Proverbs, Punch Lines, and Patterns

Tags: Books, Dev, Teams

Art Markman wrote a wonderful book called Smart Thinking (‚Äčhttp://www.amazon.com/Smart-Thinking-Essential-Problems-Innovate/dp/0399537759) where he describes how to create a smart thinking culture. He gives several techniques and ideas on how we can think smarter every day and one that I particularly like as a developer is learning one new proverb (or pithy joke punch line) each day.  This may sound odd at first and, for developers, you may be asking how this relates to you, but follow me for a minute here.  Mr. Markman urges us to understand the proverb and then be able to use it in context. This act reduces a complex or lengthy concept into a short, well summarized phrase that can communicate a great deal of meaning in a short space. For the person that learns and uses proverbs, it allow them to associate and link ideas to the proverb, thus being able to consume new and varied ideas more quickly and easily.

 
Jokes with meaningful punch lines serve the same function, but their use is usually more personal and aren't generally as wide-reaching as proverbs. However, a good punch line can be gold when you are trying to communicate something sensitive and break up tension or be self-deprecating.
 
For developers, this is something that we do, or should be doing, regularly through patterns. Not only can we communicate very rapidly with patterns, we can also spend our time more wisely by providing better business value when we code and not reinventing the wheel each time we face a common coding problem. Patterns give us a very terse vocabulary that we can use to describe solutions to well-known coding activities and enrich a conversation by focusing on the meat of the new challenge and not spending our time trying to come up with a clever way to craft syntax to get around a programming hurdle.
 
In Mr. Markman's spirit of a smart thinking culture, I urge you to learn a proverb to be wise, a punch line to have a sense of humor, and a pattern to attack code every day. Your team members will thank you for being smart, funny, and a more well-rounded developer!

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