S09E02: Making friends and walking the line

I am new in an organisation. As such I’m taking my favourite approach to learning how it works, which is getting stuck into recruitment and procurement. The reason I do this is because I think it’s one way to get a good sense of the organisation’s culture. You get to see what’s prioritised, what people value, what skills the organisation thinks it needs, and what price it values those skills.

I found out today that I’ve become a grand-mentor: that is, one of my mentees now has her own mentee. My aim is to become the Kevin Bacon of mentoring: anyone who writes code in my area of the world should be able to find me in their mentoring network. I’m aiming to then leverage this awesome power into advertising for mobile telecommunications providers.

I am genuinely thrilled at this. It feels like quite an important milestone, because it means I’ve been doing this for long enough that my mentee is confident enough to take on her own mentee, and that in turn is a detraction from the imposter syndrome. I am doing an okay job, actually.

As well as recruitment and procurements, I’ve been meeting all of my colleagues. There are so many passionate people across the organisation doing so many things, and I think I’ve only seen a tiny fraction. There are so, so many services disbursing money, giving advice, changing people’s lives…

It’s like living in a village and then going to a city, which is a thing I have done. You walk around in a daze, suddenly aware of everything that is going on. Water is rushing beneath your feet, but so are trains. Above you stretch buildings that shouldn’t be that tall, and even they can’t touch the aircraft flying overhead. Everywhere there is industry, movement, life. This is not a thing that could reasonably be controlled. The absolute epitome of arrogance would be to think you could direct this torrent of activity.

That’s what this new role feels like. There is so, so much going on that understanding it would take longer than the half-life of the information. Half of what you know would be out of date but, annoyingly, there’s no way of knowing which half. I’ve got to reduce down the things I need to learn into the things that won’t change before I understand them. There’s also things I’d like to learn, like the architectures of all the services in the organisation, that won’t change too much but also aren’t too important for me to learn. I want to learn them, but that’s not a good enough reason to allocate the few cycles I have.

Finally, the little hobby project I’m doing to match mentors and mentees is slowly progressing. I’ve accidentally built a distributed architecture for a very small app, and really I should start again and use it as an opportunity to learn something that would be better suited and much less complex. I will probably do that soon, but for now I want to get version one out of the door. So if you hear weapons-grade cursing coming from East London, that’s me: mad as hell and unwilling to help myself out of the predicament because if you keep digging, sooner or later, your problem will go away.

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