Craftsmanship, flow, and engagement – Software Craftsmanship Letter No. 6

What if you woke up in the morning actually looking forward to your day job? Maybe it’s because of the people you work with; uncommon, but it does happen.

Or what if you love coming to work because you know you’re going to be tightly focused on your code, and external things like tooling, crappy dependencies, or lame-ass processes won’t get in your way. Maybe the other engineers care as much as you do about the quality of the code base. Maybe you work with a supportive group of engineers who don’t make you self-conscious about every pull request. Maybe your manager works hard to give you some time to focus on quality, not just deadlines. Maybe the management and your team give you the autonomy to try things and they support you when you make mistakes or fail.

Personally, I have to use my imagination because I’ve never had a working experience like what I just described. Almost all my days were varying orders of magnitude away from that, probably your days are too. Now that I have more ability to change the environment, I actually do enjoy coming in, and I still love writing code. But yeah… there were a lot of days I didn’t feel much like going to work no so long ago.

That “what if” world I’m imagining comes from flow theory, and I think it’s how a software craftsman would ideally design his or her working environment. That matters because flow theory leads directly to high levels of engineer engagement. And it just so happens that flow, craftsmanship, and high levels of engagement should matter to your boss because it means both low turnover and high productivity.

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