As a leader, I am always looking at situations to find the lessons that are hiding. The other day I watched a team of engineers working together and it was inspiring. Here are some of my observations and commentary.
Over the last several weeks, the team has been working on refactoring some of the code that is deep within the bowels of our infrastructure. There has been no shortage of challenges in making these changes.
The code was refactored with backwards compatibility in mind, but that doesn’t always work out so nicely. It was decided to only retrofit the systems that were in their domain since they are closer and have more intimate knowledge. They started out strong, but the challenges started to pile up.
There were issues with namespaces, assembly references and code that was removed that needed to be swapped out. Once the new assemblies were referenced the scope of the issues started to be clear. One interesting issue that cropped up was a ghost assembly that was somehow being inserted back into the project. The problem is that was the one library that is getting ripped out. I blame NuGet (easy target).
We are big fans of swarming our work, but work like this refactoring didn’t seem to lend it self to a swarm. For those of you who are not familiar with swarming, it is where the entire team works together on a single work item until it is complete. We have found that in many situations this works well, but that is a topic for another day.
Back to the inspiration.
I walked out of my office and I notice a huddle around one of the engineers cube. I was curious so I hung out listening and watching, and I was very impressed. This team was swarming together to help one of the engineers with their refactoring task.
What I saw was an even playing field. There were no pretenses of superiority and no egos. Just four engineers working together to solve a problem. It was a beautiful thing to see!
All to often I see the game of “it was his code” or “that is her PBI”. That doesn’t sound very teamish (feel free to use that word) to me. You maybe thinking that all engineers should work together to deliver business value, right? Unfortunately that is the exception and not the rule in my experience.
It is not often that I get to see that level of team work within a team. These engineers are some of the most professional teammates that I have had the pleasure to work with. The interesting piece is that half of the team members are junior, but they operate as a well oiled machine. I was inspired by their cohesion around the problem, it was awesome! I was so inspired, I took a photo (pixelated for security 🙂 ).