A look at the past and a thought for the future

This year it has personally been a roller-coaster. I have started with a new position that resulted in many new challenges. I have been defining the company “standards”, working hard to please has many people around the company, while still defining something that was strong and easy to pick up, and finally  I have managed to get outside of my conference zone by having an article published on net magazine and speaking at DDDnorth.

If anyone in December 2016 would have told me that I was going to accomplish all the points above in just one year, I would have laughed. When I look back at each individual point above, and remember the effort needed to achieve them, I am amazed to realise that all fit in just 12 months, and today I want to share some of the lesson that I have learned, plus thank some of the people that have really supported me in this amazing year.

New position =  new challenges

great responsibility quote

With great power comes great responsibilityPeter Parker

You do not need to know the future, to realise that a new position will bring new challenges ahead. Sometime, the challenges can actually be unexpected and may require a swift in the way you are used to work to adapt to it.

I am part of a Tech company, and as many company in the same industry, moving up the ladder, actually means detaching from the “development” environment, to be more involved in the “Delivery/Process” day to day activities.

Many developers usually do this move too early without actually being aware of the consequences of it to the day to day activities. I have personally thought really hard before accepting the position and I have listed the main question that you should ask yourself before moving away from your beloved developer position.

  • Do you have the right skillset
    • Sometimes people are promoted because of their technical skills, but when moving up you may require other abilities (communication, managerial, coaching). It is very common to see amazing developer fail in managerial role.
  • Do you want to use your “social” skills
    • It is a fact, Developer are not the most social individual, and in many cases, having a promotion, will mean having to attend more meeting and having to deal with more people that are not developer.. are you ready for the challenge.
  • Are you ready to stop coding
    • Being a developer is very hard. The industry is so quick to change that even just an year away from the keyboard would be hard to regain. Make sure that if you make this step you are actually ready to leave Visual studio behind until retirement, otherwise moving up the ladder may not be the right decision for you.
  • Are you sure taht you will be as happy as you are in your current position?
    • The one think I learned from developers is that we do our job because we LOVE it. So before you make any decision, try to think about your happiness and not just about the pay-rise.

I have gone through the above questions many times before feeling ready. It is very important that you do not take decision just driven by money and think about your happiness. Remember that we spend more time in work that with out loved one, so choosing the right position is like finding a wife ( don’t tell my wife).

There is no right way to make changes

Change is never easy. It is very rare to make some big change and make everyone happy, and I found myself in the deep end before I realised it.

As stated above, I have decided to create some standards to be used across the company with the aim of improving the actual code quality (coding standard, eslint implementation and Unit tests).

It was a genuine thought and I would have never thought that it would bring so many discussion and create such a storm within the teams ( I could see why no one tried).

If I would go back, I would probably change the approach used to tackle the situation, and I am going to list below a couple of suggestion that could help you achieving your goals.

  • Create a “contract” in advance
    • Make sure everyone involved is aware of the way things will be decided in advance (For example, if 51% of developers want this we go ahead), defining this too late could create more trouble.
  • Make allies
    • It is very important to have some allies, when you want to make changes that could take time and energy. You need to be able to have someone on your side, be prepared.
  • Use Facts not words
    • This may not always be possible, but it is very useful to have ability to reference other source and not just give personal opinion. This will help to make the discussions less personal.
  • Solutions, not problems
    • It is extremely common to have people against that disagree on the proposed change. This is accepted as long as people bring a solution to the problem, and do not just complain for the sake of it.
  • Accept defeat
    • This is probably the hardest one, but sometime you need to be ready to accept defeat. And as with the “contract” mentioned above, this need to be defined at the start (give yourself a deadline or a tangible end).

It has not been easy to learn the points above, and I would have loved for someone to share them with me earlier, but I now try to use them in my day to day routine and they result are incredible.

Don’t fear the unknown

Publishing an article on a international newspaper and speaking at a conference is probably what made 2017 so special. The idea of getting into this “unknown world” was so scary. I was not aware of the amount of time that goes behind a simple 400 words article, or the hours of rehearse necessary to feel “ready” to speak at a conference.

If you are wondering if it was easier that it look, unfortunately you will be disappointed to actually learn that it was way harder that I would have anticipated. Getting ready for the conference and writing the article was like a never ending cycle. I was creating something, making it work, sharing it to friends and family, and then do it again, over and over again.

But there is a good part in the story. In fact, even if it drained me for every single resource of energy I had, it was completely worth it! The feeling of seeing your face on the newspaper or waking up in the morning and checking twitter to find people referencing your article from the other side of the globe, or receiving great feedback after a speaking session cannot be explained in words.

I was amazed to see the great effect that the above experiences had on my day to day job and career. It is not easy, but I really suggest you all to try something that is way outside your conference zone. You will be amazed and it could actually have unexpected consequences.

2018…

 

I do not know if 2018 could actually be more exciting that the one that just passed. But I am sure to be ready for any challenge, and will surely be looking up to find some more that will push me outside my conference zone.

I always had a very good attitude in work, but the one think that experience is teaching me, is that it is really important to always push your limits. It is perfectly fine to fail sometimes, and not trying is a failure on its own. I am always amazed to see the effect of a simple accomplishment on myself and also on my colleagues.

Before waving goodbye to this fantastic year, I need to write some thanks to my amazing colleagues that have supported me all the way, to my blog readers that are growing everyday, the fantastic coding blocks podcast and slack community and of course to my fantastic wife that is always so supportive and knows how to cheer me up when things do not go to plan.

Buon Natale to everyone! See you next year!

 

 

1 Comment

  1. Joe Zack 24/12/2017 at 12:38 am

    Conference’d, published, and promoted – that’s a great year! Cheers to 2018!

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