“Is it just you, or do other people have the same problem? Should I look into bringing in training?”
“I don’t know,” Dave said. “I’ll have to check with other people.” He made some notes in his notebook.
“I’ll gather some data, too,” Susan said. “What else did you want to work on?”
“Well, this is going to sound a little strange, but I want to start a more formal lunch-and-learn series about the guts of our system. The system is getting bigger. We’ve been hiring more people—we’re up to three teams now. We’re managing our technical debt, and I want to make sure we keep managing it. So I want to make sure everyone understands what’s going on. I don’t want the testers out of sync with the developers or the senior developers out of sync with the junior developers. I don’t know if this is career development for me or for everyone else, but I see a need and I want to make sure it happens.”
“Dave, that’s not strange—that’s a great idea. How often will it be? You’ll take responsibility for setting up the lunch-and-learn series? You’ll get the people and help them craft their talks? Do you want me to pay for the lunches, or will people bring their own?” Susan had lots of questions.
Dave grinned. “I’d like it to be biweekly—once every two weeks. How about if you supply drinks and maybe sandwiches? If I eat pizza every two weeks, I’ll gain weight and then my wife will not be happy. When she’s not happy, no one is happy.” “I’ll do the first talk so people can see how it’s done. Then I’ll let people know I want more talks and line up more speakers. You want to be a speaker?”
“Sure, but what do you want me to talk about?”
Dave got serious. “How agile allows us to make promises to our clients that we couldn’t otherwise. How the roadmap and the backlog allow us to see business value and to stop doing work that doesn’t matter. Some of the younger guys don’t know we used to work differently and that we have a real business advantage now.”
Susan agreed and Dave left.
A few minutes later, Brian arrived. Brian is a tester in his early 20s. He’s new to the organization, and no manager has ever asked him to define his career development plan before. He plopped down in Susan’s visitor chair. Then his right leg started to jump up and down a hundred times a minute.
“Hi, Susan. I think I did what you want. I’m a little confused.”
“Well, that’s why we talk about it. What do you want to learn about?”
“Well, I want to learn more about the system, that’s for sure. I don’t think I know nearly enough. And, I’ve been pair testing with Dale and Liza. I’d like to know more about the database, so I think I’d like to pair test with Michelle, our DBA, or even have her train me in DBA-ness, if that’s even a word.”
“It’s enough of a word for me. Have you asked her?”
“I can do that?” Brian seemed surprised.
“You don’t have to wait for my permission,” Susan said. “You are on the team with her. If she picks up a story, you say something like, ‘I’d like to work on that with you.’ And if she says no, and no one on the team helps you, then ask me and I’ll show you how to help her say yes. But she will most likely say yes the first time.”