Monday, September 29, 2014

What problems speak to you?

This post was inspired by some conversations I've had recently at work, rather than my home life.  

I'm currently looking for a new job.  I was reading something that talked about how for some problems, the answer is obvious to some group of people.  The example was a math professor from one of the Ivy League schools who taught freshman calculus.  At the beginning of the semester he would put an algebra problem on the board and ask all the students to solve it.  Then he'd ask them how long it took them to find the solution.  Some students had figured out the answer by the time the had finished writing out the problem.  Those students generally got A's for the class.  Other students had to think about the problem for a while to figure out the answer.  Those students usually did not get A's.

The primary reason that I am looking for a new job is that my manager has decided he wants my position to be a software development manager.  My backing is in test and quality assurance.  I've never been a developer, and I'm not particularly interested in being a development manager.  I was talking today with one the engineers who works for me about this.  I told him that some problems at work speak to me--I look at the problem and it's immediately obvious what to do about it.  Those problems I solve quickly and well.  Other problems don't speak to me.  I can generally find a solution, but not quickly and it may not be the best solution.

One of the projects that we've been working on is a web application to make it easier to track the status of various sets of test automation.  That problem spoke to me.  As soon as we started talking about it I could see the right way to solve it.  Today I was going over the plan with someone who hasn't been closely involved.  He started off by telling the things that he thought were not working in the current app.  And when he was done I told him he had accurately assessed that problem and we the solution we are building would address all of them.  I felt good after that conversation because it validated my solution.

In my current position, those kinds of problems are the minority.  When we get into discussion of the best way to architect a new service, I don't how we should proceed.  When we talk about what design patterns to use, I don't know how to proceed.  Those problems don't speak to me.

That's why it's time for me to find a new job.  I am more productive and happier when I am working on problems that speak to me.