Analogies are never perfect, but I woke up from a weird dream this morning in which I was watering my garden of devs so they would grow (possibly too much Monty Don before bed)… and it triggered some further thoughts about team development. I’m not even qualified to post this, given I kill every plant I buy, and most of my teams have been business and not just devs, but hey, it’s my blog, my thoughts. Take with your own pinch of salted earth…

Your developers need a variety of things to ensure their growth, and the growth of their work. You should shower them with occasional encouragement, even if no goals are yet met. They will also need sunlight to be shone on their work ethic and accomplishments. They will need plenty of rest, so they can close up their beautiful petals overnight and replenish their energy. Occasionally they will need an extra boost of fertiliser, in the form of courses, workshops, learning materials or whatever training suits them to help them grow more. You will also have to tend the resources beneath them, to ensure they have good data and equipment to work with in order to grow and produce the beautiful flowers you want from them.

Maintenance is very important. Regular pruning of errant shoots ensures that no plants grow off in the wrong direction. This gentle correction is easier as-you-go, hence the term ‘nipping it in the bud’, rather than waiting until large, problematic branches in culture or code practice have formed. Plants that grow too tall can overshadow others and prevent them from getting the exposure they need to thrive, and should be moved to another area or pruned back. You will note that if this situation is ignored for too long, even when tall plants are moved, those that remain may have warped out of shape and may be irrecoverablely damaged. Again, the careful gardener keeps a close eye on the team.

Occasionally there are problems, of course. Some may require replanting to a different area of the garden as you discover that soil conditions are not right for them where they were and they are not thriving. This should be done with extra care, so that the root system is kept intact, and extra feeding and watering needs to happen at the new location to help them settle in. Should a move to a neighbours garden be necessary, it is easy to understand that this is merely due to different soil conditions, rather than a failure of the plant itself.

Let’s be mindful about our gardens. Let’s consider the plants we are allowing to thrive there, and let’s be careful about how we curate them. Weeds use up resources at a disproprotionate amount, even those meant for other plants. How we tend our plots is also obvious to people on the outside, who may be considering whether they want to join our organisation. How we have treated our plants may also affect whether they grow up with the confidence to thrive elsewhere. It may be the thing which dictates whether they flourish in other teams, at conferences, in promotions, or whether they have an expectation that weeds will simply rise to choke them. As team gardeners, they rely on us, and we need to be there for them.