Getting better at what you do – 5 things worth sharing this week
Nick here. Happy new year! Hang on. What? It’s almost the end of January already?! Where did all the time go? I hope you have a better answer to that than I do.
Regardless, here is the latest instalment of Nick shares some links to interesting things to get your brain juices flowing:
I’ve been having to (or, given the opportunity to) do a lot of prioritisation recently at work and machine learning engineer Erik Bernhardsson provides a good way of thinking about that task:
“To me this reflects a misunderstanding of how product development should work. Backlogs should be growing indefinitely. What a good team will do is to accept that, and establish a good relationship between product and tech, and make sure you constantly keep reprioritizing. Maybe today it's shipping a bunch of features the business needs. Maybe tomorrow it's paying down some tech debt.”
Related to prioritisation, I thought aloud in a new post and tried (but failed) to come up with a “framework for prioritising work.” It stands as a list of useful questions to ask yourself when you need to prioritise work:
"So you have to decide how to prioritise the workchunks. A chaotic project board will chew away the girth of your neck like a hundred fire ants as you scramble like a bloody idiot — literally — to deliver and then fall down dead."
The new year seems to have brought about a small change in my mindset at work: I’m seeking out challenges more than I have in the last 1-2 years since our daughter was born. And I think DHH’s ode to competence at work has something to do with it:
“When I think back over my career, this is where the bulk of the advancement happened. Through a commitment to getting better, smarter, faster at what it is I already spend eight hours a day doing, during that time.”
“It’s the old slow is smooth, smooth is fast again.”
If you work in tech like I do, you might have noticed the tendency of people to swarm around user interface design choices. Everybody has something to say. That’s the bike shed effect and it has a dangerous corollary, says author Scott Berkun, who wrote a book about how this plays out more in remote settings:
“A[n] [atomic] reactor is so vastly expensive and complicated that an average person cannot understand it, so one assumes that those who work on it understand it. On the other hand, everyone can visualize a cheap, simple bicycle shed, so planning one can result in endless discussions because everyone involved wants to add a touch and show personal contribution.“
For fun, I recommend reading this short essay How the Piano Helped Me Fall Back in Love With Tech by Wired contributor Paul Ford. It courageously takes stabs at Fluffy the three-headed dog of tech, i.e. the role of passion in tech:
“Merely wanting a paycheck is suspect; passion is required. Which is why, whenever I fall out of love with technology—as has happened to me perhaps five times—I keep my mouth shut. I’m a professional software-liker and the cofounder of a software startup. I browse GitHub for fun and read random code. So I cannot, must not, tell people that one day last month I was getting coffee before a meeting and looked up from Slack and thought, “Man, coffee is hot and liquid, and people drink it. I would like to do things that have flavors and temperatures.”“