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Is 'presence of mind' one of the important qualities of a good IT professional

 
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IT professionals with good presence of mind do better in coding and communication and ones with poor presence of mind do bad at it. Is it one of the most important qualities of a good IT professional. While it may come naturally to some, how can one increase it ? Thanks
 
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If by "presence of mind" you mean the definition that Google gives as "the ability to remain calm and take quick, sensible action", then I don't really see how it has anything to do with coding.

You can be very hectic or take a lot of time to write code, but that code might still be of a high quality. For coding, I would say that analytical thinking, logic and pattern recognition are much more important qualities.

As for communication, being calm and reasonable is always good, but if you're not in the role of a decision maker, then I also wouldn't count "presence of mind" as the most important quality.

So from where did you get the notion that it is such an important quality? And what gives you the idea that you're not good enough at it?
 
Monica Shiralkar
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By 'presence of mind', I meant in a particular situation your mind is able to think and do what you intend to do instead of later regretting that oh was my mind sleeping at that time that instead of doing what I intended to do at that moment, I did something else only.

With me it happens more during communication.
E.g  In a meeting something is being discussed, and suddenly there is a question for me as I am the one who is expected to know that answer. I say "I dont know. I need to check that". Later after the meeting I remember oh that thing was about what I worked in last sprint itself and I should have simply replied like this. Was my mind sleeping at that time that I did not understand and answer that simple thing that moment itself.
Means I often realize things later.
 
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I think what you mean is "focus" or "attention", and not "presence of mind".

Are you easily distracted during meetings, or are you simply not invested enough in the topic of the meeting in the first place for you to pay attention?
 
Monica Shiralkar
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No not that. I meant if someone asks me on something which I did in last sprint itself, I am fully attentive trying to understand what he is saying, but my mind doesn't work that time and later I realise that what he was asking was on the same thing which I worked in last sprint and I could have simply answer that. So I was absent minded that time and a better presence of mind would have made me realize it at that moment itself and not later.
 
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Seems like to OP, "presence of mind" means something like wherewithal (the ability or means to do something), with a measure of aplomb (self-confidence, assurance) or equanimity (mental calmness, composure).

In my experience, presence of mind comes with practice and experience. It's what was demonstrated by the folks involved in the Apollo 13 mission crisis, where they had a critical, time-sensitive problem they needed to solve. Try to stay calm, work the problem, use available resources, improvise, innovate, think out of the box, etc.

Whatever you do, don't panic and don't ever do anything without careful consideration of the risks involved. Most of all practice, practice, practice. Experience is the best teacher and confidence booster.
 
Monica Shiralkar
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Junilu Lacar wrote:Seems like to OP, "presence of mind" means something like wherewithal (the ability or means to do something), with a measure of aplomb (self-confidence, assurance) or equanimity (mental calmness, composure).

In my experience, presence of mind comes with practice and experience. It's what was demonstrated by the folks involved in the Apollo 13 mission crisis, where they had a critical, time-sensitive problem they needed to solve. Try to stay calm, work the problem, use available resources, improvise, innovate, think out of the box, etc.

Whatever you do, don't panic and don't ever do anything without careful consideration of the risks involved. Most of all practice, practice, practice. Experience is the best teacher and confidence booster.



Thanks. Out of wherewithal, aplomb, equanimity, equanimity is the one which is most related to it.

Like you said practice is the way. Also, Stephan's point on being attentive is also related. I have seen that when I am not attentive and suddenly my name is taken in the conversation, I am already behind and answer something in hurried way. Instead when I am attentive, I am already not behind and get traction of time more to think and speak.

 
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Monica Shiralkar wrote:With me it happens more during communication.
E.g  In a meeting something is being discussed, and suddenly there is a question for me as I am the one who is expected to know that answer. I say "I dont know. I need to check that". Later after the meeting I remember oh that thing was about what I worked in last sprint itself and I should have simply replied like this.


To me that looks as simple as not enough knowledge about what you were working on. When you work on something, try to understand not just the task within the very strict boundaries of that task, in different words just what needs to be done, but also the surroundings, why are you doing it, and to what bigger picture it contributes, what it solves..

That should come with time when you know/understand product you are working on better as I'm assuming this is what you are laking at the moment.
Looks like the question was formulated from a different angle than the ticket in your last sprint was phrased - and so you didn't get they were asking about the same thing.

That is just my impression after you described it.
 
Monica Shiralkar
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Liutauras Vilda wrote:

That should come with time when you know/understand product you are working on better



Thanks. This will definitely help.

Liutauras Vilda wrote:

as I'm assuming this is what you are laking at the moment.



No. It was very easy one. Multiple things were being discussed that what all we have in backlog. Related to a story in backlog there were multiple and one was the one had worked on in previous sprint. So it was asked by taking my name like so that one we had done, right. I said let I will check. Later I realized oh I only was the one who had worked on it in the previous sprint.
 
Monica Shiralkar
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Thanks all. I think all the answers are related to it.

Being attentive will give that extra fraction of second to think and answer. Being calm, will help to answer better.  And having more knowledge of what one is working on, will help for sure.
 
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Monica,

I'm usually working as a QA Software Tester.  I use Automation Testing tools a lot so I am somewhat of a developer also.    

I agree with all of the things everyone has written in the thread.  

I have been at meetings where everyone is sharp and following what is occurring.   They know the product and code by heart.  The group finds a few items wrong.  

My mind listens and hears 80% of what they are talking about.  I'll hear a statement that someone says and my mind drifts off thinking about it.  I tune back in and realize that I have to listen a while to put together what they said.  I have to look at my phone to see how long I zoned out.  I occasionally get caught daydreaming but in my mind I clearly remember what statement they said that made me go off track.

Often near the end of the meeting I ask three or four annoying questions.  If I listened 100% I would have realized that they have been already covered.

Next I ask a few more questions and the room goes into a frenzy.   I  asked about why a decimal point seemed to be in the wrong place ,why a patient's drug allergies are not showing up on the pharmacist's screen, how could the testers in the UAT Team been checking print outs last week when the printer didn't have the laser ink cartridge installed yet.

I also cannot remember how the application under test works each time I begin testing the next day.  I don't have the presence of mind to remember what the expected result of a test step should be.

Being forgetful, my mind going off track, asking the wrong questions, not understanding everything, being disorganized, feeling as if I am useless and not belonging, not understanding requirements, having poor eyesight and squinting to see the monitor, working in an industry where I don't know the topic and not being able to make faces that look like I'm smart would seem like the worst possible person to be looking for defects.  

For me it is a GREAT asset!  Defects love to hide in places where the logic is "going with the grain".  Everyone else is following the rule that  hanging out in the most dangerous and most travelled paths of the system under test is the best insurance.  By not knowing  exactly what I'm doing,  tuning in and out, forgetting what the next result should be has lead me to discovering many critical defects.  

I don't aim for not having "presence of mind", but I hope it does not turn on for the remainder of my career.

Best,

Kevin

 

 
Monica Shiralkar
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kevin Abel wrote:

Often near the end of the meeting I ask three or four annoying questions.  If I listened 100% I would have realized that they have been already covered.

Next I ask a few more questions and the room goes into a frenzy.   I  asked about why a decimal point seemed to be in the wrong place ,why a patient's drug allergies are not showing up on the pharmacist's screen, how could the testers in the UAT Team been checking print outs last week when the printer didn't have the laser ink cartridge installed yet.



If you remember to ask these during the meeting itself, then it is good. Many people realize these questions later.
 
Monica Shiralkar
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I realise, that what I meant by "presence of mind", is also closer to "acumen".
 
Liutauras Vilda
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Monica Shiralkar wrote:I realise, that what I meant by "presence of mind", is also closer to "acumen".


I look to this simpler, like I mentioned before. Simply not being "on top of the things", or in other words, not knowing well an ecosystem you are in.

I can tell you how I'm trying to get to know more about the stuff our team is on from a developer's perspective.

Reviewing all Pull Requests (out team's), contributing or/and reviewing design docs even though not necessarily I'm going to immediately work on some particular parts - that raises awareness, which helps me do not feel lost in the meetings I am at, and be ready to chime in to conversation if needed.

Reviewing everyone's (or as many as you can) Pull Requests acts also as a knowledge sharing activity. You have a chance to get familiar with the stuff you did not work on.
 
Monica Shiralkar
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Liutauras Vilda wrote:. Simply not being "on top of the things", or in other words, not knowing well an ecosystem you are in.

I can tell you how I'm trying to get to know more about the stuff our team is on from a developer's perspective.

Reviewing all Pull Requests (out team's), contributing or/and reviewing design docs even though not necessarily I'm going to immediately work on some particular parts - that raises awareness, which helps me do not feel lost in the meetings I am at, and be ready to chime in to conversation if needed.



Thanks. Yes, I agree. One has to be on top of things.

Liutauras Vilda wrote:

Reviewing everyone's (or as many as you can) Pull Requests acts also as a knowledge sharing activity. You have a chance to get familiar with the stuff you did not work on.



Yes. That's a very efficient way.
 
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