Ask someone vs work it out yourself
Back in 2007⁄2008 when I worked on my first couple of projects at ThoughtWorks I always found it strange how frequently my colleagues would try and figure something out themselves rather than asking someone else (who already knew how to do it) how to do it.
Fast forward to 2010 and I find myself being the one encouraging people to figure things out themselves.
There’s still merit in communicating with colleagues when we’ve tried to work out how to do something and haven’t managed to figure it out but it’s also useful to not have this as our default mode.
This seems to be particularly the case when working offshore if we have a reasonable idea that someone onshore might be able to help us with something we’re working on.
We can stop and wait for them to start their work day but frequently we’ll be able to make some progress without their input and then if we really do need help we can always get it later on.
While someone else can often solve a problem quicker than us the disadvantage is that we don’t tend to learn by watching others but rather by struggling ourselves.
In my first job it was suggested to me by a colleague that I should try and solve any problems alone for an hour before asking someone else for help.
Having said that I do think it’s still useful to know which people in a team have expertise in certain areas so that we can ask them for help when required.