Why are we doing code breakfast anyways?

Recently, we started organizing Code Breakfast at our office. What are those, and why do we do that?

Eating while coding?

I can already hear you saying: "don't you all have those fancy MacBook Pro's with those extremely delicate keyboards, especially when food gets underneath the key caps? Why are you having breakfast while coding?"

Well, technically we have breakfast before we begin coding, but I wanted a good name to indicate that we do this in the morning instead of in the evening. And, codebreakfast.com was available!

What are code breakfasts anyway?

The idea is simple: on a weekday (mostly on Friday's) an expert talks about a topic and the participants can ask them anything about it. We already organized code breakfasts on the topics of Python decorators and generators, Airflow and deep learning. The next one will be about H2O and we are already planning one about GCP.

The events last for about two hours1 and are free of charge. And of course, breakfast is included!

Fokko rocking the stage at the Airflow code breakfast

Sharing knowledge

The aim of the code breakfasts is to share knowledge. Sharing knowledge is one of the four values that GoDataDriven inherited from the Xebia group — the other three are People first, Quality without compromise, and Customer Intimacy.

You could say that sharing knowledge is embedded in our company DNA2. Internally, we have company-wide knowledge sharing events every two weeks, these include all of the Dutch subsidiaries of the Xebia holdings.

With the code breakfasts, however, we are extending this value outside of the company.

Open Source

This effort is pretty similar to the efforts many companies (including us) put in open sourcing in-house developed tools. You develop something that might be of interest to people outside your company and you open source it.

When it comes to open source software the following is generally true:

  • you expect that the community will contribute in making the product better;
  • very few companies open source the technology beyond their core business.

However, the code breakfast has a slightly different mind-set. We openly share our core expertise3 with the community, and we do not expect anything in return.

Giving away your core business

During the code breakfasts, we freely give away our core business and we believe this makes sense for the following reasons:

  • Once you share, people listening to you are more inclined to share; this means we get to know the challenges that potential clients are facing, the technical and technological decisions they're making, etc.;
  • Once you share you are, hopefully, recognized as an authority in the field you operate, and authority is the mission of our company. It contributes, directly or indirectly, to hiring, retention of talents, and, in general, our kick-ass-iness :)

We hope that the engineer — or scientist, but let's call everyone an engineer right now, which makes me cringe as a physicist — whose work or knowledge is out in the open is recognized by the community he/she operates in4.

Sapiens

Researchers have shown that, approximately 100.000 years ago, Sapiens started exchanging technology to a larger extent. The more contact between different groups, the stronger technology developed. Ultimately, the groups sharing more were the groups winning. And, mind you, this was technology that was vital to their survival, tools that were giving them an edge, such as weapons and other tools. Their core business, you could say.

Our ancestors already understood that true power is gained by sharing knowledge and not by hoarding it! And we like to follow suit.

Winning

So, sharing your tools (and knowledge) is what actually makes you a winner in the long run. Counter-intuitive, but history taught us that this strategy works.

Are we protective of these code breakfasts and want to keep them to ourselves? Would we be upset if you started participating?

Of course not! We do accept and welcome external speakers: from our competitors, our clients, our partners, whatever! Just drop us a line.


  1. This is not a rule, but I figured we had to call them code brunches if they would go on longer than that. 

  2. If such a thing even exists. 

  3. Being a consultancy company, the skills and knowledge of your people is the most important asset you have. 

  4. Similar to the principle of publishing papers when you're in academia. 

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