Min Jævla Prosess – My Damn Process

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I realized today that my way of doing things is really quite simple, so I decided to write it down:

This is my natural way of doing things. However, not everyone follow this simple three step process. It is like my current boss said: “I assume you just set off down a hill when you go skiing”. My response was: “Of course, I always do that. Don’t you?”. If you know everything about the terrain and have identified all the possible consequences, to me, you have removed all the fun.

It’s like Mater in Cars says when he does his backwards-driving: “I don’t need to see where I’m going, because I know were I’ve been”

This was a post I wrote in 2014, but never published for some reason. Having just published “Giving advice” I definitely see the irony of having written this post. I hope this means I’m wiser and not just older.

Luckily I did add a comment to the Gist, which slightly balanced the tabloid 3-step process:

Additional activites you can / should do during step 3:

  • you should worry about wether what you started if this is a good thing
  • you should never think about all the consequences until you encounter them
  • you should check to see if the thing you envisioned is correct solution
  • you should be afraid when you start, if not you’re playing it too safe
  • you should always second guess and doubt your decision on starting on the endavor
  • and for the love of God, have some fun while doing all this.

Giving advice

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First thing about giving advice is that you should add a disclaimer:
“These are my experiences, views and opinions. Treat them as such and then make your own reflections on whether they’re worth taking to hear or not”

The version of me that existed a couple of years ago would not add the disclaimer. I’d just burst out my opinions as truths without blinking. Anything from advice on coding to career advice I’d lay out without giving it a second thought. That’s cool right?

Not really.

Luckily I’ve had an upgrade since then and I’ve gotten a module installed which adds perspective of other people and the ability to think outside my own personal context.
Advice given by people shouldn’t always be taken literally. You should reflect and decide whether the persons context relates in any way to your own. In the past I’ve said things like “don’t care about asking for permission, just do the work you feel is right”.
This might be great advice for some, but in a different context reading things like that just makes you more depressed. Say you work in a country with a soaring unemployment rate, you have a big mortgage and you have to support your family of five. You also happen to have a boss who’s unpredictable and fire people left and right.
If that’s your context and your  life when reading my advice, how would following my advice make any sense at all? You’ll end up unemployed and perhaps out of a steady income for months. If I was in that context, I wouldn’t give advice which clearly only works if you’re in a place of privilege.

When we give advice, we tend to forget to add the disclaimer about the advice being for a certain context. Not only when it comes to job related things, but also technology advice should come with more reflection than it usually does.

You’ve seen the blog posts. Everyone is doing X now, if you’re not on-board you’ll be professionally dead in the water in a couple of months. Those of us who’s been around a while now this to be false. Not once in my fifteen plus years in this business has something like that happened that quickly. Sure there’s a lot of new things coming out, but never is there an urgency to get on-board or perish. People are still making a living coding Flash for crying out loud! (and yes, of course there’s also the Cobol people).
When we write those excited posts, take a moment to reflect about people who aren’t as privileged that they can switch to new stuff constantly. There’s a million reasons why using some new technology isn’t possible, and that’s cool. We shouldn’t work so hard to elevate ourselves by talking down people who can’t follow all the trends. They can be just as amazing programmers as yourself. Working with legacy is so much harder than jumping on all the band wagons, we should recognize this and be a bit more careful when giving put advice.


Inflicting change upon an organization

I read someone outlining a process for making change happen in an organization. Later on I realized, I’ve done that! Perhaps I should share? When I get those thoughts I my brain rest until I’ve poured the idea out into some kind of digital form. A twitter rant perhaps? Or in this case, a blog post.

I grew up on a mountain farm in a very small town. Growing up in such a place sometimes gives you a bit of baggage which will serve you well for the rest of your life. Me, I learned that hard work is something which people do and it will pay off in the end. Not necessarily in the form of money or rewards, but in seeing the beauty in the fruits of your labor. This way of thinking has given me one skill which can be used to change organizations: work hard and never give up.
I’ve read many articles which base their findings on studies and theories. Me, I like to listen to people who’s actually done the things rather than the ones making theories based on something they’ve studied. This does not mean those things aren’t useful, they’re just not for me. Here is a story about inflicting change at Finn. These are my recollections and my views, others might see things differently and reach other conclusions.

The Story
At we had a situation where the design of the site hadn’t been changed for years. It looked 10 years old and completely outdated. Seeing a site which obviously needed some change was part of the reason I joined the company. My job was to be leader of the front-end developers and try to make them collaborate more and to establish front-end development as a craft in the organization. The big problem was that the site looked old and it was virtually impossible to make a redesign because of the underlying Java architecture which was a gigantic JSP tangled mess. With no section of the site being similar in code even though it was pretty much identical when you looked at it. In order to make a redesign possible, you first had to rewrite the entire Java front-end layer in order to add any kind of CSS/JS/HTML changes.

“It can’t be done, we already tried that”. This phrase is something you’ll hear in any organization that has existed for a certain amount of time. In the case of which was more than ten years old this was usually a true statement. The statement was one I heard many times when say we needed to change everything. I am a stubborn person who have a hard time accepting “established truths” I find unreasonable. Like redesigning the entire site, certainly that can be done when you have more then one hundred developers at your disposal? It’s not like updating some HTML, CSS and JavaScript is so darn hard that it just can not be done. We wanted to create an architecture which enabled a small team to redesign everything in a week.
Naturally getting the time, resources and mandate to perform the change is hard and takes an enormous amount of time. However the actual task of doing it is sometime much easier and straight forward than navigating the corporate world of politics, egos and individual agendas. We did manage to get the mandate and resources to do the project. Was it because of our brilliance and cunning planning? No, it was pure luck.

First lucky break
I happened to have made 4-5 slides which outlined what I wanted to do and what it would require. It was just rambling which I’d spent 10-15 minutes on, so it was in no way an elegant pitch. Through some fortunate coincidence this slide deck landed in the hands of a group of leaders and they decided the project was ok to start. I heard this through a third party who congratulated me on getting the OK to start, which left me baffled as I didn’t know anyone was going to decide on that any time soon. In fact I was still wondering how on to make someone do just that. But there it was, I had been given the task of doing something which I basically had very little clue of how would be done.

I hadn’t worked much on the platform we where going to change at all. Most of the changes would have to be done in the middel tier which was written in Java. Some parts of the platform was ten years old and a complete mess of JSPs and a custom MVC framework. Most of the platform was rewritten just a year ago with Spring and things. I’m a capable Java programmer, but far from being a very good one. The fact that most of our changes would be in the Java layer was a bit of a concern. All I knew is that everyone wanted to make the change happen and we’ve had two people creating a CSS framework which would make setting up the front-end easy. It had to be done, so there was nothing left but to start working.

We did the transition in a number of iterations where 1-2 people,  from the teams which part of the platform we where working on, would join our team of 3 to convert this into a new site.Making sure we had ambassadors in every team would be a key to not have the architecture deteriorate with time. If we could make sure they got a sense of ownership it would mean we had people to help out and improve the architecture continuously.

Another lucky break
During that first iteration, we had a one more strike of good luck. Rumours were spreading that we were going to be doing this massive rewrite of the entire front-end. This did of course spark a bit of interest in the rest of the organization. We had people coming by with questions, words of encouragement and sometimes with people came with concerns and worries based on what they heard we where doing. One individual came by and started discussing something, I don’t remember what it was to be honest, but it ended up in quite a heated debate with one of the developers who where helping us out at the time. From what I recalled it ended with the person who started the discussions saying: “Good luck with that” when we outlines what we wanted to accomplish with the project.

This was the moment I knew that we would succeed. There was no way we were going to let the person be right about us not being able to do pull this off. We wrote the quote on the whiteboard in the room we used and it was there to remind us that failure was not an option. Having something to rally the team around or against is invaluable as it gives you focus and additional motivation to make the change happen.

In closing
The whole rewrite process took 4-5 months instead of 4-5 weeks, which was my first estimate. There were numerous complications due to politics and issues with customers, but we always managed to continue pushing forward. Once we redesigned the site, we did it once more just a few months later in just weeks. It proved the huge rewrite did enable us to move a lot faster and to redesign continuously with a small team.
This was one story about making changes happen. It is about having a goal, working hard and continue pushing until you’re done. What path you take to create the change isn’t important, do what comes naturally and what suites your context. Don’t pay too much attention if you are not following a theory or methodology, it’ll be fine :)


Meta post

A post about writing a post. Only thing more meta would be a post about writing a post about a post. Or something..

Writing has never been something I’ve enjoyed. In school I never had the calm to bother writing correctly when it came to spelling and things. My joy of writing was killed off when I wrote an essay I was really proud of and all the teacher said was: “should not write such violent stories”. It was about a hunting accident.

Fast-forward into my professional life some thirty years later and I have written many blog posts. Usually I do it to get something off my chest or out of my head. Sometimes I write a snarky tweet or rant, but there are times when I need more than a tweet. I’ve got a huge Evernote notebook entitle “neverposts”, it’s filled with stuff I can’t publish for different reasons but I had to write in order to move on.

When I do write something I publish on a blog I usually write it from start to finish and hit publish. I might read it over, but I am rarely capable of seeing mistakes in spelling or bad compositions. This of course means that most of my posts doesn’t really make all that much sense to anyone but me. Lately I’ve had less things to get out of my head and therfore I thought: maybe I should try and become better at writing these things? I’ve read you can do that. There’s methods and techniques which enables you to communicate your story better.

That’s what I’m going to do for my next post. It won’t be perfect, but at least I’ll give it a shot. Wish me luck :) if you got tips or pointers, leave a comment!


Se på karrieren din som et eventyr, ikke en stige du skal klatre

Denne posten har tittel som en selvhjelpsartikkel, så dere som kjenner meg tenker kanskje jeg har gått helt Kåre Willoch og blitt bløt på mine eldre dager. Dere får bare bære over meg for den cheesy tittelen, den er for å få likes på LinkedIn og bygge kredibilitet i coaching kretser.

Jeg begynte i februar 2016 i det som er min tiende jobb siden jeg fikk min første betale jobb som programmerer i 1998. I tida siden nittiåtte har jeg jobbet for et tilsvarende antall ulike selskaper. Jeg har jobbet i privat- og offentlig sektor. I store, mellom og små selskaper. I de ulike selskapene har jeg vært både konsulent og i produkt organisasjoner, ansatt og leder, mellomleder og toppledelsen. I en rekke ulike bransjer: bank/finans, media, industri, pharmasia, pensjon, konsulent, osv. Etablerte selskaper med enorme ressurser til oppstartsfirma med emisjon som middel for å lønne de ansatte. Oppsummert: jeg har gjort mye rart.

Spørsmålet jeg alltid får

Hvorfor har du byttet jobb så ofte?

Etter et år med tre ulike arbeidsgiver så er kanskje spørsmålet legitimt og jeg ville spurt en slik kandidat det samme. Svaret mitt er at det bare har blitt sånn. Enkelte ganger har sluttet, andre ganger har selskapet gått konkurs og noen ganger har jeg måttet slutte av andre grunner. Ikke alltid fordi jeg hadde lyst.

No Remorse (vi savner deg Lemmy)

Det er en ting jeg aldri har angret når det gjelder min karriere. Det er at jeg har valgt å bytte jobb. Uten unntak har det vært positivt og veldig lærerikt å gjøre et bytte. Ikke fordi alle nye jobber har vært fantastisk og jobber jeg kunne vært i livet ut. Jeg har angret i etterkant når jeg har blitt værende etter å ha tenkt tanken “nå slutter jeg”. Da har jeg sett meg tilbake og angret på at jeg ikke agerte på følelsen. Alt som skjer etter at jeg har tenkt tanken på å slutte er bortforklaringer eller løgner jeg har fortalt meg selv for å unngå å bytte. Tanker om hva andre synes, hvordan det vil se ut på CV, osv har vært grunner til at jeg har drøyd.

Å bytte beite involverer utrolig mye positivt for deg som person. Det gjelder både faglig og privat. Selv min aller korteste tid i et selskap, ca tre måneder, ble jeg introdusert for AWS sky tjenestene en stund før det virkelige tok av. Det har vært veldig nyttig og noe jeg har hatt bruk for flere ganger. Selskapet gikk ikke slik vi hadde håpet, men likevel sitter jeg igjen med masse læring.
En annen bra ting med å flytte på seg er at du mister trygghet du har opparbeidet deg. Selv om du er aldri så trygghetssøkende så er det å bryte opp og forsøke noe nytt noe som gjør at du vokser som person. En annen positiv ting er at du kan også blomstre faglig ved at du mister lenkene som smis på deg etter lengre tid i ett selskap eller du kan komme ut av en “bås” du er plassert i. Jeg har sett tidligere kollegaer som bytter jobb etter å ha vært samme sted lenge virkelig blomstre når du kommer ut og kan dele av alt de har lært. Veldig få blir profet i eget land, spesielt ikke i Norge, derfor er å endre omgivelser en måte å vokse faglig og som person.

Men de jeg jobber med er jo så hyggelige!

Det er utrolig mange steder hvor det er utrolig hyggelige folk å jobbe sammen med. Jeg har enda ikke jobbet et sted hvor det har vært kjipe folk som jeg har tenkte: “De der jobber jeg faen meg aldri med igjen!”.
Tro det eller ei, det du tror er unikt bra miljø klarer du å finne igjen. Ikke la en sentimental illusjon om at ingen andre har så bra miljø som akkurat der du er akkurat nå. Det er helt sikkert anderledes andre steder, men at det er så unikt bra der du er stemmer nok ikke. Hyggelige kollegaer finner du veldig mange steder :)

Ikke høre på eksperter

Det er mulig å lese mye rart om det å “gjøre karriere”. Ofte involverer det å følge en trapp / stige eller lineær kurve oppover. Hvorfor? Jeg har gått opp, stått stille også gått ned igjen der jeg startet. Veien oppover og nedover i stilling har lært meg utrolig mye. Det har også vært jævlig morsomt og ekstremt lærerikt.

When given a place on a rocket, you don’t ask where it’s headed. You just get on board” – Ruchi Sanghvi, said something along those lines in Offscreen Magazine #9

Ingen bryr seg egentlig om hull i CV eller om din bytte frekvens. Hvis de nå gjør det, så er det fordi det ikke er et sted du vil være. Denne tanken om at lojalitet kun vises med kalendertid viet selskapet er tegn på at man ikke følger med i timen. Fordi hva sier de egentlig? At det ikke er hva du har utrettet som betyr noe, men hvor lenge du har vært ansatt? Det høres ganske rart ut ikke sant? Likevel er det intervjuprosesser hvor dette kan skje. Det er ikke noe å bry seg om, bare gå videre.
Det har jo aldri noen sinne vært skrevet en jobb annonse som sier:

Den vi søker skal være hos oss til pensjonsalder eller naturlig avgang

Aldri, så ikke bry deg om alle de rådene som sier at du kan ikke det ene eller det andre. Dette er ditt liv og du kan leve det akkurat slik du ønsker. “Eksperter” på karriere har ofte ikke spesielt mye erfaring med det de uttaler seg om, så ikke la deres mening tillegges noe vekt.

Jeg er jo bare en person som forteller om mine subjektive erfaringer, så målet er ikke at dette skal være noen mal eller ende opp som pensum i Human Resources 101 på Harvard. Det jeg vil er å forsøke vise en annen måte å se på det som kalles karriere. Du kan gjøre det om til en spennende reise dersom du ønsker og tar sjansen. Er ikke dette noe for deg, vel da har du akkurat kastet bort en 5 minutter på å lese dette :)

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