Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I'm The Decider

I've been helping a coworker try and figure out what he wants to do with his career.  I thought I'd share with whoever's reading the same advice I gave him:

Imagine a model of whatever it is that you work on (a web site, in our example).  I want you to be able to point to that model, and say "See X?  We do X that way because I decided that's the best way to do it."

Nobody wants to take orders for the rest of their lives.  Even the lowliest coder and some point has to decide how to write the code.  You have to use your brain.  In order to be trusted with a decision making spot you need to demonstrate expertise in that area.  You can't be expert in all areas, so you shouldn't expect to make the decisions in all areas.  If you want to decide what colors the site should use, fine - but be prepared to justify your opinion and explain why your answer is better than someone else's.    You can't have that and be a coder and a manager and so on.  Because you'll spread yourself too thin.  Maybe you can indeed contribute to nearly everything - but there's just no way you'll be able to demonstrate expertise in all those areas.  Someone else will come along who is expert in just one of them, and that decision will be taken away from you.  Rather than having that happen (it sucks when that happens), do it yourself - give up the decisions you don't want.  I may have an opinion on whether the site's colors suck, but I don't have the decision, because I know that I don't have the expertise to backup my opinion against the professional designers.  I'm cool with that. 

Another bonus to the "I decided X" exercise is that it's a great emotional bonus to be able to explain what you do for a living to people.  See that?  I did that.  People who are not in your regular working circle can better appreciate what you're trying to explain to them if they can actually see it.

No comments: