Curriculum & Goals for the Atomic Accelerator’s Second Year

Cell Zero of the Atomic Accelerator: (l to r) Rachael, Andy, Dan, Alex

May signaled the start of our initial Accelerator cohort’s second year, and with it, a new focus for our curriculum. Our first year was packed with technical content, but recently, we’ve been reading books like Influencer, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, Coaching for Performance, Crucial Accountability, and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

During the second year of the program, we’ll develop four key skills: accountability, conflict resolution, mentorship, and leadership. We’ll work on each skill using both a personal and team perspective.

Accountability

Personal

It’s a common tendency for folks to avoid accountability—we have more freedom and fewer constraints when we don’t set measurable goals. But this is a false optimization. It reduces our ability to build trust by achieving agreed milestones. Vague commitments increase the risk that we will disappoint stakeholders.

Our cohort is working to create accountability for themselves by setting specific and measurable, but achievable commitments. While it can be tempting to agree to deliver desired outcomes, we’ll focus on committing to specific actions if the outcomes aren’t within our control or include unknown risk.

Team

Holding others accountable is a key indicator of good leadership. Unfortunately, it’s an uncomfortable exercise for many of us. We’ll work on changing perspective here–realizing that accountability and feedback are gifts. We’ll gain experience with real practice.

Conflict Resolution

Personal

In most conflicts, our actions or the stories we tell ourselves are responsible for at least half the problem. We’ll work on developing empathy for each other’s positions, increasing awareness of our blind spots, and mastering our stories. More importantly though, we’ll work on accepting that our response is independent of anyone else’s actions–we have full control over how we behave.

Team

Resolving conflict generally comes down to a willingness to openly and honestly share our priorities, motivations, and experiences. We’ll work on presenting these in a positive way, with a real focus on productive outcomes. Every conflict is a relationship-building opportunity.

Mentorship

Personal

Great results come from well-directed work. We’ll develop tools to recognize and evaluate opportunities for growth so that our cohort can get the most return for their time investment. I hope that each member of our group has wonderful mentors throughout their careers, but it’s important that they learn how to be introspective and self-mentoring as well.

Team

Our goal for the Accelerator program is to develop Atomic’s next generation of team leaders. It’s critical that they learn to be great mentors for junior developers on their teams. This means being observant, empathetic to need, patient, and willing to provide direct feedback. It also means creating opportunities for junior team members to grow their skill sets.

Leadership

Personal

We’ll work to develop confidence and improve each member’s ability to shape his or her environment. Rather than reacting to situations as they arise, they’ll practice actively charting their course.

Team

This final skillset wraps the others. Strong team leads at Atomic will definitely need top-tier technical knowledge, but they’ll also need to be self-aware, confident, and willing to set a direction for the team. Our Accelerator members need to be authentic, trustworthy, and willing to speak openly and honestly about sensitive subjects.

So that’s our direction for our second year. We’ve started with a lot of reading to develop some common language and perspective. We’ll build on that by practicing these skills on our project teams.