Apprenticeship Pattern: Be the Worst

This week I read the apprenticeship pattern “Be the Worst”. With this pattern essentially says that once you become one of the best on your team, and you aren’t learning as much, you should put yourself in an environment where you are the worst and you know almost nothing. By putting yourself in the situation where you are the “worst”, you are surrounded by engineers who are better than you and are in an environment where there is a lot more to learn.

What I found the most interesting about this pattern is the author’s willingness to leave what most would consider an ideal situation and put yourself in one where the odds are stacked against you. For most people, being the worst on a team isn’t the goal. Most people want to grow and reach that level of expertise where you are nicely paid, do your job comfortably, and are looked to others as a leader, this pattern suggests that this means the end of your growth. After really giving more thought to this pattern I realized that I agreed with the author, this is because applying this pattern makes you a lot more marketable. If you apply this pattern it will ultimately give you more expertise in more different domains making you much more marketable and increasing your job security.

I agree with almost everything about this pattern, but I am not sure if it is the safest way to go about this growth. The author referred to this as a “sink or swim” strategy so while it is true that it might be a very good way to learn and grow, for some the risk might not be worth the reward. It is still possible to grow even if you are the best, nothing is stopping you from learning more and continuing to the be the best where you currently are.

In conclusion, I think that this is a useful pattern but I don’t think it should be followed exactly as it is stated due to the high risk. What I have taken away (and will try to apply) is that I should try to put myself in situations that will promote growth.


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