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I recently hired a promising school dropout. He goes by the nomulous moniker on the web and as Fletcher Tomalty everywhere else. Some late night browsing on GitHub made me a very lucky manager as he’s so far the best hire of my 1st decade in technology. Too bad, he’s not drinking yet ;-)

Last week, his 4th with us, he told me I was wrong using the word “ratio” to qualify some metric for the social recruiting product we’re building at matchFWD. I first resisted as he couldn’t come up with a proper alternative and because I was pretty sure it was a ratio. Turns out he was right as a ratio is

an expression of the quantity of one substance or entity in relation to that of another; the relationship between two quantities expressed as the quotient of one divided by the other.

and it differs from a proportion

in that the numerator is not included in the denominator. Thus x/(x + y) is a proportion, x:y is a ratio.

Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/ratio#ixzz1fAYUo8sv

I think using the right words is incredibly important when programming as well-written and well-labeled code is, in my opinion, the best type of documentation (yet often not sufficient).

But the real thing is: I got schooled by my new hire!

And I think it’s great!

You need to encourage your team to speak up on issues they’ve identified and encourage them to come up with a better solution.

That’s not sufficient though. You also need to fix the issue. And I am faulty, I haven’t yet fixed all the variable names. But you know what? That’s the first thing I do tomorrow morning. Why? It’s clearly not a top priority, the misusage of “ratio” is invisible to users and nothing is broken. It doesn’t matter.

If you want your people to keep coming up with suggestions of improvement, take action when they do or you might just repress one of your best source of continuous improvements.

I am not saying you need to fix every little bits and pieces that one guy thinks are not perfect or you’ll never launch your product or release the new version. They should know better anyway right? Use your judgement but make sure everyone as a voice and that their voice as meaning.

And that’s how you start building a team.

If you’re part of a team or looking for a new opportunity, make sure your boss can handle being schooled by his team.

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