Assumed Audience: anyone working as an engineer or leading an engineering team
Back when I worked in consulting, it was frowned upon to talk in public about the work we did. This was especially true when things went very publicly wrong, but also true when near disaster was successfully hidden. There are many engineering stories behind some of the systems we take for granted; energy billing, same day retail deliveries, click and collect, digital banking, to name a few. It seems a shame that those stories remain the preserve of the few who happened to witness them unfold. Looking back on them, I’d have loved to share them with the world.
These days I still share the stories with those who have spoken to me about a career in tech. There is often a belief that we have to know before we can do. But with hindsight, the most fun I’ve had, the most I’ve learned, has been when I made decisions that didn’t go the way I thought they would. Surrounding each of these decisions is a story to tell, each one made possible because someone (knowingly or otherwise) giving me the opportunity to fail.
Hearing that a team learns from failure is good, but hearing that a team talks openly about the challenges they faced along the way is energising. It’s about time we stopped pretending that engineering behind successful products is a world in which things go to plan, estimates turn out to match reality, and code just magically flows from thought to production without so much as a hiccup. The reality is far more challenging, but it is also far more exciting. Let’s talk about more about our lived experiences.
This is an excellent talk by Bryan Cantrill of Oxide Computer Company at GOTO 2023: Social Audio as a Vector For Engineering Wisdom. If your team talks publicly about the engineering they do, send me a link. I’d love to listen, and may even participate.