Curiosity over perfection (using Notion to foster continuous improvement)

In the past 6 months we’ve done a lot of work as a team to redefine how we work together. I’ve written about some of the shifts we’ve made in how we handle project management and meetings. Another aspect of our growth as a team has been weaving learning more strongly into the fabric of who we are and what we do.

Inspired by the concept of the Deliberately Developmental Organization (DDO), this year we are striving to make learning a more visible and integrated part of our day to day experience in our roles.

“A DDO is organized around the deceptively simple but radical conviction that organizations will best prosper when they are deeply aligned with people’s strongest motive, which is to grow.”

– Kegan, Lahey, Fleming, Miller, and Markus

The DDO concept is characterized by a company culture in which learning and development is visible in day-to-day operations, routines, and conversations. This culture operates on the principle that knowing our weaknesses or where we lack experience is the key to growth. It emphasizes the value of the “growing edge”, or operating within areas that challenge us rather than hiding them or turning away from them. A DDO encourages folks to embrace their value (and their colleagues’ value), even as they are making mistakes, since learning and overcoming our limitations can ultimately deliver even more value to the company over time.

Some of the facets of the DDO that resonated with us were:

  • Interpersonal and cognitive immediacy: the idea that as much as possible we want to close the gaps, for example, between what we say and what we do, what we feel and what we say, or between how we perform and the feedback that is given. Rather than hiding our thinking or feeling to avoid discomfort or vulnerability, we want to make an effort in all forms of communication to share honestly, and to do so in a timely fashion.
  • Welcoming the whole person into work everyday: acknowledging that we are multifaceted human beings who exist beyond our task executing capabilities, and encouraging one another to share whatever we feel comfortable to, to bring our full selves into the workplace.
  • Everyone builds the culture: our entire team is expected to contribute to the shaping of our company culture and to take initiative to improve how we do our work.

If you’re curious about DDO’s, this article was very informative, and at the end of this post I will link to some of the other articles I read while I was researching this concept.

As we explored the DDO concept and began to implement some aspects of it into our work, we naturally turned to Notion to support us.

Here are some of the ways we are using Notion to support us in continuous improvement:

Personal Development is a project

We consider our learning to be as much of a priority as the other work that we do. In an effort to make sure we are allowing enough time for our studies and making progress, we are making our personal development visible in our Projects database.

Each of our individual learning endeavors are now a sub-project of Personal Development. The expectation is that each of us has at least one learning project on the go, alongside our other work, with the understanding that learning is valued and something that can and should be undertaken on company time.

Our learning endeavors each have their own project.
Our learning endeavors each have their own project.

Learning is done “in public”

We are holding one another accountable so that we make learning a priority and leveraging one another’s interests and efforts by actively sharing what we’re learning. In Notion this looks like:

  • Making our learning projects part of our weekly project update at our team sync so we can share the progress we’re making or where we might be feeling stuck
  • Sharing what our learning focus is for the week at the check-out of our team sync
  • Adding takeaways to our shared Notes + Ideas database, and sharing resources and references via the same database
  • Monthly learning groups where we sync up for an hour to chat about what we’ve learned lately that’s excited us
  • We are also making an effort to share about our Notion-specific experiments and what we’re learning from them in Notion Mastery’s online community, through this blog, and elsewhere online
An example of notes I took and shared in our Notes + Ideas database when I read the book, Switch: how to change when change is hard.
An example of notes I took and shared in our Notes + Ideas database when I read the book, Switch: how to change when change is hard.

Curiosity over perfection

We’re all striving to embrace our growing edge and take the opportunity to learn from our weaknesses and mistakes, including:

  • Taking the time to do thoughtful project retrospectives that include reflecting on FLAT (future ideas, lessons learned, accomplishments, thank you’s) and DAKI (drop, add, keep, or improve)
  • Making time to meet up 1:1 to discuss how we’re working outside of our comfort zone, how we’re owning and learning from our mistakes, and what support we need to develop our weak points
  • Syncing up for regular Process Check-In’s to candidly discuss what is and isn’t working about how we are working together and how we might improve
An example of a reflection I wrote about what I learned from a Q1 project.
An example of a reflection I wrote about what I learned from a Q1 project.

As someone who has operated as a perfectionist most of my life, seeing my mistakes as an opportunity and embracing my weaknesses does not come easy. However, knowing that our company embraces a culture where being at the edge of your abilities is encouraged, mistakes are part of the process and not punished, and our team has one another’s back to help each other improve, has made me feel less worried about being perfect and more focused on being curious.

DDO Resources

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