because it teaches you that responsibility very, very fast.

I’ve also become much, much more aware of my own flaws and mistakes – what I do wrong, what I do write, and how I screw up. I’m a much better person for doing personal Agile.

Of course it’s also painful. I have work habits that are a bit bizarre seen from the outside (mixing casual, obsessive, distractable, and focused). My Scrum Master abilities focus a bit too much on the rituals with the idea they’ll help fix things “eventually.” My “Product Owner” side can forget my “Scrum Master side’s” recommendations on unfamiliar work and forge ahead on spewing ideas to my “Team Member” side.

But at least I have all these insights. I can’t blame anyone else.

Which is great.  Are you ready to try Agile in your life and learn your flaws?

– Steve