Thinking In The Open

It is always a surprise to see a programmer (new and old) simply, 'start working' on large, team level refactors. These could be as small as changing out the underlying linter settings, or as large as changing the entire codebase to a new language. Writing code is one of the easiest ways to display impact. However, a potentially greater way could be designing these changes in the open.

A few years ago, Glossier saw a large uptick in Amazon engineers. These engineers often times migrated other technical project managers, designers, and even principle architects to Glossier. These individuals also brought along all of there workflows to the startup. One of the more openly known development norms from Amazon (that was ported to Glossier) is that they write... A Lot.

Like a real lot. So much actually that it boggled my mind when the transition began. After struggling for a few months during the change, I quickly realized the superpower behind all of this prose that 'supported' code. Almost immediately, new engineers had way more context than before. They were able to self serve and get up to speed without the constant overhead of synchronous communication. This power didn't end with just new engineers but, with all of the other team members, technical or not.

I mentioned the power behind this 'hive mind' early on in my career at Orbit:

There's just something so powerful about a team that writes. Documentation, meeting notes, architectural decisions, THE WORKS!

Collective consciousnesses are just so...

— Braden Douglass (@braidn) February 10, 2022

There's just something so powerful about a team that writes and actively shares their knowledge. Having gone through this process of loving writing, it always shocks me that others, especially engineers who are a bit older, have never experienced this same effect.

The following are a few good articles/ideas around writing. Read, pick, and piece your way through norms that speak to your team. Maybe that means architecture decision records or full blown architectural design docs and RFCs:

Feel free to reach out and chat about what supercharges your team as well! My direct messages are also always open if you want to chat privately. I am always on the lookout for ways to better upfit teams through both technical and written mediums.