Episode 96: Teaching Burden and Unknown Unknowns


This week Jamison and Dave answer these questions:

  1. I know that teaching others is important when working on a team so that the team can grow and get better. But what happens when one member of the team, despite being the friendliest person in the world, is missing so many required skills for his job that it becomes impossible for me to do anything besides teach him?
  2. I recently heard the concept of “known unknowns” and “unknown unknowns”. It’s the unknown unknowns that get me. Sometimes I ask a question of a seasoned developer and they seem annoyed because it’s something that I could have looked up. They knew it but I didn’t. Sometimes I ask a question and they are eager to help because the question is interesting and they know it will be good for me to learn. I struggle because I don’t want to waste my time or theirs, but I want to work through things and learn. How do I do this well?

Wikipedia has a whole article on the origin of the phrase “unknown unknowns”.

Also, Gary Bernhardt has a fantastic talk called Ideology about “unknown knowns” - things we believe in software without even realizing we believe them.