Some final notes I couldn't fit in the other Pragmatic Thinking articles

This week's article will be a bit shorter than usual. In the last month we discussed what I consider to be the most important topics on Pragmatic Learning and Thinking, by Andy Hunt.

We discussed things like the Dreyfus Model, L-mode/R-mode brain operation modes, better ways of learning and common biases that affect our judgement. In this article I will just list a couple of ideas that couldn't make their way into any of the previous articles.

  • Uno: Your brain stores every single experience you go through, including all the material you watch, listen to and read. It will not index everything, though. This means that there is a lot of information stored in your brain you can't consciously access, but that doesn't mean it's lost forever. R-mode can use this information to solve problems in an asyncrhonous fashion, so don't feel like you are wasting your time reading if you can't remember everything, it's fine.

  • Two: People have personalities that influence how they process information and react to it. Always remember this when dealing with your peers, it will make things much easier. Instead of dismissing their reactions, try to understand what's going on inside of their heads.

  • Három: You don't need to find answers or create solutions immediately. It's useful to go away for a while and let your thoughts marinate. We usually don't see this as work, but it's an important part of any creative initiative. Give some credit to the time you spend marinating your thoughts, you are doing something important.

  • Quatre: Be open to new things and seek new knowledge. They say that there is nothing worse for an expert than behaving as if they already know everything. Luckily, most fields of knowledge are too big to realistically claim absolute mastery, so there's plenty of opportunity to grow for everyone.

  • Cinque: One of the reasons you procastinate is because of your perfectionism. Things don't need to be perfect, and they will probably never be anyway. Just start building with your best intentions and hope it brings you one step closer to your goal. In software it's easy to refactor it later, so just go and build cool stuff.

  • Sześć: The idea that when something goes wrong a person is at fault is pretty common in society, but it's usually wrong. The errors of a single individual only result in a catastrophe if enough things go wrong along the way. It's much more useful to see these events as system errors, and that the responsibility of the individual is eclipsed by the responsibility of the system, so fix the sytem first. Check the Swiss Cheese Model, it's very interesting

  • Sedem: Diffusion of responsibility is a phenomenon whereby people are less likely to take responsibility if they know other people are present. This means that the more people you send that code review to, the less likely it is that it'll be a thorough one. Send it to one or maybe two colleagues, your code reviews will improve a lot.

  • Oito: Stupid questions are stupid because they are usually about something everyone assumes to be obvious. If you are asked one of these things, don't dismiss it as a dumb question, think why it's being asked. Questioning things that you believe are obvious usually yield good insights.

Well, that's all for now.

Thank you very much for reading this series, I had a really good time writing it, and I hope you learned something useful or interesting along the way. If this is the first article you read, you can find the other ones here:

  1. Pragmatic Thinking & Learning: The Dreyfus Model
  2. A tale of two brains: Dual operation modes
  3. Fostering R-mode and capturing insight
  4. Better ways of learning
  5. Those little bugs in our brains

Thank you for reading!

What to do next

  • Share this article with friends and colleagues. Thank you for helping me reach people who might find this information useful.
  • This article is based on Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your Wetware. This and other very helpful books can be found in the recommended reading list.
  • Send me an email with questions, comments or suggestions (it's in the About Me page)
Author image
Budapest, Hungary
Hey there, I'm Juan. A programmer currently living in Budapest. I believe in well-engineered solutions, clean code and sharing knowledge. Thanks for reading, I hope you find my articles useful!