Blog: Centrality of Values

Centrality of Values
Centrality of Values
Date: 2018-Mar-14 01:43:03 EST

I've been thinking a bit about the role values play in engineering, in particular, how it helps and hurts some kinds of careers that best practices and common concerns dominate how some topics are approached. To wit, for a big part of my career I was designing and maintaining a lot of infrastructure, and I took for granted that certain values were "how you do that". Not just certain values, but usually as well how those values ranked or interplayed. With this belief, I thought over many, many years on how to solve these issues, and used that attention to work out eventualities, models of risk, and figured out what software solutions were best for that. The downsides being that I found it difficult to understand or accept when those needs were not ranked as I expected (e.g. "we accept more risk") and it made me inflexible to the extent that I sometimes was less good of a fit for some roles than I might have been.

I'm not alone in this.

I think having careful and thoughtful conversations on value tradeoffs in engineering is a good way to lessen this inflexibility.