Wednesday, December 21, 2022

I (don't) need a hero

When I join a new project, I always look for someone who knows (almost) all the answers. 

How to find them? Look for the clues.

Is there a production incident? Those are the people who you are asking for help.

Is there any design change? No change will happen without talking with them.

Is there any doubt or confusion? They are receiving an email with the question.

As you see, many roads lead to them.

Why do I want to find them?

Once I identify them, I know who can teach me a lot about the project. That is the moment with whom I can start my "onboarding process".

Why do I not want to find them?

If I can find them in a short time, it usually means the project is not in good shape. Why?

The first reason is a bus factor. If there's only one person everyone goes to, you need to be aware that you may be putting your project in jeopardy. Such experienced people usually receive many job offers. It is only a matter of time before one will be attractive enough.

The second reason is the project's complexity. If the product's design is so difficult to understand and covers wide business scope only a few (one) could understand, you should know the project requires improvements.

I'm not a hero, and I do want to need none

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with such people. They are doing amazing work. They can do the job only a few could accomplish. They are outstanding developers and know the business their software must support well. They are priceless.

It is great to have them in your project.

Yet, if your project relies on one person or a group of few, you should accept the problem is just around the corner. You need to ask yourself "what you will do when they leave your project?"

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