I recently stumbled up on this piece at Pivotal, The art of interrupting software engineers. It caught my attention because i like to read from a different vantage from my own.
What is it like to interrupt us?
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What I really got from the article though, was how different types of engineers will think about problems differently.
1. Under the hood
For junior engineers who are still a bit green, and new to working in industry, they’re downward facing. Focusing solely under the hood, they may not see how their work contributes to a product, or how it fits into the overall picture for the business.
“When asked about their progress on a story, they would make an effort to ensure I understood what was happening under the hood and what tradeoffs they were facing using a vocabulary I was familiar with. ”
For her it was technical competence that stood out – or at least not the only thing – but rather how they were strategizing, and communicating their problems, challenges, and progress.
2. Communicate discoveries
A more intermediate engineer, would sometimes anticipate & communicate better.
“In some cases, those engineers would come to me before I even had a chance to enter the paranoid zone and give me a simple explanation of how the team had learned new information since they first estimated the complexity of a story. ”
She is also speaking of situational awareness. So not working in a vacuum, communicating & incorporating that new information as it becomes available.
3. Anticipate in advance
Senior engineers, she says would really stay ahead of the curve. They were even anticipating what might be a roadblock for her product delivery.
“Some of the very best practitioners would ask me in advance how urgently we should deliver a particular user story and what we were ready to give up in order to ship faster.”
Weighing tradeoffs, and prioritizing is a huge factor in velocity. If you can tame that beast, you’ll go very far indeed!