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Coding with Ron Jeffries, the secret is smaller steps instead of big leaps
Listen to the coding icon's advice to propel your career
Are big leaps dangerous?
They can be.
Ron Jeffries is a coding icon. He has seen many fads come and go in his long career. When I asked him about developer habits he had an astounding answer.
He shared, “A habit that I’m trying to improve is GeePaw Hills ‘Make Many More Much Smaller Steps’. I’ve found that, while I think I do pretty well at taking tiny steps, he takes much smaller ones than I do.”
I tend to be more like a whirling dervish. I code a bunch. Then flabbergasted that nothing works. Facepalm.
Ron and GeePaw’s advice is tough for me. As I tried it out I found it a refreshing change. It made development more enjoyable.
Ron continued, “I’m trying to push that limit. I really see no downside to incredibly tiny steps.” Yes, I would agree.
An additional benefit for me was that it created focus. Similar to limiting our work in progress. Reduce distractions and blurred thoughts.
Would there be any issues with this? Ron shared, “I really see no downside to incredibly tiny steps.” In our fast-paced world, this is counter-intuitive.
We want to rush from task to task. Completing more work. In Leadership Is Language, David Marquet talks about redwork and blue work. Redwork is doing. Blue work is thinking.
Marquet shares how knowledge workers must do both. Take time to reflect on your work. How can we improve?
Although he mentioned this, “It feels slow but I suspect it isn’t, since mistakes increase faster than linearly and are harder to find, as step size increases.”
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We often speak of speed and velocity. Ron’s suggestions to slow down are more holistic. Instead of rushing the coding and creating defects, we take our time.
In closing, Ron shared this. “I try to Zen through it and keep my voice mellow and low.” Although many thoughts keep coming when need to slow down.
Perhaps this would induce coder flow. Similar to the concept Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi discovered. He recognized and named the psychological concept of “flow”, a highly focused mental state conducive to productivity.
Software development can become flow-like when we make big strides by taking small steps. From great minds like Ron and GeePaw, we learn. Try each day to achieve coder flow.