As I was getting ready for work the other day, some children's program was on TV. Normally it's just background noise, but today something made me pay attention. Here is what I heard:
A wise old owl sat in an oak,
The more he heard, the less he spoke,
The less he spoke, the more he heard,
Why aren’t we all like that wise old bird.
I've recently been on a kick of extracting software development related lessons from everyday situations and events – that little poem immediately made me think of opinions. Software developers are an opinionated bunch, which is fair enough – comes with the territory. The trick with opinions though, is knowing when to shut up and listen to those of others. I could probably stand to follow that particular advice a lot more often :). If you can master that trick you're guaranteed to learn something. Even if all you learn is how to keep your opinion to yourself, once in a while, that's still a skill worth having.
Having said all of that, I do believe that you need to form an opinion about everything that happens, you don't have to defend your opinion to the death, but you do need to have one. There are important decisions to be made in software projects every day, regarding technology, process, requirements etc. You're not always going to be the most qualified person to make a decision, but if you let things slide without expressing your point of view – you deserve everything that happens. In that, software is like government. Having an opinion is the first step towards taking your destiny as a developer into your own hands (this applies equally to teams). And that's all I have to say about that for now.
Image by NuageDeNuit