One Year Later: A Letter to the Compuware Hiperstation Team
Overview: There’s a deeper meaning to what happens at Compuware than “work.” This end-of-the-year letter from a next-gen developer exemplifies the culture we’re building with passionate explorers who care about each other and our customers.
January 7, 2019
Today was the last day of my first year at Compuware. I thought I would take some time tonight to reflect on some things that I have thought about and discovered as well as thank my team for a successful year.
Since this is from a new employee’s perspective, maybe this can be advice passed on to new grads who start in 2019. Not to mention one of my New Year’s resolutions was to write more often.
Today, there was an update from Chris O’Malley on a McKinsey & Company article, “How to Select and Develop Individuals for Successful Agile Teams: A Practical Guide.” This article touched on how a developer’s ability to handle ambiguity was of relatively high importance to both software team members and product owners when compared to the mean importance of all personality traits. The article went on to discuss what this means from a development perspective, but when I read the words “handling ambiguity,” something clicked, and I realized those were the most important words of year one.
Ambiguous, uncertain, open to interpretation—any of these synonyms could have been used to describe my focus during January 2018. If you’re like me, you’re a scorekeeper. You write everything down, always having a linear queue of tasks to accomplish with clear goals to check off once those queues have emptied. It all changed at once.
I spent my days dividing my time between learning to code in assembler and learning a product I knew no more about than the three-paragraph description on the corporate website. Add in Agile planning meetings and new co-workers, I felt like I was falling behind already. Not to mention being a small-town kid moving to a new city and living on my own for the first time!
New information, experiences and pressures were flying at me from all directions—from friends and family, from work and from myself. The time for homework and due dates was no longer; my perspective had to mature and adapt.
Here’s how I chose to handle my first year, what I learned and my advice to new hires: Be a passionate explorer.
Management says it, but how do you, the developer, interpret it? Do you let it gloss over like a generic pre-game speech from Friday Night Lights? (As I proofread this to my roommate, he insists Friday Night Lights pre-game speeches are not generic—“Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.”) Or does it become your funnel, your vision?
To me, being a passionate explorer means being genuinely excited to be a difference maker to two groups: your customers and your colleagues.
Being genuinely interested in the success of our customers.
In my first couple of months at Compuware, I was given the opportunity to visit a customer site several times. Interactions with customers, being in someone else’s place of work and watching them use our products, puts a face to the people we develop our products for. This humanization of customers was extremely important in developing my customer side of being a passionate explorer.
My advice to new hires: Visit customer sites, listen to customer calls and develop a relationship with the people you work 40 hours a week to serve.
Having this exposure to customers can clear up some of the ambiguity of our work, whether it’s technical ambiguity that can be properly interpreted by determining, “What would make the customer’s life the easiest?” Or whether it’s prioritizing a long list of tasks by asking, “What is most important for the customer now?”
When I’m overwhelmed with what’s on my plate I circle back to that vision, that funnel, and most of the time the decision becomes clear.
Developing relationships with my teammates and colleagues.
One of the reasons I decided to come to Compuware was the atmosphere I experienced during my onsite interview. The feeling from that day perpetuates to present: every day, I feel Compuware is invested in my success.
I don’t small-talk at work just to small-talk. I find myself genuinely (there’s that word again) interested in what happened during your weekend or what’s going on in your life. My Compuware family is extremely important to me. This sense of community drives a symbiotic relationship between others and me.
Many of our products began development before I was born and the developers at Compuware are proud of that legacy. I find myself extremely willing to learn, and when experienced developers see that willingness, they want to help me succeed and become someone who can support the legacy they’ve built. It’s important to remember experienced developers genuinely care about my development because other new hires and I are the developers who will support the next generation of their—our—software.
These relationships across the development floor become important when we talk about another Compuware favorite: improving cross-team collaboration.
My advice to new hires: Make an active decision to create that relationship that will end up benefiting both parties in the future.
My relationships with colleagues and customers drive my decision making. ← Develop a vision you can revisit when you need to focus.
Lastly, I want to write a special thanks to my development team. Nick, Lee, Dean, Angelo, Brian, John and Jerel. Each of you have spent so much of your time this past year helping me improve with all things Hiperstation, assembler, Compuware and just developing (no pun intended) as a person. Even within Compuware, I feel lucky to have been placed on the team that I was.
Thanks for putting up with me in 2018, I’m extremely thankful to each of you. Here’s to 2019.
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