COMPREHENSION is key
While I think of myself as a quite skilled hands-on software engineer with focus on web applications, my passion is digging into complex topics and comprehending every aspect.
This predestinates me for coordinative work and decision-making. Give me the power to make decisions and I shall make good ones. Until now this has worked out nicely.
Easily grasping every aspect of something and understanding the consequences and opportunities for the big picture (p.ex. the whole projekt or an IT strategy) is my biggest strong-suit.
A lot of IT projects with multiple participating firms or departments get stuck in issue-wars during implementation or acceptance because something does not work as expected by one side. With a lack in articulation and comprehension of how exactly the other side could resolve the problem, these "wars" quite often go on for much longer than necessary and escalate more than needed.
This is the reason why we need more people with exceptional comprehension skills in coordinating and leading positions, since they are capable of greatly reducing the time spent on internal or external conflicts, ideally completely preventing them by thinking through every aspect of the project with great care prior to it's actual start.
A tale about Innovation & Adaption
We can't stop innovation from happening. It's all around us, permanently. But then how can we justify to keep working with the same toolset for years and years to come? Stability, one might say.
Yes, of course that's a valid point when we are talking about sticking to a chosen toolset for a specific project. But new projects and opportunities emerge everyday and sometimes we are given the chance to build something new from the ground up. This is exactly the time where we are wrong to keep doing everything like we always did it.
Instead we need to frequently re-evaluate our tech-stack of choice and the way we do things - at least once a year. Only if we are aware of the current state of the art and the latest fancy sh*t, we will be able to decide whether or not this stuff might actually be a good fit for the new things that we are building. Because if we continue building new stuff the old way, we will get less productive and competitive compared to other firms or departments in the long run.
So always keep an eye on all relevant developments, trends and innovation in your sector and, at least once a year, evaluate how you are approaching things currently and how you might approach them in the future for new projects.
Not every new invention might be suited for adaption in your projects, but if you are not aware about an invention, you strip yourself of the opportunity to be the judge of that.
of the gifted student award
While having had the best grades of our university class in general, I also got awarded a merit-based scholarship for two times (the maximum possible).
At the end of my studies, my average grade weighted by ECTS was 1.28 - in a grading system reaching from 1 to 5 (1 being the best). "Grades mean nothing. Comprehension is everything." In my opinion, grades do not have much of a meaning. Especially since they don't tell you anything about your abilities in perception and comprehension of new or complex topics. Or your ability to easily adapt to new situations.
Furthermore, grades don't tell you much about the quality of your individual teachers and their examinations. Luckily, I always focused on comprehension, the good grades were merely a nice side-effect.
No more big surprises
Having seen IT projects in small, medium and large firms over the last 10 years and counting, I now have a pretty good idea of how things are approached by key people and what can go wrong.
When dealing with small firms for example, you are often dealing with a misperception of value for IT in general. On the one hand they do appreciate the chance to increase profit or profit margins with new IT projects, but on the other hand they see IT as a necessary evil and are disappointed that they need IT nowadays in the first place.
Moving on to bigger firms you will soon end up in situations where too many cooks spoil the broth. A big mistake is to follow every IT trend for an existing project and stuffing tens of different frameworks into the project, just because they are currently hyped or they are the favorite tool of a single developer.
Of course, with an increasing company size, the importance of politics and the complexity of the hierarchy will grow as well. People in higher positions may make seemingly irrational decisions or just restart a whole project from the ground up to push their own visions instead of following through with what a predecessor had started. We can't do much about that since an increasing number of people involved in a project will always bring along an increasing number of personal interests and need in communication.
This is, why at least on implementation level of IT projects we should try to focus on building small & efficient teams of 3-4 people that are solely responsible for small to medium sized topics. If we develop something really big that needs more manpower, we should split that up into independent components that can be handled by small teams of that size.
Giving to the community
While for the sake of simplicity and saving time I currently do not actively take part in any social networks, I do like to get involved in voluntary IT community work from time to time.
Starting around the age of 12 (release of Windows XP), I got very active in german Windows and general IT support forums, leading up to the point where I got assigned a moderator and then even co-administrator role in two forums, while just having hit puberty.
During my teen-years I even operated my own One-Click-Hoster together with a german partner, since I was too young to legally operate it alone.
While studying at the university, I got involved in Android development, especially making custom kernels and ROMs for the world's first dual-core smartphone. At that time I was assigned the ranks Recognized Contributor and Recognized Developer by the well-known mobile development community XDA Developers.
Nowadays, apart from business work, I like to focus on personal life and I do not have as much time for and interest in voluntary IT activities as I did in the past. However, from time to time, you can still see me appearing somewhere, for example at the c't <webdev> 2021.
At this german conference for web development, on November 30 - 2021, I will talk about performant visualization of tens of thousands of data records inside the browser.