Drawing Ideas Out

Reading time ~2 minutes

Listening is important. If you spend all your time talking you will miss good ideas. We have been working closely with another team who is coming up to speed. Instead of helping direct the project I need to shift my efforts to drawing out their good ideas and supporting them.

We had been lined up to work with another team on a project. Due to logistics it was decided the project would be easier if they lead the development. We would assist them and discuss different ideas, but not much else.

No Monopoly on Good Ideas

Prior to the project starting we had spent a great deal of time thinking about the overall problem and potential solutions. The affected code would integrate heavily into what we have done. Over time we have become subject matter experts which has led to strong opinions about how things should be done.

Like many developers I want to solve problems. You know build cool stuff! This normally involves rolling up my sleeves and diving in. I like choosing how to approach different problems and then working with our team to get it done.

However, to succeed on this project I need to put aside my own ideas and listen. Instead of starting with my own opinion, I need to facilitate the conversation so their ideas shine through. My co-worker Daryl put it fantastically, “they have good ideas, we need to help draw them out”.

Arguing for my own ideas would be counterproductive. The goal is not to show off how smart we are or build up my ego. We could hand them over the master plan we would have followed and miss the mark completely. It would kill the project and crush any autonomy the other team has.

The point is to make the project a success and help our clients. Together, we need to focus on shipping great software to meet the client needs.

The Great Ideas Are Waiting

The other team has great developers who are going to do a fantastic job. While we might have a head start in knowing the problem domain, they will be able to come up to speed. We did. We need to give them the space to solve their own problems and to ask questions which will help them come to their own solutions.

Lately they have been wrestling through various challenges. It has been fun discussing potential options with them. Every conversation goes a little deeper. They have been learning a lot and are doing well.

Their solution looks different than how I pictured it in my mind and I think that is fantastic! It shows they are finding their own path.

The great ideas are waiting. Together we can draw them out.

Thanks FTO for being patient with us and the continuing discussions. I cannot wait until V1 ships. Thanks Daryl for being awesome and letting me learn from you. Thank you Travis for gently reminding me I don’t have a monopoly on good ideas and coming up with the phrase.

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