in weeknotes

Weeknotes S03E24

Some things happened this week:

1 I went to Codebar on Wednesday and spoke to my new Fast Stream mentee, both of whom are interested in becoming developers. I am very excited to get a more diverse pipeline in place, and this is the best way1the best way right now, there may be different levers I can pull in my future to use my capital to implement that. We did test driven development to implement a nifty little code kata called persistence. There are a couple of ways to solve it, but I’m not going to go through them here because maybe they read this.2They don’t, but I need to maintain some kind of mystery

In both cases I’m quite proud of managing to get them doing test-driven development on a locked-down Windows machine. We couldn’t install any normal testing libraries, so instead I did a hacky workaround so that we could run some tests. As I did it, I had a flashback to the first guy who taught me how to code (and is now the Lead Data Architect at a government department, how’s that for some cool shit). We were in a basement room at 100 Parliament Street, struggling to install testing libraries on our government-issue Windows machines. My solution was the solution he showed us. Isn’t that odd? Isn’t that marvelous?

In any case, both sessions were incredible. I love coaching and I really love coaching smart people who are willing to try things.

I really, really love test-driven development because those tight feedback loops are a brilliant way to get people obsessed with writing well-tested code.

It’s a super healthy addiction.

2 I have been receiving feedback all week and I love it. There’s so much valuable insight from people cleverer than me, more experienced in the world than me, that I can’t help but be overjoyed that they’re taking the time to share it with me. I really recommend asking for targeted feedback. It’s massively changed how specific and valuable it is. I’m going to add some feedback here because

  • it’s important for me to have a record of when people have said good things so I can come back to them when I need to and
  • it’s important that I can be public and honest about the areas I’m less good at, because I am a whole person. If, heaven forbid, my mentees are reading this then I want them to know that you can make mistakes and be uncertain and it’s okay.

You have a lot of options, because you are talented. The question is – what do you want to be good at? Note that is not the same question as “where do you want to progress to”.

– Anonymous feedback, when asked what I could do to further my career

You are good at getting people to talk to you, you can talk to people at all levels of technical capability, and aren’t shy about asking senior people for things (!). Just be a bit careful not to come across as intimidating to people who are introverted or who aren’t as confident.

– Anonymous feedback when asked what I could do to differently as a developer

I’ve been trying to give feedback as well, and I think some of it hit the mark more than other pieces. I think I need to work out how to be better at feedback next because I’m currently way too blunt.

3 I’ve finished all of my slides for my Wardley mapping workshop next Friday. I’ll publish them once I’ve gauged how well the presentation went, as well as the exercises I’ll be encouraging participants to complete. If you’re interested (and in the public sector) then there might be tickets left. Put a comment under the blog or get me on twitter and I’ll try to find out if we can squeeze you in. I’m rediscovering how hard presentations are to do – I must have spent a week going over these slides and notes. I’m really worried I’ll get everything wrong, but I’m hopeful that the participants will be kind and at least give me useful feedback.

I have scared sweats just thinking about it

4 I played chess with Public Sector Data Hero Dan. I love seeing Dan and playing chess, because Dan is an extremely real person. He is solid and grounded in the world and thinks long and hard before he publishes a trilogy of impactful, considered pieces on data. So playing chess with someone like that is like brain yoga. It stretches out the time for thinking and reflecting and it’s amazing. I really enjoy it. Here’s a challenge: play chess with no time limits. Set a topic and reflect on it while the other person considers their move and then talk when it’s your turn! It literally forces asynchronous conversation where you reflect on the other person’s words instead of just grabbing the first tenuously linked story you can bring to mind.

I’ve typed up the games we played and presented them here with my notes. If you are not a fan of chess, or even if you are, you will find the next few blocks completely stultifying. They’re the last thing in this post, so before you go watch the new Avengers trailer. It’s super cool.

Alright. Chess time. Get your nerd goggles on.

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