When you think about learning, what comes to your mind?
Usually the first association is things like school, training courses, conferences, books etc. Somewhere you go or something you do to acquire skills.
But does learning stop there? We all know that when we try to practically apply the things we learn, we run into problems. Figuring things out, getting better by practicing and learning from our mistakes are also ways of learning. Some people even prefer learning this way from the start, needing only the minimal amount of information to get started.
But there is one more dimension: learning to adapt your approach. To be able to do this, you need to be attentive and reflective, and able to see a situation as-is, without any biases, and then regularly spend some time thinking about the hidden opportunities for improvement.
In IT, I often notice problems related to this dimension of learning, and they are often related to the methodologies used to develop software, such as the agile methodologies, test-driven development etc.
If a methodology is not working, don’t be afraid to adapt it to your needs, or eliminate it completely. This is not a bad thing. Too many people see things as black or white, assuming that they need to follow a methodology by the book, or they wouldn’t be “doing it right”. In addition, many people assume that if a methodology is popular, it should be working for them. In reality, a lot of these methodologies are unfortunately nothing more than a collection of opinions, with no backing in science and without any systematic data that could demonstrate their alleged superiority.
I think people generally do a good job figuring out what to do when they face obvious, immediate issues. But let’s not stop there. Pay attention. Think. And don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo.