Back in 1999 I managed a development team of around 15 developers. We were on a high-pressure project, working long hours and crunching it hard. As the director, I could contribute little to the day-to-day coding projects, so I did what I could to ease the burden and make life as comfortable as I could for them.
Learning is like taking a break
One of the things I picked up was that learning was a great break from a project. We could spare an hour or so each week for a group learning session, and the benefit was more than just the knowledge gained. It was a chance for the entire team to come together, have a few laughs, learn together, and strengthen the team.
Keep your herd healthy
I wrote about it in one of my first internet famous articles, “Nerd Herding”. Point #3 is all about “Teaching your Nerds”. While I did not talk about conferences in that particular piece, the advice applies equally to those considering sending one or more developers to ZendCon 2017.
It’s important to train your developers.
- Peer conferences like ZendCon provide valuable insight into new concepts and techniques being used by other teams.
- Conferences take your developers out of the day-to-day grind for a bit and allow them to sit and reflect on the problems they are solving. This time of reflection often results in better solutions than are derived in the heat of the moment.
- Sending a team of two or more to a conference amplifies the value gained from the conference because it multiplies the effect of the previous two points.
Keep your herd healthy by training your nerds on a regular basis.