don't worry, it's probably fine

Notes from the Week #13 - Season Finale

17 Dec 2018


Well, this has been a fun trial! I initially had a crack at weeknotes as a way of getting my thoughts out of my head before the weekend, but it’s become much more than that - I finally have a way of sharing with the public, my team, and my future self, things that are Happening.

I am definitely going to carry on with this next year, so look out for Season 2 starting from the first week of January!

Some Things That Happened in 2018

A year in the life of a team lead

We’re coming up on a year of my being at the helm of the Shared Infrastructure Team. It’s difficult to overstate how much of a changing experience it has been.

There have been plenty of problems that I wasn’t equipped to handle and have required me to expand my toolset. Things like conflict resolution, care of the professional and pastoral varieties, and getting knee deep in legal and procurement discussions.

If I could say one thing to myself this time last year, it would probably be “You are absolutely capable of handling everything this throws at you, but you don’t know it yet”.

Getting better at conflict

I’ve had to occasionally resolve conflicts, but I’ve also had to learn how to handle it myself. Shift has a lot of ambitions and strong opinions, and sometimes those bring us into conflict with other teams and their own goals. I’d like to think I’m much more able to handle conflict in an impersonal way than I was last year.

I certainly have much better tools at my disposal like Reflective Listening.

Making friends in other places

Even though I started on it last year, Democracy Club has again been a source of joy in my year - I feel a deep sense of satisfaction working on things that I know are being used, and are providing a public good (from my point of view, at least).

I made friends with Steve Messer from GDS and have learned a butt-load from our wednesday morning coffee and chats - it sounds like GDS are up to exciting stuff so best of luck to them in 2019 too!

Learning new stuff

Shift’s domain, being quite infrastructure heavy, tends to employ languages like Shell, Ruby, Python. Holding onto our XP values and practices, we’ve been trying heavily to bring our TDD attitude on board using tools like BATS, RSpec, and pytest respectively.

We’ll be adopting Go in the new year, and we’re excited to adopt a new language and expand our skill sets!

I also got much better at critically evaluating software choices - Shift spent a lot of time this year establishing trials to run to decide on best technology or platform to adopt.

Embrace the fun

I’m lucky enough to lead a team of bright and good-humoured developers, and embracing the fun side of working together is a huge part of what I think makes our team what it is:

  • We do crosswords together at lunch - this wasn’t set up by anyone, but something that just kind of happened.
  • Some of us have started playing a game called Don’t Get Got which has been a source of much delight already.
  • We frequently joke, make awful puns, and are generally express our happiness outwardly.
  • One of the team was off ill this week and decided to hold her own mini stand-up.

Portia Tung has a great talk called The Power of Play - Making Good Teams Great about how simple things like playing games is great for social bonding and make us a more cohesive team.

What I’d Like To Do In 2019

Here’s some stuff I’d really like to do in my career next year - not resolutions, more aspirations, and I’m definitely not going to finish all of them!

  • More open-source stuff: I’ve been trying to drive development in the open and general open-source activities at Unruly, and I’d like to push this even further next year. It would be amazing if non-proprietary systems were all developed in the open so we can really show off the quality of our codebases.

  • More open standards/data stuff: This is something I want to start doing. I have a lot of admiration for the work that people like Terence Eden are doing in the world of standards and open data. Definitely going to try and get to an OpenData Camp too.

  • Get better at user-centric design: I have a couple of personal projects in progress that require me to better understand graphic design and building user-facing solutions. This is exciting but something out of my comfort zone so far.

  • Get back into reading: I’ve slowly been slipping out of reading, so I’ll be trying to set myself a goal of reading a set number of both fiction and non-fiction books by the end of 2019 - it’s good to read things that aren’t related to work stuff and freshen up my head.

And that’s a wrap on 2018 - see you all in the New Year!