Dear new developer,
One of the most shocking things I learned when I started working in a professional capacity is that there are no adults in the room.
That is not to denigrate everyone at your company, working hard to help make the place successful.
Rather, it is to say that no one knows everything and everyone is doing the best they can. (Well, most people, and it’s good to assume positive intent.)
If you go into a company expecting to be handed work on a platter and to have someone know exactly what is going on, the way that, say, a college professor knows how to teach physics 101, you are going to be disappointed. It’s much more likely that the folks who are senior to you are trying to stay one step ahead of the customer.
There are people who are more or less expert at the problem space, but I’ve only worked at one place in my life where someone was truly a master of almost every aspect of the business. And even in that place, there was a lot of uncertainty around new programs and a lot of “hmmm, will that work, let’s try it and see”.
(This isn’t isolated to the software industry, by the way. I know folks in other industries and they aren’t perfectly run organizations. Even in organizations that really matter, like hospitals, the chaos and uncertainty is there.)
So, once the maelstrom of chaos and uncertainty arrives, there are two ways to look at it
- problem. Oh my god, no one knows what the heck is going on. What kind of place is this?
- opportunity. Excellent, I can see that folks are grappling toward solving problems and need some help. Let me put my nose to the grindstone and see how I can help.
Of course, there is some level of uncertainty that you shouldn’t accept (anything that could damage your health, ethics or paycheck, for starters). But it was sobering to me to realize that there are no true adults in the room at any organization.
Just people trying to do their best.
8 thoughts on “There are no adults in the room”
I would say that there *are* adults, but not in the idealized way you imagine them when you are a child.
As you said, no one knows everything and everyone is doing the best they can, but I would add that this is true not only inside a company but in life in general.
That’s a great way of putting it.
After 20 years I’m seeing that I’m, at best, the closest excuse for an adult in the room. I was looking for that person for all these years and grew into the person I was always looking for and now the youngsters expect me to know everything 😉
Ha! It’s a lot of pressure, no?
> Just people trying to do their best.
Only a fraction of people try to do their best. Many don’t. Working with the latter is miserable.
I hear you that some folks aren’t trying their best, but in my experience it is a small minority of people I’ve worked with. Sounds like you have had a different experience. Bummer!