Developing talent

Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives - choice, not chance, determines your destiny. - Aristotle

Spiderman makes for a great movie, but the real world does not have superheros with inherent ability. In the real world, we have to develop our abilities. In the real world, we need systems that bring about our potential. And despite how intuitive this sounds, most organizations fail to setup individuals for success. Instead, most organizations focus on getting work out of individuals, rather than developing talent in individuals. Or put more concisely, most organizations operate on a “fixed” mindset of individuals, rather than a “growth” mindset of individuals. Sadly, not only does that hurt the organization itself, but diminishes the growth potential of its employees too. At Galvanize, we reject this fixed mindset.

At Galvanize, we don’t believe in coincidental talent development. Do people get fit randomly? No. They get fit by eating differently and exercising routinely. Do Martial Artists get black belts randomly? No. Martial Artists spend many years crafting their skill. Excellence is not random. It is predictable; and it can be taught.

Skill acquisition has four distinct steps:

  1. Explaining the skill
  2. Demonstrating the skill
  3. Allowing individuals to practice the skill
  4. Giving feedback on the skill is how people learn, and the more you repeat this pattern, particularly having individuals perfectly practice, the faster people develop skill. At Galvanize, we have embedded this into how we operate.

Leadership Development

Our process of product development is based on Kanban, and at its core, it’s about making work as transparent and clear as possible. Every person is aware of how work is brought in from Product Management, how it translates into kick-offs and JIRA issues, and how the team itself (not just the manager) must carry those JIRA issues to the finish line.

We emphasize the concept of short Lead Times, frequent deployments, and team pairing, so that teams act as owners of their services, and work together as a team, not as a group, in getting tasks done. Throughout the process, Managers provide coaching tips to the team and individuals, and team retrospectives are held to let the team self-improve. At Galvanize, Managers serve the team; they do not necessarily lead the team. Leadership is a skill that every individual practices.

That’s how we develop individuals’ ability to become successful team players and leaders at Galvanize.

Technical Development

The default approach to learning in the software industry is by having people dropped in the “deep end” and hoping they don’t drown. We believe this is a fundamentally broken and inefficient process, and it leads to a ton of inconsistency in the training outcome. Instead, we take a deliberate approach to training by providing internally crafted training modules on technical topics which we as an entire R&D department train on.Galvanize Training CurriculumAdhering to our skill acquisition process, we first have an expert give a presentation on the topic and demonstrate it in practice. Afterwards, individuals will take on an assignment that provides hands-on practice on that given topic. In order to encourage completion, individuals are awarded badges to track their learning progress in the company.Awards and Training BadgesStructured training plus our regular encouragement to tackle tasks in pairs, is how we rapidly develop talent.

Product Development

Lastly, at Galvanize we emphasize a “product mindset” to engineering rather than a “technology mindset”. We emphasize solving real customer problems, and thus build products to the level of technical complexity required. We do not want to emphasize bleeding-edge technology unless there is a substantial benefit for the customer; we don’t want us debating technology choices that don’t benefit the customer. We want to build products that change the world. It may sound odd given that we have a modern tech stack and build Serverlessly, on AWS, with React, TypeScript, Python, etc. but we’ve picked our tech stack to emphasize our strategy and product development. We enable the entire potential of AWS for every team so they can build whatever they want. We provide full ownership from design, to development, to monitoring so each individual is exposed to all aspects of what they are building. Holistic problem solving is how we develop well-rounded individuals that will thrive in their career and withstand the constant libraries and framework changes in the software industry. Technology will constantly change, and knowing what change matters, and when, requires a product mindset.

We believe that developing talent is central to a well-run and successful company. We want our Galvanites, which one day will become Galvanize alumni, to be sought after in the community. And we believe we can do that while having a healthy business, and while fulfilling our vision. If you agree with with our philosophy, then make sure to get in touch with us so we can build an amazing future together.