A short analogy on Feedback & Unit Tests

Unit tests are something that engineers write to test the work they’ve done in smaller pieces. Code that is tested tends to perform closer to expectations. Future changes to old code protect the way things work by causing unit tests to fail if something is changed unexpectedly. Passing tests are green checks ✅. Failing unit tests are red Xs ❌.

Default behavior is to write your unit tests after you’re done writing the solution. When an engineer sees all ✅, they call it a day and ship it. The funny thing with unit tests are … they are also subject to being full of problematic logic or buggy code. How does the engineer know their tests are correct or cover all the scenarios if you’ve never seen a failure?

There is a concept from test-driven design (TDD) that helps mitigate this. Write your tests first before writing the actual solution. Your tests will all start with ❌ and you’ll slowly turn those to ✅ as you write the solution.

Feedback

I was chatting with a coworker today and gave this analogy of unit tests being like feedback. How so?

If you receive feedback from a lead and always get positive remarks ( ✅ ), how do you know if the lead is actually seeing your work enough to find any areas of improvement ( ❌ )? I’ve found that feedback feels less impactful unless once in a while you get something constructive or critical to work on.

I figured the analogy was kind of neat and figured it might illustrate the importance of feedback being a system of trust. You can’t trust your unit tests until you’ve seen other than just successes. And likewise, receiving only praise can make someone feel uneasy and possibly not trust they’re getting the whole picture.

The Lead Developer Austin Notes

I attended The Lead Developer which is a single day conference for people leading engineering teams / teams of developers in Austin, Texas. I took notes on about ¾ of the talks on my iPad using Goodnotes. I’m getting closer to sketchnotes the more I practice this and I figured why not share what I took.

Videos should be published soon by the organizers.

People Are Not Drawn to Perfection in Others

My leadership coach shared a quote with me today that I’m using to help develop a talk I’m doing about how working remote saved my life.

In general, people are not drawn to perfection in others. People are drawn to shared interests, shared problems, and an individual’s life energy. Humans connect with humans. Hiding one’s humanity and trying to project an image of perfection makes a person vague, slippery, lifeless, and uninteresting.

Quote taken from Robert Glover in No More Mr. Nice Guy: A Proven Plan for Getting What You Want in Love, Sex, and Life

How Would You Define a True Leader?

Some words I use when I think of a true leader

I’ve been engaged with leadership coaches for several months as part of Automattic’s internal leadership training program. Having a coach has been mind-opening and an excellent option for leadership training in a completely remote work culture. One of the recent questions asked of me was in regards to what I felt a true leader is and what qualities they embody.

My Answer:

A true leader is someone that people look up to for direction, answers, and guidance when it comes to doing their jobs. They also know when to listen and ask for answers from the people they lead. Leaders are also visionaries in the sense they can find paths unfollowed to lead people to so they can exceed the potential they think they’re only capable of.

What’s your definition of a true leader?