Expose Your Ignorance

Just like the title says this week I have read the pattern “Expose Your Ignorance” from “Apprenticeship Patterns: Guidance for the Aspiring Software Craftsman” by Dave Hoover and Adewale Oshineye. This pattern describes how any aspiring developer should put aside their ego and be able to tell other about not knowing something and ask questions. It is about being able to admit that we do not know something and to start learning even if it means showing others your “ignorance”.

As always with this book and its chapters this hits close to home when it come to me and my work experience, as well as school in that matter. I found it interesting because it really shows me that it is not only me who can struggle with this particular pattern. My boss always tells me and my teammates during any meeting or code review: “you owe me at least two questions”, and this is the part that is described well in this chapter as well. The author says: “The most obvious way to expose your ignorance is to ask questions.”. I agree wholeheartedly with this statement, we have to be able to ask questions even if it shows our ignorance on the subject, but the sooner something like that is out there the sooner we can work and fixing the problem as well as better working with the team, since they will know that we might need some help.

The only part of this pattern that I do not agree with all the way is the same one I just mentioned. In my opinion there is a place and time to ask questions to expose one’s ignorance, but there are also times when holding them back until later is the right decision. One such time is when working directly with a customer, a particularly tough or difficult one. Or when having a meeting with a lot of higher ups at a company and your development team. Question on the subject are usually good but ignorant questions can have some unforeseen consequences in these situations. Overall, I agree with this pattern and the idea about having a list of things you do not understand and to update it periodically is in my opinion a very good idea.

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