Your Biggest Network Cost

21 May 2019

It's not your AWS bill

It is the network cost of communication and coordination between humans. Every time. The more humans, the bigger the cost, because there are more connections between humans. Some of the biggest advances in the technology industry have been social ones, not purely technical ones.

Micro-services is a social advance. It removes communication nodes by black-boxing certain services, and thus the people responsible for those services. If that service functions well, and doesn’t need any changing, the people can move on somewhere else, leaving that service to live an undisturbed life.

GraphQL is also a social advance. It allowed the separation between back-end folks and front-end folks get things done—without either one needing to dive deeply into the other area. GraphQL allows front-end engineers to make new and unique queries, without actually doing that. It allows back-end engineers to actually create performant queries and caching that can be re-used, without having to worry about someone making a new query that is neither optimized, nor cached, and destroys your system.

Wikis are a social advance. It allowed a user to edit and link webpages, but within a social construct and relationships.

Slack, Discord, Teams, are all social advances. Functionally they are not that different, rather they compose better with the modern web, and are easier to use (and set up) than IRC ever was.

These are all tools we are trying to use to combat the biggest network cost of all—communication between humans that are working together (and not just working together “at work”).

If you are not focused on improving communication within your organization this cost will eat you alive. You need both broadcast communication and strategic communication. Strategic communication is one-to-one. That doesn’t scale. But its necessary to come to decisions. Broadcast communication is one-to-many. That scales.

You can prevent unnecessary strategic communications by using broadcast communications to send out decisions that have already been made. Be careful: when you’ve missed something in your decision, or not included enough people, because your broadcast will spawn many strategic communications to address those gaps.

When you don’t spread information and decisions widely enough, you end up with people in your organization whose calendar is a double-booked mess. They’re having repeated strategic communication because something wasn’t broadcast wide enough.

#Communication  #Software Engineering