Expose Your Ignorance

Since I last read about Confronting My Ignorance, I thought that the natural next step (although in all likelihood, it was probably intended to be the previous step) would be to read about the Expose Your Ignorance pattern. I can certainly see where each of these ideas influences the other. Really, Expose Your Ignorance feels like a recommendation for the mindset to be in when applying the Confront Your Ignorance pattern in a public setting. The pattern is concerned with the idea that developers ought not to pretend that they have expertise in an area that they simply are not experts in. Rather, it suggests that developers ought to make their ability to learn viewed as an asset by presenting question to those with experience and applying their teachings effectively.

This doesn’t necessarily apply to the project at hand – I think there’s an understanding from all authoritative figures involved that there’s a general lack of experience among my classmates. This is, after all, the first serious project that many of us have been a part of. In my own experience, however, I have certainly encountered expectant product owners seeking my “expertise” as a software developer. I can recall my experience making a tournament management application for one of the clubs here at the school. I had begun the project for my Software Design, Construction & Architecture course, and reached out to the president of this particular club because I had in interest in the club itself. While this individual was aware that I was a student with particular deadlines and requirements to receive a passing grade, he also happened to vastly overestimate my capabilities at the time. He wanted features that I hadn’t even begun to research the libraries necessary for, while I was already in the middle of fiddling with other libraries I was using for the first time anyways.

Ultimately, it turned out to be a great idea to tell this individual that there were simply some requests he’d made that were beyond the scope of what I was able to do at that point in time. In addition to his understanding, his requests became much more concise and he was clearer about which features were optional. We came to a much clearer understanding of what the baseline he wanted was. And, as far as my end was concerned, I was able to get him a finished version that he was more than satisfied with. I will make conscious note of this pattern for the future. If used in tandem with Confronting My Ignorance, I am sure that there is no dark patch in my knowledge that I won’t be able to shed light upon.

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