The superpower every developer needs

In every job advertisement in the market, there's a superset of skills we aim to match. A whole bunch of tech references and frameworks. So, which one of them is the most important to have as a superpower? None, if you ask me.

But we spend our days working with tech, you might think. No, not if you ask me.

Okay, that’s not entirely true. But bear with me, I haven’t gone nuts. Of course our craft in tech is important, it’s the foundation of our entire profession. However, sometimes it feels like we put so much effort and focus into tech-related skills, challenges and solutions that we forget the most important part of our work, working together to make someone’s dream come true.

Yes, we work with tech, but most importantly, we work with people. We work together with people, are dependent on people and work for people toward their dreams. So, what is the superpower everyone needs?

Communication skills!

The ability to talk to each other in a way that creates trust, inspiration and a feeling that someone has my back no matter what. That glue that keeps a high-performing team together and makes our days sunny.

A sunny winter day

In almost every bad situation I come across where there’s a bad atmosphere in the team or it’s hard and takes to long to create a great product, it boils down to the same thing — collaboration issues. And there’s only one way to fix it.

Talk to each other. Work with each other. And it’s not the same as just talking. You can talk others to death or just run them over with words. It’s a collaboration skill to communicate effectively, and we need to use it.

Tooling is secondary. Automation is secondary. Process is secondary. Frameworks are secondary. Titles are secondary. Everything else is secondary.

We often have a team with really competent members with different skills and professions. But still, way too often, there are situations where the different members work in silos. And there are just as many excuses why they are not talking to each other. And literally, none of those excuses hold water.

Find a way to talk to each other, work together. Make it a priority.

It has nothing to do with what method or framework you use to organize the work to be done. The benefit of frameworks is that they create a shared language, and a shared language helps to collaborate with each other. But a framework won’t fix a disfunctional team not really working together, but side by side.

With silos we create handoffs. You know that magical moment when a team member is done with their work and another will take over. Most importantly, this is where the first one stops working and moves on to other work, mentally far away from the feature being shipped. We create these handoffs in every step of the lifecycle. Between designers and developers, in an API between backend and frontend and between development and testing.

But if we want to move away from handoffs, how do we do it? We do it step by step. With regular valuable check-ins. Shared channels for communications. Visibility into the work done. And slowly, we create a language everyone knows. It’s not even that hard. We use the same words for the elements in design and in code. Use the same words in the API as we do when we speak of the function with our stakeholders and users. Together we create common habits and patterns in every aspect of building someone’s dream. This is when the real magic happens. Because success depends on one simple thing - how well the team works together. If not, chances are even higher that a handoff won’t make it even a tiny bit better. A change in the team culture needs to happen first.

The design is the visual representation of someone’s dream, the thing the users see, and design is teamwork. It involves everybody who contributes to the application — from stakeholders and marketing to developers and designers. Any overlaps we can create will benefit the team, the productivity and ultimately the users.

What if we could make someone’s dream come true and at the same time have a flow and a great vibe together as a team. Doesn’t it sound like something to strive for?

Develop that superpower, I promise it will pay off!

A winter heart with gloves