master a skill^depend@colleagues – you decide

Nikhil surprised me when he told me he frequently asks for help… Until then, I always thought I need to go through the problem solving by myself, unaided, or I will never learn.


Context — trading engine team workload is often 3 times the normal, comfortable level. Headcount is often below 33% normal headcount. (This is a result of time-to-market delivery experience — The fewer developers, the lower communication overhead, the more nimble.)

Challenge – Suppose you are suddenly asked to finish something quick and dirty in half the time previously allocated.

Higher pressure usually means you need to depend more heavily on other developers in your own team. Many things you should not *want* to understand. You need to decide what analysis/research/investigation to “outsource”, but still retain control.

A component could be your colleague’ responsibility, but familiarity improves your *velocity* and reduces your reliance on the author. With mastery, you often discover tweaks and shortcuts, saving time when there’s no time at all. You can become more knowledgeable than the author about its usage!

Look at GS colleagues Nikhil, Anil, Nicholas… They ask each other dozens of questions for everyday BAU, but each mastered how to read and experiment with JIL, sybase stored proc, CVS, unix commands, …They don’t master every subject, and they don’t lean on others in every domain.

Eg: how to programatically insert reference data into an empty data store, rather than through a complicated (buggy) GUI. The GUI route is un-automated if you must repeatedly rebuild from scratch.
Eg: key tables. Out of 20 to 50 frequently used tables, about 2 to 5 tables should be familiar to everyone, like Comm, trade, offer. Before you go through these steep learning curves, you aren’t initiated into the club.
Eg: how to locate and parse the logs
Eg: how to test-send and test-receive messages
Eg: how to restart some of the important servers
Eg: how to identify common issues in each essential server
Eg: parse a few cornerstone config files
Eg: parse autosys JIL to see dependencies and flows

But as a Greenfield dev consultant, you aren’t expected to get too deep into prod support or BAU.

A short-term greenfield developer consultant is not a “Subject Matter Expert”.
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