Stories are a big part of learning, for both the people telling the stories and the people hearing them. You might think of learning as just being about learning how to use a new tool, picking up a new programming language, or improving some other technical skill, but the context around how and why various tools and technologies are used can have just as much impact, if not more, as their technical details.
Luckily, stories are a great way of sharing the cultural context around the use of tools within a specific environment. For example, Netflix’s Chaos Monkey explicitly tests failure in production by having an application randomly crash virtual servers. The stories shared of the Chaos tools in use at Netflix illuminate values of the organization including:
practice at resolving failures when engineers are at their best during the day versus at 2 am;
standard of writing software that degrades rather than fails; and
expectation of failure as a mode of software operation.
In this chapter, we’ll cover various aspects of this cultural context that demonstrate the values of a team or organization, either implicitly or explicitly. We’ll then cover ways to encourage learning between teams and even organizations, looking at how to foster this sort of learning in your own environment.
As we stated in Chapter 1, a large part of culture consists of the values, norms, and knowledge ...