Episode 52 – You Need To Be A Problem Solver with Jeff Patton

 In Podcasts

Jeff Patton is an independent consultant, providing training, coaching and consulting services. He has designed and developed software for the past 20 years on a wide variety of projects from on-line aircraft parts ordering to electronic medical records. Jeff has also authored numerous articles, essays and, most recently, a book, “User Story Mapping”.

In this episode Jeff Patton tells us why we need to spend time with the people who will use the software we deliver. Jeff also talks about the future of I.T. jobs and why you need to find that one thing that you’re passionate about.


Time Stamped Show Notes

(00:53) – Phil introduces Jeff Patton

(01:25) – Jeff talks about how he started in software development with a small company

(01:56) – Jeff has also worked for ThoughtWorks as we all as other software companies and now works independently

(02:04) – Jeff says that he considers himself to be a product person rather than an I.T. person

(02:39) – Phil and Jeff discuss the change in people’s perspective of I.T. solutions

(03:40) – Jeff talks about the difference between output and outcome and how it relates to software development


(04:28) – Unique Career Tip: Jeff says that you must make sure you spend time talking to the people who will use your stuff

(05:08) – Talk to them, observe how they use the software and it profoundly change the way you do things


(05:17) – Worst Career Moment: Jeff talks about two worst moments in his career

(05:28) – One of the worst moments was also one of Jeff’s best moments

(05:40) – Jeff talks about working for a large retailer and being with the users when the software launched

(05:56) – The software worked but it sucked

(06:03) – They were proud of the software until they stood behind the users and saw how much they struggled with it

(06:14) – Jeff says that the users were apologists for them saying “It’s not so bad,” and “I can do okay with it”

(06:23) – Jeff says it was miserable and awful watching people use it

(06:28) – It turned into a best moment because it was a learning moment

(06:44) – Jeff then talks about a traditional project and being asked to write a technical requirements document

(07:16) – Jeff describes working alone and struggling to produce the document rather than solving a problem which was a miserable time

(07:49) – Jeff recalls how his boss told him to write the code first and then the document which was a weird moment


(09:02) – Career Highlight / Greatest Success: Jeff says that he’s still waiting for that greatest success

(09:15) – Jeff says that the successes that he leans on are having worked on pieces of software that he knows people still use

(09:28) – Jeff gives the example of working for large retailer and being able to still see software he worked on in use


(09:56) – What Excites You About The Future of a Career in I.T.? Jeff says that he’s encouraging his kids to go into I.T. because it pays, there’s high demand and it’s a thinking job

(10:13) – It’s a job about problem solving, it constantly changes and constantly evolves

(10:19) – Jeff says that we’re moving away from the construction and understanding that it is a technical job

(10:55) – I.T.is now more collaborative than it has been previously

(11:12) – “It’s more important to be multi-disciplinary”

(11:35) – “Job roles are broadening quite a bit now”

(11:38) – Phil and Jeff discuss the integration of roles and a little about Agile principles of multiple discipline teams


(12:58) – The Reveal

(13:06) – What attracted you to an I.T. career in the first place? – “When I was a kid I dabbled with computers and wrote simple basic programs… I’ve always liked playing with code and what finally drew me into I.T. was having the opportunity when the web became a thing”

(13:58) – What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received? – “Continuous learning”

(14:49) – If you were to begin your I.T. career again, right now, what would you do? –”I would start with learning in mind. Build a core set of skills”

(15:28) – What career objectives are you focusing on right now? – “These days I do a lot of teaching and speaking and things like that”

(16:21) – What’s the number one non-technical skill that has helped you in your career so far? – “Listening”


(17:18) – A Parting Piece of Career Advice: Jeff says that you should find something to be passionate about

(17:27) – Find something that you care about and do that. And keep trying things until you stumble across that one thing that you’re passionate about


3 Key Points:     

  1. Spend time with the people who will be using the software systems that you deliver
  2. Jobs in I.T. are well paid, in demand and about solving problems
  3. Keep trying different things until you find that one thing you’re passionate about


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