Don’t Outsource Common Sense

Getting advice and recommendations from experienced people is a very smart move, and sometimes it can save you heaps of time, money and effort.

But, you cannot lead if you defer every minor decision or technical question outside your team. It’s fine to consult another team that’s done something similar, yet not at the expense of your own thinking and reasoning. Do not lose the muscle of learning, weighing options and tradeoffs.

I once heard Kent Beck, the Agile and Extreme Programming legend, say that whenever you’re about to run your code’s tests you should “call it” and consciously think what result you’re expecting. If you got it wrong you probably should “slow your roll.

When asking someone questions, I consider what I expect the answers to be. Even if I’m wrong, thinking about the issue myself and comparing the different ways of reasoning about it means that next time I will be smarter, and less likely to ask the same question again.

And please, never become so dependent on someone that you’d rather sit and wait 2 weeks to get an answer for a couple of questions that don’t matter all that much or that could have been answered by spending 10 minutes on Google. A good coach doesn’t “have all the answers,” but helps you reach answers by yourself.

If all your decisions are outsourced, what does that leave you with?