A programmer's world is a rapidly evolving universe. The knowledge you have today, might be outdated already tomorrow. I think, at one point of their career, most of the developers have felt that they aren’t exactly up to date with the latest technology trends.
That happens for many reasons but more often than not, you might find yourself locked into that one project which really needs to be delivered on time. Delivering task after task after task… There’s always one more thing to do, and it keeps on continuing like that. Even though your job description says that you should spend time on your competence development, you keep ignoring it. Because inevitably you feel that something else is always more important or urgent. What happens next is that a day rolls in when you feel that the only thing you know, is that specific project or product you have been working on recently. How do you get past that?
When first I joined Vaimo's Products and Tools team, I was introduced to “internal training”. Every Wednesday morning we spend 75 min on competence development together. Again, many times I have felt that same old creeping feeling that something else is more important. But as a team, even though we have a lot of things to do and have a tight schedule, we haven't allowed ourselves to skip the internal training.
It took a while before I saw the big value of having a dedicated and regular time for learning - even if the voice in my head says: “ No, I don't have time for that now.” During the training sessions your brain needs to think and focus on something else for a while, combine that with gaining new knowledge and it often leads to a creativity boost. When you return back to your project again, it’s possible that you suddenly see things in a different way - a way which will help you to solve that complex task you’ve been struggling with and solve it in a better way.
The big benefit in doing training sessions as a team is having the biggest knowledge source around you - your colleagues. To hear their opinions and experience in things is something you can transform into your own knowledge.
Our way of doing training is letting our teammates show new stuff - something they have discovered or maybe something else that they think would improve us as a team.
During our learning sessions, we also constantly take advantage of the big source of talks from conferences all over the world. Almost all conferences, small and large, are recording their talks and sharing them afterwards. Getting knowledge from some of the most skilled people in our field, and then reflecting about it together in the team is definitely something I enjoy and recommend.
Investing time in competence is a big win for the company, for your clients and not least to yourself. With this approach, you will actually manage to use that competence and see the results in your projects.
So yes, I’ve definitely learned that doing small things regularly, will bring bigger gains in the end. On average, in a year with 47 working weeks, we gain around 60h of competence development in the Product & Tools department
Knowledge is power! Don’t forget it!