Friday morning was as gloriously sunny as Thursday’s beach party wasn’t. It certainly adds to the ambiance of the conference.
Friday’s keynote was by Jessie Shternshus on Unlearning.
I only really caught the second half, due to another delicious breakfast but also an interesting conversation, which reminded me of the value of working in a learning, agile environment, with as little politics as possible; whilst on the face of it you attend conferences like this for the talks, it’s actually the gaps that make the difference; giving you time to speak to other attendees, to get to know and discuss things
“There’s no harder mind to change than one that has been highly rewarded for not changing” — Alan Cooper
Jessie’s message was that to learn and grow, you often have to let go of things you’ve previously learnt.
Next up I would have really liked to have seen Joy Heron’s talk on Web Components, but there was another that had really caught my eye.
Jordan Barkway is an astonishing young lady, and this talk only added to that sense.
The previous year Jordan stole the show at the Lightning Talks having only just started her apprenticeship at a local (to Cornwall) software company, BlueFruit.
Her talk was entitled “The Magic of Mentorship: Becoming Dumbledore” a great title and obviously she was going to have Harry Potter themed slides.
Jordan covered what mentoring is — like coaching, but with more direction, getting them to solve their own problems, but with guidance — and what type of problem it tries to fix (not the mentee themselves, but their challenges!). She rightly pointed out that it is not a one way process, but that by taking on a mentee, the mentor may well, if not really should, learn things as well.
Jordan made that point that nearing the end of formal education she had no idea what she wanted to do, and it was only because someone said “Have you thought about a career in…” that she decided she give Tech a try, and found that she loved it. Until a year ago, there was only one computer in her school; though it is now improving.
A big part a mentor can make is introducing people to their network so the mentee knows a range of people that they may go and speak to, and knowing the opportunities that are out there.
Mentoring people before they have entered the workforce, is a fantastic advertisement for your company, and how Jordan ended up doing an apprenticeship; knowing she was interested they were able to let her know when an opportunity came up. In this way you can have access to the best talent.
She described very well that the important thing is to be learning and to have fun. The fun part helps to get them over the hill when they reach a difficult part. Developing their interest is essential!
So, what’s in it for the Mentor? Leadership skills, needed even (especially?) by founders of startups who want to do everything themselves, will inevitably need to lead other people.
Finally, the diversity point, Jordan usually finds herself as the only female representative, particularly in mentorship.
All in all, I thought this a remarkably mature presentation and subject for someone a year in to their career — I shall watch her career with interest. About this time there was the twitterstorm going on about the foolishness of the ‘10x Developer’ — forget them, you want someone of this humility and attitude on your team.
As I commented on twitter, I’ve come to AotB for three years, and each year it has felt like Daniel has given me a Zeitgeist overview of container delivery for the year. I have used Docker, to automatically deploy my project at the time of first attending, but I’ve not got a chance to work with Kubernetes or many of the other whizzy toys Daniel speaks about.
This year, many of the things he spoke of echoed with conversations at work.
First off, he introduced the topic of DevEx — Developer Experience — to me at least. Often the convenience of developers is not seen as important. But it can really effect their productivity, if easily automatible tasks are done by hand; it makes turnaround time far larger than it needs to be. Minimizing the tight feedback loop of the development team, which doesn’t mean cutting corners, is crucial
This is a central topic of the Accelerate book, which I went on to quote in my talk. Interestingly he also talked about the Poppendieck’s book on Lean Methodologies, which I also quoted, having finally got round to reading just within the last few months.
Daniel went to to speak about the modern industry trend of having a platform as part of a ‘Paved Road’. This is countered by a fantastic quote he had:
“everybody building infrastructure wants a PaaS; the only requirement is that it has to be built by them.” — Kelsey Hightower
This isn’t necessarily a problem, but there should be an awareness of how much standard platform features are being built from scratch.
Some searching questions should be asked as to whether this is the most useful (valuable) thing you could be working on, or perhaps don’t reinvent the wheel.
He went on to quote Matthew Skelton talking of “Thinnest Viable Platform” — “If you can get away with stitching two AWS services together, then stick with that”.
After covering some tools to “Automate the Inner Dev Loop” — eg being able to work with logging and debug in the cloud — Daniel went on to highlight how important Observability was when developing your cloud infrastructure and applications. These are exactly the sort of issues we’re working through at the moment.
Before each half-day session, Allan Kelly makes the speakers for that session give 20 second Speaker Pitches, which he times.
This is probably more unnerving than the sessions themselves, as theirs no settling into it, no props, just you. I managed to say something like “If you’ve heard or ever found yourself saying ‘Let’s just rewrite this’ then come to my session”; which is what i roughly wanted to say.
In the spirit of delivering value as early as possible, I’ll cover the rest in a further blog…
See my previous post here