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What to do when an excited person person is waving something at you.

A short time ago in our lab I had a minor revelation. Here's the story: I was walking around with my dog-eared copy of Getting Things Done, sharing my excitement with the grad students, who are interested and skeptical (a good trait for getting Ph.Ds!). After talking about how it applies to research (more on that later), I was walking in the hallway when I encountered our technical writer, who was also walking around excitedly with an artifact. In her case it was her detailed notes and sketches on the steps she took to solve a problem using some lower-level database access (MonetDB for the interested). After listening, I sat down and realized that this kind of behavior (which would be grounds for crossing the street if it was a stranger) is actually a very good sign of an organization's intellectual health. Whether it's notes, journals, papers, photos, etc., it indicates that a) people are taking care of themselves (creating interesting work), b) the organization is alive, and c) there's a culture supporting this behavior. I'm trying to encourage more of this, but I'm not sure how to do so. The first step is to nurture it by encouraging people to share, and by listening carefully, showing interest, and asking questions. I'd love to hear how others encourage this kind of "hallway evangelism"...

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