Friday, January 13, 2017

Yes is the right answer when someone asks for help

Working in agile projects, we tend to write a little less documentation. And working in a big project, whatever documentation we write, it tends to be dispersed.

Four months into the new job, I'm still learning to work my way around doing things and figuring things out. I'm happy for my little tools of finding the dozens of code repos that build up the product I'm testing, but there's a lot going on I just have chosen to not pay attention to. Quite often there's this feeling of being overwhelmed with all the new information, as by no means we stopped making changes since I joined.

In the past, I remember solving issues of documentation with two main ideas:
  • Draw on request. Whenever someone would want to understand our current system, anyone in the team could go on a whiteboard, draw and explain. 
  • Write on repeated requests. When same info is asked that does not completely change as we are learning, write instructions on the wiki. 
They are still relatively good approaches, except...

Yesterday, I was overwhelmed with many different directions of work and there was one particular thing I needed to learn to do: get started on testing against a REST API.

Some weeks back I had taken my first go at it, and postponed the work for missing information about some needed credentials. So this time I decided to approach it differently. I went and talked to a colleague, asking if he would join me to get one post working on my machine. But no.

I got an (outdated) wiki page describing content rules, but lacking the credentials I was unaware of.

I got a (not working) exported Postman script.

I've been thinking about this ever since. When someone comes talk to you and asks for help as in doing something together that you know well, the right answer would be yes, or yes, in two hours.  Not "here's the document".

I eventually got it working with the documents. But I'm now realizing that the feeling of being left alone is overwhelmingly more important than the fact that there was pieces of documentation that were eventually pointed out.

I miss more of a human connection than "create a pull request and someone will review it". How about us working together, really *together* for a change?

I guess I did not know to miss this before I had experienced Mob Programming. But now the individualistic attitudes make me painfully aware how things could be better.