Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The forgotten PhillyETE presentation tracks

So I am at the PhillyETE conference this week attending sessions on new technologies and systems that are available to me to work with in order to build systems that make my employer money. There are two tracks of talks that are decidedly non-technical at PhillyETE that while I am here I often attend. These other two tracks conference tracks do not often get very large audiences but I believe that they should, they are the management track and the agile track. The management track and the agile track are all about how work gets done inside of BigCo; these two oft neglected tracks are attempting to address how a development staff works together to get work accomplished. The problem is that the topic of how the work works is not particularly important to the development community - who seems to be happiest when they can sit and develop and not worry about those 'gory' details of what happens when they look up from their monitor now and again.

It's a game of people

Inherently, unless you happen to be the sole proprietor of a start-up doing all the work, development, hr and paperwork yourself, you are part of a system of getting work done at the company who currently employs you. This means that you, dear developer, are part of a system of people all working towards a goal. Hopefully you are all working towards the SAME goal, but I think that is the topic of a different post.

Because you are part of a system it is difficult for you to be 100% introverted - this is not to say that there isn't power in being introverted, I think that everyone needs time and space to ponder and consider things on occasion. The problem exists in your being part of a system that inherently requires interactions to a degree and level that you may not be comfortable with, development is a game of people, not one of code. The game is around having good people focused on accomplishing a goal, code, good code, is a consequence of that game of people. Each and every developer should be concerned with this game of people because it impacts how their work works. This game of people can affect how much time developers have to concentrate on their code due to unwanted or 'un-required' interruptions in the work day. The PhillyETE Management and Agile tracks are providing information on how to organize and structure teams so as to have those teams gel and become highly performing. These two tracks (management and agile) are all about helping teams to understand the game structure that they are playing within. PhillyETE is providing the tools for us developers to work with the system we are presented with at BigCo. to maximize our productivity and happiness rather then rail against it. The shame is that far to few people realize that these two tracks of management and agile are attempting to help teams of people (teams of developers in at least PhillyETE's case) to make the most out of the systems they work with and within. It shows in the low attendance numbers of these two conference tracks.

Reach out past your comfort zone

Developers are constantly reaching out past their comfort zone to learn new ways of doing their development work, new languages and new frameworks are constantly being developed and iterated on. There is a constant motion, ebb and flow of ways to accomplish a given programming task. I would love it if the development community would reach out past the code and the technology and realize that they work in a system of people and learn to 'code' the people system just as easily and simply as they code their computer systems. By learning to program the people system developers would very likely be making their lives and the lives of a great many people at the companies they work with and for hundreds of times better than currently exists.

We have to work with the systems we are given, but it doesn't mean that we can not work to change them and cause them to be better to achieve the things requested of us. What a much easier place to work BigCo. would become if this were the case - all of us working to improve the system we work in. I look forward to the opportunity to make those system impactful changes, day in and day out, I hope you will too.