Too busy to be productive

Are the busy things you do helping developers be more productive? Or do they get in the way?

Software teams are busy places.

There’s a lot to balance. And many potential distractions.

Daily stand up meetings. Weekly status meetings. 1:1s with your manager. Discussions with customers and/or product managers/owners to determine what to build. Discussion with architects or tech leads about how to design it. Books and blog posts to read to learn about to build it. Lunch. Don’t forget about lunch! 🥪

Alerts to monitor. Bugs to fix. Bugs to debug. Features to test. Sick days to work around. Holidays to plan. On-call rotations to manage. Dependencies to manage. Software to install. Passwords to change. Emails to send and read.

It’s easy in all of this business to begin focusing on the business. I know I’ve done it. I don’t think I know anyone who hasn’t.

We lose focus on the business goals, and instead focus on managing all the things we have to do.

Obviously that it means that the actual business goals often suffer.

But business goals are also often hard to quantify. They’re hard to focus on, because they’re abstract. Yes, we know we want to sell more widgets to more customers… but how the work we do today leads to that can be hard to visualize.

So let me propose a different proxy goal: Focus on developer productivity.

Are the busy things you do helping developers be more productive?

  • Daily standup meetings? Maybe. Could help, or hurt, depending on the content.
  • Weekly status meetings? Likely not. But maybe you could surprise me.
  • 1:1s with your manager. I hope so. But it depends on the content.
  • Dicussions with customers Probably
  • Alerts to monitor Eh, maybe. If you respond to the alerts by improving productivity, rather than simply fire-fighting.
  • Lunch Absolutely. Lunch always helps productivity!
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