Every Skill is a Liability

I think the hardest skill to learn in programming is recognizing when you’re not communicating enough.

We’re often the first people to spot change, to feel the rumble of trouble over the horizon, but we’re also inclined to reflect on approaching danger internally, as a puzzle to solve without assistance, rather than externally by sharing the burden with our team.

Every skill is also a liability. Programming is anticipating the future and solving problems before anyone else has to know that a problem would have occurred. Every day we practice that skill and get better at it, but sometimes the right call is to resist the urge to problem solve, to instead simply report on what I’ve seen, to let my team know that a problem is coming, and then wait for the team to collaboratively decide who’ll solve the problem, and how, and when.

I wish I knew a secret that unlocks this ability without effort, but I don’t. The only way I know of is to dedicate some utility thread of my mind that periodically checks in to see if there’s anything that pattern-matches against mistakes I’ve made in the past, and quickly course correct by communicating with the right people.

|  21 Oct 2020