Rejoining Fiserv has thus far been fantastic! I elected to embed in a department more deeply concerned with the design, maintenance, and support of a battle tested online banking platform used across the entire globe. As I have mentioned previously this kind of work can be a challenge, not simply because our technical discipline is difficult but because large custom platforms and frameworks take on lives of their own that require multi tiered training, support and documentation, and of course, brilliant engineers.
If nothing else, the work of an engineer should be an ensample to the life long learner, whether you are an apprentice or fully fledge architect. You undertake the search for software solutions with passion, accretive mastery of information and technique, together with a desire to produce a long line of successfully deployed projects.
It’s not magic
One of the first tasks you face after joining a new team is trying to get a handle on the context. It sounds simple, but it can be a really daunting process. The first step is usually to understand what are the immediate tasks in front of you? What are the backlogs items? Where is your documentation and knowledge articles (if they exist)? It is, however, historical context that can take the longest to be aware of and absorb, it is also the some of the most difficult ideas for your colleagues to share.
Historical context builds in an accretive, sedimentary way over longer periods of time, the more time you are embedded in that solution space the more your hard won knowledge can feel like intuition, and less like computer science. What is worse is that as new engineers observe the process of senior engineers for the first time, they see someone solving problems with speed and clarity that is more akin to magic.
British science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke defined the three laws, the third law states "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
After being embedded with this group for just a few weeks, I have had many occasion to repeat a riff on this idea:
“Any sufficiently advanced Engineer is indistinguishable from a Magician.” – Me
I am very fortunate to be working with some of the best engineers in the world, and I see them derive these deep revelations from what appears to be benign log files. One engineer in particular can interrogate a gflag enabled Hang Dump and probably tell you how much change you had in your pocket when the build was performed.
It’s not magic, its disciplined study, but it is non the less amazing!