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Unfortunately, I have to agree. I've been hired into an informal "staff/principal" role for my part of the organization and it's simply impossible to work. The other staff/principal engineers I see here are exactly how you describe. They are against anything that will make their roles as "the oracle" less important.

Documentation is such a mess because of that and the onboarding process specifically says there are a lot of "oral history" newcomers have to learn before doing anything meaningful.

I don’t get that but it does happen. I don’t want to be stuck working on the same project forever and the only ways I can avoid that is by documenting everything, using off the shelf widely used frameworks where documentation is available and cross training.

So how to improve this situation? I think it’s human problem :)

If you can't convince them, you might try the boss.

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