Weighty Responsibility

Tomorrow morning we’re kicking off the first real sprint on a new project. I’ve been working on this project full time for about 3 weeks now. It’s a project that, for me, started back in January with an RFP. Another coworker and I spent 2 weeks combing through the RFP and coming up with an estimate. We handed that over to the more business minded people of the company and they wrote a really good proposal. Good enough that we finally got the contract. It was a long process. In reality, it was probably a normal amount of time for a project this scope, but for me, I was anxious to hear back. Did the work that we did on the proposal land us the job. Did we succeed?

Anyway, tomorrow as we kick off, I’ll be the team lead on the project. It will not be the first time I’ve been called a lead. It will however, be the first time that I’m actually officially leading something. The previous time, when my title was changed to Lead Developer, it was more of an effort to get me to stay with the company (it didn’t work.) Not much really changed as we didn’t need more people leading that project.

But over the past few months I’ve gotten to pick the team to work on this project. I have personally interviewed every person that will be a regular on this project. That’s new to me. In the past, I’ve only worked with existing teams.  That has already made me feel the weight of my responsibility. If the project struggles because of personel issues, I can’t say “Well, I didn’t have anything to do with it.”

As I’ve thought about this over the past few weeks, I’ve feel a lot of weight coming from my new responsibilities.  Some of them are things like I just mentioned. But I realized another one recently. When I’ve been on teams in the past, I’ve been a little more light hearted, possibly crass or sarcastic. I have strong opinions about code, but at the same time, the last few pull requests I reviewed included large amounts of animated gifs just to liven them up.  Because that made work a little more fun for me.  At one previous employer, I was the guy that stole the wheels off his boss’ chair and hid them throughout the building. Then created an API for him to use to find them.

Some of that is part of who I am. It takes all kinds of people to be software developers. And I find I work best when I’m a bit more relaxed and laid back. I don’t plan on changing that aspect. But one thing dawned on me. I need to be a bit more careful about what I say. If people are looking to me to run a project and I make a sarcastic comment, it can carry a little more weight than just some coworker making the same comment.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I always pictured running a project having more responsibility, but I was always focused on the fact of talking to customers, staying on top of the schedule etc. It never dawned on me that the people that run projects have a big responsibility to the people who are on the project as well.  That’s something I want to make sure I do right. I want the people I’m working with to enjoy the project, both from a technical challenge stand point and also from a work-culture standpoint.

I can already tell that choosing technology will not be the biggest decision I make.


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