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Opportunities of Convergence and the Cost of Divergence

Published 2/22/2022

Opportunity comes in moments of convergence. Loss is measured in divergence. Pay attention to what is converging now - this is how you take advantage of opportunities and reduce your cost from divergence.

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Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
It's common wisdom and perhaps even catchphrasey to say that we should make the most of our opportunities. In this episode we're going to talk about moments of opportunity, specifically through the lens of a theory of convergence and divergence. My name is Jonathan Cutrella listening to Developer Tea. My goal on this show is to help driven developers like you find clarity, perspective, and purpose in their careers. It's a popular and perhaps even more now, uh, proverb that the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. And the second best time is now. This proverb is a good summation of what we're talking about today. The idea of opportunity and specifically opportunity as a result of convergence. I don't mean to use this word in the buzz word way, but instead in the literal way. The moment where two things come together, an event of coincidence. And for what it's worth, coincidence doesn't always have to be the result of luck. If you were to think back on the most fortunate moments in your life, you'd probably have a split. Some of them were the result of luck, whether that luck was circumstance or inheritance. And some of those fortunate moments were brought about by hard work or preparation. But perhaps the most important factor that ties all of these moments together is that they were timed correctly. Well, what does it mean for something to be timed correctly? In this episode, the argument is that the timing is about convergence. It's about the right things coming together at the right time. Or perhaps more explicitly about taking advantage of the moment where things have come together. If you're standing and staring at a spot on the ground, and you're wishing that there was a tree there, then you have a moment of convergence, especially if you have a seed and a shovel. But it's not always going to be glaringly obvious when those moments of convergence happen. We're going to talk about preparing for convergence. We'll talk about today's sponsor. Velopathy is supported proudly by Cord. Cord is the messaging tool that gives you direct access to hiring teams inside technology companies in London, Europe, and New York. Cord enables what is currently not possible. Simple conversation with someone who wants to hire you. The wider impact of these conversations is far reaching, with Cord, engineers find work through conversations instead of applications. Designs and replies are meaningful, fast, direct, and relevant. Hiring teams inside the world's most advanced technology companies use Cord to hire from recent MyCommunator alumni to publicly listed technology companies. Whole teams are built on Cord that wouldn't otherwise exist inside companies whose work develops vaccines, tackle climate change, and builds autonomous vehicles. Go and check it out. Whatever to Cord.co-slash-t. That's Cord.co-slash-t. Thanks again to Cord for supporting Developer Tea. Before we go much further, we should mention that not every opportunity is based on some serendipitous convergence. In fact, if you look at this model, the idea that you want to pay attention to is really about divergence. Studying the way that things move apart or stay apart from each other is probably just as or perhaps more important than studying how things come together. Most of the time, the convergence that you experience is going to recur. In other words, the opportunities that you have today will likely come back, whether it's tomorrow, or in a month, or a year, or ten years. And it's just as important for you to understand that model of recurring convergence, and it's kind of one-time opportunity convergence. The recurring convergence, in particular, when we got to the end of that timescale, the ten-year recurring might just as well have been only once, because once that ten-year opportunity goes by, they may be difficult to recreate that. But perhaps a more practical and useful way of thinking about convergence and opportunity is to think about whatever is converging right now. What is happening in the situation that you are working in right now? Every simple example of this is to think about the design of your code, let's say you're a software engineer, and you're imagining from now into some undefined point into the future. Six months or three years, it doesn't really matter. Where the code is today and the decisions that you make will create various types of divergence. And to be clear, divergence is not a bad thing, or necessarily even a good thing either. It is simply a fact. In order to, for example, make an opinionated decision about what kind of stack you want to use to build your application, the language, or even the framework, you have to start moving away from other frameworks, from other languages. They're more specifically kind of moving away from what the code would have been in those other languages or frameworks. This is an example of divergence as a result of an intentional decision. In other words, you're choosing this divergence. There may be things that are lost, and there may be things that are gained as a result of ignoring or I guess rejecting the opportunity to go the other path. A more insidious type of divergence in your code base is the divergence of flexibility. Let's imagine that you have some, once again, future state of your code that is unknown. You may have a general idea, imagine that we're talking about directions, you know kind of the quadrant of direction that the code is going to go, but you don't have any specifics. So as you begin to build out your application, if you're building in a way that is inflexible, in other words, maybe you're incurring technical debt or you're adopting a really specific, you know, domain specific architecture that doesn't really adapt well to other domains. These kinds of decisions walk you down a path of inflexibility while the divergent path that you could have taken that was flexible at the point that you made the decisions early on that point of convergence. This is what we're going to call our opportunity moment. You could have made the decisions to write flexible code. You could have made the decisions to use a non-domain specific architecture. You could have tried to plan for the future with very little cost. This is the critical point, right? The divergence represents the cost needed to change. In other words, the opportunity moment at that moment of convergence, specifically when we're talking about software, this is usually when we make big decisions. This is a moment of convergence, right? From that moment forward, in order to go back and change to the other path, right, whatever that path is, will essentially cost you the measure of divergence. In order to go from inflexible to flexible, you're going to cover the ground of that divergence and that's going to cost. This is why that moment of opportunity is so important because the divergence at the decision point is zero. The sharp listeners, the people who are paying really close attention here, will say that there's a third dimension that you're missing here and that's the acceleration towards a given goal. Perhaps the inflexible code, assuming that we have a laser-focused outcome in mind, the inflexible code that has domain-specific architecture may carry us forward faster towards whatever that point in time is or towards whatever that intended kind of outcome of the software has. That's entirely plausible. Once again, divergence isn't necessarily a bad thing. It just represents cost. It represents change. Here's the important thing that you do in the moments of opportunity. When you make a decision, you make the decision with recognition towards what you're giving up, with recognition towards that cost. Instead of falsely imagining that there will be no divergence, you instead try to imagine what the divergence will look like. Ultimately in your career, in the work that you're doing, in the practical sense, those moments of convergence, whether it's a decision, maybe it's an off-chance meeting with someone in your professional network, whatever these moments are, recognize that those moments of convergence represent an opportunity. It's really your choice what to do with that opportunity. Not every opportunity needs to be jumped on. But it's likely that if you were to fast forward five or ten or twenty years from now and look back on your career, you'll recognize the most critical moments in your career are the moments of convergence. Thanks so much for listening to today's episode of Developer Tea. Thank you again to Cord for sponsoring today's episode. Cord is the messaging tool that gives you direct access to hiring teams inside technology companies in London, Europe, and New York. You get direct access to hundreds of people that are hiring your skill set. You'll send and receive messages directly from hiring teams themselves with everything happening in a simple messaging thread, the calendar integration built into. All the data is live and transparent, including salary, tech stack, interview process, and response times. Go and check it out. Cord.co-slash-t. That's co-r-d.co-slash-t-e-a. Thanks so much for listening to this episode. If you enjoyed this discussion on Developer Tea, then you certainly will appreciate everything that we're talking about in the Discord community. Head over to developertea.com slash discord to join for free today. Thanks so much for listening and until next time, enjoy your tea.