Your job is to look

In the next months you’re going to find a lot of things here that you won’t like.

Maybe bad architectural choices, or code which is surprising how it still works.

Some of us, however, will not see it. Maybe we got used to these things and forgot about them.

Your job as an Engineer is to look for these things.

Search for them, write them down and either fix them or find someone who can help you fix them.

I have only learned to be deliberate in looking for broken things in my work because I had great examples in my career who said this to me many times.

Simon, my first Tech Lead at Nokia, told me this when I joined his team. In fact, I still have the little notebok he gave me at the time.

And later on, I discovered that Will, my first PO at Nokia, blogged about it in a much better than I could ever express. I quote the core of his idea below but his two blog posts are really worth a read.

From the first article:

One of my first jobs was as a bartender in a pub. My supervisor, Ted, had what I then thought was a compulsive neatness habit.

If he saw a chair was out of place, he would straighten it. If there was an empty glass on the table, he would take it. A cigarette on the floor, he would pick it up.

(…) He’d say to us:

Don’t just turn a blind eye because you’re a bartender and not a cleaner.

We work as a team here – your job is everything.

And from the second article:

If you look around in any company, I’m sure you’ll see things that don’t make sense. You’ll see ineffective managers and inefficient processes. You’ll see failures and you’ll see waste.

When you look attentively and deliberately at the world around you, you will see so many things that are broken or could be improved.

The more you look, the better you will become at seeing. You’ll undoubtedly see more things than you’ll ever have the time to work on.

Your first responsibility is to look. Your second responsibility is to act.

If you see something broken, try to fix it – even if it’s not your job.

I wanted this idea to set the tone for this blog on Engineering.

We could have started talking about how we like Functional Programming or about our favorite DevOps practices. But this idea of focusing on the problem and fixing whatever is broken ends up being the trigger for most of the things we do, while our technological choices end up being a consequence of the problems we have to solve.

That is what we’re focusing on at the Red Pineapple Media Engineering Team: solving problems and fixing what is broken. This is how we approach our daily work and the attitude we look for when we’re hiring. It is, perhaps, the one aspect of our jobs which is always present, every single day, in one way or another, in everything we do.

In this blog, we’ll tell the tale.


Written by Luis Rodrigues Soares.