Everything in tech is made up, stop being so judgmental about it

When someone passes you a piece of information about how things should be at work, have you ever paused to consider how that information got into their heads?

Some examples:

  • “Product management is user story writing - they tell the development team exactly what to make and the development team make it”
  • “You’re not in this meeting as we’re following scrum and you’re a chicken not a pig” [^1]
  • “Harriet is an amazing Product Manager as she’s delivered all her stuff on time this year”
  • “Agile means we have to use story points”

And some technology examples:

  • Cloud architecture has to use containerisation
  • [development language] is bad/good
  • You can’t provision properly on bare metal, it’s not useable for large scale products, you need automation tools
  • Open source software is not secure/compliant/etc
  • Docker solves all deployment problems
  • DevOps means you must have a platform team

(I have intentionally picked the above examples as they’re all either heavily disputed, or need caveats or further context.)

Occasionally, when the circumstances permit me to do so, I have asked the person why they think the statement is correct. (I recommend doing this when you can, even if you also think it’s correct!)

Sometimes, I get a “this is best practice”, sometimes I get a “this is in x guide” or “this is how I’ve worked in n other companies”.

Most of us learn on the job. There isn’t a crucial university or college course or textbook that covers the fundamentals of how we work in tech businesses[^2]. We have these rumours and business memes, pass into fact by managers passing onto staff and occasionally bringing in a new book or blog post or even humorous meme. That makes discerning helpful vs not helpful and even fact from fiction extremely difficult. It also means content like the below is incredibly popular as people try to make sense of the chaos: Google search of Product Management Book recommendations Google search of Agile Book recommendations

The irony is that there are so many of these helpful articles, it’s hard to tell which one is the best for you!

So the next time you get yourself in a disagreement on the “right” way to do things, ask yourself where that information came from.

[^1] (for those of you who do not work in tech, yes, this one is real [^2] fwiw, MBAs do exist, but when was the last time you met an software engineer with an MBA that hadn’t branched out of software engineering?