Move Around, Be Happier, and Beware of the Expert Curse

Move Around, Be Happier, and Beware of the Expert Curse

Don’t get stuck in the same tiny piece of code. Change your view: it is healthier and wiser to have a fresher mindset to find those sneaky bugs. And be open to work with new people. Doing these things will keep you more alert and happy.

Getting Stuck

A friend once mentioned that she felt overwhelmed when after years of testing the same app she changed to a new one. Before, she was constantly in “maintenance mode,” having almost no time to actually learn new things. When the big change finally came, she felt like she was in major catch up with her new team.

Every new product brings new challenges. Look for new opportunities to learn, study, and understand everything anew.

Another way to bring about change to keep you fresh is to change your physical situation. For example, leave your desk and test the product in the field. My colleague Jorge went as far as going to a mine in Arizona to test code. He wrote this cool post about his experience.

The Expert Curse

If you become too expert in a particular app or even an area of an app, you will be cursed to answer any and all questions related to it. Even after you’re sick and tired of it. You are the expert. You are stuck. Better to have knowledge distributed among the whole team.

jencinas at work

A well balanced team can help each other, and substitute for one another. It is also more robust in the sense that the loss of any one member is not catastrophic. On the other hand, having an “expert” makes the team brittle and overly dependent on that one person.

So being the expert is not good for you, it’s not good for your team, and it’s not good for the product.

A well balanced team can also be better at collaborating and coming up with fresh, new ideas.

New People, New Ideas

Be open to new people because they bring with them a fresh view of the world and how your product fits in it.

Yes, it takes time to bring new people on board. Yet, the new person will be more sensitive to bugs that have been ignored by longstanding members. The new person may also notice poor usability practices that usually happen as time goes by. A new perspective is crucial and desirable.

At Nearsoft we have the advantage of changing projects every once in a while. In my own case I recently moved from a top Electronic Health Record System to a Patient portal. Even though they are both healthcare apps, I very much welcomed the change. And, actually, the combination of new software, different users, and a new team is a breath of fresh air for me.

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