Chindōgu is the practice of inventing ingenious everyday gadgets that seem to be ideal solutions to particular problems, but which may cause more problems than they solve.
Chindōgu is a term of Japanese origin. On Wikipedia, it’s defined as:
The practice of inventing ingenious everyday gadgets that seem to be ideal solutions to particular problems, but which may cause more problems than they solve.
In software engineering, a Design Pattern is defined as a predetermined best practice way of solving a specific problem. When that problem presents itself, and there is a fitting pattern, it can be applied to solve it.
In my software engineering career, I’ve seen all too often the excitement of discovering a new pattern and eagerly wanting to apply it everywhere remotely helpful and in the process, causing more problems than solving. We often see it amongst less experienced developers, excited and eagerly ready to contribute.
Armed with more knowledge, we are often compelled to find ingenious ways to apply it, most often for good, sometimes for the sake of feeling valuable, and other times, for a paycheck. In the process, we can overcomplicate, break and make things worse.
We also see similar behaviours in leadership. Compelled by the mantra that leaders need to lead, there’s an overzealousness to speak up, be charismatic, make decisions, and take actions, to keep up with the joneses of leadership; using the patterns of leadership as a hammer and seeing opportunistic nails everywhere.
These behaviour patterns look leaderful; they are self-serving, don’t contribute much value, come with adverse side effects, but don’t deter from overall success. On every occasion, doing nothing would result in similar or better results:
The one who presents success as the result of intelligence or strategically crafted plans as opposed to dumb luck, or worse, the hard work of their people.
The one who instills more systems or processes in the name of productivity, alignment and success.
The one who looks mighty by giving commands even if none are necessary.
The one who shows up at the last moment offers a tweak on an already done proposal and takes the glory for the final product.
The charismatic one who always speaks first, or simply, always speaks.
In this slightly satirical and beautifully written post, Venkatesh Rao defines the concept of leadering. “Leadering is the art of creating a self-serving account of whatever is already happening, and inserting yourself into it in a prominent role. This requires doing things that don’t mess with success (and the baseline for success is continued survival), but allow you to take credit for it. Successful companies might have only about five minutes of actual leading in their stories, but they have hour after endless hour of leadering.”
It might also be fitting to define this as Chindōgu Leadership:
Chindōgu Leadership is the practice of performing ingenious everyday leaderful behaviour patterns that seem to be ideal solutions to particular self-serving opportunities, but which may cause more problems than they solve.
Leadership is more about all the ways to get out of the way rather than the ways to be in the way.
The old school thinking that leadership means the charismatic, commanding leader that swoops in to save the day is no longer enough. Times are changing, and the leaders of the new generation are evolving, and so are the people they lead.
Let’s set aside the Chindōgu leadership behaviours getting in the way. Instead, remove yourself from the equation, get out of the way, let your people thrive and do what they do best, and step in to lead only when truly necessary.
It might surprise you; it’s likely not as often as you might think.
Sparknotion – Think Differently.