Making Things Happen

There’s a limit to the things a single developer can accomplish as part of a project. I get a great deal from checking things off my todo list. You can write great code and propose great ideas, but there’s a limit to what a single person can accomplish without a team.

A team can accomplish a lot. Multiple people with different perspectives and expertises can pull together in the same direction to build amazing things. Even still there is a limit to what a single team can do.

Making things happen can take the effort of someone to reach outside the boundaries of the team they belong to bridge the gap between teams. Getting teams to work together towards a common vision is how mountains can be moved. Getting developers to work in coordination with sales/marketing, and management. Getting developers that work on different individual goals to all pull together in the same direction is an amazing challenge.

Communication is the key skill that can accomplish so much. An individual team member can often perform amazing things quietly working on tasks. But the communication of who you talk to, the words you use, how you connect people and ideas you push out of your brain can build teams, can inspire people, and it can make bigger things happen.

But saying that communication is the the critical main component to make things happen is not particularly helpful without understanding the vast complexities of the individual tasks. How to run a meeting, the various types of meetings, how to handle difficult conversations, how to distribute ideas more broadly, how to propose ideas, how to shut down ideas, how to keep people on task and focused, how to know what conversations need to be had, what people need introductions and what people should be on a team or taken off the team. Much of this come down to practice, experience and organizing your thoughts. But for anyone who doesn’t stumble onto being good at this kind of thing, it’s very difficult to find books or resources on getting better at them.

If there was a formula for what to say when to whom in all situations, then humans wouldn’t be relevant. Until then what you say when you say it, how you say and to whom you say it to is perhaps one of the most open-ended problems we can think through. Saying the right thing at the right time in the right way to the right people can change societies or more simply, help you get a promotion.

In an effort to make things happen, sometimes those things are simple physical things like fixing a squeaky door in which case some how-to knowledge is what it takes. Other times it’s convincing someone to build a small business with you. But getting 1000 people working together is a completely different game, and this is something that I’m spending some more time thinking about.