Week 138

Maddie’s last week note: learnings and thank-yous.

My last official day at Third Wave is coming up, and I’m currently wrapping up our project on technology and autodidactic learning, which you can expect to see very shortly. Hence, a couple critical things I’ve learnt both from the day-to-day of working in a small team (and more specifically with Igor and Johannes), as well as from our work in consulting.

Avoiding stagnation, being honest, practicing

A lot of human time and energy is spent sweeping dust under rugs rather than just getting out the hoover. It’s costly and unsustainable to ignore problems and hope they go away. Recurrent problems especially are worth inspecting closely and discussing, since they reveal systematic conditions or persistent behaviors that can be changed. It is, therefore, best to be the one who gets out the hoover, or at least to work with people who are good at hoovering (and are, I might add, allergic to dust in both metaphor and reality). Discussing issues as they come up keeps things moving, and this is far preferable for everyone’s mental health and productivity than pretending nothing’s up.

Being honest – and by this I mean being clear about how you feel and what you think, as opposed to “not lying” – prevents known issues from cropping up again, and keeps everyone on the same page. Staying silent on matters of importance, whether out of concern for one’s pride, a fear of offending someone, or some other reason, is usually a bad choice and stands in the way of improvement. Here it has been refreshingly different from other environments I’ve experienced – issues are brought to the surface and dealt with in a matter-of-fact, reasonable way. An observation on this topic: it helps promote the conversation needed for these issues to come up when everyone sits close to each other.

I’ve been taught the importance of not just doing what you’re good at, but doing things you’re not so good at over and over again until you get better at them. This is easy to forget, and this notion of “leaning into the pain” is one that I find myself coming back to frequently.


I consider myself very lucky to have met Jasmine Probst, who worked with us for a regrettably brief two months. She taught me much more than she probably realizes, and it was nothing short of inspiring to work with her and get to know her.

Our friend Peter Rukavina wrote me a touching, encouraging email straight after I’d announced that I was planning on changing tracks – I’d like to thank him, too, because that email saved me a couple of times when I was rather in doubt about the soundness of my decisions.

I am as ever indebted to Johannes and Igor for being both excellent bosses and thoughtful people, for setting a great example for me, and for being consistently supportive and helpful, no matter what. As an employee, it’s wonderful to know you’re respected and that your opinion matters – this will seem to them so obvious it isn’t worth mentioning, but I have benefitted from it and greatly appreciate it.

Three cheers for Third Wave and a wonderful year and a half.

Author: Maddie

Maddie is a strategist and researcher. She spends much of her time on the think tank side of Third Wave, and enjoys getting into the details of many different topics at once. Through this foraging for information, she finds ways to apply knowledge from one field in new, seemingly disparate ones, both in client work and other research. She holds an interdisciplinary BA in Computer Science, Linguistics and German, and has previously worked at VCCP and at the Science Gallery in Dublin.