#268 – Who Brings in New Knowledge?

Well, if you are reading this – there’s a good chance it’s you. Especially if you read this with the intention of sharing this with your team. I hope you do, obviously 😊. But perhaps it’s unclear whose responsibility it is, to bring new knowledge to the team. Is it always the team manager job – or is it a dedicated person that by role, or by habit, that bring in new knowledge?

Photo by William Fortunato on Pexels.com

In classic hierarchical organizations – new knowledge is derived from management down to the line managers and then passed on to the individual team members. Apparently management knows “the market” best. And apparently management knows which skills are needed for all kinds of staff.

But do they now? Do top management really know the latest development in coding tools and the established trends of the global testing community. I doubt it. The long response time from management to pick something up to it being in the teams is similar to the challenge of “Retraining yourself for the future“. Unfortunately, it’s often the case that your training is on you – and the challenge of keeping up is with the organization.

Perhaps it’s an exclusive activity that only “senior or principal” staff (often called “Staff” roles) are allowed to work on. Read more on the different types of staff roles in: Staff Engineer: Leadership beyond the management track by Will Larson. What is key to understand though, is that time to information is essential:

changes in the market had to be captured immediately in order to make relevant strategic decisions

How to make big, old companies act fast, Pia Lauritzen

The DevRel / DevEx Trend

Many large development companies have already looked into this and established roles of Developer Relations (DevRel) or Developer Experience (DX) or similar dedicated roles that focus on reading trends in the market and both bringing it back to the teams or further develop the trends for the broader benefit of the company. I spot a similar trend in the testing world, though not yet so prevalent. What was previously test coaches, testing advisors, or testing advocates – can similarly be seen doing work similar to DevRel:

🎶🎶You can talk, You can jive, Having the time of your life, 
Ooh, see that girl, Watch that conference scene, Digging the testing queen  🎶🎶

There’s already a model for team interaction

The DevRel trend fits nicely with the Enabling teams of the Team Topologies framework. Where we can look at the delivery team as a stream-aligned team, compared to “Testing Relations” skills in the enabling team:

  • Stream-aligned team: aligned to a flow of work from (usually) a segment of the business domain
  • Enabling team: helps a Stream-aligned team to overcome obstacles. Also detects missing capabilities 
Though our depiction of the teams is caricatured heavily, understanding each team type’s potential stereotypical weaknesses can help us coach them into increasing their value-add; start by simply being curious. #80 – Team Topologies by Comic Agile

One thought on “#268 – Who Brings in New Knowledge?

  1. My answer would be: “Whoever finds it first.”

    I would not think that making “finding new knowledge” the sole responsibility of one named person is a wise strategy. If all the members of a team are alert to broadening the knowledge base of the team, surely that’s a good thing?

    OK, have one person responsible for evaluating new ideas, so they can say “Nice idea, but too expensive to implement in the short term”, or “We tried that five years ago; it didn’t work then and it won’t work now”, or even “Great idea! Let’s start straightaway!!”. Or they could use their peer-level contacts elsewhere in the organisation to get opinions from across the board. But new ideas are new ideas, no matter where they are found.


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