The case for regurgitation.

A friend recently shared a draft blog post he wrote about introducing agile, lean and DevOps practices within well-established organizations. It was a brilliant and thoughtful piece. But when I asked him what his plans were for publishing it and for permission to share his writing with my network, he hedged, said he wasn’t sure and added:

“I also don’t want to be just another ‘regurgitation’ of all of the content that is already out there.”

I understood his hesitation because we have a lot in common.

He and I are both VPs in Engineering at Enterprise SaaS companies. We are both fans of and have been influenced heavily over the years by The Devops Handbook, Accelerate, The Goal, and others. In fact, we first met each other and discovered our shared passion for DevOps through an IT Revolution hosted book club for the book A Radical Enterprise. We both have decades of experience leading and managing large teams building highly available and usable commercial software, applications, APIs and platforms.

So why hesitate to publish our writing?

Well, I can’t speak for my friend but here are just a few of reasons I’ve given myself over the years:

  • The internet is already full of content. My writing is not unique, and it does not add anything meaningful to the conversation.
  • The “look at me” culture of social media is not an arena I desire to play in.
  • I’m just a practitioner and operator. I’ll leave the blogging to authors, researchers.

The A-ha moment

But then just the other day, as I was listening to a Tim Ferris podcast, I heard something that in one instant completely changed my perspective. Greg McKeown, author of NY Times bestseller Essentialism, was introducing his work and pleaded with listeners. He said:

“If you want to accelerate your understanding of what I share with you today, here’s how to do it. Teach the ideas in this podcast to someone else within the next 24 to 48 hours of listening. It will deepen your understanding.”

And in that instant, it clicked for me. Teaching is a part of learning. Teaching someone else cements our own learning. And in today’s digital, interconnected, global, and asynchronous world, what better way to teach than to write?

Think back to grade school. We would read about a subject in a textbook and then we would write a paper to receive a grade. But what if the writing wasn’t ever about the grade? What if the purpose of regurgitating the textbook was never about proving what you learned, but was just another step in the learning process?

A diagram showing how publishing your writing enhances your learning

Learning is one of the most important topics of our time.

Everyone in the software industry knows learning and feedback loops are the key to building better products. As advances in technology make the future less and less predictable, speed-to-learning is the one and only predicator of success. But it’s not enough to have learning in your product lifecycle, we all must become lifelong learners, which means we must become writers and teachers as well.

I may not find writing enjoyable (yet), but using the DevOps principle Jez Humble famously described as “If it hurts, do it more frequently”, I’m going to write & share more to improve my learning, even if it feels like regurgitation.

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Adrienne

Adrienne

IT Executive, Engineer, Enterprise B2B SaaS. Interested in innovation, cloud, devops, agility. Passionate about making tech more inclusive.