Developer Tea

3x3 - Uncovering Hidden Information

Episode Summary

This week, we go back to an older format - 3x3. This week we'll give three different techniques for different challenges we're faced with as developers today, we're talking about Uncovering Hidden Information

Episode Notes

In today's episode, we're talking about uncovering hidden information using three different techniques.

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Episode Transcription

If you're like me, then you're probably painfully aware that there is a whole universe of knowledge that you've never encountered. It's not simply that there are some facts that you don't know or techniques that you haven't practiced. There are entire categories of information that you and I and your peers don't even know exist. And for the most part, even though that might cause some anxiety, it certainly does for me. This is true for the vast majority of people, and it's also probably okay. You don't have to know everything to be able to function well, but there are some things that if you were to uncover them, perhaps they would help you in your career. Now, how do you go about figuring out what those hidden areas of knowledge are? This week, we return to our old format, the 3x3. We're going to give you three practical takeaways in each of this week's episodes. And in today's episode, we're giving you three ways that you can uncover hidden information. My name is Jonathan Cutrell, you're listening to Developer Tea. My goal on this show is to help driven developers like you find clarity, perspective, and purpose in your careers. The first technique to uncover hidden information is to entertain the opposite. What does it mean to entertain the opposite? Well, if you have, for example, some code that you think is doing one thing, then imagine for a moment that the code is doing exactly the opposite thing. But say that you have a query that you believe is running fast, a database query that you think is running quickly. But you have some evidence that shows that maybe it's not as fast as you thought. Instead of entrenching yourself in your original belief that the query is fast, entertain the opposite. Take a moment and imagine that the thing that you believe is not only wrong, but the opposite of what you believe is true. Now this takes the idea of kind of negating your own statement, your own belief, one step further. When you entertain the opposite, you not only negate that belief, but you intentionally simulate or artificially adopt the opposite belief. And of course, this is hard to do because entertaining the opposite belief or entertaining something that we don't already have in our minds can cause us to kind of defend our initial belief. We have a bias towards defending something that we previously believed partially because we want to remain consistent. But with this kind of thinking and the other two takeaways that we're going to talk about today, it's important to remind yourself throughout the process that you're seeking truth. You're seeking to learn information that you previously didn't even know existed. You're not seeking to remain consistent with whatever your previous beliefs were, and you're also not seeking to look right. In the long run, looking right and being right often diverge. But eventually they become the same thing. In other words, if you can find something that is true, then even if along the way you looked like you were taking a wild detour, in the end, if you find that truth, that's more valuable than what have you looked like along the way, most likely. We're going to talk about the other two techniques to finding hidden information or uncovering hidden information right after we talk about today's sponsor, Get Prime. If you are an engineering manager, then you know that growing your team is difficult. Hiring new developers in particular can take a lot of time and it can be really expensive and pretty volatile. So another strategy is to grow your team from within. This means establishing a growth plan for your existing developers cultivating talent and making the most of the team that you already have. So how do you actually do this? That's what Get Prime is going to help you learn. Get Prime has assembled a panel of experts who have done exactly this and you can watch the webinar by going to slash webinar. This panel is going to answer questions like how do you build an effective career ladder for your developers? So check it out at slash webinar. Thanks again to Get Prime for sponsoring today's episode. We're talking about uncovering hidden information. This is information that you didn't even know existed. It's not just that you didn't know the particulars. It's that you didn't even know that there was something to know. And most of the information that we have is actually some abstraction of a set of facts. In other words, the skills that you develop as an engineer rely on underlying facts and combining those facts together can actually help create new information. So for example, if you combine two skills together, then you might have a unique new skill that emerges in kind of the intersection of those two skills. So that's takeaway number two, a way that you can uncover hidden information is to combine things that you haven't yet combined. This falls right in line with discussions that we've had on the show about mental models where you can take principles from one area of your life or one set of knowledge that you have and apply them in other areas. So this starts by looking at a given problem through a new lens. For example, let's say that you have a problem with organizing your code in a way that makes sense. You may take on a lens of organizing things alphabetically, but that doesn't really work out well. And so you might take on a lens of organizing your code the way that you would write a story. You learned how to write an essay in college and you can apply some of the same principles of essay writing to writing code. So that is takeaway number two. If you're trying to uncover hidden information, then try combining things information that you already have and producing new information. The third and final technique for uncovering hidden information that we're going to share on this show. And there's certainly more than these three, but these are the ones that we wanted to bring into the conversation today. The third technique is to act like an outsider. Imagine that you are approaching the situation, the problem, the information, whatever your domain is that you're trying to uncover hidden information about as an outsider, not as a person who has spent a bunch of time working with that information, not with the existing knowledge that you have. Imagine that you're coming to it somewhat blind. Kind of twist on this is to put on a different hat. Then you are coming to it as an engineer and then imagine that you're coming to it as an artist. What are the different kind of takes that you could have on this on the subject? The amazing thing is that sometimes this hidden information isn't actually hidden like we think it is. It's somewhere in our minds, but it's not necessarily accessible to our conscious thinking. We have to change our lens by changing our perspective. We can do this by forcing ourselves into a different persona, a different way of thinking, putting on a different hat, playing a different role, and approaching the information from a different place. Of course, the most obvious technique, and this will be kind of a bonus number four, is to bring other people in. Even the hidden from you may be very plainly obvious to another person. The more collaboration that you can have, most likely, the more you will be able to address your blind spots. Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea. If you enjoyed this episode, go ahead and subscribe in whatever podcasting app you use. Thank you again to Get Prime for sponsoring Developer Tea. The show wouldn't be able to exist without our sponsors, Get Prime is going to help you grow your engineering team from the inside out. Go and check it out This GIT slash webinar. And sign up today. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time, enjoy your tea.