Thinking TechX

A word we hear too much of these days is ‘disrupt’. When it’s not overused, it means that you’re trying to change the way you do things in some dramatic fashion. Instead of doing things by hand, you use some tool to automate some or all of it. Or you switch from Linux everywhere to Window everywhere, or vice versa. Whatever the change is, the point is that you’re changing how you do things.

Something that frequently appears to be forgotten during disruption is to change how you think about doing things. When you were doing things on Windows, you probably did a lot of mouse clicking and typing. Now you’ve moved to Linux. Was the change really about the OS? Probably not. The change was about not having to click the mouse and type. So stop it! Start “thinking Linux”, or whatever technology you’re using.

This has two advantages. First, it becomes really disruptive, because it was the thought process holding you back the whole time. If you only change the technology, you’ve just hidden the problem for a while. That buys you a bit of runway but no real solution. Applying an entirely new thought process will help you get out of the rut of “the way we’ve always done it.”

Second, if you are using idiomatic patterns of the chosen technology – such as using camelCase in Powershell but snake_case in Ruby – you’re going to find it much easier to attract and retain coworkers who already think that way. If your Ruby code looks like PowerShell, most Ruby devs will just run away. Even if your team has low turnover, it will make everyone on the team better able to receive new team members and allow the team to better contribute back to the community, especially via open source projects.

Take the time to approach your problems in a new manner from top to bottom and you’ll reap the benefits.

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