My last year

Now that I’m wrapping up my work while getting ready for my next challenge (I’m really looking forward starting the project!), I feel like it’s the best time to make a personal retrospective about what I’ve done and what I’ve learnt. So… here we go!

Working in a startup has been my career’s most enlightening experience by far, both in the technical field and how to interact with my co-workers. Before joining, I was trying to avoid by any means taking responsibility for management or process tasks. I was young and technical, so I just wanted to code cool things while someone else was taking focusing on those tasks. But I was really lucky. My manager dealt with all the bureaucracy while empowering me with the technical details: she just told me what problem we had to solve, and I had the autonomy to decide what and how to build it. But some of those problems didn’t have a technical solution, so we start discussing processes, managing stakeholders, changing the testing mindset, etc. She introduces me to the Quality Assistance idea. It was SO challenging and fun! I was able to still use my technical knowledge while trying different testing approaches in the organisation. I also learnt that proper Exploratory testing is not the tedious manual testing I was thinking of… and it’s SO useful!

While reviewing our processes, I learnt that people, even when they identify the problems and acknowledge the solutions with me, some of them are really reticent of the change. They can complain about the current state and use it to justify behaviours, but embracing some changes which modify their daily working routine is not part of their plans. It surprised me because I spent days hearing them complaining about all the things we were trying to change. I’ve also reinforced my intuition: brilliant developers who are productive and build beauty solutions, are the ones caring the most about testing. And, as a rule of thumb, when a developer doesn’t care about testing they won’t probably the best code professionals.

It surprised me, but I learnt that startups and small size companies are not immune to lackluster management, to keep people who don’t give that much value to the team. I’ll expand in a future post, but I also learnt how to kill an organisation just destroying the culture. Because cultures matter. A LOT. I didn’t realise any of the extra mile works I was doing voluntarily until the culture died to blow up the morale levels and I started asking myself why I was doing them.

Regarding management, I also discovered that iterating fast and failing is not easy, and it’s not always the best solution. MVP was a meaningless buzz word that stakeholders always used. It was the best excuse to deliver an incomplete, unuseful and low-quality product trying to validate a market who preferred sticking to the old and more reliable product. Apparently, it is OK to release an MVP knowing that it won’t handle the expected load, or without the feature that most users are asking for. I’m looking forward to learning how to build real MVPs because I’m quite sure this wasn’t a good example.

On the technical side, I’ve learnt A LOT about machine learning and path, to the point of enroling in Standford’s machine learning course. I’ve learnt the beauty and the power of those algorithms. I’ve been thinking about testing applications based on machine learning, and I hope spending some time on that soon.

I’ve honestly learnt a lot and enjoyed my experience.

May the force be with you,

Gino

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