So, continuing through the pMBA reading list, I just read the e-book version of *Crucial Conversations.*
Man, I *hate* the language in some of these management books. The acronyms ("S.T.A.T.E. your path!"), the new terms ("master your stories!"), the clever rhymes ("don't move to silence or violence").
All that aside, unfortunately, it's a very important book. I kept recognizing myself in the pages, ways I've screwed up important meetings and whatever.
So I get to the end of the book and I think, "How am I going to put this into practice?" Now that I'm not at work anymore, crucial conversations don't come up that often.
Well, today I got a call from Activision, where they asked me nicely if I would please not mention any of my old Activision coworkers / friends in conjunction with the skills they know or have learned at Activision. I was flabbergasted - I was used to being mildly reprimanded about my blog while I worked there - but I kind of expected that to stop once I was a free man. When I asked why, she said because I signed an NDA and that although an employee's title is public information, what skills they know is actually confidential and proprietary. Like, not just the skill, but who knows that skill, is confidential information.
Well, I fucked up another crucial conversation. I got angry. I got defensive. I accused her of threatening me. I said things like, "Well, according to *my* knowledge of trade secret law, information isn't a trade secret unless it's clearly marked 'confidential and proprietary', and it's not like my friends have 'confidential and proprietary' stamped on their foreheads." And I said things like, "Or else *what*?" In short, if they weren't thinking of suing me before, they might actually be thinking it now.
Last thing I want to do is piss Activision off. When I get a company started, they'd be my first choice of publisher to work with.
Probably the thing to do was say something along the lines of, "Well, I don't have any plans to do that anymore," and leave it at that. Or, if I really wanted to contribute some "shared meaning into the pool" - something they say is important in *Crucial Conversations* - maybe I could have said, "Look at it from my point of view - I've got these friends who did some cool shit, and I like to publicly recognize that cool shit, and if some recruiter comes sniffing around trying to hire them away to another company that's willing to pay more than Activision to have that cool shit done, and Activision has to give them a raise or do other things to make sure they stay happy, then that's a good thing." A real pro-labor stance, you know.
And maybe Activision would argue that they trained the person in that skill and therefore it's not fair that they jump ship to another company. Hell, it's practically stealing from that point of view.
And maybe somebody like Joel Spolsky would argue that what skills the employee knows isn't as important as how smart that employee is and whether he gets things done, because the terrain of our industry is constantly changing and any given skill only seems to be useful for a few years before it's obsolete, so why not talk about the cool shit while it lasts.
Anyhow, just how the hell am I going to learn this *Crucial Conversations* stuff?