Tuesday, June 24, 2014


In my last post, I introduced Challaboration as a core team value.  A second core value is learning. Within this are two elements: being adaptable and courage.

Requirements, technology, business environments all change.  A person (and by extension, a team) will have limited success solving new problems only using past solutions.  If you are unwilling to adapt and don't have the courage to find help from others, you will not expand your set of tools to solve problems.

When you explore new approaches and tools, you learn.  For example, around 2011, my company made a reasoned decision to shift some of its product stack from .NET to Java.  Quite a bit of our team (who we hired as .NET  developers) were faced with a choice: continue as .NET experts or become novice Java/HTML/JavaScript programmers.  Every developer made the transition.

It would have been easy to leave.  After all .NET is the dominate programming platform in Nashville. Because they chose to adapt, they expanded their toolkit (learning a new language and front end technology).  It was a tough road. In the beginning, we wrote a lot of C# code masquerading as Java.  Over time, the team grew into first-class Java developers.

By adapting, the developers learned a valuable lesson:  Their excellence is based on their critical thinking and design skills, not language competency.  More importantly, they
not to define themselves by the technologies they know.

Our team is a mix of veteran and junior developers.  We have experienced healthcare providers and seasoned QA who have never provided direct patient care.  You would think the knowledge flows from the "older" to "younger" generation.  That is far from the case.  Junior developers show veterans how some of the new technology stack functions.  In turn, veterans share hard-fought learnings from years of production software.

What our team has in common is not knowledge or skill level.  It is their courage to say, "I need help" or "I don't know."  This simple acknowledgement creates the possibility for learning. 

The dynamics of healthcare IT demand constant learning. A willingness to adapt and the courage to ask for help creates an environment where everyone learns from each other.  As a team, we adapt to changing demands and have the courage to rely on each other to learn how to solve problems. In other words, we win and lose as a team. 

No comments: