Alexander Bird Software • Blog

Learning to build useful, valuable software as part of a team.

The "Just Sharing" Principle

an approach (that I've found effective) for telling folks about tools & practices

Until recently, when I came upon a tool, process, or approach that worked really well for me and/or for the team I'm on, I was keen to tell others about it. I'd use absolute phrases like "you should try it" or "this is great".

Then I heard Woody Zuill talk about mob programming, and was surprised by his tone -- he prefaced the talk by saying something about how he wasn't suggesting you try it, he was just telling you about the experiences he had. For me, this was a surprising attitude from a presenter of a technical talk.

I've heard several others in the mobbing community take this approach to presenting about their process, and I've come to see the benefits. In particular, the guys at the Mob Mentality Show did a short video segment on the idea, called "Just Sharing".

It's easier to teach when you're "Just Sharing"

When I take an authoritarian approach to telling about tools, processes, and approaches ("You should do X"), it takes a lot of preparation and courage. It takes preparation, because I need to work to imagine the different contexts of the people who I'm speaking to so that I can frame my suggestion in a way that makes sense in their context. It's a lot of work to adapt an idea to a new context -- let alone mapping it to multiple, loosely defined contexts (as one must when speaking to multiple people). It takes courage, because it's easy for someone to disagree with my statement ("You should do X"). I worry "what if I didn't think about some factor in their context which invalidates this?".

When I take an authoritarian stance, I share my ideas less often -- it's too much practical and emotional work

By contrast, when I adopt a "Just Sharing" approach, I save the detailed analysis about other people's contexts, and it takes much less courage. (It's much harder to disagree with the statement "I did X and it helped me in the following ways" than it is to disagree with the statement "You should do X".)


Since this comes up in conversations with strangers in the internet, I've found it helpful to link to the Mob Mentality Show video -- I'll say "I'm just sharing (link), but here's what's worked for me ....". To make that even easier, I've written a mini-website at with the help of the Mob Mentality Show team.

Feel free to use that link in your online discussions or in conversations with coworkers when you want to explain that you're just sharing.

Written 2021-03