software solutions / project leadership / agile coaching and training

Practicing what matters

Posted on November 30, 2012

I read an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal the other day about “Must-Have Job Skills in 2013″. While this wasn’t necessarily referring solely to technical fields, it was still interesting. Here is their list of must-have job skills:

  • Clear communications
  • Personal branding
  • Flexibility
  • Productivity improvement

It made me think of the software craftsmanship people and the importance that they place on things like code katas, learning new languages, etc. If you’re a developer and you spend time honing your craft, how much value are you placing on skills like:

  • Being able to write a good requirements document
  • Facilitating a requirements gathering session with business users
  • Giving demos of your software to users (in their language)
  • Coming up with estimates for a large set of functionality
  • Being able to evaluate tools and frameworks and choose the best one for your project

Admittedly, it’s much easier to practice TDD than it is to practice requirements gathering. But these are skills that I feel are very important for developers. There are lots of people who can write code, even good code. If I don’t know how to use a language or framework, someone can teach me pretty quickly and I’ll pick it up. But can you also pitch in and help with requirements gathering, test planning, system architecture and design, and everything else that needs to be done on a project? Now that will set you apart.

When you think about learning new skills and investing in your career, just make sure that you don’t limit that to tools and technology.

1 Comment »

  1. Great points!

    These skills are more and more important as you climb the career ladder, but unlike TDD it’s very difficult to practice them on your own time and/or by yourself. Creating opportunities to practice these skills will take a lot more effort to create than just File -> New Kata.

    My best advice is to be intentional about building these skills. Be proactive about practicing them “in the small”. Ask to lead the next iteration demo, or do some estimating on smaller projects (even if someone else’s estimate is the “official” one).

    Seth Petry-Johnson — November 30, 2012 @ 9:50 am

Leave a comment

I have over 15 years of software development experience on several different platforms (.NET, Ruby, JavaScript, SQL Server, and more). I recognize that software is expensive, so I'm always trying to find ways to speed up the software development process, but at the same time remembering that high quality is essential to building software that stands the test of time.
I have experience leading and architecting large Agile software projects and coordinating all aspects of a project's lifecycle. Whether you're looking for technical expertise or someone to lead all aspects of an Agile project, I have proven experience from multiple projects in different environments that can help make your project a success.
Every team and every situation is different, and I believe that processes and tools should be applied with common sense. I've spent the last 10+ years working on projects using Agile and Lean concepts in many different environments, both in leadership roles and as a practitioner doing the work. I can help you develop a process that works best in your organization, not just apply a prescriptive process.
Have any questions? Contact me for more information.
Ditching the Office - How an everyday corporate development team turned into a remote working team
From Stir Trek 2018
From Stir Trek 2017, cbus.js 2017
Iteration Management - Your Key to Predictable Delivery
From Stir Trek 2016 and QA or the Highway 2015
From CodeMash 2016, QA or the Highway 2014, Stir Trek 2012
The Business of You: 10 Steps For Running Your Career Like a Business
From CodeMash 2015, Stir Trek 2014, CONDG 2012
From Stir Trek 2013, DogFoodCon 2013
(presented with Brandon Childers, Chris Hoover, Laurel Odronic, and Lan Bloch from IGS Energy) from Path to Agility 2012
From CodeMash 2012 and 2013
(presented with Paul Bahler and Kevin Chivington from IGS Energy)
From CodeMash 2011
An idea of how to make JavaScript testable, presented at Stir Trek 2011. The world of JavaScript frameworks has changed greatly since then, but I still agree with the concepts.
A description of how test-driven development works along with some hands-on examples.
From CodeMash 2010
From CodeMash 2010