Developer Productivity & The Streetlight Effect
Looking for knowledge in all the easy places.
If you are looking to examine developer productivity or developer experience, and the scope of your inquiry never extends beyond the boundaries of the engineering teams or engineering organization, then you may be succumbing to the Streetlight Effect in your search for answers.
The streetlight effect, or the drunkard's search principle, is a type of observational bias that occurs when people only search for something where it is easiest to look.
Sure, you may find some great improvements by examining PR cycle times, fixing flaky tests, and uncovering and reducing the things that lead to day-to-day friction in committing and shipping code, which are important. Cumulatively, they can add to real money saved and much more engineering time spent on value-added work.
But you'll never find the improvements that drive business outcomes until you start connecting the flow of work in engineering to all the value streams that intersect the engineering organization.
This means looking beyond the boundaries of the engineering black box and considering the development value streams in your company.
Once you make these 𝙨𝙖𝙢𝙚 measurements in the context of your development value streams, you get the focusing mechanisms to ensure that the money spent in improving engineering efficiencies also directly improves the things that improve business outcomes.
Want more bang for the buck for your DevEx and productivity improvements?
Start by understanding your development value streams, learn how to optimize those from end to end, and determine how much impact your engineering optimizations will have on those outcomes. You may be surprised at what you find.
In the end, nothing is more fulfilling for developers than the knowledge that they are creating and launching products that truly matter to customers and contribute to the success of the company.
So start with the goal of figuring out how to make that happen.
Value streams are the key tool in helping you operationalize that inquiry.
In upcoming posts, we’ll talk more about what this means.