Recently I have been thinking about the way I can deliver value in the projects I take part in.
A few weeks ago I was interviewed by Dave Rael for the Developer on Fire podcast. Although I talked a lot about language engineering, at one point Dave asked me:
What do you do to deliver value?
This is not an easy question to answer, but it was something I was working on for a while, as I was thinking about my consultancy business.
During the last year, tools became my obsession. Tools are what differentiate human beings from most other creatures. We use them to increase our capabilities. I build tools for the mind: editors and simulators that help people thinking about complex problems.
I realized I love to build tools because it means empowering people: you give them means to better perform their jobs or accomplish a specific goal. That seems amazing to me.
During the interview, I realized something else; I also perceive myself as a tool. I take part in projects to help other people delivering value. I realized that for me it is really satisfying to work with others. Taking their suggestions, their ideas, their critiques, and then acting upon them. Filter them through my experience, sure, but never let my experience get in the way, never becoming too self-focused.
To me it is crucial to stay open; to remember that the best way I can contribute is by acting as a sort of magnifying glass for the ideas, the energy, and the knowledge of the organization I collaborate with. Sure, I can build things listening just to myself, but the magnitude of what I can accomplish by focusing just on my skills and my abilities is limited. If I instead act as a multiplier for the skills and abilities of others I can accomplish so much more.
Being humble is the key. And listening to what people have to say. You could be surprised how many good ideas are floating around, produced by CTOs and interns. If I can help translating some of them into reality, perhaps adding a quirk or two in the process, then I can deliver a lot of value to the companies I work with.
You can listen to the interview here.