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Friday 12th January - Leading with Kindness

Published 3 months ago • 2 min read

January can seem like a long month in the Northern Hemisphere. This last week certainly seemed like a very long week! I hope you can start to think about the weekend.

I’ve recently explored the subject of happiness in software engineering from an organizational perspective and explored the foundations of how software organizations comes about and why we occasionally find it so difficult to square.

Let’s start with the concept of the happy individual building an application. It gets more complicated when we add other humans (customers, consumers, other engineers) and organizational or systemic factors. All of these influence our ability to deliver as our software evolves. It also influences our happiness with the software.

We can look at motivation and the internal and external factors influencing our ability to deliver successful software. But should we truly be happy while we create good software? Do we need to have tension between dissatisfaction and contentedness to bring the best of ourselves and others to bear on the task?

This is something that has obsessed both engineers and managers for decades. If you read something like the Psychology of Computer Programming, you’ll get insights reaching back fifty years in both individual and team settings. Instead, try reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield to learn about the individual battles we have with ourselves while creating.

Pressfield introduces the idea of The Resistance and goes to great lengths to explain how it attempts to sabotage or interfere with all of our endeavours. How it is unavoidable and gets stronger the closer we get to fulfilling our needs with our endeavours. So therefore, as a creative being, as an engineer or computer programmer we should be wary of The Resistance and choose not to give into it.

My obsession over many decades has been to build great software and understand how and why we build great software. Because it’s never the case that we decide to do something, and it appears as if by magic with no effort. The struggle, the tension and the resistance need to be there between our ideas and our execution.

So let us make 2024 the search for the idea of the Contented Engineer. Let us learn to stop worrying about the motivations and the processes in place that surround us, but let us enjoy the struggle and acknowledge Pressfield’s “Resistance” but also acknowledge that is a necessary part of making the best software that we can.

Wishing you a fruitful and peaceful 2024.

-- Richard


10 ways to Lead with Kindness in 2024

Published on January 9, 2024

When we return from a vacation, it’s easy to get overwhelmed quickly and forget our good intentions. This year, make a promise to yourself not to get caught up in the details. Make a promise to yourself not to let your tension or reaction affect other people’s moods and ways of working. The way you… Read More »10 ways to Lead with Kindness in 2024

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How to be a Contented Engineer

Published on January 5, 2024

I’ve recently explored the subject of happiness in software engineering from an organizational perspective and explored the foundations of how software organizations come about. Let’s start with the concept of the happy individual building an application. It gets more complicated when we add other humans (customers, consumers, other engineers) and organizational or systemic factors. All… Read More »How to be a Contented Engineer

Read more...

Human DevOps

by Richard Bown

Join my newsletter for regular views and news about doing effective, essential human DevOps engineering. I dive into the human factors that make successful DevOps organizations and the teams and platforms at the heart of your socio-technical systems. From leadership to team setup, maximizing performance, tools and techniques.

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