Be The Worst

The section “Be The Worst”, found in chapter four in Apprenticeship Patterns by Dave Hoover and Adewale Oshineye focuses on situations where you aren’t able to learn much from your environment. Being on a strong team has its benefits, other members can cover areas where you are weak on and catch you before making mistakes among other things. Ideally, a team member should be able to take a step back from their team to accurately assess their skill and knowledge. In the case where the gap in skill or knowledge between yourself and other team members in vastly in your favor, then it’s likely that you won’t be able to grow much as a software developer. Because of this, it’s best to start out as the weakest member of a team, hence “Be The Worst”, in order to have room to learn and grow. Emphasis on “start out”; the weaker members of a team should work more to catch up to the rest of their teams. If they don’t bother, then the “Be The Worst” pattern kind of loses its whole point.

Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, I’ve never felt that I was the strongest in a team skill wise. Some of the people I’ve worked with on a team do things super quickly so I had to adapt by starting tasks early and refamiliarizing myself with certain concepts. I guess you could consider that a method of catching up with other team members. In a team setting, I don’t actively try to “Be The Worst” but I at the very least understand why it’s a pattern. If people aren’t challenged, then they’re tempted to stagnate and it becomes all too easy to end up as a big fish in a small pond. When someone better inevitably comes along, then those who’ve done nothing to improve are thrown for a loop and can’t easily adapt to that change. Though, people could also be motivated to do the opposite; work catch up or even surpass their peers in order to not be seen as the weak link.

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