Update: I’m working on making some changes to the blog right now, and some inconsistency in posting will probably continue for the next few weeks. Should have more info soon :)
I used to find myself using the term “herding cats” a lot when confronting inertia, disorganization or ambiguity in work situations. Urban Dictionary actually endorses this:
The phrase herding cats comes from the common saying that something involving coordination of many different groups or people is as difficult as herding cats. One of the commonly encountered uses of the term in technical fields is the phrase “Managing programmers is like herding cats” or “Managing engineers is like herding cats”. In education it would be “Managing students is like herding cats”.
The phrase correctly captures the difficulty of getting a group of programmers (or even worse teams of programmers) on the same page. But there’s an inherent arrogance to it. The implication is that the herder is the adult in the room and everyone else’s pointless individualism is getting in the way.
There are days that I think I could fix everything if I could just get the *&$% cats to move in the right direction. In those situations I’ve started telling myself that what I’m actually doing is herding lions. How do you herd a group of lions? I have no idea. But I know that if you don’t start with a healthy respect for the lion’s capabilities and agenda, it won’t end well for you.
When you treat people like lions, it’s an opportunity to stop and figure out why they’re not just getting on board with your obvious plan. It’s an opportunity to learn, to find new ways to motivate people, and maybe even to empower somebody who had been viewing themselves as more of a kitten. Ultimately the best teams flourish where people can be strong contributors, take risks and do work they find meaningful. They’re teams of lions.
Managing Stress in Chaotic Times - It’s been an up and down stretch at work recently, and I found this piece really helpful as I thought about how to manage it.
Svelte Tutorial - Svelte is an interesting framework that I’d love to have an excuse to play with at some point, but the interesting thing to me here was the tutorial. Framework tutorials seem to be getting better in general in recent years, but this was the best I’d ever seen, between the very nice live editor examples, the way it encourages interactivity, and the helpful prompts on where to look for more info about the potentially confusing parts. An example of great technical writing and teaching.